Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Signs of spring

We have been fortunate enough to see the weather improve over the past few weeks, and now there are some unmistakable signs that spring is on its way. Everywhere changes are taking place, with longer days, greener grass, and buds on trees as they ready themselves to burst from dormancy. 

But perhaps one of the my favorite signs of the fading winter is the appearance of those bright green shoots that eventually give rise to buds and blossoms. I love all spring flowers, but there is always something miraculous about the first crocuses. The emergence of these delicate but tenacious flowers that persist even in the face of a vernal snow brings to my soul a sense of excitement and renewal that only nature can provide.


Today I am grateful to have seen (and photographed!) the first crocuses of the spring while out for a walk with my daughter. In terms of weather spring is a capricious season, so knowing that these blooms could again be hidden under an icy mantle makes them all the more special.
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Through a child's eyes

Yesterday my husband, daughter, and I went to a nearby aquarium. We had a nice time, and Kleiner enjoyed looking at all the fish swimming gracefully in the water, pursing her lips to mimic their little fish mouths. She also stared with wonder at the turtles, hippos, and jellyfish as they swam and otherwise moved about. It was truly a pleasure to observe things from her perspective as she saw these creatures live for the very first time. 




I know that I will probably (and hopefully) write many posts similar to this one, but that is okay with me! I love being able to see the world through a child's eyes, and am grateful for the opportunity.
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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." 
~Shunru Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1970)
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Progress and resilience

As I have mentioned, the first year of my daughter's life has been one of my best- but also one of the most challenging. Soon after her birth, I was hit with the strongest emotions I have ever experienced. Though I was so happy and proud to be a parent of this amazing little human, I was incredibly anxious and tense, and the 'sleep when the baby sleeps' saying seemed like a cruel joke. 

Despite my husband's valiant efforts to make me feel better, I also felt so alone, because in truth, I was. I knew I could always call my mom and sister, but everyone was so far away. Most* of the people I knew who said that they were 'there if I ever needed anything' ended up MIA. I was angry at myself for being so naive, and felt sad and disillusioned.  

Now I understand what a difference a year can make. Around this time last year I was exhausted, lonely, and my confidence was at an all-time low. Though in some ways I felt stronger (I had delivered a BABY after all!), I was the heaviest I had ever been and felt in the worst shape of my life. 

Finally, the weather began to improve and I was able to take baby out in the stroller for short walks. Those walks became longer and longer, and slowly the weight (and inches) started to come off. My pre-pregnancy clothes started to fit again, and I finally slid into one of my favorite pairs of jeans! 

I still have a little ways to go, and since this isn't a fitness blog, I have decided to not get into the exact numbers here. But as I approach my goals I am amazed by how different I feel, not only how I look. It is not as much about vanity anymore, but also witnessing how a change in mindset has eventually led to changes in my physique.   


I am grateful for resilience, both mental and physical, and for the strength my husband, my family, and my own body and mind have given me. 

*I do mean most, but not all. More about that later ๐Ÿ˜€
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An un-apology

A while back I posted about some of the 'flip side' emotions and accompanying questions that have also arisen from this gratitude practice . . .

Doubt: Will I be able to keep up this practice, or am I just deluding myself?

Self-consciousness: When I express gratefulness, do people think I am bragging or trying to flaunt some 'perfect life'? 

Fear: Will my fledgling gratitude be tested in a way I will not be able to handle? Will I alienate people I care about?

For starters, I know that if someone doesn't like or is annoyed by these posts, they don't have to read them. But we all know rejection can hurt, and often makes us reevaluate what we're doing.

With my own reevaluation complete, I know in my heart of hearts that developing this gratitude practice is the right thing to do. I also know that, though people may roll their eyes, posting often is the only way I will stay accountable. I guess that makes the patience and tolerance of others yet another thing to be grateful for! ๐Ÿ˜Š

So, this is in essence a "Sorry, not sorry" post. Looking back, the gratitude practices I have tried to develop in the past were destined to fail. Now that I am actually doing it, my world is changing for the better. And I have a feeling that as I continue on this journey, there will be no going back.
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Have you succeeded in or attempted developing a gratitude practice? What worked/didn't work for you?
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lactation consultants!

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! Of course, what could be more in the sprit than breastfeeding and those who make it their life's work?! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Yeah, I know, not really. But just hear me out. It was on this day a year ago that Kleiner and I were struggling. The situation was not dire, but things were not great. I was ready to give up. 

Enter Katie, the best lactation consultant we could have had. She listened carefully to our issues and showed me simple techniques that made all the difference. When I opened up about some recent (unpleasant) experiences, she empathized. 

Fast forward to now, it is hard to believe how vulnerable I felt (and was!) at that point in time. I am glad we were guided by such a capable person- something I would hope for every new mom. 

I know that the world would not have ended if we had switched to formula, and that this is a viable (yay, science!) and beneficial option that many families choose. But I am very grateful for the support and guidance I received at this pivotal time in my (and my baby's) life. 


What are you grateful for this Valentine's Day? ๐Ÿ’—
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy! 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

10,000+

Today I am grateful that I was able make it to my goal of 10,000+ steps for two days in a row. Between the frigid weather and a little one at home it is not always easy! 


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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Not really feeling it

Today was one of those dark, rainy, miserable days. I don't know if that is what put me in a sour mood this evening, but I am really not feeling this right now. Even so I still had some grateful moments throughout the day, but was overall definitely not in the best frame of mind. 

Beyond the weather, I think I am suffering from a little too much routine. I continue to look forward to the weekend to spend a little more time with my husband, but the days just blur together into a (seemingly) endless loop. Feeling like day-to-day I accomplish nothing important is an effective recipe for frustration and discouragement.

But you know what? All this is okay. Like I said in my first gratitude post, the purpose of developing this practice in not to force myself to be grateful. Days (and emotions!) like these are going to happen, and it is my job to learn how to deal with them effectively. It is called a 'practice' for a reason! 

If I am grateful for anything today, it is that gratitude was able to shine through, even in the presence of substantial negativity. With that, I conclude with a picture of a notebook I saw in Target- which has now become especially relevant. Enjoy ๐Ÿ˜Š  


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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Friday, February 9, 2018

A bit overwhelmed

One thing I realized soon after embarking on this gratitude journey was it would be difficult, but for different reasons than I had originally thought. Instead of tiredness, procrastination, and negative emotions getting in the way, I am now more concerned with the magnitude of the endeavor.  

Put simply, there is just *so much* to be grateful for! 

So far, I have written quite a few posts about the 'best things' in life; the little things make us smile. I have also written several posts about loved ones, those who have touched and brought tremendous joy to my life (and the lives of many others). 

Taking a step back, it is fair to say I feel completely overwhelmed (in a good way!).  It is like I have just discovered a peaceful new ocean, and, in my efforts to explore it, have only just viewed a few shimmering drops in the palm of my hand.


I am so thankful for all the wonderful people and things in my life, and will continue my quest to express the gratitude I feel towards them to the best of my ability.
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Don't count your gratitude before it's hatched!

Writing about gratitude has awakened a source of excitement that I didn't even know existed. I think about it a lot, and the practice serves as a reminder when the frustrations of daily life start to get me down. When identifying something I am grateful for, I feel happy to write about it and share with others. In fact, I am sometimes so eager that in my mind I select upcoming events as reasons to be grateful- though they had not yet happened! 

When this is the case, I need to slow down. Yes, I believe this gratitude practice is a good thing, but I also must live in the present moment. Though it is perfectly acceptable to regard 'something to look forward to' as a reason for gratefulness in itself, it is essential that I do not become dependent on a specific outcome. Doing so would mean I am replacing my sense of gratitude with attachment and a desire for things to go 'my way', however good my intentions. 

Yes, when this happens I need to dial back my ego and just be grateful, for both those things past and present that allow me to be who I am in the here and now. Because a mindful sense of gratitude can also sow the seeds for a hopeful future. 
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The present moment 
contains past and future. 
The secret for transformation,
is in the way we handle this very moment. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, Understanding Our Mind (2006)

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness (1999)

Did you enjoy this post? What do you think about the connection between gratitude and living in the present moment?
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Nothing's perfect

As I first embarked on this gratitude journey, I had some doubts about posting my thoughts publicly. Beyond apprehension about feeling exposed, I was cautious about inadvertently portraying my life as some Pollyanna's paradise. 

Since I am a human being, you already know that it is not. Everyone has problems, bad habits, and troublesome emotions. However, if we are truly grateful for what we have, don't have, learn, or experience, it does not make sense to spend our energy qualifying it. 

So yes, I may have been tired all day, but it is important that I allow myself to feel grateful for my husband's helpfulness. I know that our apartment is not the best, most modern, or spacious, but I can still be grateful we have a roof over our heads. I may not have the fittest body, but . . . you get the idea. I express gratitude not because there are no flaws or imperfections, but because being grateful is what matters, and attaching "ifs, ands, or buts" diminishes it.  

From a Buddhist perspective, focusing on gratitude is a step towards a more harmonious life. The 'suffering' defined as dukkha defines the inherent unsatisfactory nature of all things, ultimately defined by their impermanence. Since we already know this, there is no sense in dwelling on it. 

Instead, we can shift our focus towards the sense of contentment that gratitude can bring. If we are grateful, then tanha, or "selfish craving" slowly loses its power over us. Since "craving" or attachment is one of the major obstacles thwarting our happiness, this is a big deal in Buddhist terms.

But you don't need to be a Buddhist to understand or at least appreciate this argument. The benefits of gratitude are already there . . . without anything ever being 'perfect'.  


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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Abundance

Today while feeding my daughter her lunch, I was struck by the huge variety of food she eats. Oranges, apples, bananas, avocados, grapes, asparagus, green beans, different types of cheese, bread, rice, eggs, pasta, all types of berries- the list goes on! This made me think of a conversation we had while having dinner with friends not too long ago. In response to our complaining about how Kleiner often throws her food, someone brought up how hard it must be for parents who's children don't throw their food . . . because there is no food to throw.

We paused for a moment, completely humbled. In the midst of such abundance, how can we merely discuss this heartbreaking reality? My only answer to this loss for words is to state how truly grateful I am for the abundance around us, and that we are able to feed our daughter wholesome and nourishing food when she is hungry. ๐Ÿ’—


What are you grateful for today?
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!

'Random' gratefulness

Found this in my social media feed today:


I posted this on this day in 2014. Looks like I was attempting this gratitude 'thing' even back then.

I am still grateful for what I wrote above, and also that gratefulness now has a daily, rather than 'random' presence in my life. ๐Ÿ˜„ 

What are you grateful for today?
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This post is part of the daily gratitude practice I am working to develop during 2018. You can read all about it at ByChanceBuddhism!
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May all beings be happy!