RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

  1. A Spoonful of Gratitude Helps the Anxiety Go Down

    November 29, 2015 by Diane

    practice gratitude

    As Thanksgiving dawned once again, I was beset by nervous tension. Why? It’s just another day, right?

    Not to my mind. To my mind, holidays require extra oomph. Preparing a special meal, even a fairly simple one, zaps my energy. Interacting with people for a good part of the day, even people I know and love, zaps my energy. As an introvert, my energy reserves are already limited. Even more so after a night of poor sleeping, kept awake by a mind that won’t allow my body to let go.

    So, with Thanksgiving upon me, and maybe a spoonful of energy available for the entire day, I knew I was in trouble. I needed to build my reserves. I needed to pull my brain from its anxious mode of thinking before it drained whatever remained in that spoonful, and open my heart to all that is right in the world. And what better way than to give myself a healthy dose of gratitude practice.

    Here’s how it works: ponder, talk about, or write down the things you are grateful for. As you do, your energy shifts, your vibrations rise, your perspective broadens. Even a teensy bit is a step up the emotional ladder.

    Here are five things I’m grateful for:

    1. I’m grateful to have a brain that holds my memories, a brain that allows me to create and imagine and discover and understand and make sense of life, even though that brain doesn’t always work well. Sometimes the circuitry gets stuck in anxietyville. Sometimes the messages it sends are lies. Still, for the most part, it’s a brain that I am grateful to have.

    2. I’m grateful to have a body that holds my spirit, even though that body complains at times, gets achy and painful and inflamed and shoots out much too much adrenaline and cortisol. Still, it carries me from point A to B, and allows me to see the sunset and hear the patter of rain on my roof and taste chocolate truffles, the dark ones from See’s, and smell the lavender bushes as I walk the neighborhood. It allows me to hug and cuddle and dance and hike and swim, and defend myself if need be.

    3. I’m grateful to have a cottage that houses my body, even if that cottage is the dimensions of an over-sized closet. Still, it’s bigger than a cardboard box, and it’s not under a freeway overpass, and I have my own bathroom.

    4. I’m grateful to live in America, a country where people who own playhouses the size of over-sized closets can rent them out at exorbitant fees, even though that country has a government that is sometimes populated by clowns. Still, it’s a government that ensures my food is safe to eat, the air is safe to breathe, and the water is safe to drink. It provides aid if I need it, and will rescue me if I’m taken hostage somewhere. Or at least attempt to rescue me. And I’m grateful to live in a country that accepts immigrants because I came from immigrants, we all did, unless we happen to be of Native-American ancestry and really, the only people who have the right to complain about immigrants are the Native-Americans, and why shouldn’t they, since it was immigrants who brought disease and wiped out their buffalo population and stole their land and turned it into high-rises and freeways, and truth be told, if my immigrant ancestors had been walled out by the native tribes, I wouldn’t be living here now, in an overpriced closet, shooting out adrenaline and cortisol. And I’m grateful to have the right to say any of this without being jailed or tortured or put to death.

    But I digress.

    5. I’m grateful to you, my reader. It’s you who make all this outpouring of words worthwhile. It’s you who keep me going when showing up at the keyboard seems like a monumental task. It’s you who make the process of writing complete, who answers the question: if a writer writes and no one reads what is written, do the words matter?

    They do. Because when I write with you in mind, I learn something about what it means to live on this big crazy revolving ball of energy.

    Blessings and love.

  2. When Life Knocks You Down, Reach for This

    May 24, 2015 by Diane

    Old wooden tool box

    “Did you forget your teeth?”

    “No dear. They’re in my back pocket.”

    -overheard in my head


    Your teeth are your tools. You use them to chomp your food. If you have the removable kind and you forget to put them in your mouth where they belong and instead you shove them into your back pocket, what good are they? Unless you’re eating through your ass.

    Your teeth are your tools.

    Like the other tools we have. Our brains. Our breath. Our sense of smell. Touch.

    Deep breathing is calming. That’s a tool. Positive thinking. That’s a tool. Taking a walk under the redwood trees and inhaling the moist gooey needles. Another tool. Singing in the shower, eating a chocolate truffle, rolling down a hillside, walking barefoot on the beach, clasping the hand of your grandfather as you watch the fireworks from the tailgate of his red pickup…these are all tools. Tools to stash in your emergency kit so the next time you’re visited by the brittle critic, or the anxious cowering panic-stricken one, or you’re stepping into the coiled snake of your dysfunctional thinking, you can reach for a tool to lift you up.

    This past week, when my car was totaled by a big rig, I spiraled from shock to anger to frustration to loss, negotiating with insurance agents, agonizing over the financial burden, scouring websites and dealerships for something I could afford—until today, when I felt that I, too, had been hit by a big rig.

    My energy left me.

    My brain froze.

    My heart sank.

    I needed my emergency toolkit.

    I needed to take those teeth out of my back pocket, stick ‘em in, clack ‘em together a few times, open wide and chomp down on something nourishing, something oozing goodness. I needed to take it in.

    As Rick Hanson says in Buddha’s Brain, take in the good. That sunset on the beach—take it in. That conversation with your sweetheart on the porch—take it in. That hike to the peak of Mount Whatchamacallit—take it in, the whole 360-degree view.

    And when darkness seems to descend, if those good feelings don’t sustain you, then draw on your other tools: family, friends, meditation, prayer, writing, jogging, old movies, Earthing, an uplifting book, relaxing music, a priest, rabbi, therapist, a nap. Whatever your tools are, know them. List them. Refer to the list when you’re blindsided, and use them.

    Because some day the hurricane will hit. Some day. And you want to be prepared.

    Now it’s your turn: What’s in your emergency toolkit?

  3. This Will Make Your Day

    May 17, 2015 by Diane

    Big Laugh

    If you place a call to, oh, say your mobile phone carrier, and the customer service rep asks for your name, and you tell her,


    and she asks,

    “May I call you Miss Diane?”

    and you say,

    “I’d prefer to be called Your Highness,”

    and she happily obliges!…

    this will make your day.

    * * *
    When you remember the gray cat you had as a child, the cat who suffered the indignities of wearing your doll clothes and riding around in your toy baby carriage, the cat who bounded out of the baby carriage wearing those same doll clothes to chase an annoying German Shepard up the road…

    decades later, this memory will make your day.

    * * *
    When your parked car, your tiny Toyota Corolla, is hit by a beast of a big rig and tossed onto the curb like a toy, and the driver continues on his merry way without stopping, this will not make your day. But…

    When a construction worker wearing clunky boots chases down the big rig, and this construction worker happens to be a photographer, and this photographer happens to take pictures of the guilty party and his driver’s license and insurance certificate, and happens to call the police to file a report, and then sticks his business card on your windshield so that you have all the information you need to recoup a portion of the cost of your now-totaled vehicle, you will be filled with such gratitude for this noble do-gooder (whose car was also hit by the big rig, and shoved twenty feet), it will make your day.

    I know, because this just happened to me.

    It doesn’t take much to turn a so-so day, a rotten day, a “why did I bother to get up” day into something wonderful. Not much at all.

    A shared joke.

    A memory.

    A good deed.

    The important thing is to be aware of these fleeting moments, and soak them in.

    So if you’re feeling blue, or you’re spiraling down the anxiety rabbit hole, here’s my prescription: three times a day find something of beauty, or something to laugh about, or something to be grateful for, and soak it in.

    That’s it.

    Be aware, and soak it in.

    And share it with somebody else.