Tag Archive | gratitude

Gifts of Gratitude – an invitation


ImageI’ve been in the practice of starting my day and ending my day with gratitude. It’s a simple practice … one that helps me to start with an upbeat, positive note, as well as drift into dreamland with thoughts of blessings. Because I believe that the world needs more and more examples of both the big and little things that bring us joy, I’ve created a new FB page called: GIFTS of GRATITUDE. It’s a place for us to simply share and celebrate that which we are grateful for. No selling. No politics or religion. No criticism or drama. Simply gratitude. Feel free to check it out and join!

With gratefulness for all who read my blog … may be count our blessings together!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/572083212883177/

 

Thankful and spreading blessings ….


It’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the US and I’m still basking in the feelings of gratitude. It’s my favorite place to be – in a place a thankfulness.

So one question today … Because we are blessed, I believe we should all spread the blessings. How do you plan to bless someone today?

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50 – Acts of Kindness that is


KIK logo 8-13-13 It finally arrived – my 50th birthday, which means, August 13, 2013 was KINDNESS INSPIRES KINDNESS DAY!!! Woot woot! 1993-32007-18Nope, this story is really not about me at all – it’s just the day and the way I chose to celebrate a life sprinkled with the kindness of loved ones and strangers. I am dedicating that special day to 2 special couples – Mabel and Juel Bernard, my grandparents, and Jim and Jacque Miller, my parents. Because of how deeply they love, they chose to shower kindness into my life when I was a little ragamuffin girl in the orphanage, and still to this day. They changed my life. I cannot possibly repay them for the literal rescue they made of me, and so I choose to turn and pay it forward. They taught me how to love the unlovable, to give to those in need, and to never stop striving to be and do my best. I am forever in their debt. I love them with all my heart! Thank you Grandma, Grandpa, Mommy & Daddy!!

And, this day was also about the beautiful souls who continue to pour love and kindness into my life – my “Giving Crew”. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of hearts and hands who, when asked to help me with the Kindness day, generously said yes!  Love and hugs to all these loving souls – that includes those who were with me that day, those who contributed, and those who cheered me on. So many – too many to list them all but you know who you are! Thank you!!

For my readers, over the next several days I will be chronicling in pictures the 50 acts of kindness that we shared in the Cincinnati area. I started with 4 categories: 1) Babies/Children, 2) Sick/Elderly, 3) Those Who Serve, and 4) Just Because.  In as many acts as I could I included people and places that related to my life since it was, after all, a celebration of 50 years of blessings I’ve received. What a fabulous day – THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!! There really are not enough of the right words to describe the blessings I received during the day but I will attempt to at least share the stories and pictures.

Enjoy the journey with me in the next several days so you can see the whole story. KIK day cardsRemember to be a blessing, and be blessed in return! ~ Barbara Miller

12/12/12 Celebration!!!!


12-12-12Well I’m seeing it all over the place – 12/12/12 is the last triple number date we’ll see in our lifetimes. It’s been a fun little quirky thing to see 01/01/01, 02/02/02 ….. 11/11/11 all come and go. Nothing big unless you are into numbers. But firsts and lasts always seem to be significant for people so I thought for this one – the last, I would “celebrate” 12/12/12 in my own way.

And what is my way you ask? The same way I like to celebrate everything else – by spreading the love, sharing positivity, and making the world a little better. So today, in honor of this auspicious (well, okay, maybe not auspicious, but certainly unique) date in history, here’s how the celebration is going to go in my world. I will have a “12 Things Party” that lasts all day. I will:

kindness21 – Share 12 smiles

2 – Do 12 acts of random kindness

3 – Pray for 12 additional people

4 – Give 12 hugs to people who need them

5 – Give 12 compliments that are genuine and real

6 – Donate 12 items to charity

7 – Listen to 12 joyful songs

8 – Send 12 thank you notes to people I appreciate

9 – Deliver 12 positive quotes on my FB page

10 – Give 12 “gifts” to strangers

11 – Recognize 12 people for their hard work

12 – Encourage 12 people to see their true worth, beauty, and value

That’s alot of celebration – I best get to it! I hope you find 12 wonderful ways to improve your world today. And along the way … be blessed!

Grateful for YOU!


Today, like so many other people, is my favorite holiday. In the US the 3rd Thursday in November is “Thanksgiving Day.” Oh, it is the feast to end all feasts. It originated in the humble beginnings of our nation as the settlers and American Indians came together in peace to celebrate and share the bounties of the harvest. Those are honorable and neighborly roots – some of the best of our national history.

Today, every family has their traditional fare in which turkey, stuffing and all the fixings and side dishes are featured at the table. Cooking and planning takes days or weeks and not hours. There is nostalgia as traditions are repeated year after year. Favorite dishes might only show up on this special day. And in true US fashion, the fall event is punctuated with parades through the streets and on TV to usher in Santa to the season, lots of American football games to rally the men around the TV, and all the fun (and sometimes crazy) dynamics that family gatherings seem to produce. Oh yeah, and the insanity of the kick-off to the holiday shopping frenzy (not my favorite part I must say).

That’s the logistics of the day. And while I love and cherish the traditions of the day, the real reason it is my favorite holiday is that, at its heart is the spirit of gratitude. It is a day for THANKS giving and not gift giving. It’s a day where people come with hands full of offerings and not open for receiving. It is a precious day set aside to be thankful and for that reason, today, I count my blessings.

Here’s a few for this year:

> I am thankful for God and my faith. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that gives me eternal life, hope, and daily guidance. Without it, I am a shell of  a human and I am grateful.

> I am thankful for my job and that both of my children are once again gainfully employed as well. I am thankful that hope and perseverance will rule the day and others I love and care for will also find employment. It is my prayer and my belief for them.

> I am thankful for the love of my family, where I have 2 Grandmothers, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my dear sisters, their husbands and my precious nieces. And a brand new dose of gratitude for the newest, my 2 day old niece Abby. What a lovely addition to a wonderful, loving family.

> I am thankful for the reunion with some precious members of my original family. The healing is complete. The appreciation has begun. I am grateful and blessed to have more family to love – Shirley & Lynette.

> I am thankful for my friends who have held my hand and my heart through thick, thin, joy, pain, fear and fun. They are precious in every way. I am especially grateful this year for Jeanie, my oldest and dearest friend who has fought the valiant fight against breast cancer and won. Praise God for that special blessing!

> I am thankful for new acquaintances who have come into my life in varied and surprising ways – from my summer intern Ellidia, to friends across the nation and across the globe that I have connected with over the year.

> I am thankful that in my country we can dissent with passion, speak out our minds and our hearts, and peacefully shift power and authority in our government. Agree or not on the choices, we democratically and peacefully shift.

> I am thankful for those that serve – military, police, and fire fighters. They honor us with their daily sacrifices and they serve to protect all that we hold dear – our ideals as well as our lives. I am deeply grateful.

> I am thankful that my education and experience have given me success in my career and my skills are sought after by those who offer opportunity for recognition and new growth.

> I am thankful for my spiritual sisters and brothers who come into my life daily, weekly, and monthly in loving and supportive ways. I especially treasure my Wise Women & Bill friends who speak only of love, acceptance, gratitude, and friendship. They feed my soul and my heart on a constant basis and bless me in countless ways.

> I am thankful for this platform and the virtual friends who I have met online. You have broadened my world, allowing me to see my life and talents differently. Not only do you listen but you also contribute to my world. Especially you Dan – you have opened my eyes to how blessed I am in big and small ways. Your humor and your loving, generous spirit bring a light into my world and I am grateful.

This is just the beginning of my grateful list. As I prepare the meal for my family today I will continue to joyously and gratefully say prayers of “Thank You.”

I wish you all an awakening to your heart of all that blesses you – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts that make you “you” and your life so precious. Happy Thanksgiving Day … be blessed!

 
 


 

I’m changing the world


One of the topics in my book MIGHTY INSPIRATION, Love Letters from God, is the concept of changing the world. Do you believe that you can change the world? I do. Every action and word we use creates a ripple effect. We don’t just put  ideas and energy out into the world – we move them along as well. We expand them when we focus on them or talk about them.

It is my firm desire to change this world. I believe that I have a purpose. It’s not to gather the most possessions or attain the highest of titles. It’s way, way more important than that. I believe my purpose is to help others see their own light and empower them to embrace it. No I’m not perfect at it but I do deliberately work on it. I have a spiritual practice that involves gratitude as well as intercession prayers. Science is even backing up the idea that prayer and faith can change things. This is not new news to the believer but it is important confirmation that is starting to build.

I also work to use my talent for words to inspire – not just on my blog or in my social networking platforms, but also in my work. Planting seeds of positivity seems to be producing many fruitful changes. I enjoy seeing the faces of people when my words seem to strike a cord in their hearts. I enjoy it more when they share the words or even suggest some more. I see a bit of encouragement growing in the work place and I hope that my small efforts are a part of the cause.

And next I want to move from words of inspiration to actions of change. I have long been a “sponsor” for children outside of my country. And yes, I can help them with my modest financial donations. That enables others to use my gift by putting it into action. Lately, that hasn’t seemed like enough.

Next year I’m turning 50. Yep, it’s just a number but in my head it’s a number that represents the middle of my life. I’ve graduated from the daily needs of my children – they are adults and creating their own lives now. And I’m not at the end of my life where I reflect on the journey complete. I’m in the middle. I’m in a position of flexibility that I want to put to use. So I’m exploring where to go and what to do to make my mark on lives I don’t ordinarily have the opportunity to affect. I can go into the world, not once, but over and over. I can combine my love of travel and appreciation for different cultures to spur me into action – I can see the world and change the world and we shall all be the better for it.

I’m wrestling with new questions – Where do I go? What gifts do I give? What talents do I share? Who do I take by my side? The answers to these questions may not stir the world, but they will change the lives of some human beings I don’t yet know. I want to dream big. I want to reach as far as my hands can go. I want to change the world and leave it better for my journey. I want to let strangers know the love of God because they met a woman – this woman.

I’m open to suggestions and inspirations – help me answer my questions … and be blessed!

GRATITUDE


I have a new day coming soon and I’m very excited to share it. A woman from work that I’ve known since the early days of my career contacted me recently. She said that she is always inspired by the quotes and positive comments I post on my work bulletin board each week. She’s not the first to tell me this and it’s part of what inspires me to continue my practice of spreading positive words. But this time, things are different. She talked about her work group and how they have a monthly speaker come to their meetings. For November they were seeking someone to come talk to the group about GRATITUDE. That’s fitting since November is the month of Thanksgiving Day here in the US. Then she said it – they want to spread the great benefits of an attitude of gratitude and they thought I’d be perfect for task.

WOW!

I’m not shy and don’t fear public speaking. I have been a speaker for work related topics –  Myers-Briggs training of course, policy and benefits deployments, and all sorts of other HR related topics. But this is different. This will be the first time that a group from my company has asked me to speak from my heart. This will indeed be an opportunity for me to bring my whole self to work in a way I’ve not done before. So, excited isn’t the right word for how I feel about this. I am honored is more in line with it. My dream is to be an inspirational speaker. And now, I have a glimpse at step one.

Of course, I immediately said yes, and in the 2nd moment felt the panic arise. What on earth will I say to a group of business folks. Yes, they are professional and that doesn’t intimidate me. But these are MY colleagues. Do I have 30 minutes of inspiration to share in that setting? It isn’t difficult to reach their minds, but I want to touch their hearts.

I’m praying on it! Join me and be blessed!

 

Daily Miracles


Do you ever notice and amuse yourself with the miracles inherent in the way the  human body really works? Sometimes I have moments of clarity where I notice the mundane, which in reality is really quite spectacular. Every once in a while I remember to look at the world with the same amazement and awe that little children do. Here’s what I mean:

Not being at my regular office today, I decided to work in the cafeteria where I could plug-in and grab an iced chai. It was convenient between meetings and quiet at first. Then, I became acutely aware of the swelling noise as the crowd surged to fill the area. At the same time I was amazed that I could hear the conversations in front, beside, and behind me. Really our senses are incredible. The same thing happens with sight. I can see to type and read and at the same time distinguish the busy movements to and fro of the crowd around me, as well as the dust particles floating next to me in the ray of sunlight. The fact that our senses and our brains can distinguish the macro and the micro details is such a splendid gift. I’m sure there are tons of biological explanations that scientists can provide. But for the everyday experience of life, it is quite remarkable.

Our bodies really are, for me, the proof of a greater design and thus a Great Designer. For us to even be alive is a miracle. Our bodies automatically do the things needed to keep us physically alive – breathing, heart beating, blood pumping, disease fighting, healing, growing, regenerating, digesting, etc. There is so much we never really notice. And then at the same time as all those complex processes, it moves for us on command. We can, in an instant, distinguish the space and speed needed to avoid collisions with all the objects in the world. Well, unless of course we talk about toes – they have a particular need to forcefully crash into immovable objects like legs of furniture. But I digress …

At any rate, what I really realized is that when we stop looking at obstacles, worries, and what ifs, we give ourselves space and time to notice the WOWs and can you believe its that exist in every level of our living.

I invite you to notice your daily miracles …. and be blessed!

3 things …


Sometimes it’s hard to make the world stop swirling and rushing at the speed of light in order to pause and to write. It’s been that way the last couple of days. It’s starting to look like the near future will be similar.

So, as you are rushing about your day, or leisurely enjoying a bit of rest and relaxation, I challenge you to find at least 3 things to be super thankful for. Just a momentary breath of gratitude can make all the difference in the stress our bodies release and the joy we get to keep.

Do it for yourself and for those who love you … and be blessed!

Jack-hammering my way to peace…


Today, as we affectionately say at my house, I am doing a bunch of “wondering and pondering”. I do that a lot, which is the basis for this blog. Aren’t you lucky that you get to travel the crevices and mysterious tunnels inside my head? lol

Today’s topic is jack-hammering. This odd topic is inspired by the fact that I have the “pleasure” of hearing the sound of jack-hammers literally outside my office window as the city is working on the sidewalk and street. My jack-hammer nemesis is a mere 15 feet from my desk. Unlike the guys wielding the tool, I do not get the benefit of ear protection. Of course the whole building is shaking. My teeth are shaking in my head. Needless to say, my thoughts are tumbling around and likely falling out my ears. Concentration is at a dribble vs. the normal flow. So I’m declaring an impromptu jack-hammering break. I haven’t had a proper break in a while given the pace at work these days, so no apologies here. Besides it amounting to near-torture to hear the incessant pounding, I must say it is giving me the gift of opportunity to ponder. If my thoughts are choppy, well, you’ll know why!

The physical jack-hammering going on in my environment is making me think of the spiritual, emotional, and mental jack-hammering going on in the rest of my life. What nagging, incessant pounding am I taking that is keeping me from achieving all that I can? I can think of a few just sitting here … college loan bills, leaking basement, daughter going to NYC alone (again), work pressures, relationship dynamics, my son’s wedding planning, the broken cabinet in the kitchen, my friends who are in crisis of various kinds … And the list goes on and on. Without being conscious of it, my brain is constantly barraging me with blow upon blow of worry, fear, and discouragement.

So … now that I am shedding the light of consciousness on these things, the trick is how do I make them stop?! For me, I have a simple remedy. It doesn’t make those things go away, but it does refocus me back into peace. I breathe and I pray. The one thing I have learned in my journey is that changing the way I pray, changes everything for me. I used to pray with requests. I no longer do that. I now pray in gratitude – always. It goes something like this:

“Thank you God that all of my needs and desires are met by YOU! Thank you that no matter what bill arises, you are my provider and I have more than enough to cover the need. Thank you God that no matter what sickness comes upon me, you are the healer of my body, mind and soul. Thank you God that you bring the right people into my life that will guide me, support me, help me and love me. Thank you God that you are all I need and you will never forsake me. Thank you that I have peace in my spirit and protection in my coming in and my going out. Thank you God that you are handling the situation that I am facing, all for my benefit and for  your glory. Thank you God that I can do all things through you and that I have all things from you. Thank you!”

With this simple type of prayer, I know that I do not have to ask for every little thing. And when I do want to go into the details I always, always do it in gratitude of the solution. I don’t have to worry about forgetting something or finding the right words. I often do go through a list of people who I bless with peace and healing. God knows my needs and I need simply to stand in gratitude. It NEVER, EVER fails me. This prayer has changed how I see life and how I receive all that I need.

I pray, in gratitude, that you be blessed this way too!

Thank You


Where I work we have a relatively new process for informal thank you’s. What I love about this program is that it creates an atmosphere of appreciation AND connection.

Here’s how the program works:  When you receive one of the official thank you cards you drop it into a common box. Once a month we have drawings from the box and the prize is a free lunch for both people involved – the person who thanked them and the recipient. This has a two-fold benefit. First, the program rewards the appreciative behavior. Secondly, it creates time together, in an informal setting. The pair benefits both on a professional/business level as well as on a social/networking level. The program is a great success. The thank you’s are sincere and thoughtful. And the whole process changes the tone of the business. We are now a group of people who are more aware and more vocal in our appreciation of our co-workers. Nothing changes a person’s perspective quite like a little appreciation. They feel valued and noticed for their hard work or going above and beyond.

I share all of this because I see it making a shift in the “smell of the place” as they say. Even in times of uncertainty; even in days of intense business pressures and changes, we feel and build the positive connections. It’s one more reason why I love the Company I work for and the people I share my days with.

I challenge myself and my readers to thanks someone today. But don’t just say it – write it. It’s powerful to have those tangible kind words to remember and review on off moments. And … if you really want to make someone’s day – take them to lunch as well.

Be grateful and be blessed!

 

Think on these things …


Today I find myself in one of “those” moods. You know – when emotions are kind of prickly. People can easily say the wrong thing or with the wrong attitude. The weather is lovely but it’s so easy to be lazy and sluggish inside. TV is boring, books have no appeal, and … YIKES! Stop the madness and the merry-go-round of negativity!!! I need to turn the day around. It’s days just like today when I turn to this Bible verse for instruction:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,

 whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,

think on these things.” Phil 4:8

So, let me change my day by thinking on the good things and by counting my blessings:

1) I am alive and my health is good.

2) My home is warm and comfortable.

3) My children are healthy, educated, and gainfully employed.

4) My job allows me to use my skills and passions and pays me well to do so.

5) My bills are paid and I have some money left over for things I enjoy.

6) I have a loving pet who keeps me company, no matter what my mood is.

7) My family and I have been spared from the devastation of the tornadoes that destroyed so much in my area recently.

8) I have precious friends who are kind, generous, and loyal.

9) There’s food in my pantry and clean clothes in my closet.

10) I have dreams and goals that keep me motivated.

11) I have a car, it works and has gas so I can pick up and go whenever I want.

12) I own lovely things that make my surroundings inviting.

13) I am loved by many, but most importantly, and unconditionally, by God.

With that baker’s dozen of blessings I can actually feel a shift in my mood. My life is good and I have much to be happy about. I spread the gratitude to you. Be thankful and be blessed!

How do I do that?


You hear a lot these days about living with purpose, following your passion, and creating the life of your dreams. All wonderfully enlightened and lofty phrases. Maybe – but they are also very achievable. Usually though, I quickly hear those statements followed by outcries of “What does that mean?” or “How do I do that?” The pull between desire and lack of practical understanding is creating the struggle.

I don’t have “THE” answer but I can share what I’ve learned on my journey. Primarily, I’ve learned that living with purpose is all-encompassing. It’s not just the big achievements and life-changing things. It’s being purposeful about our attitude, our gratitude and our habits. Start there. And when it is about achievements, I have learned 3 simple, practical steps:

1) CHOOSE – I truly believe that what draws us, attracts us, or what we dream of are all messages from our unconscious mind about the path we should be walking. It makes sense really – I won’t gloriously create that which I don’t find alluring. I know some people find themselves paralyzed into inaction because they are waiting for God to direct them. Ummmm – I think our intuition and desires are that very direction. But that’s just me. So, that’s where I start … what do I feel tugging on my heart? There are some things that are consistent themes throughout my life (connecting with people). And there are others that suddenly appear with great appeal or urging (writing my books). Actually, it was a sudden urge that loosed creativity upon me in my late 20′s and it hasn’t subsided yet. Whenever I feel the tug, I examine it and ultimately, I choose it.
2) DISCOVER – This is the trickier part for me because I find that I am drawn to, and subsequently choose, things that I have no knowledge about or previous exposure to. It figures! And I find myself saying “What the heck do I do with this desire?” And my follow-up response is always the same – research. We are blessed to be in the age of connection and information. At our fingertips, day and night we can search for what, when, where, and how of just about anything. So if the spirit moves me at 3 am when I can’t sleep I can actually do something about it. If I ask enough friends, someone will know something or someone who can help me move to the next level of understanding. The discovery phase can take a while but it’s part of the fun, really. I feel lucky and blessed in this way.
3) ACT – Ah, now we get into the “dangerous” part of truly living with passion!  I have found this to get a little less scary as I practice it, but it’s still a process. You see, if I act, then people will know what I’m up to. Someone might judge me or my worthiness, ability, or skill. While discovery takes curiosity, action takes valor. I’ve had to muster up the courage to call an acquaintance that I didn’t know well, or the friend of a friend of a friend, or email someone I found on the web. None of it was comfortable but all of it was in line with my choice. If I was going to be able to move forward, I had to connect.

That’s it. Nothing spectacularly secretive about my 3 steps or my methods. It doesn’t require me to buy a book, take a class, or learn at the feet of a master. But these steps have worked for me. Do I do everything with passion – no, certainly not. Do I live with purpose, yes, I do. Am I creating the life of my dreams and following my passions – indeed. And I am, in this middle stage of life, finding that the more I follow this path, the more I am surrounded by others who are in support of me. As my friend Martha often says, “The universe cooperates with a made-up mind.” And so it does. I am more grounded, comfortable in my skin, and more motivated to do even more.

If you are struggling with your desire to move forward in life with purpose, passion, or to create your desired life, I invite you to choose, discover, and act as well. And be blessed!