Choosing Gratitude

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Dear Readers,

My Facebook newsfeed is full of Thanksgiving and gratitude posts and quotes—for which I am thankful. It’s a nice change to see positive messages. It has buoyed my spirits and reaffirmed my own desire to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

A confession? Even though I have so, so much to be grateful for, gratitude is not always an easy attitude for me to maintain. It takes energy. Persistence. And, for those of us that have been life-long pessimists (or are just plain exhausted), it requires a deliberate change in thinking. In short, gratitude requires work.

Why am I writing this? Because as important as gratitude is, I also think it’s equally important to admit that we’re all human. We’re not perfect. Sometimes, we have bad days, and get upset by anything and everything that doesn’t go our way. It’s in these moments that we have a choice to make: to allow ourselves to be overtaken by negativity or to refocus—and recommit—to a life of gratitude.

For me, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to look on the bright side. Seth will be cooking our Thanksgiving Day meal—which means it’s going to taste amazing (for those of you who don’t know, he’s a gifted cook). I expect to have a full belly and delicious left-overs for days. We’ll also decorate for Christmas; a holiday that never fails to fill me with hope and light.

It’s easier to be grateful with good food and the love of your life nearby.

So, the next time I struggle with gratitude, I’ll replay the sights and the smells of the holiday season in my mind. I’ll remind myself to cling to good memories instead of worrying about the uncertainty of the future (which is often what impinges my ability to be grateful).

I would like to thank you, Dear Readers, for sticking with me through the rollercoaster ride that has been 2017. Your support has meant everything to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

With Love,
Laura

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Heart-Openers

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As much as I love yoga, I often find myself avoiding it. I tell myself that I don’t have the time to unroll my mat, to transition through sun salutations, or to find balance in what I consider to be more challenging asanas. I do the same thing whenever I think about writing fiction, except the excuses are a bit craftier (i.e. “I write my best material in the morning and its now 11:59 a.m.”, or, “Oh no, I think I have Writer’s Block”).

Why would I avoid the things I love?

The answer, if I am being truthful, is that in addition to being hard work, both yoga and writing force you to look inward. Yes, the outcomes are, to some extent, measurable—increased flexibility, a fledgling manuscript—but at the center of both practices is a challenge to sit with your own heart, listening to its sorrows, its joys.

And that—the ability to listen—is where all the magic is.

When I unrolled my yoga mat recently—for the first time in what feels like weeks—Wallace the Wonderful woke up from his cat-nap. He rubbed against my legs while I stood in Mountain Pose. He darted underneath me as I tried to hold Plank. His joy for the mat, for the practice, was contagious. Even as I lifted up into Wheel—a pose commonly known in the yoga community as a “heart-opener”—and all of my back muscles resisted the stretch, I knew something had shifted, something was about to change.

A week later, when I inexplicably began editing my novel (again) for the first time in over a year, Wallace had a similar reaction. He followed the L-shape of the couch until he was at my side. Once there, he curled up in a ball, purring happily. The seams of my heart began to pull.

When I read all of your comments following last week’s blog post—I didn’t need Wallace to translate what I was feeling. I knew, all on my own, that my heart was done for, bursting open with gratitude, with love.

The beautiful things in this life—the things that we are called to do, the bonds we form with others—crack open our hearts. Of course, yoga/writing/relationships/whatever it is that inspires you—involve hard work. Of course, it hurts at times. And, of course, it is 100% worth it.

This Thanksgiving holiday—perhaps more so than any other Thanksgiving I have ever experienced—I find myself grateful. I am grateful for the hands that help, that are constantly and consistently trying to make this world a better place. I am grateful for the voices of reason and of kindness that refuse to be silenced by the cacophony of anger and hate. And, I am grateful for the love that each of you shows me every Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Readers.