Power In Your Hands

catalog-coverI’ve said quite a bit about gratitude in this space in the past, but this year I want to let someone say it better than I could. This week on NPR, I heard a review of a new book by poet Ross Gay, called Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. His description of the book really says it all:

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away—loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it—that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all—death, sorrow, loss—is converted into what might, with patience, nourish us.

The titular poem, published in Waxwing to be read for free, oh glory, made me cry (several times) upon reading it. I invite you to give yourself ten minutes – it is a long poem, and Gay repeatedly thanks the reader “for hanging tight, dear friend. / I know I can be long winded sometimes” – and enjoy the ways in which he repeatedly makes the specific universal, opens the lovely limitless chest of nature and lets the treasures of that chest, that heart, pour forth.

Below is the entire poem, or you can read it here. Happy Thanksgiving, all, and thank you, thank you, thank you.


Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
Friends, will you bear with me today,
for I have awakened
from a dream in which a robin
made with its shabby wings a kind of veil
behind which it shimmied and stomped something from the south
of Spain, its breast a’flare,
looking me dead in the eye
from the branch that grew into my window,
coochie-cooing my chin,
the bird shuffling its little talons left, then right,
while the leaves bristled
against the plaster wall, two of them drifting
onto my blanket while the bird
opened and closed its wings like a matador
giving up on murder,
jutting its beak, turning a circle,
and flashing, again,
the ruddy bombast of its breast
by which I knew upon waking
it was telling me
in no uncertain terms
to bellow forth the tubas and sousaphones,
the whole rusty brass band of gratitude
not quite dormant in my belly —
it said so in a human voice,
“Bellow forth” —
and who among us could ignore such odd
and precise counsel?

(more…)

succulentI wanted to take a moment this week to that Janet Kessenich and Carolyn Romano at the Boston Theosophical Society again for asking me in to do their Day of Healing and Insight last Saturday! I got to put my hands on some people, help them listen to themselves, bring some relaxation and calm, and help most of them tune in to what’s really important for them right now.

It’s always interesting to do short sessions like that (these were 25 minutes start to finish). I feel like I had a better time containing them this time than I did a couple years ago when I did the summer event. Part of that was due to the help of my mentor Joan Brooks, who gave me great ideas for making RSM effective in such a brief window: focus it on one question the client is coming in with. Keep bringing it back to the body. Have them notice how they feel when they get on the table and how they feel before they get up. Ask them how the feelings they are having will help them in their lives.

It was useful and powerful, and I’m pleased that I had the opportunity. I hope that more folks will go and check out their events.

thanksgivingIt’s Thanksgiving this week. The holiday has always been a favorite for me, and not just because I love to eat. I also love the thoroughly secular opportunity that it gives Americans to express gratitude.

Gratitude is an emotion that we’re not in contact with a lot of the time. Life is hard, and even though it’s also beautiful, we’re far more likely to notice the hard bits. After all, when you feel well, you don’t tend to think about it all that much. When you fall ill is when you notice: my head hurts, my nose is running, I’m so tired, and so on. It’s only human to notice the bad more acutely than the good, especially when the good is not Peak Good. Not every day can be college graduation, your wedding day, Christmas, or winning the lottery. But when you stop to notice is, most days are pretty okay. Some of them are even deeply beautiful.

I’m not even talking about noticing the sunset, or hearing the joy in a child’s laughter, though those cliched things are important. I’m talking about simple stuff. Notice the way a fork fits in your hand, and is the perfect tool for the job. Smell how truly great coffee is when you’re stumbling down the stairs in the morning. Take a moment when you turn the key in the ignition of your car to recognize that you have a car, and can drive it anyplace you want. If you’re about to drive it to your job, take a breath of thanks that you have a job.

These little pieces of gratitude can have a dramatic effect. The science is mounting: gratitude, besides just feeling good, is wonderful for our health. It improves optimism, increases exercise, moves us toward our goals, and enhances our connection with others.

But more even than that: it connects us to ourselves, and our deepest truths. After all, what says more about what you value, about who you are, than what you are truly thankful for?

Try this, starting on Thanksgiving and going through Christmas – classically, one of the most stressful times of the year. Get a journal, if you don’t already keep one, and take two minutes each day to record something that you’re grateful for. When it is especially hard to find something, pay special attention. Give thanks for your breath. Or your feet. Or your warm bed. Or even your pain. Your sorrow. Your many-times broken heart.

Starting this Thanksgiving, see what happens to you when you open yourself to gratitude. And if you’re ready to come home to yourself, find your true desire, and transform your life, contact me for a free phone consult.

Have a wonderful holiday.

My mentor Joan shared this video this morning, and I watched it all the way through until the tears flowed. I recommend the same to each of you.  It is a sublime meditation on gratitude, replete with gorgeous time-lapse photography, some of the most interesting and beautiful faces I’ve ever seen, and the gentle, liltingly accented voice of a plainly spectacular gentleman.

Make this day a good day, everyone.  And as always – I welcome your comments.  There was a lot of traffic the other day, but nobody said anything!  Please, engage me!

My mentor Joan shared this video this morning, and I watched it all the way through until the tears flowed. I recommend the same to each of you.  It is a sublime meditation on gratitude, replete with gorgeous time-lapse photography, some of the most interesting and beautiful faces I’ve ever seen, and the gentle, liltingly accented voice of a plainly spectacular gentleman.

Make this day a good day, everyone.  And as always – I welcome your comments.  There was a lot of traffic the other day, but nobody said anything!  Please, engage me!

Those of you on the East Coast – and others who enjoy paying attention to weather in places where they’re not (I’m looking at you, California…) – know that there’s presently a blizzard bearing down on Boston and other cities up and down the coast.  At the moment it’s mostly snowing gently, blowing a little bit, barely even sticking yet.  But we’re told to expect between 1-3 feet of snow.  (Yes, that was feet.)

My household spent yesterday running around like you do before such events: clearing our shopping list, laying in extra supplies, debating over buying a snowblower, running around to three different stores as they all sold out of shovels.  We still have bottles filled with water from Sandy, where they weren’t needed; we have flashlights and batteries and crank radios and candles.

I’m weirdly looking forward to this evening, when we plan to take shoveling shifts, clearing the snow as it falls, taking nips of bourbon in-between.  A blizzard party, with my family.

And I’m incredibly grateful that I can experience a storm like this in this way.  In a warm, sturdy old house, with loved ones, safe and warm and sound.  I’ll probably bake cookies at some point.

Last weekend, I participated in a read/sing-through of a new musical called Fire and Ice, in which the environmental apocalypse happens, the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt stops, and the eastern seaboard freezes over, forcing a typical American family on a Grapes of Wrath-like journey across the continent.  With weather predictors calling Nemo historic, I can’t help but reflect on that play as I look out of my office window, watch the snow intensify, and hear the wind begin its unearthly howling.

I don’t think the world is going to end tonight – neither in fire nor in ice – but it still occurs to me to be thankful.  May everyone reading this be safe and warm tonight, in the company of loved ones.

My mentor Joan shared this video this morning, and I watched it all the way through until the tears flowed. I recommend the same to each of you.  It is a sublime meditation on gratitude, replete with gorgeous time-lapse photography, some of the most interesting and beautiful faces I’ve ever seen, and the gentle, liltingly accented voice of a plainly spectacular gentleman.

Make this day a good day, everyone.  And as always – I welcome your comments.  There was a lot of traffic the other day, but nobody said anything!  Please, engage me!

 

My mentor Joan shared this video this morning, and I watched it all the way through until the tears flowed. I recommend the same to each of you.  It is a sublime meditation on gratitude, replete with gorgeous time-lapse photography, some of the most interesting and beautiful faces I’ve ever seen, and the gentle, liltingly accented voice of a plainly spectacular gentleman.

Make this day a good day, everyone.  And as always – I welcome your comments.  There was a lot of traffic the other day, but nobody said anything!  Please, engage me!

 

The magnificent Mark Morford, fabulous columnist for the SF Gate, offered up this fanstastic article about the power of gratitude, not just for the good things, but for everything.

Some highlights:

Be cynical if you want. Be jaded and sneery and think the world is a razor blade of anger and pain, just waiting to slash you across the heart. This is your choice.

But the fact is, a thousand things go right for you every day. From the moment you wake up, the universe aligns in countless miraculous ways to make your life happen fluidly, effortlessly, incredibly. Your heart is working, your systems function, you do not instantly collapse, lose a limb or spontaneously combust. Amazing.

The car starts. The elevator works. Your legs transport you rather beautifully, hither and yon. The coffee is hot. The food placed before you is all kinds of stunning in how it connects you to the world. There’s sunlight. Your eyes receive that light and create everything in existence. Also, trees! Nice.

It’s a simple concept, one we hear all the time: give thanks. Be grateful. But it’s surprisingly hard to remember to do: we wolf our food without thinking about it, we complain and mutter in traffic, we forget how much of a simple miracle it is that we’re here – let alone healthy, let alone housed, fed, able to get from here to there, possessing of friends and loved ones, or whatever our particular blessings are. And sure, it sounds corny, but there’s probably a reason, as Morford says, that it appears in every religious text and poetic expression from time immemorial. “Hell,” Morford adds, “it’s probably drawn on a cave wall somewhere: You gotta give thanks. Not just for the big things, but for everything. All the time. Like breath. Like mantra. Like, duh.”

The most profound lesson, though, may be his next-to-last paragraph, about the times we are even more likely to forget to practice gratitude:

The things that suck and cause pain and give massive emotional challenge? They are worthy of thanks, too. Sometimes even more so. They are just another form of the divine. They are offering profound lessons, showing us where we need to grow and evolve. Thank you, we say, through gritted teeth. Thank you thank you thank you. F–k.

Thank you thank you thank you f–k. That may be my new mantra.

Try it for a bit, as Morford suggests.  Make it a practice for a week, or a month: give thanks for every little thing, and see how it changes how you move in the world.  (Make a move, change a thought.  There it is again.)