Gratitude is Joy

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others. – Cicero

Oprah said, “The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.”  Wha? I knew I wasn’t “getting it,” the scope of the power of gratitude. Being grateful felt really obvious to me, and yet elusive. Because when I was feeling grateful and saying thank you, it didn’t seem all that powerful. And yet I could sense that for many people I admired, gratitude seemed Big with a capital B. It seemed life shifting, joy inducing, abundance attracting, Big.

I began a “quest” to figure it out- and my typical non-type-A fashion -I tried the path requiring the least effort- I took the one I already practiced and I expand it. As I laid my head on my pillow after a loud deep sigh, I would say “I am so grateful for my comfy bed!” and silently list the other blessings I experienced throughout my day. This felt good, but it wasn’t inducing those Big feelings and shifts I was seeking.

For me the Big changes happened only after I began to write- and that, too, was a process. I abandoned list making after a few weeks for the same wet noodle results I had during my bedtime routine. Although I noticed more of the good stuff in my day, something still felt hollow.

And then… a shift.  

Instead of making a list (broad) I began focusing on one person, circumstance, or event and wrote lots of detail (deep). I found that as I was able to name on a granular level what it was that I gratefully noticed, my appreciation began to blossom AS I WROTE.  Capturing the awareness of all that is good in my world spun into a form of energy - accompanied by sensations in my body (tingles at the back of my neck) and feelings of joy and gratefulness that was as deep as a well that provides life giving spring water. I found the BIG!

When I practice gratitude it creates a new dimension filled with joy. It’s as if I am creating a warm bath of energy in my own existence that I bask in. It is a mind-trip because, as I appreciate and cherish the gifts I have in my life, I am creating more joy! As my gratitude increases joy, noticing joy and being thankful creates more basking in gratitude, gratitude is the awareness of gifts and joy...and so on.

So here I am, shouting from the blog mountain that this- gratitude- is the epicenter to abundance in all other areas of life! 

How does one practice gratitude?

There is no doubt, this is a personal journey. You have to find the practice that speaks to you. You’ll know it when you feel the Big shifts, and it could come with listing, or drawing, or writing.  I have found the practice that works for me and many of my clients is putting pen to paper. If you feel inspired, write down what it is that you are grateful for, what you are appreciating and noticing. It does not require much time- try it for 5-10 minutes at the end of day or at lunch time. Not feeling inspired? Just pick anything topic!  Indoor plumbing, the sun, the green light during your commute! Just begin writing, even if it feels awkward. Begin each sentence with “I am grateful for,” or “I appreciate,” or “I feel gratitude because.” Sometimes this is tough, especially when it was a rough day. Start with something neutral or small- my dog’s wagging tail, my warm blankets. It’s a muscle we are building, so give it some time to develop.


Notice that which is already good in your life because what you pay attention to grows!  Make gratitude a state of being, and watch your joy multiply.

 

 

 

The Power of a Morning Routine

Some mornings feel like a thread is pulled from the sweater of my life, and I am left a heap of yarn at the end of the day. Thankfully, I have had less and of those days lately. Thank you, morning routine!

What’s so great about a morning routine?

A morning routine can both nourish you and prepare you for a productive day.

HOW your start your day makes a big impact on the tone of the day! Begin the day by filling your own cup- it helps you be intentional and energized, and gets you out of reactionary mode.

What makes a nourishing morning routine?

There are lots of morning routine ideas out there; you need to make it your own. Take what speaks to you and incorporate it- leave the rest behind! Just take one or two ideas- small shifts- to prioritize your own well-being!  Best morning routine is the one that speaks to you and that YOU DO!

Some “building blocks” you can add to your own morning routine:

Drink lemon water.  Studies have shown that beginning your day with lemon water (warm or cold) jump starts your metabolism and digestive system, flushes out toxins, and rehydrates your body after sleep. Make it easy: slice lemons on Sunday night for week!

Physical movement. Stretch, yoga, walk. Just get your body moving!

Recognize abundance! Bring attention to all that you have in your life that is plentiful. This could be your warm blankets, hot water in your shower, cozy socks, a car that started. Because what you pay attention GROWS!

Sing! Singing reduces stored muscle tension and decreases the amount of the stress hormone cortisol into your blood system!

Mantras. An easy way to infuse day with positive beliefs and sends out to the world you are ready to receive goodness! A friend of mine recites everyday: “Something amazingly awesome is going to happen to me today!”

Visualization. Imagine the feeling state you’ll experience once you have completed X. (successfully complete the project at work, finish your exercise routine, etc.) Visualize it as if you already have that which you desire. Brain research led by Dr. David R. Hamilton, PhD shows that practicing visualization is so powerful it has helped people improve outcomes in sports, illness and injury.

Practice gratitude! Similar to the abundance practice, being grateful for what is in your life will help reorient your compass towards happiness. Journaling gratitude is a potentl exercise, and it’s accumulative effect is a powerful way to create a positive state of mind.

Meditation. Quieting the mind and tuning into ones own stillness can lower blood pressure, stress and anxiety, and improve self-awareness. It’s called a practice because there is no perfect meditation! Whatever way you come to stillness- by moving the body or by sitting- it all “counts.” And no, thoughts do not just stop- they happen to everyone. (Tip: Let them float by like a cloud instead of following them) Trying to meditate is meditating, so go ahead! Sit under a tree or on your couch and give it a go!

Daily reading. My favorite daily collection is Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening. Perhaps you have a few books on your nightstand that you love; open one randomly in the morning and soak in whatever message was delivered to you that day!

3 Most Important Tasks. On a post it note write down 3 things that, by the end of the day if you can get these done you’ll feel accomplished. Everyday I have more than 3 things I want to do, but this gives me a visual and a reminder- and it’s quite satisfying to ball it up in the evening and throw it away- done! (Thanks, Courtney Pinkerton for introducing me to this practice!)

Write. Take 5-10 minutes, and practice “morning pages.” The concept is just write- don’t pick up your pen- non stop even if it’s jibberish! The process allows the left brain to be occupied and your right brain/creative brain to be expressed.

Get up too early already? Begin AFTER you return home! Some practices can even be done at work. Even if you have an unconventional schedule everyday starts sometime! Find a place to mark as your beginning, and center your practice then.

To support our nourishing morning routine we sometimes need to BACK INTO it. That means you may need to tweak some habits that aren’t serving you:

  • Turn off notifications on phone so it’s not first thing you see in the morning (reactive v. intentional)
  • Give yourself time to wind down at night. Get to bed 20-45 minutes earlier.
  • SET ALARM for bedtime! iPhone has a bedtime setting in your clock app! As a natural night owl, I can easily zone out and loose track of time. Sometimes I feel too tired to go to bed!
  • Setting out clothes, items you need the next day (works well for kiddos, too)
  • Get the rest you need by honoring the body signals at night. This will also eliminate the desire to hit the snooze button 3 times. Instead you can carve out that 27 minutes for your own well-being!

Remember:

  1. Make your morning routine EASY.

  2. Honor what you are already doing- singing in the car, walking to the train, etc.

  3. Practice layering nourishing practices with things you already do. Name 3 things your grateful for while you make your coffee. Warm up the car and close your eyes for 5 minutes for a meditation or visualization. Create a routine that works for you.

YOU have choices. YOU are in control. These practices are to help you center and remind you of the priorities in your life. Creating a life you want to lead can start with each fresh new day!

Looking for more support to kick-start your morning routine? Check out Practice + Action = Change! for program details!
 

 

Feels Like Magic

There is a space that I sometimes occupy where everything feels easy, as if I am in a flow of abundance of energy and ideas.  

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about just that when she tells the story of the poet Ruth Stone in her 2009 Ted Talk (transcribed in part here):

“As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, run like hell to the house as she would be chased by this poem. The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’. And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.“
It gives me the chills.

Sometimes, I’ll get these ideas and they warm my insides and sunbursts are going off all over my body. There is a vibrant energy that feels like alive-ness and it is so powerful. In the moment, it feels like it could energize my whole path- light up the entire rest of my life- it is so glowy and faceted! Poetry isn't my outcome, but that wave- what Stone called the "thunderous train of air" when I can sense it coming and jump on, it carries me further than any hustle I've ever been able to conjure.

When I capture it- the idea or movement- by writing it down, making that call, doing the dishes or play a song 6 times in a row and singing really loud- whatever the action that matches the inspiration- something is created.  This is what expansion feels like- taking a seed/inspiration and letting it move, grow. It feels effortless and energizing. It feels like magic.

So today, I am listening to my tugs my intuition my soul. Allowing it to become. This writing- right now- this is me capturing inspired action. I am stepping into the flow of the universe by being receptive to my deeper knowing, and from here, creating. Action that is charged and filled with a momentum that seems to be generated by not just me.

The more I tap into that receptive mode the more frequently I can hear the inspiration and act on it.  So for now, I am honoring the inspiration when it comes and capture it as often as I can. I am going to do this because it makes me feel alive when I do!

RECENT THOUGHTS ON MOTHERING . . .

I am in square 4 with my daughters. (The 4th quadrant of Martha Beck’s Change Cycle- shorthand for putting a shit ton of work into something and now making small tweaks to keep it afloat)  Could it be? I am present and mothering fully. It’s not perfect.  It’s loud and hormonal and drama-laden, but I am engaged and available and human.

Speaking of human, my name is not Mom.

Yesterday I was in my closet (really, behind the door of the small 1940’s era closet) and I asked my youngest; did your sister just call my name? And it hit me, she didn’t call my name she called for MOM. Oh did that opened up a skylight in my awareness dwelling.

My Name Is Not Mom.

I am Katie.

I have experiences, a past, passions, interests, opinions.

I am at a place where I want and am beginning to show my daughters more of who I am.

I am ready for them to meet me (age appropriately and with less cursing, naturally). This takes engagement and vulnerability and

I am so in.

I am ready to shed the frameless shapeless mom that they call and cuddle and order food from. 

I will continue to do all these things, but with a little more dignity. I’d like them to see me as a person so when they finish eating they will think a moment before leave their dishes on the table.

So, this is my square 4 tweak. I am ready for this. Being Mom, but sprinkled with a little more Katie.

Who's with me?

Schedule a Clarity Session today and design your plan to sprinkle more YOU into your relationship with your kiddos!