Saturday, November 28, 2009
to enact gratitude is generous and noble,
but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.
Johannes A. Gaertner
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought;
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
You say grace before meals. All right.
But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all the others.
Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
Friday, November 27, 2009
Why Gratitude Makes You Happy and Wealthy
by Christine Kane
Gratitude is more than being thankful one day a year. Gratitude is a practice. For some, it's a way of life.
Why do some people swear by the practice of gratitude? Why do these people have joy-filled and abundant lives?
In other words, why does gratitude make you happy and wealthy?
• Because gratitude is about presence.
It's about waking up in this moment and being here - really being here - and noticing what's around you. Most people are so busy thinking about the next thing, or about their horrid past, that they don't wake up and look around at their present moment - the only moment there is.
• Because gratitude is about honoring YOUR precious life.
Do you ever compare your life with someone else's? Do you ever wish your life were better and more like [insert famous person's name here]? Sometimes we can lose ourselves in wondering how we "measure up" to some standard set by our families or by the media. Comparison is the mind killer. The antidote is gratitude.
Gratitude requires that you validate your own life. (And you really don't have any other life, do
you?) It forces you to say YES to the gift that is you. The choices you've made and the changes you've gone through - they have brought you here. Even if here is a place that needs a little adjustment, that's okay. There are always gifts in any present moment.
• Because gratitude is about attracting.
It's difficult to attract abundance and joy if you are constantly saying "no" to what IS. You say "no" each time you focus on the future or past, or when you criticize something that is in your present moment.
Attraction is about saying Yes. When you say Yes, you shift.
Gratitude says, "Yes, I love this!" And then more of this is attracted, because the this is what you're focusing on.
• Because gratitude is about choice.
How you translate any situation is the situation. What you choose to see is the truth (for you).
This isn't proposing that you live in denial or phoniness. It's reminding you that your translation of any life situation is your choice. We've all heard stories of people who have ignored others' translations of their talent, their projects, their art, their looks, their lives. These people chose their own translations and succeeded. You always have a choice when it comes to how you look at things. Choose to choose gratitude.
• Because gratitude is about wisdom.
I think people believe they're being smart if they criticize, complain, and focus on the problems of the world around them.
But not wise.
It is wise to look for and find the knowing place in your heart. It is wise to choose joy. It is wise to honor your riches. It is wise to focus on and grow the blessings of your life.
• Because gratitude is about recognition.
Use your power of focus to hone in on beauty and on what makes your heart sing. Recognize the spirit in your life. It's all around you waiting to be noticed. In the words of Franz Kafka, "It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
• Because gratitude is about receptivity.
Gratitude makes you receptive. It makes you a vessel, waiting to be filled.
I carry a tiny notebook with me everywhere I go. In it, I write down song ideas. I write down quotes I hear. I write down ideas for stage stories. As I do that, I become more receptive, and more ideas and songs come to me. It's a tool that says to my subconscious, "Send more my way!" And the subconscious always responds.
Gratitude is the same way. It says, "I am receptive! Send more!" And more arrives.
• Because gratitude is about creativity.
Creativity is really all about attention. (So is genius.)
When I write a song, I build a relationship with that song. I spend time with it. I get to know it. I pay attention to it. Artists do the same thing with drawings. They spend time in rapt attention, and the drawing is born.
Gratitude is how we Live Creative. It is a creative act to notice and pay attention to the moments of your life. Some days it's an enormous act of creativity to find things for which to be thankful.
And have a Thanksgiving of presence, creativity, and gratitude!
Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 8,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.
WANT TO SEE HUNDREDS MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE?
See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at ChristineKane.com/blog.
Posted by The Editor.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The flu and a cough, a month of sleepless nights, followed by a repeat fever of 102 deg F, and then the subsequent vomiting...that was the final straw on the camel's back. I am fortunate it will only be us--I didn't invite any one or it would have to be potluck and me scrounging the freezer for my part.
Because of the trip to the doctor, I didn't get my shopping done on the very last day in the only time slot I had available and now, there's not enough time to make the fabulous meal I had planned.
Will the kids notice? Probably not. They prefer dinosaur chicken and pasta with broccoli to all other meals. Will the husband notice? Maybe. Maybe not if I let him watch football all day. Will I notice? Only if I let myself.
Perhaps we will figure out a fabulous, low-key approach that will become our new tradition. I'll let you know how it turns out.
I am still giving thanks, however. I held my baby and rocked her and took care of her with the time I would have spent on shopping for and preparing a fancy meal and she has made a speedy recovery. Her smile and laughter and joyfulness will make whatever we eat taste delicious.
Posted by The Editor.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
There’s also a smell to fall…crunchy leaves, fire, pumpkin, squash, hot tea…and nutmeg. I opened up my spice drawer the other morning and the first thing I saw was my nutmeg bottle. I opened it up and it took me back to Grandma’s house. She had a drawer where she kept spices and sprinkles and measuring cups. I loved the smell of that drawer and all of its possibilities. Grandma made some wonderful treats—mostly without recipes, and a lot of time without measuring ingredients. She was a farm girl and made her signature dishes for so long that she just knew how much was needed. She made comfort food—things she passed along to my mom, so they are my comfort foods, too. One thing she made that I still love is warm milk. It sounds weird, but it is delicious. You can get these milk drinks from Starbucks, too—but at Starbucks they are called steamers and they cost a small fortune. Grandma’s “steamers” are just as delicious; you can make them for a fraction of the cost, and enjoy them in the comfort of your own home—in your p.j.s if you want! This is how Grandma made hers: warm up milk on the stove top (not in the microwave), add sugar and vanilla to the desired sweetness, and then sprinkle some nutmeg on top. Simple, scrumptious. (You can also get flavored syrups to add to the milk for flavor, but Grandma’s version works just fine for me.)
Whenever I want to wrap myself up in the luxury of the season, I make myself one of Grandma’s steamers, light a candle, and sit by the fire. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Love every day. Each one is so short and they are so few.” In these difficult economic times, our simple, personal rituals can help us to embrace the beauty of the season and of life’s small pleasures. Even if I don’t have time for the candle and the fire, a quick mug of liquid fall goes a long way! Happy Autumn!
Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.
Monday, November 23, 2009
So, of course, when you have kids, most things that used to be true about you may or may not be true anymore, depending on the day of the week, the mood of the kids, and how many Cheerios you have had to sweep up off of the floor…don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about, I know you do. (I used to be punctual, I used to have a memory, I used to have a clean house, and I used to be prepared.)
I know I talked to you on the phone earlier this week about the reunion and I know we talked about the date of the deadline to purchase tickets. I also know we talked about your shower and how it was today and how I needed to RSVP—you even offered to do it for me, but still, somehow, it did not sink in that the shower was TODAY today. I did manage to RSVP at the very last minute, rudest time possible, but I think I should still get points for actually making the call. But this is not even my concern right now. I’ll tell you what my concern is at this very moment as you are reading this…
I have 2 children—girls at that, who are the apples of my eye, but sometimes their schedules and their wants and needs just kind of take over my life. Marlo, my chubby little cherub, has nearly eaten me out of house and home this week. I have literally found Cheerios in every possible crack, crevice, and small space in my house. I cannot think of a clever decorating excuse for them to be there so I have to clean them up, sometimes 7 times a day, because that is how many times she wants them every day. (I have pictures of her burying her head in the Cheerio box to prove it…I just don’t have time to download the pictures or post them, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.) Joy, on the other hand, does not drop Cheerios all over the floor, but rather scatters words everywhere…and that is my funny way of saying that the child just will not stop talking. Sometimes I cannot remember what I am thinking because she interrupts my thoughts, my conversations, herself, her own thoughts, the neighbors, and the list goes on and on—but I am supposed to keep track of everything she says and everything I say and everything she hears on TV and overhears other people say, and then she quizzes me on it. Now, this gets very tricky when I cannot remember what I just thought or said because of the incessant chatter. You see my dilemma.
So I know you are wondering what this has to do with anything. I really do have a point. Between the Cheerio situation and the verbal diarrhea, coupled with Marlo’s slightly inflexible nap schedule and Joy’s severe constipation, I have been under house arrest for the last few days. I did remember that is proper to bring a gift to a shower, and I have been waiting for this day to come to bring you a gift, finally. And I did order your gift, which is really just a gift certificate, but a gift nevertheless, but Babies R Us informed me (via email) that even though it is an e-gift card, it still may take up to 24 hours to “ship.” It is right now. I don’t think that you are going to sit at the shower until to wait for this gift certificate to “ship.” So, please excuse my lack of preparedness—I am claiming the excuse of motherhood and the insanity that accompanies it at times. I know you’ll forgive me. You have to—I have known you longer than almost anyone and I know too many things about you. You don’t want to upset me.
It is kind of a lame picture, but that was the best one I could find in the limited selection. I intend to contact Babies R Us and tell them how silly their choices are and give them a few suggestions and ideas to incorporate into their online store.
Anyway, the gift certificate is probably sitting in my email inbox as you read this. In fact, it probably arrived the second I pulled out of the driveway. And if I hadn’t had to pull Cheerios off of my rear end, out of my knees and out of the soles of my shoes, I might have had more time to remember to check my email inbox, but then I couldn’t remember what I was doing anyway because Joy was asking me who all was going to be at the shower and if we were going to sing the Hokey Pokey and what the names of all my high school friends are, what they will be wearing, how they are going to get to the shower, do we really have to take a shower at the shower, etc. etc. …(I’d write the rest of it, but my printer would run out of ink and then I wouldn’t have an excuse to give you, either!)
Welcome to motherhood, dear friend!
I hope you enjoy each and every minute of it as much as I do!
Xs and Os—
Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.
Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I have a bunch of recipes that I usually make on Thanksgiving. Not all in one place—no, that would be too easy. I will have to hunt the kitchen cupboards, high and low, to locate them all to remember what it is exactly that I need from the store. I have a bin full of Autumnal décor that I strategically place around the house—not the bin, but the décor. (The bin is strategically placed in the attic, which is strategically placed over my head, which is symbolic for how most of the holidays are for me.) I usually have the kids help out with various parts of the holiday preparation. Two years ago Joy decorated paper-bag turkeys. Last year Marlo helped me cook. Yes, she’s only a little over a year, but she helped me cook last year, at two months old. How did we pull that off? Well, the night before Thanksgiving when I get most of my Thanksgiving preparation done, not wanting to leave things to the last minute, of course, she decided that I couldn’t put her down and that my husband was not an authorized holder. Therefore, I made a dinner for 12 with her in the Snuggli. Her job was to make sure I didn’t rush through anything. (Who needs to rush? There are 24 hours in a day and sleep is for the—birds? turkeys? the weak?) My husband’s (very important, self-appointed) job was to sit on the couch and watch TV, being mildly supportive in a distracted sort of way—unless taste-testing was involved.
Is Thanksgiving really on Thursday? I suppose I better get a grocery list ready. My husband will probably relinquish his hard-earned groove on the couch, in a touch of guilt over not really helping out at all with meal preparations, and offer to do the shopping for me. Now, while this sounds generous and helpful, it’s really a dubious offer at best. For, while I appreciate not having to leave home (usually after 10 pm so the shopping can be done sans children), not having to make the 25 minute drive to the store and 25 minute drive home, and not having to bag the groceries myself, I categorically do not appreciate having to make a detailed shopping list that includes the brand name, the size and/or amount, the aisle number, and shelf location, the 52 phone calls it takes for him to get through the one-hour excursion, nor the 17 missing items, nor the 8 unauthorized substitutions. And while this sounds thoroughly ungrateful, which it is, it is also completely justified because after basically doing the shopping trip with him—just not at the store—he thinks that this absolves him from any further involvement, except for the eating part, of course.
So, I guess once I resolve the shopping issue and the menu and the guest list…all that’s left is the cooking, the cleaning, the decorating, and the holiday-inspired touches (that usually come to me at the 11th hour), right before my 1.5 hours of sleep and (hopefully) a shower before any guests arrive. And hopefully I will get it all pulled together in time to make it a memorable occasion…tasty, beautiful, Martha-esque. Next week I’ll let you know how it goes…and I’ll submit photos so you can tell me what you think. Just avert your eyes from the kitchen mess, the remarkably life-like man-shaped couch cushion, and the little fingerprints that decorate my home. It may not be the next Thanksgiving cover for Living…but I am thankful for every moment, every memory. I have a lot of work to do…Thanksgiving is Thursday. This Thursday. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!
Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Holly & Kate's story: June 29, 2009 has forever changed our family. The day continues to bring a torrent of emotions as we recall it, and yet we pray that one day we will recall it knowing it changed us but did not defeat us. It was a Monday where I, Kate's mom, was going to take our 3 kids Olivia 7, Kate 5 1/2, and Will 4 to the water park. A day of celebrating summer. Plans changed quickly as I noticed that a slight tremor in Kate's right hand over the past three days had notably worsened.
We made an appointment to her Pediatrician. Early evening we were headed to Phoenix Children's Hospital for a stat CT of Kate's head. I patiently filled our Kate's kindergarten application as we waited to be released after the CT. We however would not be released. Rather 3 people came out to tell me that our little Kate had a large mass on her brain.
Our world stopped.
You can never prepare fully for a moment where one sentence changes everything. We were emergently admitted to PICU and began the battle for Kate's life.
There are no words possible to describe how difficult this journey has been. Our hearts saddened to a point we didn't know existed. And yet, we are fully prepared to walk this and fight with Kate every step of the way.
We believe strongly in the power of prayer. We know none of this has caught our God off guard. And He is fully capable of healing our daughter.
Love, Holly & Aaron Mcrae
Posted by The Editor.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This was my schedule: Labor Day, high school friends in from out of town, family party, kids birthday party, adult birthday party, neighborhood BBQ, kids birthday party, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (40 mile walk, 2 day event), my child’s first birthday, high school’s 50th anniversary party, high school 20 year reunion, dinner party, kids birthday party, work mixer, housewarming party, baby shower, kids birthday party, out of town relatives, kids birthday party, costume party, kids birthday party, Halloween, and then my other child’s fourth birthday.
I am pooped!
The culmination was a combo birthday for my two little girls. Truth be told I missed the 1 year old’s birthday. I didn’t miss it miss it—I just couldn’t get my act together to plan a party. I know, I know, they don’t really know the difference, but what mother lets her baby’s first birthday sneak up on her without some momentous celebration? That would be me. You probably recognize me. I am usually the front runner for worst mother of the year. (I sense a lot of head nodding, “Oh, yes, she did sound familiar!”) Anyway…I planned an ‘old-fashioned’ birthday…games, cupcake theme, homemade, handmade everything.
Am I crazy? Most days, yes.
For the girls and me and my husband I made iron-on crystal cupcake tee-shirts.
We got a jumper. I made a ‘Pin the Cherry on the Cupcake’ poster and cut out 25 cherries.
I made 65 cupcake nametags—blue for the guys, green and pink for the girls.
I made 96 chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and pink frosting, topped with flags with the girls’ initials. The favors were cupcake kebabs.
And the crowning glory of the party was a hand-made cupcake pull piñata.
I made potato salad, a fruit bowl, and deli platters. I also made the girls’ party hats—I make one for them on each birthday.
The girls had a great day. They loved everything about the party. Although I was ready for bed at , I felt good. I made the girls happy. It was a happy birthday for both of them. I did it all by myself. Maybe I can redeem myself and relinquish the WMOTY title.
Hold on-- did you hear that? That was the sound of the let-down. The day after this crazy, 9 week wild ride was my niece’s birthday. And all of the relatives from my husband’s side of the family, who couldn’t make it to my girls’ party, miraculously made it to the niece’s party. (My husband’s brother’s daughter turned one the day after my little one turned 4.) And guess what? She had a cupcake theme party. All store bought. All perfect and professional looking. And the big moment of the party? A cupcake pull piñata. (The relatives all ooh-ed and aah-ed over these store-bought, commercialized, main-stream party goods.)
In my bleary-eyed, exhausted, post-party delirium, I am consoling myself with these truths (truth being in the mind of the mother): homemade, handmade equals more time, more energy, more love; no one else in the world will ever have the same party games, décor, hats, name tags, favors, piñata (all coordinated, with attention to every last detail) as my girls; and, best of all, wait for it…my child’s birthday will ALWAYS be one day earlier. How do you like them cupcakes?
(Note to the Editor: pictures will follow of the homemade, handmade, one-of-a-kind party creations…but right now I have to get some stuff together for an impromptu garage sale tomorrow morning. The neighbors thought that since I had some time on my hands…)
Posted by The Editor for the very busy Busy Body.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The blog is a collection of topics that occurs during telephone calls to each other. The title of the blog reminds Gigi of her time in college and just married when she was so far away from home. Phone calling was quite different then and very expensive. The first three minutes were one rate and then every minute after that was an extra charge. Everyone got into the mindset of trying to say everything in three minutes and so you would organize your talking points prior to the call. Dialing home was very exciting.
This blog is exciting for us, we hope you enjoy it, too!
Monday, November 16, 2009
The area that I was traveling through was typical of the growth and development of suburbia. On one side was a huge new mall: Planned, built and landscaped to entice us into the joys of materialism. On the other side was an almost equal amount of acreage that was cleared except for a few piles of rubble and weeds that just barely met the abatement ordinances of the city.
I was giving obligatory attention to the traffic maneuvers of my fellow travelers who were independently interpreting traffic laws when I happened to look up and over to the side where high above me was a lone hawk riding the morning thermals. A few flaps of his powerful wings would take him almost out of sight and then he would confidently and expertly glide down. He was a joyous participant on his own playground. At the same time, I am sure he was monitoring those piles of rubble for some sort of meal that might be inhabiting that last piece of undeveloped land. Probably hungry, unaware that his source of livelihood was quickly disappearing, and certainly not with a cache of food sufficient to last him through his retirement years, he was simply enjoying the day.
You Go, Hawk!
Posted by The Editor for Gigi.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Today was an almost perfect Fall day...threatening rain, but still beautiful. Each season has its own signature made up of weather, activities and celebrations, and, most enjoyably, food. When the weather starts to cool down and warn of the cold days to come, it's time to get out the biggest pot in the kitchen and make soup. AND THEN, start planning all the tastes of Autumn: Crisps and cobblers; Fall veggies; and the many, many ways to enjoy apples.
Over forty years ago, we went to a church pot luck and I was especially drawn by the smell of an apple cake. I could have eaten the whole thing, but restrained myself to an initial enormous piece and many "sneaked" smaller cuts. The woman who brought the cake lived with her family in a one room home. One room while they constructed the rest of the house as funds came in. She was a great cook but without the means of hostessing in her own place and so she brought wonderful contributions to the church get-togethers. I think she was especially pleased that her cake was such a big hit with me and the next Sunday "gifted" me with the recipe.
As I am writing this, the house is filled with the wonderful smell of the cake, because just thinking about it compelled me to bake it. I had to laugh because sometime during these many years, some little hand lightly, but diligently, scribbled all over the recipe card, a pleasant occupation while Mom pared and chopped and mixed.
I like this recipe because it says put all the ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly. However long this has been around, it has probably been concocted the same way...in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. I like to think that the same process of duplication somehow connects me to all the women and all the kitchens that have produced this family favorite. I was thinking that maybe the next time I make it, I won't peel the apples, but just chop them a little more. ( But what if I have creative remorse?) Maybe you should try that variation and let me know the results. I can't mess up a family treasure!
Here's the recipe:
Fresh Apple Cake Serves 12
4 c chopped apples 1 t vanilla
2 c sugar 2 c flour
2 eggs 2 t soda
1 c oil 1 c nuts
1 c shredded coconut 1/2 t salt
Place all ingredients in large bowl. Blend thoroughly.
Pour in greased and floured pan (13x9x2)
Bake 50 to 60 minutes @ 350 degF.
Posted by The Editor for Gigi.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Do they all have high aspirations?
Or, is their reason simply mundane?
What if, because of your blog:
You had a book on the NYT bestsellers list?
You made the Forbes "Most Influential Women in Media" list (2009), published two books, and both you and your husband stay home with your children on your blog income.
Your family life inspired the publication of two books?
You became an inspiration to many and Oprah asked you to be on her show?
I wanted to link the first posts of these bloggers.
However, some have switched blogger sites/platforms in the course of their blog ...So, here are the earliest posts I could find for them.
May we all be so blessed with our efforts.
Posted by the Editor.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
where you hang your hat…
where you rest your head…
where your loved ones are…
where your heart is…
a safe haven...
where you are cherished...
where you want to be.....
Sometimes the forces of the universe conspire to inspire us to find our voice and sing out with all our might the song that only we can sing.
The reasons why we think we couldn't or shouldn't reach for the stars can be obliterated in unfathomable ways by all the reasons why we should.
For each of us has a directive that is wholly unique.
No one else can fulfill it.
Let us see past the distractions,
listen beyond the naysayers,
journey through the discontent and claim our song.
Every morning is a renewal,
every meal, a chance to nourish,
every day, an opportunity to move our bodies through space and time on this planet and become stronger and more vibrant,
every night, a time to renew.
to explore, define, construct and establish the space
we need to accomplish our goals-- the space we call Home.