Gratitude Dare

Day 22: Early

My Mother used to tell us (while we were in a grumpy, half-conscious, not happy to be awake, state) “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” As an adult,  I’m still not a morning person, but I have seen the blessings of getting up early. And I can see why the idiom was created.

  • When you get up early, you’re not rushing. For me, this is the main reason. When you rush in the morning, your whole day is playing catch-up. I used to know just how long it’d take to get up and get out the door, and wake up to the minute in order to get as much sleep as possible But now I am training myself to arise early, and i have extra time to spend wherever I need and don’t have to limit myself. Before, I couldn’t spend extra time on my hair, outfit selection, scripture tangents, breakfast, etc. It was all about rush until it’s done. Now I can savor any part of my morning that I desire. Scripture study often follows tangents (in which I find the most growth, because the tangents are what is relevant to my needs and thoughts at the time), my hair is still usually in a ponytail, but I have potential to do with it, and I do try to dress up more, just for myself.
  • When you get up early, you get more done. No one else is awake to need your attention. You’re clearer in thought, because the worries and distractions of the day haven’t crept into your head yet, and you’re full of the energy that sleep provides. Furthermore, you think more clearly, therefore you plan your day in the proper order, so you can move more efficiently throughout your day. And you can get the foundation laid before the distractions wake up.
  • When you get up early, there is time to take care of the “some day” projects. Then you feel accomplished, you take care of the mental to-do list, and it’s much easier to clean a house that is uncluttered of the things just waiting for you to get around to. That’s the perk for me, I don’t have to move the unfinished projects around in order to clean and feel some semblance of sanity.
  • When you get up early, you get time for yourself. Number one reason, ding ding ding ding ding. Form your own opinions before someone tells you how you should feel. Take care of yourself before the world needs you to take care of them. Shower uninterrupted in a house full of young children. Feed yourself and only yourself. Pray at a time when you can hear your own thoughts. Set goals for yourself in a balanced and energized state. Remember that you are a human  being and that you are special and need to care for yourself. Remember that you are important and precious. That memory will stay with you throughout the day and you will find yourself keeping up more of your boundaries. Boundaries are stronger, already, because you’ve had time to reinforce them before anyone got up.
  • When you get up early, you have time to spend in thanksgiving, and you have more reason to tell yourself it’s going to be a great day.  When you awake with time to spare, you’re not giving yourself a crash-course on all the things you’ve got to get done in a day.
  • When you get up early, you eat better, because you have more time to devote to what you will eat. There is time to make pancakes, muffins, or eggs. There is time to eat it slowly, which is better for your digestive system, stomach, and future appetite. And you have time to think about the food you eat and make healthy food choices. You also have more time to dedicate to your lunch.

My mornings have become sacred. I haven’t let anyone know that I’ve become an early riser, because it gives me the time to create structure and order for myself. It gives me time to read scriptures that I never get done if I try to read after everyone is awake.

dareEarly is up to interpretation. It can be whenever you need. It doesn’t even have to be earlier than you’re currently getting up, if you feel that you are spending your mornings unrushed and refreshed. For me, early is 6 o’clock. I’m still trying to get the habit to stick. Some mornings, I do great. Others I roll back into bed. I’d like to make it a habit instead of a novelty. Tomorrow, wake up early.

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

My Long-Forgotten Thank You: Grandpa

I needed to share, today.

At first, I was going to look up an old junior high teacher [Mr. Cleaverly, if you ever find this you’re awesome. Some day I’ll thank you properly] to thank for today’s personal challenge, but yesterday something my soul has been processing for a while finally came into focus.

I was delving into my soul in order to figure out just what was nagging at the back of my mind. I learned so much about myself, but this isn’t the place. In my research, I discovered a “connections” category. Basically, the circuits in the world around us keep us connected to family, ourselves, our body, higher powers… and our angels. The source of the information discussed how “angels” is a term that is vague. It’s left for interpretation, or for whatever level of understanding you’re at. Some feel it’s guardian angels, some feel it’s loved ones that watch out for us, and often, it means something different to each individual. I take that to mean, it’s something that no one person has complete information on. It’s divine. So, I considered it for a second. And my soul just seemed to scream that I was missing something there. I can’t explain it; something happened. And as I looked into it further (it was a mere second, I swear. The information was just there), my grandpa came to my mind.

When I was a child, my grandpa was sick. I don’t remember a healthy grandpa. His life consisted of his hospital-style bed, his lift chair, a walker with tennis balls on the legs, and the occasional drive to the middle of no where. People would tell stories about how hard-working he was, how much he did, and that working was part of his core value; but to the child I was, that was all foreign. The soldier, the farmer, the provider, the man – these were grandpa in a past life. I had no concept of how much that had to eat at him, stuck to his house with everyone helping him instead of him out helping the world. To me, he was the man who always spoke in a whisper, could never pronounce my name right, and who gave me quarters until the quarters ran out; then he gave me candy. Grandma always made sure he had candy to give. When I look back with 28-year-old eyes, I see so much more. I would love to go back and re-live that time with him! As a 28-year old, I am able to see that with a mother who was ill, a grandmother that was busy, a dad that worked far from home, and siblings that I raised, Grandpa was my guardian. He watched me. He gave me everything that he had: love, quarters, candy. I think he alone saw my pain.

When I did counseling at the beginning of the year, the counselor asked me to relax and go back to a time in my past; a meditation, if you will. We walked all over my house, all over my side of the mountain, and all over my grandmother’s house [we lived near each other, in a wood… over a creek, that I counted as a [tooltip text=””over the river and through the woods…”]river[/tooltip]]. In that entire universe I’d created for myself, there were only two people. Me… and grandpa. In all of the bustle of the world, I was forgotten by everyone but him. I raised myself. I don’t blame my parents, or anyone. My mom had a lot on her plate. My dad did everything he could for us. But that is the truth. I’ve never shared it with anyone (that I didn’t pay to listen to me), because I didn’t want to hurt my family by its confession. I bawled then, too. Suddenly, though I’d felt alone my entire life, I realized that my grandpa had always been there for me. Watching me. Offering advice. I’d never accepted it. As a kid raising herself, the person that reaches out with his soul is scary. But as an adult… I bawled and bawled to learn that I was not alone. That I was never alone.

On the day we traveled for Grandpa’s funeral, when I was seventeen, the roads were icy. We had moved about 5 hours from my grandparents by then. It had been a hard year, and my dad was overseas. Mom, who hated driving but didn’t trust my driving skills yet, was taking us over a mountain pass. Suddenly, an ice patch threw us into the bank of snow that was the only barrier between us and a huge drop over the side of the mountain. I remember thinking “Really? Like this trip isn’t hard enough! Why would something like this happen!” But there was no damage to the vehicle, my mom had enough experience to mutter under her breath, take a deep sigh to calm her down, check the car, and continue on our way. Just around the corner from where we were (we’ll say 500 feet because it sounds good, though I really had no way to judge distance), There was a moose standing in the middle of the road. Moose are big and solid. They don’t give. Especially not for a little 90’s model Mazda. Had we been going the speed posted, we would have had no time to stop, would have skidded right into it, and I wouldn’t be telling this tale. People don’t just survive a moose-collision. And need I remind you that on one side is solid mountain, and on the other is sheer cliff? Later, after we’d arrived and before the viewing, mom talked to me. She told me that the ice was nothing compared to the stuff we’d driven over safely. She’d also told me that it had felt like the whole vehicle had been pushed. She also felt grandpa nearby. I’d always loved that story, and it has always stayed with me as an anecdote of miracles and angels, and survival stories. But it came to light more to me over the past 12 hours. Secretly, I’ve always felt like that story was for me. I don’t think mom told anyone else, and even though it felt shameful to think that although Grandpa would want to save the rest of his posterity, he did it all for me; I was that special.

That is important. Above all else, that speaks to me. That in a full car, Grandpa protected us to save me. And I know there would be many benefits, but somehow I feel special enough. If I were in the car by myself, and if it had been something besides a funeral, I was still important enough to save. As a girl that struggles to understand love, even love of God, that message comes screaming through. My grandfather has taught me love. Even when I didn’t know it. Even when it took 28 years for me to get the message. He is my example of my Heavenly Father. He is my example of love.

All of this flashed back to me in milliseconds, and suddenly, when I mentally fixed the broken connection in my soul, It was like plugging in a floodlight. I was so full of joy, my eyes could not contain it. Tears streamed down my face. I don’t think it was all my joy, and all my tears. I think that Grandpa was just as glad to have that connection fixed. Suddenly, he was a part of me. Like he’s wanted to be my entire life. He’s stood at my door and knocked. And knocked. And knocked. And I finally know it’s safe to open the door.

He is my guardian angel.

And I thank him.

Gratitude Dare

Day 21: Long-Forgotten Thank yous

Have you ever looked back at your life and thought of someone that made all the difference? A teacher that pushed you, a friend that helped heal your soul, an “adopted” mom? Today, thank them. It could take some work to hunt them down, but think about where to start. If they’re a teacher, contact the school you used to attend. They might not be permitted to give whereabouts, but they can probably forward something on if they know the location. If it’s a friend, find mutual acquaintances and go from there. Think about how you know the person, and use that as the starting line.

And if the person’s no longer facing the tests of mortality, take a trip and visit his/her headstone. Leave a note, if possible. It’ll feel good to write it.

Good luck.

dare

Gratitude Dare

Day 20: Spouses

[disclaim]First off, a disclaimer: this doesn’t have to be a spouse. It can be any type of significant other, a roommate, or a sister. Pick someone you are close to, that you see often, and that is nearest to your heart.[/disclaim]

dareConfession: I am not the model wife when it comes to showing gratitude for my husband! We go on dates, I know how to speak an affirmations love language, but I’ve got to be on my guard to do it. Most of the time I’m so caught up in my own head I forget to show affection at all. I know, lame, right? So I am actualy looking forward to today’s challenge.

Since I am in no way an expert, I trusted my handy friend Google… and came up empty. There are ways to tell your husband you love him, ways to tell him you’re pregnant (handy, I suppose), and things women wish they could tell their husband (I didn’t dare click that link… that could be scary. But there’s no site specifically thanking husbands! So, I dug through a couple of other search results, and compiled a list of ways to thank a husband (/spouse/significant other). Here are the top 15:

  • Thank you for choosing to spend your life with me (I like this one based on healthy principles!).
  • Thank you for inspiring me.
  • Thank you for helping me become a better version of myself.
  • Thank you for telling me I’m beautiful, even when I don’t feel beautiful.
  • Thank you for accepting me for who I am.
  • Thank you for being my friend.
  • Thank you for all of the encouragement you give me.
  • Thank you for sticking with me, even when I don’t want to stick with myself.
  • Thank you for being the [i.e. patriarch, breadwinner, chef, comedian] in the family.
  • Thank you for having boundaries.
  • Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts (I’d add an instance here, so it doesn’t sound coercive).
  • Thank you for growing.I know that ____ wasn’t easy for you, and I’m grateful you kept at it.
  • Thank you for [that thing you said]. It meant a lot to me to hear you say it.
  • Thank you for [whatever he/she did that made you fall in love with them]. My life has never been the same since.
  • Thank you for taking care of your [dishes/socks/laundry, etc]. It means a lot to me that you respect my time and my need for a clean environment, and don’t create more work for me.

Clearly, for a roommate or a sister, you’re going to have to get a little more creative, They didn’t choose to spend their life with you, but they did choose to still be a part of your life. Thank them for being an example, for being there when no one else was, and, yes, for taking care of their own dishes, if applicable.

Now I’ve got to get off my blog and go tell my husband all the ways I’m thankful for him!

Gratitude Dare

Day 19: Mom and Dad

Today, call Mom and/or Dad and tell them thanks. It doesn’t matter what you thank them for, but be as sincere as possible. Thank them for teaching you a skill you’ve needed, for making you eat your broccoli, for not letting you give up in band class, or for surviving past your teenage years.

dare

Let me interject with stating that for some, I know that this is not possible. Instead, pick a role model you’ve looked up to and thank them. Someone was there in your life when you needed a motherly or fatherly figure. Thank them for being there for you.

I highly suggest writing it down. Then you’ll have a chance to say just what you want to say just how you want to say it.

Interestingly enough, I came across this video yesterday. Oddly appropriate (okay, probably not odd. It’s November. Gratitude is the buzzword of the month).

[warning]Oh, there is one word I don’t approve of that they don’t bleep, and there is one word that they do bleep. I wont be offended if you just mute it from 5:15-5:25. She just says that they wanted her to write a letter and then read it. She just doesn’t have the same language taboos that I do. [/warning]

To recap:

  1. Tell yourself it’s going to be a good day.
  2. Take thirty seconds to just be thankful.
  3. look at the bright side.
  4. Tell someone thank you (Today it’s a parent).
  5. Serve someone or give something.
  6. Write 3 paragraphs of gratitude.

See? Still 6 steps. That’s doable.

Gratitude Dare

Day 18: The Gift of You

We’ve been serving and giving for a few days, and now the task is to give of ourselves. It may seem like we’ve already done that over and over. Service is giving of ourselves, giving things we love is giving of ourselves. How is this challenge possibly different? Well, lets get into it.

dareIs there a way to give of ourselves that isn’t open service? Or exchanging any possessions? Let’s talk love languages here. Service is a love language. Gifts is a love language. but there are 3 other love languages! Each of them, along with the previous two can be considered giving of oneself. Today, focus on an unused love language.

Give of your ears.  Listen to someone; Really listen.Give positive feedback. Validate them.This is more than a thank you note, although, technically, that works too. We’re really focusing more on the listening. When was the last time you just listened without giving advice? Or listened without thinking of all the things you have to do in a day?

Give of your time. Play a game with your children, sans devices and apps. Give them 100% of your attention. How long has it been since you played a game with them without checking Facebook/Pinterest/emails/text messages [I’m feeling a bit guilty, here]? Others could use your time, too. Just to be with them. Make eye contact. Work on a project together.

Give of your respect. Treat people kindly, honestly, and considerately. Treat them like they’re the sons and daughters of God like they are. let them know they matter to you through your body language and your words.

Give of your friendship. Include someone new into your acquaintances. Include an acquaintance into your friendship circle. Do something friendly. Have a girl’s night out, maybe? Be a friend.

Give of your memories. Write a letter to you children or a friend from the past. Journal. Write something down that can be remembered in the future. Or go and make new memories, and document it with pictures. Capture this moment in time.

Give of your knowledge. Teach a new skill. Speak up in class or in the workplace, and share what you know that will benefit others. Write your testimony down. Share the gospel. When we share knowledge about something we know, in a solicited situation (unsolicited advice is rarely accepted), we grow closer to the person we’re sharing it with. Because then it’s a shared gift instead on one given only to you. It gives you something in common. And it’s fun.

There are many ways to give of yourself that don’t require much effort. Today, focus on one area you feel the strongest about, and see what happens.

Gratitude Dare

Day 17: Surprise

dareOkay, so for me personally, yesterday was hard and today is fun. I guess that evens out.

Today, surprise someone. With something. Somehow. Don’t get caught.

Let the fun begin! It’s a blast to leave goodies on doorsteps, notes in car windows, and return addresses blank. Today, loosen up, smile, and get into the spirit of giving.

I know the last two posts have been short, but really, how much explaining is needed? make it fun, use you’re imagination, and get going.

Gratitude Dare

Day 16: Ownership

Giving something you own… On the one hand it seems cheap, lazy and unthoughtful. On the other hand, giving something you own can be giving a piece of your heart. The difference is if you treasure it or not.

dareClearly, I’m talking about giving in the later sense. Today, find something you love, and give it away. There are a million excuses, but most of them aren’t any good. Find someone who needs something you have, and give it to them, no strings attached.

Somehow, there are few words needed, and yet it still seems so complicated…

Gratitude Dare

Day 15: Give

In sticking with the service theme, today find something to give. Anything. A quarter to a child, a present to a friend, a hug to a stranger; give whatever comes to your mind.

In trying to think about what to say, I did a little perusing, and found a study by The University at Buffalo, written this year, that discuss the benefits of giving versus receiving. I know that they can prove just about anything they want nowadays, truth or not,  but this study speaks a deeper level truth. It’s something our souls knew long before our brains had proof. Giving is better for your health. It is better to give than to receive.

Over the five years of the study, we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not helped [lightbox title=”Michael J. Poulin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo. source: University at Buffalo. Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences. Study Finds It Actually Is Better (and Healthier) to Give than to ReceiveUniversity at Buffalo. N.p., 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.” url=”PageURL” width=”900″ height=”500″]others[/lightbox].

But I think it’s more than that, too. Giving reduces your need for “stuff.” It severs that carnal connection and allows you to focus on a stronger connection with yourself and with deity. “Stuff” creates a separate pull for your attention. And then there’s the happy vibes from doing good and being good. That helps any stressful day. And seeing the joy you can create. That’s gotta fit in there somehow, too.

[disclaim]note: this counts as the service for today. [/disclaim]dare

A Day in the Life, Gratitude Dare

Weighing In

So, it’s day 14. I’ve been sort of keeping up… Meaning I’ve fallen behind on writing, but I’m all caught up now. At any rate, I just wanted to weigh in. How is the challenge working for anyone else? Is anyone even doing it?

I wanted to share an anecdote from my day. Testimonial from the source. It’s lunch time, and I’d had a bowl of soup already (I love soup. fyi. In case you really wanted to know), but I was still hungry. So I made myself a peanut butter sandwich. I reached in and got a butterknife, looked over at all of the dishes I’d managed to get dirty just by feeding my family breakfast and lunch, and instead of thinking ugh. Dishes. It stinks that so many get dirty. I thought,

I am so blessed to have clean dishes when I go to reach for some.

No joke! Score a point for the home team, it’s working!

also, here are some excerpts of what I am thankful for. I haven’t posted them on here, because I wanted the chance to actually get personal with them, but I’ve chosen some to share here. I thought it was appropriate.

[warning]This first one might be gruesome for some. [/warning]

I am blessed to have people I can rely on in an emergency. Tonight at the Relief Society activity, my daughter’s nose started bleeding rampantly. This is her 4th nosebleed in 36 hours. I rushed her to the bathroom to clean it up and get it to stop bleeding. I couldn’t get it to stop. And then, as we were pulling the tissue away, we pulled out a 2” clump (seriously, not an exaggeration), that wasn’t attached to anything, just clotting in her nose since there was so much blood and the stuff on the walls of the nose was still fresh and oozing. So I opened the door in the RS room, asked the first person I saw if they had a vehicle and if they could drive us to our house. Instead, we bypassed the house and went straight for the ER. She even stayed with us and gave us a ride back home. I was so grateful! We got the nose all cleared up… right before the doc walks in, naturally. I’m pretty sure that it was about an hour’s worth of bleeding. He checked for anemia, didn’t see any signs. Needless to say, we’re adapting to the Vaseline in the nose routine at our house. I think I’ve perfected it, because she doesn’t hate it nearly as much as I used to. It’s all about breathing out while you’re stuffing that cue tip up your nose.

I’m blessed for soup. My friend gave me the recipe last year, and it has been such a blessing to my life! I have been able to share it with others, and it has blessed their lives as well. Something about this soup made from ingredients I grew, that is hearty and healthy… It’s soul food. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing resource at my disposal. It’s also quick and easy to grab in nights that we’re in a hurry.

Nov

I am blessed to have a husband that encourages me to take time off. The world makes husbands out to be a “what did you do all day” sort of person, but Ranger has never even implied that I was lazy; quite the contrary. He often rejoices in a day taken just for myself. I am so grateful that he encourages me in resting. He makes me feel accomplished even when I didn’t do anything, because it meant I was taking care of myself. And I love him for that.

I am blessed by bears that say prayers. My daughter had her bear kneel down with us during prayers tonight. I didn’t see her do it, I just opened my eyes, and he was there. That is a childhood memory I want to keep. So sweet and innocent. She is such a breath of fresh air. Nov

I’m blessed to have a past. Because of my past, I see things in others. Because of my past, I have warning signs to notify me of danger. But I can also show a level of compassion not available from a soul that has not also suffered. The human existence needs other humans to succeed. We need to be understood, and I’m grateful to have that level of understanding.