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Gratitude in the Face of

If you read my article in the last issue of Aspire, you’ll know that I am grateful to be alive after a prolonged and scary intestinal infection. The experience sent me on a spiritual journey I had not anticipated, but left me committed to shifting my lifestyle and priorities.

It’s a work in progress.

I can report I’m on my computer about 20% less. I’m enjoying my kids more and finding time to just be. I have committed to a daily spiritual practice that is waking me up.

I’m still on the computer at night sometimes, though not as late. I’m still working more hours than my “divine” plan. I still lose my temper (though not as much) and I still forget to breathe. Oh, yeah, and I still sometimes eat on the run, though I take time many mornings to sit outside with my four year old and eat our eggs and sprouted grain tortillas on the porch, listening to the birds and looking out at Narragansett Bay and Dutch Island in both sun and fog.

When I take the time to sit outside, the grati- tude just naturally comes—gratitude for the meal, the view, the fresh air and, of course, the company—his laughter, his funny sense of humor, his questions and observations.

Feeling grateful for one thing, just naturally leads to feeling grateful for another and another. And the better I feel, the more I attract things that make me feel good—in- spiration for a blog post, a new client whose book idea I love, my mother-in-law bringing dinner over. Recently, gratitude has gone to a deeper level for me. Today, my kitchen is full of paint- ers. Now, I have to tell you something about myself for this to make sense. I grew up in a family where everything was pretty much a danger. “Don’t cross the street there; you might get hit by a car.” “Don’t eat that; the ingredients are toxic.” “Don’t run too fast; you might fall.”

Inspired to Write? Lisa Tener

Fear or

So, when my husband told me last night the painters were coming the next day to paint our kitchen, all I could think was, “Yes, the paints are no-VOC, but will there be fumes while they do the painting?” “Are they ripping out the tiles that might have the same toxic glue used in the living room, which burned our lungs when we ripped the tiles out?” My poor husband, who has wanted to reno- vate our galley size kitchen for the eleven years we’ve been here, looked at me with jaw agape. I tried to reign myself in. I looked up the paints online. Seemed okay. Primer might have some odor. My husband suggested we use the old primer from our last paint job that was free of odor.

Okay. Turns out the tiles used latex glue. Everyone could breathe.

And while I fixed my probiotic hummus and sprouted tortilla for lunch today—search- ing our living room for replaced kitchen implements—a spreader, a cutting board that would do for a makeshift plate—I realized how lucky I was. My kitchen would look brand new and beautiful in just two days (one of the benefits of a tiny kitchen is how quickly it can be painted and renovated; another is how quickly you can put dishes away or cook, since fridge to stove, or cabinet to dishwasher is anywhere from 1-3 steps maximum, some- times just a matter of spinning around—no steps at all).

Return to gratitude.

A deeper gratitude. I’m seeing how the minute I feel fear in something, I can go deeper and feel grateful right away. When my husband seems irritated that I’m on the computer once again, I can realize his com- mitment to my wellbeing and feel grateful that he cares deeply. When my dog escapes and won’t come in, I can see her invitation to spend more time outside…and feel grateful. When my son throws his toy across the room, I can see the opportunity to get grounded and peaceful myself rather than reacting…and feel grateful for the choice and the ability to see that I have a choice. Anger

Anger and fear have become doorways to gratitude—an invitation to look within and choose my perspective, rather than re-experience the default. Thank you, anger. Thank you, fear. Thank you to the teachers in my family who bless my life every day with the “good” experiences and the experiences that offer me another option—to choose gratitude and realize the good in everything.

Take it to Your Journal: Writing with ‘Tude.

You may have heard of keeping a gratitude journal—writing down everything you’re grateful for each morning or night. Maybe you even keep one.

Here’s a chance to deepen the practice.

1. Write: Write down everything you feel angry about or causes fear.

2. Search for a deeper meaning in a situation. If you’re challenged by circumstances—illness, finances, heartbreak, anything—can you find some attribute in yourself that the situation requires for you to transcend or meet the challenge? If so, express your gratitude for this trait.

3. Put yourself in their shoes, or better yet, in their heart: If there’s a person involved, ask what that person wants at the deepest soul level. Are they looking for heal- ing, connection, love but maybe don’t know how to go about it just right? Can you be grateful that they want this loving connec- tion, even if they aren’t able to express it in a way that feels good?

A national authority on writing and publishing books, Lisa Tener guides you through joyfully expressing yourself in writing through articles, book writing courses (online and in person) and private coaching.


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