Having an attitude of Gratitude

Standard

I am blessed. I truly am. I do not express it often enough. Sometimes I find it easier to dwell on what is going wrong in my life (or at least in my limited vision of things is wrong.) I believe the Bible to be the word of God.  In the book of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told:

 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

2012 is my year to follow the ‘Will of God’.  2012 is the year of Gratitude.  My friend Chery is the one who brought up gratitude.  We were discussing Activity Day Girls and she expressed the desire to teach the girls gratitude.  My brain and my heart spun.  I knew that teaching gratitude to our girls was necessary this year…I also knew that gratitude and expressing it are essential to me and that the lesson was for me.  Many times I find that God communicates to me through my friends.  I am grateful to friends who speak to me honestly and earnestly, who support me and drive me to be a better person.

For our Activity Day Girl lesson we chose a rather bold plan.  We gave each of the girls a journal to use as a gratitude journal.  We also gave them a canning jar which they decorated.  In that canning jar we asked them to write 100 things they are grateful for.  It’s a journal prompt jar.  We then also gave them a sticky note pad with thank you stamped in the corner.  Here is the challenge:  to write in their gratitude journal all year and use up all 100 journaling prompts.  A second challenge is to use their thank you sticky note pad to write thank you notes, each note needs to go to a different person.  Image

I want to challenge each of you (very small amount of readers) to also ponder gratitude and implement it in your life in 2012.  Now for references…because I always research before I do anything.  There are such fabulous resources out there confirming and teaching about the benefits of gratitude.

The title of my post comes from a ‘Brite Music’ book/CD/(tape) from a series called ‘Standing Tall’ Gratitude.  In this very exciting digital era you can download the story and music as an MP3.  My mom used to sell these and I grew up listening to them (well, actually I was older…like 12 when she did but it still stuck in my head).  Check out this fabulous resource if you have young children to teach gratitude to).

Now, of course I am LDS so the first thing I did was consult the ‘Ensign Magazine’.  In december of 2011 President Henry B. Eyring wrote a beautiful article about gratitude titled “The Choice to be grateful”.  Not only is this a beautifully written article but there are ideas at the end for teaching young children and adolescents about gratitude.  We got our idea for the 100 things journal prompt jar from this article.

Last but certainly not least I encourage you to read the article “Up your Gratitude” in the January 2012 Parade Magazine by John Kralik.  He details a year of writing thank you notes and it’s profound impact on his life.  He wrote a book about his experience ” A simple act of Gratitude: How learning to say Thank You changed my life“.  I haven’t read this book but I very much want to.

So, please do more than just read this and think “well, Hope’s on a tangent..” I ask you to please contemplate gratitude and implement it in your life in 2012.

gratitude newsletter

To Fail or Not to Fail, that IS the question

Standard

Every year I behave as 40-45% of the rest of the US and make  New Year’s resolutions.  I always start off with high hopes and high expectations and by April I have usually lost sight of my goals.  So, this year I thoughtfully considered  the radical idea of NOT making any resolutions this year.     After all, each fail I’ve had has been a hit to my psyche, to my own esteem.  BUT upon further contemplation I discovered I DO NOT always fail.  There is one area I always set goals in and always achieve.   My personal area of success is always in the area of personal & home organization.  Soooo…….why do I succeed in this one area?   The obvious answer is that I am already skilled in certain types of organization, but I think there’s a less obvious answer.  When I made my goal every year in organization I  didn’t  try to radically change myself, my skillset or my  life.  I do not suddenly decide to be the most organized person, the tidiest housekeeper.  Instead I find one area that I am already semi competent in and resolve to make it stronger.  I build my skills in small measurable steps that then make it easier to make my next step.

So the question is what can I learn from my strengths so that I can make my weakness strong?   I recently read an article on organicgardening.com  titled “Making New Years Resolutions” (read the original article.  It’s interesting) that gave some tips on setting goals that I felt were really good.  They call it SMART.

1.)  Be Specific– In the past I have succeeded or failed depending upon how specific I was.  For example, several years ago I decided to fold my sheets into packets so that I no longer had to fish for all of my various bottom sheets, top sheets & pillow cases.   It was easy to be specific.  Every Monday I wash my sheets, so every Monday I fold my sheets into packets.  Other goals that I’ve had that have failed have been to lose weight, a common enough goal but I discovered to be too vague.  Instead this year I goal to do 30 minutes of YOGA 5-6 days a week.  Much more specific.

 

2.) Measurable-  In other words, keep track or have some way of keeping your goal in sight.  With my sheets it was rather simple.  I would have noticed if I hadn’t folded my sheets into packets.  It is a simple VISUAL.   So, what about my new goal of doing YOGA?  Shall I create a chart?  probably?  I will also be able to tell in my body if I’m making any changes. I will get stronger, more flexible.

 

3.)  Attainable– The article defines this as within ‘my’ ability.  In other words, I shouldn’t try to run a marathon if I can’t even run a block but I CAN run, so I should set up a goal to improve my running.  For example:  I succeeded in organizing because it was small and simple and within my skill level.  It was easy for me to add one new skill to my repertoire per year.  For my new Goal of doing YOGA I need to make it attainable.  That’s why instead of saying 30 minutes a day I give myself 1-2 days reprieve, because I know I will miss a day.  But, I haven’t set the bar so low that I won’t receive the benefits.

 

4.) Realistic–  I find this confusing.  How does this differ from attainable?  As I understand it, it means that it needs to be attainable by me in the real world I live in.  In other words, it might be attainable for me to improve my running but with my bad foot, perhaps it’s more realistic to choose a different type of exercise.  Now, I may or may not continue running.  I’m simply using it as an analogy.  Instead I will bring it back around to YOGA, physically I can do 30 minutes of YOGA per day and know I will not fall apart, additionally I know that setting the bar to 5-6 days IS a challenge but not an extreme one.

 

5.)  Timely–  Another way of saying set a TIME LINE.  When we give ourselves 12 months to succeed hugely or fail epically there’s a lot of wiggle room.  It takes 21 days to create a habit.  So, theoretically we could set a new goal every month slightly improving on the first, or main goal.  For example:  my goal to do YOGA  is ultimately a goal for better health.  This month I will focus solely on YOGA, on making a habit of doing one thing a day to keep myself healthy.  In one month I re-evaluate.  That is my goal.  Slow, measured improvement.

 

Now I’m curious.  What goals are you setting this year if any?  How do you achieve your goals?  Spur yourself on?   Reward yourselves?

Bad things happen to good people

Standard

The saying ‘Bad things happen to good people’ has been floating around in my head a lot.  It’s not that I doubt that truth, I find it to be very true.  The reason I’ve been thinking about it lately is this….my conundrum….. It’s been a rough year in our household.  Actually it’s been a rough 4+ years.  Every year I complete a family memory album, our family Yearbook and I include all of the fun things we do together as a family but I largely exclude the less pleasant experiences.  As I complete our family book this year I am faced with “should I include that?”   There are many experiences we have in life that are just plain “private” and do not need to be aired for the general public, BUT do we really want our future generations to think our life was hunky dory, glossy, perfection?  Are we not also supposed to leave behind real growth experiences, emotions, and depth of life?  For myself I solve this conundrum by keeping a detailed written personal journal that is less in the public eye.  How do you handle your challenging legacy?  What do you believe should be left behind?  I am curious….

Everything always happens in batches

Standard

Why does life always get busy in batches?
hmmm??

I’m excited to have life slow down a tad bit this week.
(big deep sigh)
In the mean time, I have pictures.

This week we had two photo friendly activities.
Peekaboo had her homecoming dance
&
We held our Fall Recognition Night for Activity Day Girls.

First- Homecoming.

Peekaboo was very excited for the homecoming dance this year. She really wanted a long dress so that she would be different. Homecoming is usually much more casual and short dresses are the norm. As a family we all went out and helped her shop. JR and I were not as enthusiastic as she but we still had fun(ish). Her friend Abby also came along. She found the perfect black dress right away but the price was not budget friendly, so on we went. The girl’s enjoyed finding silly dresses to try on (check out those wedding dresses). I loved this beautiful blue dress she tried on but I was the only one….eventually she found a pretty pink, budget friendly grecian style gown. She said she had an “OK” time at the dance but really, I think her favorite part of the whole experience lay in finding the perfect dress and then getting all dolled up and posing for pictures.

Now on to Recognition Night. I actually can’t remember how many years I’ve been a leader in Activity Day Girls. It’s truly fuzzy. It’s maybe 6 or 7 years. So that means I’ve done 12-14 Recognition Nights, somewhere around there. The program has gradually grown and expanded over the years. I try to have the girls do as much of the program as possible. This year the girls conducted, gave talks, conducted the music, performed a special musical number “We are different” and gave the opening and closing prayers. They did such a wonderful job. I had 18 girls earn awards for their FIG. I award a charm for each of the goals completed. Out of the 18 girls who were being awarded 15 showed up. I awarded over 100 charms. It was a fun evening. In addition to all of the girl’s hard work, my co-leader created a darling slideshow and my other co-leader played the piano, and another was in charge of food…. I couldn’t do all of this without all of the help I get. I love serving in the Activity Day Girls program. Recognition Night is a lot of work, but always worth it…but, now I need a nap (or 3)

Becoming a family

Standard

As an adoptive parent, our family’s milestones are different than other family’s. Do you remember when you realized you were pregnant with your first child? I remember where I was that August day when I got the call that a committee of social workers had voted that my hubby and I were the perfect family for an adorable little two year old girl. I’d waited at home all day on pins and needles for the phone call but I was positive that it wouldn’t go our way (others hadn’t), When the social worker called to give me the good news my momentous first words were “you’re kidding”, she then spent several minutes explaining that she wasn’t kidding.

Another big milestone was the day that the adoption was actually finalized-9 months later. Usually adoptive parents are permitted to be at the signing of the adoption decree but our social worker discouraged it, so one day we came home from a fun family day and found a big packet of papers in our mailbox…It turns out that we’d been legally Peekaboo’s parents for several weeks. The date of our finalization was June 10th, and we were at the Oregon Coast that day, as a family. While digitizing some of my old negatives I found the photos we took that day. Our first official finalized family photos…and we didn’t even know it then.

Here’s another milestone. The day Peekaboo was finally blessed and given a name. A tradition in our church. It was a big deal. We held the blessing at our home and invited friends and family. It was pretty tight in there. I remember nothing much from that blessing because I started to bawl the moment my husband spoke her name. We only have this one picture of the day because I didn’t realize that I was out of film in my camera.

Here’s one of the last…one of my favorites. Peekaboo kept her distance from my hubby, a lot…. she bonded initially with me but didn’t focus much on my Johnny… I took this picture because it was a time when he was working on the computer and she walked up to him and wanted to be on his lap. We had other pictures of them together, but this is the first where she ‘chose’ him. It was a special moment.

Creating a family is an intricate, delicate experience regardless of how it is formed. What are your memories of your milestones for your family?

Pico De Gallo

Standard

Gee, I sure hope I spelled the title correctly.
this is one of those posts that I’m mostly doing so that I remember.

Our tomatoes this year are yummy! This year I’m not ready to can our surplus so I tried to think of a favorite option. My answer was pico de gallo. I found a recipe to make pico de gallo (peeko-de-guy-Oh)several years ago and I make it each summer. It’s always a huge hit. I tinkered with the recipe and made my own variation. The pico can be frozen although I don’t know for how long since we always eat it so fast. We love to eat pico de gallo over top of spice fish or salmon, personally, I like it with poached eggs.

Here’s my recipe: for future reference
4-6 small early girl tomatoes or 2-3 larger table sized tomatoes- chopped in nice big pieces
1/2 cup white onion (or even a walla walla sweet)- diced
1/2 cup red onion- diced
1 small jalapeno or 1/2 of a large (I like to scrape the seeds out of one half, and leave the seeds to the other half)- finely dice
3-4 garlic cloves (to taste) finely chopped
1/2 cup diced cilantro
1 tsp salt (optional)
3 tbs sugar (or splenda- optional)

Mix everything together and then let the pico sit for at leaste 2-3 hours, best after 24 hours….This recipe is so fantastic with a little black beans and salmon…yummmmmmm!

P.S. I’d like to show a picture but the pico I just made is already gone. Hopefully more tomatoes turn red soon so that I can make some more.

P.P.S….you can use canned/drained diced tomatoes. but it’s not as good.

Do you remember 9/11?

Standard

As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches so does TV and news footage reminding us all of that awful day. It’s funny how the footage brings such strong memories to the fore. I remember that day clearly. It was my daughter’s second day of kindergarten. She was 5 1/2 years old. We’d gotten up early as a family to have family prayer. My daughter was getting dressed in her bedroom and I was cleaning our shower. My hubby called me with news that he’d heard on the radio that a plane had hit one of the twin towers in New York. I remember laughing, imagining some little prop plane type thing being too stupid to see that tall tower. Of course I was sad for the loss of life but anything devious was beyond my imagining. So, I turned on the news and began to watch and was horrified to realize it was a full sized airplane. I remember sitting there brushing and braiding my daughter’s long silky hair while the second plane hit the other tower….I remember the moment when I realized that the world I grew up in was not the reality that my daughter, this precious child chattering and eating breakfast would inherit. I remember seriously debating NOT sending my daughter to school, but I didn’t want to frighten her. I remember taking her to soccer practice later that day and standing at the sidelines with all of the other shell shocked parents, all of us wanted to protect our children from the violence that was erupting but we knew we wouldn’t be able to. Now, our children are in their late teens and the reality they’ve inherited is a world of war and fear and division. I feel sad.