Am I Grateful?

embrace_life_with_gratitude_EDITAm I grateful?

…for the last time I had my heart-broken? It showed me how much I could love.

…for the last time I was injured and recovered? It showed me how crucial good health is.

…for the last time I tossed and turned, hardly sleeping all night? It showed me how vital a good night’s rest is.

…for the last time a friend and I recovered from a big disagreement? It showed me how love can heal if I want it to.

…for the last time someone cut in line in front of me? It showed me how to take the high road and keep my cool.

…for the last time I lost an item valuable to me. I was reminded of the temporary nature of my hold on all I possess.

…for the last time death took someone I loved? It showed me how life and loving are the essence of living.

…for the last time I did not get what I want? It showed me how sometimes not getting what I desire can be a blessing.

…for the last time my feelings were hurt? It showed me how valuable the ability to feel deeply is to living a good life.

…for the last time I failed? It showed me how doing my best is always a success no matter how things turn out.

…for the last time I was embarrassed? It showed me how human I am; perfectly imperfect.

…for the last time I lost my temper and was angry? It showed me how how regretful I feel after losing control emotionally.

…for the last time someone stole something of mine? It showed me how everything I own will someday be some else’s.

…for the last time I ran short of money too quickly? It showed me the need to manage what I have better.

…for the last time I said the wrong thing to someone? It showed me how to be more kind and caring to others.

…for the last time I got lost driving in a strange place? It showed me how being fallible is a natural part of the human condition.

YES! I am grateful for every dark cloud, big or small, that has taught me how to appreciate the sunshine all the more when it reappears.

If we never experience the chill of a dark winter,
it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish
the warmth of a bright summer’s day.
Nothing stimulates our appetite
for the simple joys of life more
than the starvation caused
by sadness or desperation.
In order to complete
our amazing life journey
it is vital that we turn each
and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom,
and find the blessing in every curse.
Anthon St. Maarten

The Perceiver’s Vantage Point

tumblr_m3wbh9fPRD1qzjwnko1_500Being solitary is being alone well:
being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice,
aware of the fullness of your own presence
rather than of the absence of others.
Because solitude is an achievement.
Alice Koller

For a long time the beliefs I carried made Alice Koller’s statement impossible for me to grasp and appreciate. Knowing people who were alone used to bring thoughts tinted with pity, suspicion and sympathy. I was compassionate, but looked at such people as not being whole. Surely there must be something wrong with them. In other words, something would be wrong with me if I was alone.

The glass that life is viewed though is only the perceiver’s vantage point. It can feel true and be far from it. I did not realize my fear of being along drove me from one relationship to another. I honestly thought I was normal and feeling incomplete without a woman in my life was typical for every man. Without any rational examples in childhood of what love between a man and woman was supposed to look like, I ended up believing it meant ‘to be with someone’.

So many people are terrified of their own company. The thought of being at home, by themselves, with nobody to talk to, is debilitating for them. So they do everything possible to avoid just that; they create an overactive social life so that they are always with friends, or they become workaholics so they can drown themselves in their jobs, or sadly many even become alcoholics; but all with the same goal: to avoid the pain and darkness that they feel by being alone.

My phobia of being alone is not unique to me. Many carry the burden with a fear greater than heights, snakes or even death. My irrational fear was based on the belief that being “alone” was like an illness or some other unfortunate condition that happened and had to be cured. It was a great sense of failing; a sort of emptiness when a romantic partner (or several) was not in my day-to-day life.

The shape of my thinking today about being alone is quite different. Not only do I not fear aloneness as I once did, I actually enjoy it a good bit of the time. And that amount seems to be growing as who I wish to be and who I am become more parallel.

The pain in loneliness comes from all that surrounds it, not the act itself. And when you spend enough quality time alone, you realize that it is indeed nothing to fear. You realize that you, by yourself, are happy and are confirmed in life and worth by everything around you. Chelsea Fagen

I don’t love being alone all of the time but find the peace in it more and more. Aloneness is not for the faint of heart for it will twist and wring a person at any point in their psyche where one feels ‘less-than’. Being solitary forced me to wrestle  a long list of inadequacies. The attacks of loneliness I felt were actually those things assaulting me when I was not distracted by a relationship. Being alone was damned hard and the first two years by my-self felt like they were going to kill me sometimes. But I survived and am so much better for it. Will I always be alone? I don’t know and hope not. However, today I am grateful to know alone or not is a choice I can make and not a perceived lack I have to fill.

I don’t want to be alone,
I want to be left alone.
Audrey Hepburn

We’re All Just Wandering Souls

1096582075_a6747a9a9fSomething happened yesterday where my feelings became hurt more so than in a long while. I presented myself to another person in a way I thought was honest and caring. My comrade found great offense in what I said. This was unexpected. I thought I had acted in an authentic and thoughtful way. Profusely I apologized for offending him, but my apology was not accepted. Over time I hope it is, but whether acceptance happens or not is out of my hands.

The gist of my thoughts this morning are not about specifically what happened. Rather, I am thinking of the realization once again how pain teaches. A moment’s painfulness can be a positive teaching that lasts for a lifetime. Pain not embraced will carry forward negatively and the clinging will bring only more pain. Learning to feel my pain then giving it the attention it demands has become a rich source of wisdom.

Pain is a great teacher, it constantly reminds us to work on our ego and get back to our presence. Pain is the attention seeking activity of our body, signaling to our mind that we need to pay attention… When we give attention to a particular area, that attention becomes energy for that area which aids in healing it.

The moment we lack attention, then pain invariably happens. Therefore, pain is actually the absence of attention, so the solution to get out of pain is by giving your presence. …if we look deeply within, every pain is because of our internal investment of our ego. Wherever we have invested our ego, we will suffer. Teo Siew Yong

Today I feel no animosity toward my friend who reacted with anger toward me. We’re all just wandering souls trying to find our way. The words spoken I found hurtful have been felt and I have moved past them. Mixed in was a piece of truth I needed to hear, no matter how it was presented. And it is that gift of insight I am grateful for.

“Turn towards me”, my pain whispers. “Just for a moment. Do not be afraid. I am made of you.”

“But I don’t know how to turn”, I reply.

Pain responds, “Feel me upon you, relax and fall into me; then my power to hurt you will be made small”.

After being given example after example over time, you’d think I would no longer be impressed at the amount of wisdom to be found in pain. I am grateful to have grown and matured enough to usually be able to embrace pain’s teaching and move on. The still fascinating part is how my accepting pain causes it to depart so quickly.

World’s use is cold,
World’s love is vain,
World’s cruelty is bitter bane;
But pain is not the fruit of pain.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

That Shadow Was Me

www.sortedpixels.comI have spent most of my adult life looking for it. Over time I tried this way and that way; this woman and that woman; that friend and others. Time and time again I found it temporarily only to discover it was only a self-created mirage that faded away once in the midst of it. Love was baffling and elusive.

The lack of feeling loved kept me searching to fill the emptiness. Success did not work. Money didn’t help much either. Beautiful and loving partners didn’t fill the hole for long. Hobbies and interests pursued and accomplished were temporary fixes at best. Moving from a town where I did not find love to another where I thought it could be did not sate the yearning either.

The mystery I could not solve for so long was the riddle of myself.

The person in life that you will always be with the most, is yourself. Because even when you are with others, you are still with yourself, too! When you wake up in the morning, you are with yourself, laying in bed at night you are with yourself, walking down the street in the sunlight you are with yourself.

What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, and it’s your responsibility to be that person you want to be with.

I know I want to spend my life with a person who knows how to let things go, who’s not full of hate, who’s able to smile and be carefree. So that’s who I have to be. C.JoybellC.

There’s an old country song titled “Searching for Love In All The Wrong Places” which describes well my long search for love. Barbara De Angelis wrote, If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.

And there you have it. What I was missing was loving myself. Only in recent years when I have begun to love the human being I have become has my heart become gratefully capable of loving others. Always before there was an obstruction throwing a shadow over anyone I loved. That shadow was me.

If you don’t receive love
from the ones who are meant to love you,
you will never stop looking for it.
Robert Goolrick

The Truth About Yourself

Psy“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” is the 4th step used in anonymous recovery groups for compulsions that range from alcohol, narcotics and gambling to overeating, workaholic behavior and the recovery group I am active in, Codependence Anonymous.

The first time I encountered the words “searching and fearless moral inventory” they spooked me (more than that… they scared the crap out of me!). The fear was of the unknown for so much of my past behavior was buried so deep within me I was not even sure what all was there. I felt deeply ashamed, but was uncertain exactly why.

The majority of people never get involved in a 12 step recovery group, but EVERYONE could benefit from doing a 4th step (Inventory) and the following 5th step that boils down to Admitted …the exact nature of our wrongs.

Going through the inventory and admission process then beginning to let go of the regret we poison our self with is one of the best self-care efforts that can be made. Yet, most don’t do it for the very reason I didn’t for decades: fear and not wanting to face the truth. My personal experience was I had previously made a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, inventory and admission was difficult for me but far, far easier than I had imagined. The good I got from the process was and continues to be life changing.

Many newcomers to the Steps feel dismayed when they first see this (5th) Step. It’s bad enough, they think, that the 4th Step requires them to beat themselves up for all the bad things they’ve done . . . but now the 5th Step says they must shame themselves before someone else so he can beat them up, too! How can I do that? they ask. What purpose could such torture possibly serve?

Such doubt and dismay are understandable, even reasonable, given such mistaken ideas about the nature of the Steps. It’s important to understand that the 5th Step is not about wallowing in guilt and shame over our past behavior. Instead, it is a practical and effective means of reconciling ourselves with the past and finally putting guilt and shame behind us where it belongs. It’s also a critical step toward restoring our battered sense of honor and self-respect.

We will never really be at peace with ourselves until we are completely, whole-heartedly okay with who we are-and that includes being okay with who we were and what we have done in the past.

Only by revealing who we really are can we become the same person on the outside as we are on the inside.

From my vantage point there are two ways of getting to the process outlined in the 4th and 5th step of recovery: 1) great need and courage or 2) great pain that allows us to do nothing else. Most people, including me, take the plunge for the second reason that is outlined well in the quote “When the pain to stay the same exceeds the pain to change, we change”.

Today I think of each of the 12 steps kind of like having a cavity in a tooth filled. Until I do, what is wrong with me will continue to get worse and worse, hurting more and more as time goes on. While getting a filling is not my idea of fun, it’s not that bad either. Same is true for the steps. Not painless, but far less so than I originally though. Getting to feel better about life and myself makes it worthwhile just like a trip to the dentist is.

My gratitude today is for all the goodness and positive growth that has come my way since getting into Codependence Anonymous ( ) six years ago. Saying it has been “life changing” is vastly inadequate to describe the personal renaissance and growth that has come. To CoDA and my brothers and sisters in recovery I say thank you with a humble mind and grateful heart.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself
you cannot tell it about other people.
Virginia Woolf

Two Years Today

country sunrise copyThank-You-Card GMG EDIT

True happiness is to enjoy the present,
without anxious dependence upon the future,
not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears
but to rest satisfied with what we have,
which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.
The greatest blessings of mankind
are within us and within our reach.
A wise man is content with his lot,
whatever it may be,without wishing for what he has not.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I would be grateful if you’d forward an installment of G.M.G.
you find meaningful
to a few friends and help set a record
for readership for’s second anniversary
TODAY, April 25, 2013.

Thank you.

Let the Gratefulness Overflow

Happiness revealed Brother DavidYou think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you. To-day. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is. If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes you can open. That incredible array of colors that is constantly offered to us for our pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather and even the weather we don’t think of all the many nuisances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day, right now, is unique weather. Maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again. That formation of clouds in the sky will never be same that is right now.

Open your eyes. Look at that. Look at the faces of people whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face, a story that you could never fully fathom. Not only their own story but the story of their ancestors. We all go back so far and in this present moment on this day all the people you meet, all that life from generations and from so many places all over the world flows together and meets you here like a life-giving water if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to that incredible gift that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water… and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience.

These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts to which we can open your heart. and so I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you… that everyone you will meet at this day will be blessed by you.

Just by your own eyes, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then it will really be a good day.

Take from a piece of the film “Happiness Revealed” was originally shown at the conference on November 16, 2010 by notable film maker Louis Schwartzberg. What’s just above are comments included in that film segment spoken by Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast. Watch here:

Having seen this film segment previously about two years ago in no way lessened the positive impact it had on me last night as I watched again. Transcribing Brother David’s comments kept me misty eyed all the way through. I am grateful for the warm and meaningfulness his words bring to my soul and am glad I still feel them this morning.

Beauty and seduction, I believe,
is nature’s tool for survival,
because we will protect
what we fall in love with.
Louie Schwartzberg

I would be grateful if you’d forward to a few friends
an installment of G.M.G. you find meaningful and help set a record
for readership for’s second birthday on April 25, 2013.
Thank you.


Path To Gratitude

There are many pathways to being more grateful, to be happier and to improve one’s outlook on life. Here are a few from the ongoing dialogue I have with myself.

GMG image for 4 22 2013 copy

Growing gratitude has been a game changer. Gratefulness fosters the growth of additional thankfulness; makes me stronger and more resilient; more patient and understanding; helps me love with an open heart; brings added belief in myself and enhances every step I make on the path of my life, even the painful and difficult. Making gratitude a way of life does not change things quickly, but over time the difference has been remarkable.

The way you treat yourself
sets the standard for others.
Sonya Friedman

I would be grateful if you’d forward to a few friends
an installment of G.M.G. you find meaningful and help set a record
for readership for’s second birthday on April 25, 2013.
Thank you.

A Gratitude List

I would be grateful if you’d forward to a few friends
an installment of G.M.G. you find meaningful and help set a record
for readership for’s second birthday on April 25, 2013.
Thank you.

6349891801_055b29fb06_bA list of what quickly comes to mind that I am grateful for this morning:

A body that works well in spite of accumulated aches and pains; A home I love living in surrounded by a wealth of possessions; A few close friends I love dearly and who love me; An inquiring mind that wants to learn and know; A more than ample supply of food; A large library of music and something to listen to it on…

Two older cars that run well and are paid for; Being modestly financially secure; Good health that makes everything else more enjoyable; The hard times and heart aches that taught me so well; A working computer and internet access; My library of books large enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life…

A son I am proud of and am glad to have a close relationship with; Love given to me even when I did not always value it as I should have at the time; My professional success and those I worked with who made it possible; My kind heart, gentle ways and caring soul; Intelligence to look deeper, to seek, to ask questions…

The natural powers beyond me that make my world what it is; Spiritual belief that enhances everything; People I loved and lost, but still carry love for in my heart; The inspiration caused me to write this blog and continue it; The knowing the best of my life is still is in front of me; The works of nature all around that still astound me…

I dare you to jot down a gratitude list right now. There is absolutely NOTHING like making one to awaken a deeper level of happiness and contentment. For all on the list I could think of on the fly and the thousands of blessings that did not swiftly come to mind, I am thankful. The joy in my soul, the happiness in my heart, the mental contentment and every ounce of love and caring I have ever received are gifts sometimes I don’t feel fully deserving of, but embrace with gratefulness that overflows.

The very quality of your life,
whether you love it or hate it,
is based upon how thankful you are…
It is one’s attitude that determines
whether life unfolds into a place
of blessedness or wretchedness.
Francis Frangipane