Speaking of Gratitude…

Feeling GoodThe month of November is filled with reflecting and thankfulness especially in the US due to the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving.  But I like to think gratitude should be lived daily, 24hours, 7days, 365!  It is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done but it is so worth it. 

In the past I have talked about living in gratitude  (more gratitude found here) and I think I have multiple posts that have talked about how I practice it, but I want to tell you want I have learned.  I am one month away from completing my second full year of daily gratitude journaling and it has changed my life, for the better.

So on this Thanksgiving evening here are some of the things I have learned (I probably already knew but now appreciate them more): thankful1

  1. Life is better when you appreciate it.
  2. It is crazy how when you are looking daily for things to be grateful for, you really realize how rich each day is.
  3. Family is fabulous but unless you stop and really become grateful for their existence and presence we tend to take them for granted.  (Don’t do it!)
  4. The small stuff matters, for example, it seems small that I wake up in the morning but what an incredible experience waking up in the morning is when you realize we are not promised another day.
  5. Being alone with your thoughts can be wonderful (especially if it is on a long run outside)!
  6. Being surrounded by friends and their voices can be a blessing!
  7. The moon creates beautiful shadows and light and the sun has amazing powers to brighten my mood.  (Here is hoping you are still with me!)
  8. Laughter is the best medicine.
  9. Pets (especially cats) have the ability to change my mood after a long day at work.
  10. I have also learned that I have a lot more to learn about how to be grateful but I am open and willing to keep practicing.

thankful3I tell you all of this to not brag about how it has changed me but to challenge you to spend some time utilizing the gift of gratitude daily.  It can help us when we feel anxious.  It can help us when we feel depressed.  And best of all it can help us stay out of those moods and live in the moment.  I can hardly wait for the life changing moments that will come from my continued walk in gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Done!

Still not sure!  It's warmer inside!

Still not sure! It’s warmer inside!

The other day I was contemplating today’s 5 mile run due to the weather.  Well you have probably guessed from the title that I did it.  You would be right and it was crazy hard.  Because I don’t know about you but when you can hear the wind whipping outside and you know it is only in the 20’s, I tend to take my Sunday workout to the gym.  In fact that is what I almost did.  As of 11:00 AM this morning I was still not 100% sure I wanted to do this.  But then I remembered all my running friends and blogging running friends and how far we have all come, and it was not by sitting down but by getting up and facing challenges.  Well I faced this challenge (wind guests of at times over 40mph that almost pushed me off my feet and definitely took my breath away) and now I can check it off my list.  I know I can run in that weather, the real question is whether I would do it again?  And the answer is probably, but I will get better winter running gear first.

Anyway, I was thinking of how many times we get talked out of challenges because we play a game with ourselves (Rock, Paper, Scissors – Anyone?) and by

Here we come facing the wind head on!

Here we come facing the wind head on!

not pushing through the challenge how we miss wonderful opportunities to grow.  I truly believe that every choice we make can either help us grow or keep us stuck.  If I would have never run today in this local turkey trot which really only meant something to me and a goal of a new PR, I would never have known that I could make it through some not so pleasant weather conditions which could risk my choice of completing other races in the future that have the same issues.  Realistically I would have let myself down too and probably questioned my choice all week for something simple as a five mile run.  So really today was all about growth.

So glad that is over!

So glad that is over!

My growth included many things.  It included being able to listen to my running brain and utilize it when I wanted to stop and say this is crazy but it kept saying “you are in this, you’re halfway, you have one more long hill” and best of all “you got this!”  It included the reassurance that my partner in crime is there for me no matter what I get myself into (thanks Dave, love ya!).  It included confidence of one more obstacle out of the way.  Finally, it included a new PR!  (38:39, 7th out of 75 in my age group and 140 out of 696 who ran)

So what is holding you back from growing?  Maybe it is time to stop playing games?!  Okay maybe not but maybe it is time to realize what you are missing out if you don’t just take the chance.

New T-shirt to add to the collection.

New T-shirt to add to the collection.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Run?

rock1This was how I determined my chance at the gym today.  I wasn’t feeling it, so of course out comes the old game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.  I would love to say that Run won but it didn’t, but I went anyway.  Mainly because I wanted to have a glass of wine (or maybe 2) with dinner and I like to think it is more of treat if I do the work out.  So I went and in the end it felt pretty good.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Run? Is also the theme going through my head as well as my running facebook friends.  Why?  Because it is race weekend and the weather is taking a turn for the worse.  Some have half-marathons (go Amy) while me I just have a 5 mile turkey trot but the idea of a 20 degree temperature, feeling like 5 degrees with windchill, and the chance of snowshowers does not make me want me to lace up my shoes and run outside especially since I only paid $20 for the race (and the t-shirts are cotton and ugly, usually, and there is no shiny medal at the end.)  So have I already talked myself out of the race?  Not sure, I’ll keep you posted.  But for my friends in Oklahoma who are gearing up for the Rte.66 Half Marathon

These are pretty cool aren't they!

These are pretty cool aren’t they!

(which is a race I have thought about coming home to race in plus the medals are really cool) their weather sounds just as unpleasant but they paid way more to be there than me.  What would you do?  Rock, Paper, Scissors, Run?

Whatever they choose to do I wish them good luck this weekend and to all my running friends lacing their shoes up and heading out.  Remember why we run… medals?…..lose weight?…. enjoyment?…. exercise?… or just shear insanity.  Whatever reason you do it, just get out there and do it this weekend!

The Best Medicine…

laughterIt’s laughter.  You thought I was gonna say running, didn’t you?  Well that is a great daily vitamin but really laughter is the best medicine.  I try to make it part of my life on a daily basis but often it gets lost along with my smile especially when I feel overwhelmed.  But really this is when I/we should be trying our best to smile and/or laugh.

Yesterday, I felt like crap.  (I can say that right, this is my blog!)  Well I woke up and struggled to swallow and my head was congested.  For some this would be the opportunity to call work and let them know that you will be taking a sick day.  For me, that is not an option.  No work, no pay!  Not a fun aspect of my job either.  Anyway, off I went armed with my hand sanitizer, green tea, and trying not to think about how crappy I felt.  I made it through my day and was even thankful when my last client of the day had to reschedule for today (insert first real smile of the day cause I got to go home early).  I know, I know, get to the medicine part!  Because really I still felt kinda crappy.  We had a dinner event we had to attend.  I was looking forward to someone else cooking and the fact there would be a comedian at the end of the night was going to be fun too.  But oddly enough he was not the medicine, I mean I laughed at his jokes and was entertained, it just wasn’t the best medicine.  laughter1

The best medicine came in the form of my new stand-up comedy routine I performed for just our diners at our table.  Now I don’t really have a stand-up comedy routine but as many of my longtime friends will tell you, once I get on a role telling jokes, it is hilarious!  I’m not kidding, I’m funny and not just funny looking!  At times, I was laughing so hard I had tears coming from my eyes.  And you know what, it worked.  I felt so good after that short 20 minute conversation, my crappy day was gone, my stuffy head was no longer achy.  Was it a miracle drug?  No, it was just laughing.  Fully belly, tears in my eyes, huge smile on my face, laughter!

So I guess the therapeutic advice you can take from this is take a moment to find something funny in your day, something that puts a smile on your face because believe me it can cure just about anything!laughter2

Gratitude 101

gratitude9Living in gratitude is difficult.  Okay for me it’s not as difficult as it once was but I am reminded daily by my wonderful clients how not normal my life of gratitude is, which by the way I think it is pretty normal.  I have talked before about my gratitude journey (see here My year of gratitude) and how I developed this “attitude of gratitude”(no I was not just born with it, it took some work!). 

I thought I would take some time to pass on the pointers that I share with my clients on a daily basis.

1)      It takes baby steps to get there but the way to begin is to begin! gratitude7

2)      I spend some time each morning making a list of three things I am grateful for.  I attempt to not repeat myself at all during the week which often takes some major creativity if it is an off week.  (Side note: if you struggle staying in the day with things you are grateful, you are allowed to say the big things like family, kids, a job but I encourage you to branch out in those big things and find specific moments of gratitude.  Like “I’m grateful for spending the hour talking to my daughter on the long car ride home”)

3)      When I struggle during the day I think back to the three things I listed in the morning and most of the time they give me a reminder of things not being so bad.

4)      At the end of the day I try to reflect on my day with this “attitude of gratitude” and find something I learned big or small that can motivate my attitude/make me feel like all the hard work of the day was worth it.

See that wasn’t so bad.  Being grateful takes work but really the hardest part is just beginning.  Once you get in the habit of being thankful you will find it easier and you might find that it will change your thoughts and outlook on life.  Now get to work and BE GRATEFUL!!!!

Have you ever tried to live a life of gratitude?  How did it go?  What are your pointers to help someone who suffers from ungratefulitis?Denali National Park in autumn, Alaska, USA, North America

Observations….

observation1As I am immersed in the month of gratefulness (through my choice) I am spending time in my days to observe and be more aware of my surroundings in almost everything I do.  As I clean the house (I know fun right) I noticed the pattern that the vacuum cleaner puts in the carpet and attempt to make something so monotonous a little more fun, like can I do the living room without leaving footprints (the answer is no). 

This of course translates over into my running.  I was able to get two outdoor runs in this weekend in somewhat less than ideal conditions and really found it hard to get started on both days due to weather (you can read about it here Overcoming the hardest step…)  But once I was out there I was able to make some interesting observations.  Now that I no longer listen to music I can hear so much more and feel so in tune with the world.  When I listen to my feet, I can make them sound lighter.  I can hear when I am favoring leg over the other and this helps me to adjust my steps. observation2

I also find myself really looking at things closer as I run by.  Noticing things better and sometimes putting words into people’s mouths when I see them staring at this crazy woman running by in the rain like “doesn’t she know it’s raining” and me answering “yep and it feels pretty good because I need to cool off”.  (Nothing like having a conversation with yourself which is common for me but at least here I get to have other players in my conversations.)

observationToday these observation skills came in handy when I saw someone making a u turn on a dead end street and I noticed something on the back of the car.  As I approached the car I held my hand up to make him stop.  As he did, I was able to retrieve his cane off the back of his car and hand it to him.  He was so appreciative and was so glad I made this observation and was able to help him out.  Without taking the time to look around I might not have noticed this moment and this gentleman might have gotten home without a much needed accessory to help him.

These observations have helped my gratitude.  They have helped me be aware of my thoughts, actions and emotions.  I’m attempting to live in the moment, observe the little things and try not to get ahead of myself.

How can we all slow down and be aware of our surroundings?  How can you be a better observer and feel more grateful?  Give it a try this week and you might be able to help someone out in the process.observation3

Overcoming the hardest step…

bedThis morning I was laying in bed and I was looking for my mojo/motivation.  I knew today was going to be the calmest (meaning no real wind) weekend day and that if I wanted to get in an outdoor run I should probably get up and do it.  But it was hard!  Okay it wasn’t really hard.  There was no one sitting on me or holding me back from getting up.  So in saying it was hard is more that I couldn’t make the first step, the hardest step, to get out of the warm covers and walk out the door, well after getting dressed in warm running clothes because it was freezing outside (literally the temp was 32 degrees!).  It is amazing though once you get out there, pounding the pavement, how it feels good and I begin to relax even though it took a little bit to feel warm and feel my fingers again! 

I find this true with other things in life too.  The first step is always the hardest.  Making a change or sometimes even just making that phone call you need to make is difficult.  So how do we do it?  How do we push through?  Well I do it with more positive self talk.  I think about the outcome and the best possible thing that can happen from it if I just get started and even at times think about the worst possible outcome because really I know it will never be the best of the best or the worst of the worst it will be somewhere in the middle.

Like today and my run for example.  I have been having some pain in my right leg and I was wondering if it was from the treadmill runs lately and that maybe I pushed too much in my training last weekend.  So I wanted to go outside and stretch it out.  So my thoughts while in my warm bed were, “if it starts to hurt too much than you can turn around and come home.  You need to get out there and give it a try”.  As well as the best possible, “it could really feel great, it will give you a chance to test your pace work that has been happening on the treadmill, and how nice will it be to have the sun beating down on your face and breathing that cool crisp fall air!”  The outcome was really in the middle.  It felt pretty good still some achy pain in the leg, it felt slow (but in all actuality it was an 8:22 pace so pretty fast), I was able to get 4.26 miles in, the sun felt great, I got my first morning run in a long time and in the end I felt/feel accomplished and in a positive mood.  step

So the good news is that even though the first step may feel like the hardest really it is just that mental block that we have to push through because on the other side I can guarantee are some wonderful rewards!