Mantra. Gratitude Experiment: Day 88

 One of the blogs that I follow had a post a few weeks ago that asked readers about their personal mantra.

I’m the type of person that has quite a few mantras and favorite quotes, but I would say that I have one main mantra.  I started feeling very strongly about this one after I lost a few people dear to me within a few years and realized just how fleeting life could be:

Life is far too short to spend too much time doing things that don’t make you happy or being with people who don’t make you feel good.

That’s my deep thought for the day.

What’s your mantra?

P.S.: I walked around downtown this afternoon with a friend for 30 minutes for my exercise.  It was after brunch and mimosas, but let’s not let that spoil it.  My body was moving, after all.

Today, I’m grateful that my personal mantra has helped me realign my priorities a few times so far during my life, and that I have working feet and am able to walk without pain.  Something I certainly take for granted on a regular basis.

Changing My Barnacle Ways. Gratitude Experiment: Day 86

Before I moved to Colorado, three friends from my early career days of my advertising/pr world and I met once a month at a greasy diner to dish industry gossip and give each other grief. We did this for about five or six years religiously until I set sail for the Rockies.

As our meetings became regular, we decided to name our group, making it easier to reference. “Club Net” was the decided name, since many of us kept time sheets at work where we had to account for our time, and ‘networking’ or “Club Net” sounded way more official than ‘slacker late lunch with friends.’

We did kitschy white elephant gift exchanges each holiday season and papered our little greasy diner corner booth with ridiculous pictures and signs for each other’s birthdays. One year I got a vintage Weinermobile toy and another year a ‘vintage’ cowboy boot coffee cup, on display near my desk as I type.

We were all writers by trade and, as such, we would often email around new “words of the day” when someone came across a new word. When words were distributed, each of us had to use it in Club Net related sentence. (Yes, we were easily amused and severely sarcastic which is a dangerous combo.)

We each ended up with group nicknames that we still use to this day. Hydro became the nickname for my friend who eats like a bird and drinks copious amounts of water (in a greasy diner no less), Maladjusted Mel for my friend who is maladjusted enough for the name to perfectly fit, and Big Billy for my other friend with my shared affection for grease and whose car had a license plate frame from a Big Billy car dealership. I also affectionately called him my “Twin Stomach.”

In the early days while my name was being determined, the word sedentary came up during one of our word exercises.  Because of my well-known lack of affection for exercise, one of my Club Netters used the word in a sarcastic sentence describing  yours truly.

Horrified and amused, and later back at my desk (clearly working hard), I looked up the actual meaning of sedentary and this came up as one of the definitions:

Sedentary: pertaining to animals that move about little or are permanently attached to something, as a barnacle.

After I brought this to my group’s attention, it was official.  Barnacle would be my Club Net name.  I still close much of my correspondence with these colleagues with my “Barnacle” pen name, almost fifteen years later.

However now it has come to my attention that times (and my metabolism) have changed and middle age is upon me. So I’ve decided it’s time to change my Barnacle ways.  To shake my barnacle-self loose from the shackles of stillness that bind it.

So when one of my Yodas (see WWYD post) suggested that my new blog challenge involve exercise, it was the perfect idea.  If I can make myself write each day by publicly proclaiming a challenge, then perhaps I can make myself exercise?  And exercise ties-in perfectly with my extended gratitude experiment.  I will be able to measure the effect of exercise on my positive gratitude attitude. And perhaps fit back into my skinny jeans at some point as a bonus.

So, for these last fourteen days of my 100 Day Gratitude Challenge, I will exercise each day for a minimum of 30 minutes.  And I will have to incorporate what type of exercise I do into my posts, so that I will be held accountable.

If this is successful, I will make it part of my new Blog Challenge, which begins on November 16. If it’s not successful, you won’t hear anything more about it because I’ll act like it never happened. 🙂

However, I’m hoping this will help me jump-start the barnacle moving process, for which I found these tips online:

 Tips and Advice for removing barnacles:

  • The more often you clean barnacles, the less difficult the job will be.
  • If the removal task is too daunting, there are professional services that will remove the barnacles for you. However, the process is time consuming and can be costly if there are many barnacles and/or the boat is large.  (I’m thinking ‘boat’ here could apply to my arse.)

Wish me luck and join in if you’d like. Tis the season for overeating, so the timing is right.  I’m sure many of you already exercise regularly as most adult humans do.

But if you don’t, feel free to publicly proclaim you own starter-14-day-exercise-challenge in a comment below and then take note as you watch it affect your attitude.  It’s only 14 days after all. Barnacle history begins now.

Letter to my 14-Year-Old Self. Gratitude Experiment: Day 85

This week a writing prompt caught my attention, so here goes:

Dear 14-year-old-me,

There are so many things I want to tell you.  I’m not sure where to start.

First off, I think you should start writing in a journal. Quit fighting it. It is part of who you are. Get a journal and just write in it. You’ll be glad later.

Also, as much as your sister bugs you sometimes, please realize how wonderful and brilliant she is and how lucky you are to have her.  She is more a part of you than anyone else ever will be. Soak up every single minute of her.  Do not, I repeat, do not, fight over stupid things. Life is ever so fleeting, so keep this in the back of your mind.

As for your parents, you will not have them around forever either. You need to cut them a little slack. I know you are a teenager, and a ‘feeler’ and all, but you are awfully dramatic.  You’ll realize later that parenting is no cake walk, trust me.

Your Mom is a bit fragile and needs you to be easy on her; she is doing the best that she can. She will teach you many things about life and you will be glad that she did. Try not to get annoyed with her and realize that everyone is in charge of their own happiness.

And your Dad, even though you don’t realize it now, is really a big softie under that tough-as-nails exterior.  He’s just afraid to show it.  He too is brilliant, like your sister was.  He will take you to wonderful places and you will learn great things from him, so stop fighting it and take it all in.  He loves you a lot and you are way more like him than you realize.

Even your stepdad, cut him some slack too.  I know it’s not fun right now, but trust me, he’s going to blow you away with his strength, grace and love for your mother later in life.  He’s still a work in progress, as are we all.  I know you also don’t realize what a blessing it is that you have your stepmom in your life.  She will be there to take care of us all in our darkest hours, and she has a very sweet place for you tucked away in her heart. She too will teach you many things in life.

I know this is getting heavy, so bear with me.  Know that you are already blessed with a few friends who you will have for life.  You don’t understand how rare or fortunate this is.  Take good care of them and don’t blow them off too much to be with your boyfriend.  They will have your back more times than you can ever imagine and they will be your sisters.  Plus, in not too many years down the road, you are going to meet your soul mate, so don’t sweat the boy stuff.

And before I forget, please don’t worry or obsess about how you look or what size jeans you wear – ever.  Trust me, you will have ups and downs all along the way and it really doesn’t matter.  Plus, I promise you’ll look back one day and wonder why in the world you ever criticized the way you looked (except for your blue eye shadow – you seriously need to go easy on that this next few years).

Be sure to step back every once in a while and realize how good you have it. Try not to complain and realize that it’s all relative (you will probably say that a lot in your life).  Find a way to start giving of yourself to help others not as fortunate, so that you can make it a habit for life and keep perspective.  You have some service in your heart and you will find that it energizes you.

Lastly, realize that how you look at things affects everything in your life. And that hurdles and challenges in life are the bricks that build us.  You can do anything and handle anything thrown your way.  You have no earthly idea how strong and passionate you are.  Just remember to leave your ego at the curb every once in a while.

I think that’s it for now, my friend.  I’m grateful that I was able to reflect on these things for you. Godspeed.

Yours truly,

Older Self

Bittersweet Post-Election Gratitude. Gratitude Experiment: Day 84

I thought I would be so relieved when this election was over. Even more so if my candidate won. Instead I was disappointed.

Disappointed in humanity which my husband says I often give far too much credit in the first place.

My kids told me about some horrible comments their friends made on Facebook and in person about the election results.  Not just nasty, but some things I think that you could get arrested for saying as an adult.  Frankly, some of them outright disturbing.  And even more disturbing to think about the parents who might be teaching these kids that it is okay to say such comments about any elected official, or candidate or even regular person, no matter the political affiliation.

Many seem to work hard to teach their kids about sportsmanship on the playing field.  To high-five the other team whether you lose or win.  I remember the bridges of hands that the kids of my boys’ soccer teams would take turns walking through whether they lost or won. But why does that have to fly out the window in adulthood?

Today comments from both sides of the aisle made me uneasy. Isn’t part of what makes our country so great that we have diverse backgrounds, views and opinions?

I really just wanted to fast forward past today to a point in politics where it can be better.  Is that possible?  Am I just more tuned in this year than I have been in the past and expecting way too much?  These thoughts ran wildly through my mind today.

I pride myself in the fact that I teach my kids to not publicly bash a political official no matter how much they disagree with them.  And to appreciate differences in opinions and never belittle others for having opposing views. I also pride myself in that fact that we encourage our kids to form their own opinions and research and understand issues before taking a stance.  To not parrot our views because it makes us feel more secure. I am ever so grateful to watch them take heed as they grow into young men.

So,  I am grateful that today is coming to a close.  (And that I met a wonderful woman in the nail salon who could tell from my face that I was exhausted by this and other events of today, and who was so very kind.  What a serendipitous shot of hope and a beautiful remedy for my distress at the end of this long day.)

Most importantly, I’m grateful that tomorrow is going to be a better day. I can feel it.  Can you?

It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.
Harry S. Truman

New word of the day: Franchise (Your Right to Vote) Gratitude Challenge: Day 83

Word of the Day for Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (from dictionary.com)

franchise \FRAN-chahyz\, noun:

1. The right to vote.

2. A privilege of a public nature conferred on an individual,group, or company by a government.

Examples of use:

One factor in the early mobilization of feminism was the 1832 Reform Act, through which women’s exclusion from the franchise was formalized.

     — Angélique Richardson, Chris Willis, The new woman in fiction and in fact: fin-de-siècle feminisms

The national referendum of 1963 reflected general support for the six-point reform program, which included land reform and the franchise for women.

    — Robin Morgan, Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology –

Franchise derives from the Old French word for “freedom,” which shares a root with the English frank.

I’m grateful that I have learned this meaning of the word franchise.  Also to even have the right to vote.

For those of you in the U.S., please vote today if you haven’t already. (I apologize to those of you elsewhere for making this post America -focused.  Oh my gosh, did I just ‘apologize’ to ‘foreigners’?  Sorry, couldn’t resist, U.S. joke.)

Thanks for reading!

A picture worth a thousand words. Gratitude Experiment: Day 82

One of this week’s WordPress writing prompts was to write about a picture that is worth a thousand words.  I was supposed to write fiction about a photo posted along with this WordPress challenge.  But since I am more of a narrative nonfiction kind of gal, I decided to write about a real picture from my life that was worth a thousand words.

Taking care of my mother once a week this last year or so has given me the opportunity to pour through some great old photos. And this was one of them that made me laugh, and that represents a thousand words.

My mom’s very short-lived second marriage resulted in two step brothers whom I had no affection for, no matter how hard I tried.  One of them wet my favorite sleeping bag on numerous occasions and the other was just bratty.  (Of course this was my view of them at the time.  They ended up growing into quite nice young adults when I met them again many years later.)

This short-time stepdad wasn’t particularly fond of me.  Which made me not super fond of him.  He liked my older sister better.  I actually heard him say something like that one time to my mother when he didn’t know I was listening.  Sweeeeeet.  Way to make a kid feel AWESOME.  Quite the ego booster.  Clearly, we were tight.

Needless to say, on outings with these “step brothers”  who received the majority of the attention from their guilt-ridden father, I was often left to feel  like I was just along for the ride.  And I was damn fine to pout about it and make it quite clear how I felt.

To me, this picture says all of this without any words. I have never been one who is able to hide what I’m feeling, and this picture is more proof of this.  My horrible, pissed-off pout is classic.

As far as something to be grateful related to this…. hmm.  Let’s see, I’m grateful for the laugh that this photo gave me when I came across it.  And grateful that I am a little better able to hide my feelings now when necessary.  But I’m also grateful that I am secure enough to be a genuine, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person 99 percent of the time. I don’t leave many wondering what I’m thinking (read Open Kimono post: https://lifeonwry.com/?s=kimono#).  Which means that I end up with friends who are also genuine.  And that makes life a heck of a lot easier.

Can you think of a picture of yours that is worth a thousand words?

Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are. Gratitude Experiment: Day 81

After traveling for a few days while my pups were at the kennel, I am truly grateful to have them back.

They melt my heart, make my bad days good, and are the most accepting creatures on this planet.  How lucky we are as humans to have animals as friends.

My favorite bumper sticker says:  Be the person your dog thinks you are.

I love this saying. How much better of a place would this planet be if this was how we all acted? Forgetting about all the junk  of life (and the politics this week) and all of the things that bother us …  and just being kind, grateful and loving?

Short and simple as this is, for these pups (Piper Cub and Tony Soprano), and for all they teach me, I am grateful.

What pets you are grateful for?

Praise for Patience. Gratitude Experiment: Day 79

Still traveling so this post is for yesterday…

Today I am grateful that sometimes taking the long view and having patience, despite how hard that is for me, can pay off.

Having the patience of a gnat (not so much), this is a good lesson for me. And I am going to work on developing more patience.

Some good things have come from this practice in patience as of late. And for that I am grateful.

20121103-130236.jpg

Old friends. Gratitude Experiment: Day 77

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

My sides hurt earlier tonight from laughing with old friends. Old friends are hard to beat. And this quote sums it up perfectly.

All of my friends — every single one of them — make me feel like the richest person on earth just to be able to call them my friends. For all of them, I am forever grateful.

20121101-053258.jpg