Chasing Inspiration

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Life Themes - Gratitude

I found this today over on the Zen Habits blog (great blog! Check it out!). It fits with my current situation and some of the themes I'm finding from writers I admire and have been reading lately.
I hope you enjoy reading this article. It gave me pause. And feel free to share your reaction!

8 Temendously Important Ways That Gratitude Can Change Your Life

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” - Meister Eckhart

It’s amazing how one simple, easy, positive action can change so much in a person’s life.

One of the things that has had the biggest effect on my life is the realization of the power of gratitude. Simply giving thanks.

It has affected everything. It has made me a more positive person. A more productive person. A better achiever. A better husband and father and son and brother (at least, I like to think so). A happier person. I’m not perfect, but gratitude has made me better.

Can it change your life as well? I can guarantee it. You might not get the exact same benefits as I have, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the simple act of gratitude on a regular basis will change anyone’s life, positively and immediately. How many other changes can claim to be that quick, that easy, and that profound?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life, and how it will change your life. These are just some examples, based on my experience and the experiences of others I’ve talked with, and not all will apply to your life. But pick and choose the ones you think will work for you.

1. Have a morning gratitude session. Take one minute in the morning (make it a daily ritual) to think of the people who have done something nice for you, to think of all the things in your life you’re grateful for. You won’t get to everything in one minute, but it’s enough. And it will instantly make your day better, and help you start your day off right. Can you think of a better use of one minute?

2. When you’re having a hard day … make a gratitude list. We all have those bad days sometimes. We are stressed out from work. We get yelled at by someone. We lose a loved one. We hurt a loved one. We lose a contract or do poorly on a project. One of the things that can make a bad day much better is making a list of all the things you’re thankful for. There are always things to be thankful for — loved ones, health, having a job, having a roof over your head and clothes on your back, life itself.

3. Instead of getting mad at someone, show gratitude. That’s a major switching of attitudes — actually a complete flip. And so this isn’t always easy to do. But I can promise you that it’s a great thing to do. If you get mad at your co-worker, for example, because of something he or she did … bite your tongue and don’t react in anger. Instead, take some deep breaths, calm down, and try to think of reasons you’re grateful for that person. Has that person done anything nice for you? Has that person ever done a good job? Find something, anything, even if it’s difficult. Focus on those things that make you grateful. It will slowly change your mood. And if you get in a good enough mood, show your gratitude to that person. It will improve your mood, your relationship, and help make things better. After showing gratitude, you can ask for a favor — can he please refrain from shredding your important documents in the future? And in the context of your gratitude, such a favor isn’t such a hard thing for the co-worker to grant.

4. Instead of criticising your significant other, show gratitude. This is basically the same as the above tactic, but I wanted to point out how gratitude can transform a marriage or relationship. If you constantly criticize your spouse, your marriage will slowly deteriorate — I promise you. It’s important to be able to talk out problems, but no one likes to be criticized all the time. Instead, when you find yourself feeling the urge to criticize, stop and take a deep breath. Calm down, and think about all the reasons you’re grateful for your spouse. Then share that gratitude, as soon as possible. Your relationship will become stronger. Your spouse will learn from your example — especially if you do this all the time. Your love will grow, and all will be right in the world.

5. Instead of complaining about your kids, be grateful for them. Many parents (myself included) get frustrated with their children. They are too slow to do things, they have a bad attitude, they can’t clean up after themselves, and they pick their nose too much. Unfortunately, sometimes parents will communicate that frustration to their children too often, and the kids will begin to feel bad about themselves. Many parents have done this, and while it’s not perfect, it’s a part of parenthood. But there’s a better way: follow the method above of calming down when you’re frustrated, and thinking of reasons you’re grateful to your child. Share these reasons with your child. And then take the opportunity to teach them, instead of criticizing them.

6. When you face a major challenge, be grateful for it. Many people will see something difficult as a bad thing. If something goes wrong, it’s a reason to complain, it’s a time of self-pity. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, learn to be grateful for the challenge — it’s an opportunity to grow, to learn, to get better at something. This will transform you from a complainer into a positive person who only continues to improve. People will like you better and you’ll improve your career. Not too shabby.

7. When you suffer a tragedy, be grateful for the life you still have. I’ve recently lost an aunt, and my children recently lost a grandmother. These tragedies can be crippling if you let them overcome you. And while I’m not saying you shouldn’t grieve — of course you should — you can also take away something even greater from these tragedies: gratitude for the life you still have. Appreciation for the fleeting beauty of life itself. Love for the people who are still in your life. Take this opportunity to show appreciation to these people, and to enjoy life while you can.

8. Instead of looking at what you don’t have, look at what you do have. Have you ever looked around you and bemoaned how little you have? How the place you live isn’t your dream house, or the car you drive isn’t as nice as you’d like, or your peers have cooler gadgets or better jobs? If so, that’s an opportunity to be grateful for what you already have. It’s easy to forget that there are billions of people worse off than you — who don’t have much in the way of shelter or clothes, who don’t own a car and never will, who don’t own a gadget or even know what one is, who don’t have a job at all or only have very menial, miserable jobs in sweatshop conditions. Compare your life to these people’s lives, and be grateful for the life you have. And realize that it’s already more than enough, that happiness is not a destination — it’s already here.

“Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” - Dalai Lama

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Themes That Pop Up In Life

I've been doing some reading on the craft of writing and on letting go in order to live a simpler life and a few things keep coming back to me. Themes, if you will.

The first - Write Out Loud.

I have J. R. Ward and Susan Wiggs to thank for this theme. Ward mentions it specifically in her Black Dagger Brotherhood Compendium which hit shelves this past month. Through out the book she discusses her rules of writing and how her writing grew and develop with this series. And the thing that caught my eye was Write Out Loud. Sort of like living out loud. Give it all you've got. Don't hold back.

On Susan Wigg's blog, she has been posting some of her notes from a writer's workshop she recently attended and I see this theme woven through her words. Michael Hauge, the screenplay master himself, presented the workshop and I know I really want to sit and absorb all I can from him some day. But back to the theme. While the workshop was around writing craft, at the end of the day he asked everyone to fill out this statement:

“I’ll do whatever it takes to be a successful writer; just don’t ask me to (fill in the blank), because that’s just not me.”

I thought about that after reading Susan's blog and I have a lot of caveats and addendums. I want to write, but I'm afraid. Of many things. I'm afraid of failing, of finding out that this is just a childish dream and that I've wasted my time. That's the biggest fear. And it holds me back in really giving myself to my stories. It holds me back from really finding myself.

Write Out Loud.

I recently found out that my position is being eliminated. I may not be completely out of a job. That will depend on internal positions where I work. But I decided to not worry about this set back. I was looking for a new road, a new path anyway. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't afraid about what would happen if I changed jobs or lost this income. It's been an excuse I've been using for a long time. I haven't been writing my own life out loud.

Well, for the sake of argument, this excuse has been whipped out from under me and I find that I'm not as afraid as I thought I would be. I'm sure that will change if I don't start getting a paycheck in the relatively near future because, well, we've based our savings plans and our renovations on two incomes. But, we can still be fine.

Yes, I'm going to look for a new job, but instead of jumping on the next thing because I feel guilty for not contributing to the family income, I'm praying I can use the time to discover what I really want to do and find fulfilling work that lets me write, and live, outloud.

More themes to come...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This is from April and Susan Wiggs. Hee!

You can click on the picture to get the full work cloud. It's a lovely way to sum up my months of October and September. Nice! I just wish I knew how I could delete words from it, lol!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday, Monday

There are days I wish I was more organized, had more energy, was more creative, was more driven, etc. Days I wish I was, well, more.

Today isn't once of those days. Today I just want to go home and be a slug. Not because I'm not feeling well. Although the tummy is being weird today. Not because what I have to do at work is awful or draining or icky. No, I want to be at home, snuggled under a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa and either watching a movie or reading a book because it's raining today. And I always want to be snuggled in at home when it's raining.

I don't know why. I love rain. In the summer, I love walking outside in it, letting the coolness of the raindrops batter my warm, sticky skin. I adore thunderstorms. When the sky lights up with electricity and the earth rumbles, I get a huge grin on my face and sit back to enjoy the show.

But I like to do all this from the comfort of my home. I think it may have something to do with the fact that when it's raining during the day, the sky is grey and it feels like I should be somewhere else. Like in a coffee shop sipping a latte or on my couch with a good book and a steamy cup of tea. It's a day where the world should slow down and breathe. Work isn't fast paced today, but it's faster than the weather tells my my day should be.

Maybe I'll take a longer lunch, slow down with a good book and some tea and enjoy. Because when it rains, you don't have to be more of anything. You just need to be.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Blanket

A while ago, as in May or earlier, I started a knitted lap blanket for J. R. Ward. Yes, I'm that fan girl. Get over it.

I finished it in September during Lora Leigh's Reader Appreciation Weekend (RAW) and was able to present it to J. R. Ward at the booksigning. She loved it! Which is great because this was my first knitting project I have ever completed. I rather miss working on it.

Anyway, here is a picture of it. S6300611The pattern can be found on my friend Courtney's blog. She was gracious in helping me figure out what to knit, and walked with me through the process. Next up, dish clothes. Seriously. Stop laughing.

It was a joy to meet up with J. R. Ward again and to give her the blanket. I hope she remembers me the next time we meet, because, seriously, she totally forgot who I was from last year! LOL! Not that she should remember me. Mostly, I hope she loves the blanket and uses it a lot.

Someday I'll make another one and keep it. Maybe make it out of a different yarn or use a different color. But it turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

September Reads

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas -- I enjoy stories that focus around couples who are or have been married and are finding themselves in a situation that gives them a second chance at love.

A Perfect Bride by Samantha James -- This is the first book in SJ's Sterling Family trilogy and it hit the spot! Looking forward to books 2 & 3.

Sweet Spot and Sweet Trouble by Susan Mallery -- Books 2 & 3 of her Keyes Sister's trilogy. Highly enjoyable.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris -- The inspiration for HBO's True Blood series, this is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Vampires, telepaths, shape shifters, oh my!

Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen -- Another great thriller from a master! Mummies, what's not to like? :D

The Charm School by Susan Wiggs -- A great historical and the first of SW's Calhoune series. I'm looking forward to more of these rereleased books.

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning -- Book two of KMM's Fever series finally made it to mass market paperback. I had read it before, but read it again as I wait for the library to tell me I'm next in line for Faefever.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer -- Hilarious fun! Better than their first collaboration.

Dangerous Games by Lora Leigh -- Hot! Smokin' hot! That's all I can say about book on in LL's Tempting SEALs series.

Karma Girl and Hot Mama by Jennifer Estep -- Sex. Lies. And superheroes. A winning combination for JE's campy and well written Bigtime series! I have book 3 on my night stand now!