Lost and Loss

It’s been a very stressful few months and I feel horribly that I’ve neglected my blog. I’m in a place in my life where I just feel unsettled. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis? I don’t really know what to call it.

My mother-in-law passed away last week after a fairly short but awful battle with throat cancer. In the end, her frail 78 year old body couldn’t swallow any food or liquids and breathing was extremely laboured. I would pay anything to be able to unsee the suffering she endured. Yet she did it with little complaining and grace.

To see her hug my 8 year old daughter, the grand baby she had waited so long for, and tell her how special she was, through welling tears in her eyes, was like a knife in my chest. How do you go on knowing that your days are numbered and, at least in this life, you’ll never see your loved ones again? It’s unimaginable really.

I guess we have these lessons to keep us on track with what matters in life. You definitely hold your loved ones more tightly and think more about the way you treat your body when you witness something like we did.

My mother-in-law and I weren’t besties but we definitely had mutual respect for each other. I respected that she raised a wonderful son who has been a loving man to me and my kids. She respected that I was a good wife to her son and caring mom to her grand babies. We got along well but we weren’t extremely close. My pain is for my husband who feels orphaned and my children who won’t get special dates with their Baba at the Dollar Store and McDonalds anymore.

And there is always the regret of “did we see each other enough”, “could I have tried harder in our relationship”? That thinking isn’t really productive I suppose. We can always do better.

No real words of wisdom here. Just an explanation of what our lives have been like as of late and a reminder to be kind to each other and cherish the time you have with your loved ones. We know this. We just forget to practice it every day.

Love. Always.

Be Grateful For The Little Things

I was on Facebook this morning when I saw a post from IFLS (I Fu*%king Love Science). While it completely broke my heart, it is just another reminder to be grateful for those little things we take for granted. Have a look at this amazing video of an ex-circus lion feeling grass under its feet for the first time.

A few days ago, after an intense work meeting, I took a minute to go outside to get grounded. It’s been absolutely gorgeous here this week and I get so sad when I’m stuffed in the office for too long.

Just outside our building is a picnic bench we like to sit on during our lunches and breaks. As I sat there, I noticed the dandelions growing in the grass. For some reason, I decided to pick one up and really look at it. I examined each petal, felt the smooth stem between my fingers and smelled it’s familiar perfume. I hadn’t really sniffed a dandelion since I was little and with the first whiff, I was flooded with memories of my childhood – rolling in the grass, picking flowers for my mom and playing childhood games.

fieldgirlTo most of us, dandelions are weeds – a nuisance plant that blemishes our perfectly manicured lawns. But as I examined that dandelion, I realized that dandelions have a place here too. Just as much as we do. And when we’re young, we’re not too jaded to realize that. We have to remember what it’s like to be children and reconnect with those little things that used to fascinate us and bring us joy.

That poor, beautiful lion had never felt grass under its giant paws. Most of us take the grass and the dandelions for granted. Today, be grateful for the grass, the dandelions and all those little things you used to marvel over before you had to grow up.

Live your life with your eyes open and the world will open up to you.

What little things are you grateful for today?

Connecting with Nature – Vital to Our Health

The part of the day when I feel most grounded is when I step outside of my neighbourhood and reconnect with nature. I live in a small town so it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for me to be alone with the birds, the trees and the insects. I can literally feel my spirit vibrate when I’m out there. I try to walk at 5:30/6am every morning before the rest of the world is around. It’s time for me. And my dog Holly! Is she not adorable sitting on my front porch?

holly porch

I think there is something in us, as humans, that requires us to get back to nature whether we want to or not. Hearing birds, feeling grass under out toes, smelling the rotting forest floor – I truly believe that our evolution has made us crave these things.

As we continue to build concrete cities around us, I think so many of us are starving for this connection and aren’t seeing that cry for help. We’ve learned that cold grey cement is the norm and we’ve left behind the majesty of our natural environment. It’s really quite sad. It’s time to RECONNECT people!

I often practice gratitude when I’m on my nature walks. Frankly, it’s not hard to appreciate the gifts I’ve been given when I see nature around me. Not only do I get my exercise in, I get my spiritual grounding in with my connection to nature and my gratitude practice. Bingo! Living in one of the harshest climates in the world (in terms of cold), I don’t spend much time outside in the winter. But I miss it terribly all winter long! By spring, I’m just jumping at the chance to get outdoors.

Is connecting with nature important to your spirit? When do you get outside?

Guest Post by KE Garland: “30 Days of Gratitude”

I’m so excited to have my first guest blogger today! So fun to share my platform with other super cool, like-minded people who have uncovered the magic behind gratitude. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 5.17.22 PMK E Garland is a native to Chicago, IL, but has lived in Jacksonville, Florida for the past 20 years. Her e-book, Kwoted, includes over 100 original, motivational quotes that can be purchased through Amazon. Follow her on Twitter @kwotedkegarland and on her blog at kwoted.wordpress.com.

30 DAYS OF

Don’t leave it to chance that someone knows you’re grateful.
Kwote #50

Last year for my husband’s birthday, I decided to celebrate him in a different way.

I was determined to do some thing that he would remember for years to come. I mentally noted all of the positive things I liked about him. Because his birthday was seven days away, it was the perfect time to begin what I named The Seven Days of DG. Each day, I posted a very specific message of gratitude to his social media page. Seven reasons dedicated to appreciating him as a person. He adored it. He even began to look forward to the day’s post. And I found joy in his enjoyment.

Then, I figured why not practice gratitude for other people in my life? Since it was November 1st, I thought to send a gratitude message each day for one month to someone for whom I was grateful. For my own rules, this could be any person: family, friend or colleague. Each person that I sent one to also had to be someone for whom I could deliver a genuine and heartfelt thought about his or her influence in my life. I promised myself I wouldn’t be sending out made-up messages just to fulfill the day’s quota.

I texted, emailed and snail-mailed (for my 87 year-old Grannie) a daily gratitude message. I contacted former students, family, friends, and colleagues whom had influenced my life in some way.

Some people, like my goddaughter responded with, “Thanks. That was unexpected.” And that was the end of that particular gratitude experience.

However, another response became much more commonplace. A return response where the other person told me how grateful they were for me. Here’s an example.

“Do you think people feel obligated to say something back?” DG asked. Obligated? I didn’t think so. But I couldn’t be for sure. I mean, I suppose it is a natural response to want to say something back to the person, but to feel obliged? It wasn’t like when someone says, “I like your hair,” and then you do a once-over in order to give a return compliment. Or was it? Who knew?

This is what I knew for sure. The replies were surprising. I began the month by putting a little positivity into the universe through small expressions of gratitude. Those expressions manifested gratitude right back to me. And, the positivity uplifted my spirit a little bit. There were things I hadn’t heard, like how much my older cousin actually looked up to me, or how inspiring I was to a high school friend. My aunt said that the message was timely as she was having a hard day. And it made me feel good to know that a few kind words were able to restore her world a little bit.

You hear it all the time. “Give me my flowers while I can still smell them.” I agree. Tell people about how much you appreciate them, and don’t be afraid to be specific. Most people don’t realize that you’re grateful for their presence. And even if they are aware, it doesn’t hurt to remind them.

Thanks KE! Such an appropriate post to fit within my ten days of gratitude messages (#gratitude10). If you’d like to guest post on my blog, please send me an email for details!

Gratitude Messages and a Mentor

I’m asking for your help. Who should I send a gratitude message to today? A friend, family member, someone I haven’t talked to in a while, someone who serves me at a local establishment, my hair stylist? Or maybe leave a sparkling review for one of my fave podcasters on Itunes? Let me know!

And on another note… I’m not sure if I’ve talked about my obsession with Chalene Johnson on this blog before but I’m a huge fan. She’s well known for her Beach Body videos like Turbo Jam and Piyo but more than that, she’s a business coach and one smart little cookie. Or, since she’s very health-conscious, smart little avocado?

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 8.52.17 AM

I listen to both her podcasts, get her emails, I’ve read her book PUSH: 30 Days to Turbocharged Habits, a Bangin’ Body, and the Life You Deserve! and absorb her infinite wisdom. So…. last night, I was just minding my business on Twitter, tweeting about gratitude and other cool stuff when I saw one of Chalene’s tweets. I liked it, as I often do. Then all of a sudden I saw a message pop up saying that Chalene Johnson was following me. WHAT? I was grinning ear to ear. Oh my gosh – Chalene noticed me in the Twittisphere. (Is that a thing?) But that’s not all….

Moments later, she tweeted telling her followers to follow my Twitter account because, and I quote, “I’m digging!”!!! I have not smiled so much in a long time! I literally squealed like a little girl and ran up to tell my husband. It was the biggest compliment for my business and life coach (from afar) to give me such a big shout out. So GRATEFUL! I love Chalene because she has my exact sense of humour, she loves old school rap like I do and she does not take herself too seriously. And neither do I. And, she’s a mom, like me. High Five!

So my big gratitude shout out today is to Chalene. She didn’t have to share my account with her followers but she did and it may have made my entire year! Now go listen to her podcasts and buy her books. And BLOW. YOUR. MIND.

And to you, my lovely followers, I’m grateful to have you in my circle and I pray that you find what it is you’re meant to do. So we can all walk around with full, exploding hearts.

Natalie

Gratitude Messages Day 3

It’s been three days of gratitude messages and so far, it’s been a great success!

The first day, I sent a text message to my little brother telling him how good of a person he is and that I love him. His reaction was “? Ok. LOL.” And “thanks (kiss emoticon)”. It was good because we had a nice chat later in the day and I explained what I was up to.

The second day, I sent a text message to one of my good friends. I recently had to say goodbye to two of my best friends. They both moved far away within just a few months of each other. It was really devastating. But this other friend really helped to fill that whole in my heart. I told her that in the message and said I was grateful for our friendship. She said my message made her feel special and that she enjoyed our time together as friends and as families. Yay! All of the feels.

Today I targeted my favourite local bakery and coffee shop. I left them a lovely review on Facebook. It was honestly how I feel and I had been meaning to tell them how much I appreciate their great food and amazing service. Their response was “Thank you so much for this beautiful review :)” Another win-win.

Have you sent gratitude messages to anyone recently? How did they react? And if you haven’t told them lately that you love them (Rod Stewart), what are you waiting for?!?!?!

#gratitude10

Liebster Award!!

I’ve been nominated for an award! It’s a blogger award disguised as a way to get to know other bloggers and promote each other. Yay – let’s have a blog-in. Hug it out everyone!!!

I was nominated by Deb from “Once Upon a Hot Flash” for the Liebster Award. Thanks Deb! That’s so sweet of you. I hadn’t seen your blog before so it was awesome to get to read some posts and learn more about you. And yay for your big attitude of gratitude! That’s always a game-changer.

Here are the Award rules to follow:

Once you are nominated, make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.

– Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.

– Nominate 10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.

– Ensure all of these bloggers have less than 200 followers.

– Answer the ten questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make ten questions of your own for your nominees.

– Lastly, COPY these rules in the post.

Here are my nominees. They are people who embrace life no matter where they are in their journey.

Be Your Own Muse
Live your Dreams
The Good Vader
I WIll
Human Soles
LoriLandisArt’s Blog
Seriously Happy
Little Loud Life
Beth and Lee’s Blog
The Juliet Syndrome

Here are the questions you have to answer on your blog:

1. Why do you blog?

2. What’s your biggest fear?

3. Who is your mentor?

4. What is the one word people would use to describe you?

5. What do you do for fun?

6. What is your earliest memory?

7. What is your biggest and craziest dream?

8. What is the best advice you ever got from someone?

9. Do you sleep with the closet doors open?

10. What are you most grateful for?

liebster

Here are my 10 questions from Deb:

1.  Why do you blog?
I am a writer by profession so I feel like blogging is like a daily cardio routine for writing. It keeps me sharp and on the ball. I’m also very passionate about the affects gratitude can have on people’s lives. Not just spiritually but physically. And I love that there is science to back that up! My hope is to bring this practice to more people so we can all just experience a bit more joy and mindfulness before it’s too late.

2.  What is your favorite song?
I would say my favourite song right now that just always makes me sing in the car and dance is Bang Bang by Jessie J and crew. I know it’s not deep and spiritual. But it gets me pumped!

3.  If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
We are Disney freaks in our house! We love it. Isn’t it shocking that the gratitude lover is obsessed with the happiest place on earth? Not!

4.  What is your favorite day of the week?
Fridays. It’s almost the weekend!

5.  What did you want to be when you grew up?
Cute story. My grade 3 teacher made us write letters to our grown up selves. When we were in our 20s, she actually sent them to us. How cool is that!? I wrote in the letter that I wanted to be a vet. I didn’t become a vet but I have always loved animals and have been comfortable around all sorts of them. We currently have 1 dog and two cats.

6.  Morning person or night owl?
I wake up at 5am to walk outside, reconnect with nature (and my dog) and to practice gratitude. I try to get to bed for 10pm. And I’m usually out like a light by 10:05pm.

7.  What is your motto in life?
Be brave, be kind and be grateful.

8.  Dog or cat or neither?
Dog – but as I mentioned, we have both. Cats are so hot and cold. Not my style 🙂 Dogs exude gratitude – they are my soul pets!

9.  Five adjectives that best describe you?
Positive, spunky, restless, hopeful and optimistic

10.  What is your most favorite thing to do?
As I mentioned a few posts ago, we have found a love for geocaching. I like it because it combines a game with getting out and reconnecting with the world around us. It requires that we really examine our environment carefully. Plus it’s good for kids and adults and it’s free!!