A: Attitude of Gratitude

It’s NANO time – National Novel Writing Month. This month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance. Since I’ll be lucky to get to the 50,000 words I need by the end of the month, I’m doubling up and using this work for my Tuesday Tales prompts also. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘stuffed’. It’s Thanksgiving week, so you may think my ‘stuffed’ will relate to a turkey dinner. No. Read on and you’ll find it used in a different manner.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational, tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the A excerpt – ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. Which, relates to Thanksgiving also.

Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more story snippets from a creative group of writers.

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A: Attitude of Gratitude

attitude1Have an attitude of gratitude? As in … appreciate what you have? Ouch! Couldn’t we start with an easier lesson to learn?

This is one of the hardest lessons. This small piece of advice, three little words, is contrary to our always-striving-for-more society. It seems to go against the grain of human nature. The mantra of current day USA seems to be ‘More! More! More!’

Our houses are never quite large enough. Our vehicles are never quite new enough. Or fancy enough. Or big enough.

And technology, oh my goodness, we can’t keep up with it. Savvy smart phones have an app for almost everything imaginable. E-readers; I’ll take one of every kind, thank you very much!) We need larger, faster computers. Digital cameras with mega chips hold more photos than we used to take in a year. Or two, or three.

More clothes and shoes over here please. A person can never have enough of those. Closets are stuffed with one of every color. One of every style. One for every perceived need – whether we’ll ever wear them or not isn’t the issue. After all, they were on sale, right?

Storage unit facilities proliferate our urban landscapes now, with thousands more going up as I write this. A large portion of the population now owns more “stuff” than they can fit in their house or garage.

With this explosion of material good and our access to the latest and greatest – are we any happier than before? Are our lives any better?

I’d venture to say no.

Now, don’t think that I’m totally opposed to all the new gadgets that have invaded our lives. They do have their place and are useful, at least most of them.

One icy, frozen 19 degree morning, as some mornings tend to get here in northern Texas, I headed to work. I almost made it. Kind of. Half way. Apparently my radiator had frozen. (So what does this born and raised southern California girl know about Texas winters?)

attitude2That morning I was very, very (did I say very?) thankful and appreciative of my, at that time, less than fancy, un-smart phone that enabled me to call the tow truck from the (semi) comfort of my car. Remember the “old days” when we’d break down, or run out of gas, and sometimes have to walk 2 to 3 miles looking for a working pay phone? Been there – done that. More than a few times.

Am I dating myself here? I hear the younger generation reading this, thinking – What’s a payphone? My boys are probably in that crowd too. I doubt they have any knowledge of the dreaded several mile walk. And then – you get to the payphone and don’t have any change. Or the party you’re trying to get ahold of isn’t home.

The problem lies, not in in technology or advances and changes in our world, but in always striving for something else – be it newer, bigger, fancier, or just plain different. We fail to appreciate what we DO have. We stop living with a sense of gratitude.

T: Take Action

It’s NANO time – National Novel Writing Month.

This month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance. Victoria and Toby, in Starting Over, will have to figure out their own way for a few weeks, without me handing them their script. We’ll be back to them when November ends.

The prompt for this week is ‘stark’.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational, tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the ‘T’ excerpt – TAKE ACTION.

Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more tales from a creative group of writers.

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T: Take Action

“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.” ~ Chinese proverb

take actionWe have dreams. We have goals. We envision a better life for ourselves and our family. Our lofty dreams and visions we have for our future are necessary. As Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Putting the foundations under our castles in the air – that is where the stark reality hits us. We must take action.

Having all the dreams, doing all the visualization, reciting all the affirmations – all of which I’m a staunch believer in – is a good start. But to move these thoughts and desires into concrete achievements, we must take action, and not merely wait for the roast duck to fly into our mouth.

Michelle Barr, a Dallas based intuitive coach and business strategist, is a master in helping others transform their life’s calling. Since hearing her inspirational speech at a holistic fair in Fort Worth in 2010, I’ve been following her and seeing the progress she’s made in her life.

Watch the people who call themselves teachers and mentors. See if they ‘walk the talk’ and live their lives according to what they profess. Michelle is one of these that lives her life how she advises others to. I’ve seen her business grow over the past four years that I’ve been aware of her.

Michelle’s repeated mantra is: Take inventory, take ownership, take action. Taking action is a major cornerstone of what she teaches. Her process is to Master the Art of Taking Action. She uses a M.O.V.E. process, where the first step is to M –Make a Decision. She says that this sets things in motion. But then she shares, “You have to take the first step. Every time.” (www.michellebarr.com)

A wealth of advice sits out in cyberspace, waiting for us to peruse. An internet search of ‘taking action towards goals’ revealed 39,100,000 results.

Books on the subject abound by the dozens. Taking Action by Samuel Blankson, Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future by Leonard A. Schlesinger, and Action Trumps Everything: Creating What You Want in an Uncertain World by Charles Kiefer are just a few of the many selections.

The nebulous advice of ‘Take Action’, or as Nike’s infamous advertisement proclaims ‘Just Do It’, often is harder to put into action than the instruction implies. In Miracles Happen, by Mary Kay Ash, I discovered a technique that has changed my outcome from dreams and procrastination to producing viable results.

Mary Kay shares the story of how Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel in the early years of the 20th century, desired to increase efficiency within the company. Ivy Lee, a leading expert on the subject at the time, made Schwab a proposal. He claimed that if he could spend 15 minutes with each executive, he could increase the team’s effectiveness and increase sales. In three months, Schwab could send him a check for what he felt the advice was worth.

His advice netted Mr. Lee a check for $35,000, at a time when the average worker in the United States was making $2 a day.

His advice was simple, yet profound enough that Mary Kay used it to expand her company the nationwide recognition it has. She called it her ‘$35,000 List’.

Mr. Lee shared that he wanted everyone, for the next 90 days, to make a list. Before leaving the office at the end of the day, he asked that they make a list of the six most important things that had to be done the next day and number them in the order of importance.

The next day, complete the items on the list, in their order of priority, and go on to the next. If something isn’t done, put it on the following day’s list.

When I read this, and started following Mary Kay’s $35,000 List, I immediately saw results. Now, I have to admit, that not everything got done each day. I was very good at transferring items to the next day. Occasionally, since I was still working full time at the time, a list would last me two weeks before everything was crossed off. And, there have been times over the past year where I slip and don’t use this method for several days or weeks. I can always tell by my results when I’m not following this and return to the tried and true hundred year old method.

Try it yourself. What’s six things that you can do tomorrow that will move you closer to the dreams you long for? Make a list. Six things. Now number them in importance. What’s number one? Tomorrow –do that one thing, before you work on any of the others. Yes, that means before Facebook and games, and emails. Then work on the second, and so forth, down your list in the order of importance.

Take Action – it’s a concept that’s vitally important for moving your life from ‘dreams’ to reality.

Out & About – Beauty in Nature

TT_bannerThis month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance since it’s NANO time (National Novel Writing Month). Victoria and Toby, in Starting Over, will have to figure out their own way for a few weeks, without me handing them their script. We’ll be back to them when November ends.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational, tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the ‘O’ excerpt – OUT AND ABOUT: BEAUTY IN NATURE.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. They snippets are short, only 300 words! Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more tales from a creative group of writers.

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OUT AND ABOUT: BEAUTY IN NATURE

TT_December picture promptThe best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

— Anne Frank

Nature. Peace. Serenity. Health benefits. They are all linked.

Research is proving what many people have intuitively believed for years. Being outside and finding beauty in nature is good for our souls, our health and our mental well-being. Nature is good for us. Savoring the beauty of nature provides both long and short term mental and physical health benefits.

Are you feeling out of sorts? Stressed? On the edge and ready to snap? Go outside! Environmental Science and Technology (2010) reported that ‘just 5 minutes of activity in natural areas resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood.’

You many reply, ‘But I live or work in the city. I don’t have the luxury to drive away or visit a nature preserve.’ You don’t need the country to find solace. Nature is more than wilderness, mountains, prairies and plains. Small community parks and green spaces in urban environments provide the same benefits. Instead of streams and lakes, look for urban spaces with fountains that give the sounds of peaceful, running water.

Give it a try. I challenge you. Five minutes a day. Or longer if you can. After all, if Anne Frank wrote that she felt being amidst the simple beauty of nature was the best remedy, how can we argue? Her troubles make my life look like a fairy tale.

I’ll meet you outdoors!

Celebrate Life

It’s NANO time – National Novel Writing Month.

This month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance. Since I’ll be lucky to get to the 50,000 words I need for Nano by the end of the month, I’m doubling up and using this work for my Tuesday Tales prompts also. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘flower’.

Victoria and Toby will have to figure out their own way for a few weeks, without me handing them their script. We’ll be back to them after November ends.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the C excerpt – CELEBRATE LIFE.

Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more story snippets from a creative group of writers.

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Celebrate Life!

Celebrate-lifeCelebrate life. This too can be a hard lesson to learn. I thought I was living a full life. I’d grown a lot in the past twenty years. My world had expanded. I was learning to speak up for myself. I became less afraid of rocking the boat. I was less afraid of living a life of my own choices and not simply following what was expected of me. I was happier than ever. I thought I truly appreciated the goodness of life.

I discovered I was wrong.

I also unequivocally thought I was going to live to the age of 85. I was wrong.

Eighty five seemed the perfect age to me. I’d live long enough to have a full and complete life. Of course, this was long before I’d run across the Barcroft TV video of the world’s oldest yoga teacher – Tao Porchon Lynch, 96 years young and still teaching yoga classes – more limber than I ever remember being.

But 85 seemed perfect. I want to die at home, not in a nursing home, unable to fend for myself and unaware of the world around me.

I had it all “planned out”

My plans went awry on October 21, 2010. I had a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

I was on an airplane. We were thirty minutes away from landing in San Francisco for a paranormal conference.

I was 52. It was unplanned. It was not on my agenda for the day – or the year for that matter.

It took about two weeks for the reality of what happened to become real to me.

Finally, when I acknowledged the truth about my unplanned event, I also realized the synchronicity of the incident and how I got a second chance at life.

If I were at home, I would have been sleeping soundly. At the time this would have happened, it would have been about 15 to 20 minutes before the alarm sounded for the first time. By the time the alarm rang, I wouldn’t have hit snooze. It would have been too late.

Instead, I was on an airplane, sitting next to Lisa who began immediate CPR. Three doctors, oxygen, and a defibrillator were all less than 20 to 25 feet away from me, available for immediate use. Now, what’s the odds of that? Not being a gambler, nor a mathematician, I can’t answer that. I just know that it’s a huge number. And this time it was in my favor.

I thought I had a good life before. I did have a good life ‘before’. I discovered that it could be better. It could be more meaningful. I had a second chance. I realized that I was not celebrating life. I did not appreciate the good things in my life as fully as I could. I was letting too much drama and minor irritations could my life with its incessant gloominess.

There’s a reason I didn’t die that day. I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences. Now, it’s up to me to discover the ‘why’.

I’m sure there will be many more discoveries along my journey. But one that I know is that I want to celebrate life. It sure beats the alternative.

Yes, it’s said that only two things in life are unavoidable – taxes and death. Maybe a select few have figured out the way to avoid taxes. But death, that’s one final moment that will come to all of us.

But until it does, for its final call, I plan on reveling in my life. Even if I have a few aches and pains – and hot flashes. I’m here, I’m breathing, and I’m alive. I want to celebrate – EVERY day!

celebrate lifeNorman Cousins, well known for his book Anatomy of an Illness, about the positive effects laughter has on healing, says, “The greatest tragedy in life isn’t death, it’s what we allow to die inside ourselves while we are still living.”

What a tragedy. To be alive – yet to not be fully alive.

Joan Borysenko echoed the sentiment, “The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.”

Begin today to celebrate life.

What is in your life that is good?

What do you appreciate in your life?

Celebrate your life. Rejoice in the moments that have value – both small and large.

On New Year’s Day, just after my SCA, I went out back to deliver bird seed, and some stale bread and crackers, to the bounty of birds eagerly awaiting a treat. It was a beautiful Texas day, clear blue skies and a pleasant 60 degrees, a much appreciated unseasonably warm winter day. I stood listening to the myriad avian songs. I delighted in watching a mockingbird chase the sparrows while the cardinals flitted to and fro around the edges of the yard. A pair of doves cooed as they landed, thankful for the feast.

Several lone dandelions lie sprinkled in the yard like golden confetti – a winter day’s pleasure. My jubilation that day was the enjoyment of the brilliant yellow flowers and the birds, being alive to rejoice with them. And you know, this merrymaking didn’t break the bank. It didn’t cost a cent!

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