Gratitude Journal – Chapter One

A Prayer for YouAlthough I have certainly felt gratitude many times in my life, I haven’t always lived with an attitude of gratitude. It really is quite different. I titled this post “Gratitude Journal – Chapter 1” because, even though I’ve written about gratitude in earlier posts on this blog, I’d like to share more in-depth thoughts about how cultivating an attitude of gratitude has helped me with so many things that I didn’t even realize were connected to gratitude. The things I have read have helped me so I’m hopeful that something I write will help someone else.

Somewhere during the last 15 or so years, when I was doing a lot of soul-searching I first read about living with an attitude of gratitude in a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer (I read many of his books so I don’t remember which one). This isn’t just sporadic thankfulness in response to good things that happen in your life – this is gratitude for life in general. It is even gratitude for challenges you have to face. It is actually a way of life. I was intrigued by this idea because I realized that most people I know are like me – grateful when something “good” happens or when we get something we wished for but then quickly moving on to the next shiny object. We give lip service to being thankful for our “blessings” but we don’t have deep, sustained feelings of gratitude.

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time in the present moment because our thoughts are always in the past or future and I became hyper aware of how much time I spent living in the future while reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now“. I was inspired by that book to try to change my way of thinking because I realized it was causing unhappiness and discontent. I learned that it is impossible (at least for me!) to always live in the present moment but focusing on gratitude is part of living in the present and can be a way to more contentment, peace of mind and even self-love. It dawned on me that cultivating genuine gratitude could be the antidote to my restless nature and the perfect balm for dealing with disappointment.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that it’s not easy to cultivate an attitude of gratitude when you’re used to always making plans for the “next thing” so I’ve had lots of stops, starts and detours on this particular journey. I spent 30+ years of my adult life being a goal-oriented planner at work and a restless malcontent in my personal life. I knew it would take a lot of conscious effort to change such a deeply entrenched way of thinking but, I wanted to be happier and feel more contentment so I took the challenge. I started small with a daily gratitude journal. Gradually, as I became more immersed in this “gratitude experiment”, I realized that I was even becoming kinder to myself and more comfortable with who I am. I was actually grateful for ME!

As you allow your thoughts to marinate in this warm bath of gratitude, you’ll start to feel the contentment seep into your pores. You’ll experience things in a new way. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has led me to glorious moments of joy – not just pleasure or happiness, actual JOY. In future “Gratitude Journal” posts I’ll share some of those moments with you. Gratitude has helped me overcome times of grief, disappointment and loneliness and I believe it will help me deal with whatever hardships I may have to face in the future. That’s how much it has affected me.

I’m very grateful for all 70 followers of this blog! You are obviously individuals of great intelligence and excellent taste 🙂

“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.”   ~Neale Donald Walsch

Liberty & Mom Christmas 2014

Mom & Liberty – I’m so grateful

for my artwork and books visit www.lyndalinke.com

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Stuff I Like: Part 1

Cook up something specialSince early childhood books and movies have been my favorite forms of entertainment and my escape to other worlds. I’ve never been athletic or interested in sports and, aside from chess and Trivial Pursuit, not much of a game player. I started drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon and writing stories as soon as I learned to write and, when I’m in the mood, those are still two of my favorite activities. I have a tendency to live in my own head and I don’t need a lot of socializing – in fact, too much socializing exhausts me – so it makes sense that I’m drawn to solo pursuits.

In 2010 I “cut the cable” and got a Roku, through which I stream three pay channels – Netflix (I also subscribe to their dvd plan), The Blaze, and Acorn TV – and also enjoy several free channels. I had an antennae installed on my house so I could continue to watch PBS but that has turned out to be unnecessary because PBS is now available online. If the reception is poor (which it often it is because of where I live in relation to the nearest signal) and I can’t watch Masterpiece on Sunday night, I just watch it on Monday on the free PBS channel on Roku. Life is good 🙂 I get to watch lots of good movies and TV series – a year later than the network but, still good! also I can binge watch on a rainy day 🙂

Description of my perfect evening: My dog, my cozy little house, ice cream and a good movie. Recently a movie called “Chef” became available for instant play on Netflix. I passed over it a few times because I’m not a “foodie”, I don’t watch food shows, and I thought it wouldn’t be interesting to me. I was so wrong!! One night when I was looking through the new releases I finally decided to watch “Chef”. I have now watched it three times – I invited Mom over to watch it because I knew she would enjoy it and I watched it another time alone. It is an adult movie (meaning it isn’t overly simplistic or full of lame sophomoric humor) but there is no violence, no sex or nudity, and no “political” message being crammed down your throat. There is quite a bit of cursing – the “F” word is used frequently – so, if you’re sensitive to that you might not like this movie but the characters and story are so good it’s worth a try.

Yes, food preparation and talk about food is a central theme because the main character is a chef but, it is about so much more. It is about a man who rediscovers his passion for life, a divorced father who learns how to connect with his son during a crazy road trip, and his experiences of true friendship, laughter and love along the way. It is a truly “feel good” story that lifted my spirit and made me happy. The music is so good that I even bought the sound track!

Watch “Chef”!! I think you’ll love it. Let me know 🙂

Liberty enjoys a cozy evening at home

Liberty enjoys a cozy evening at home

A new direction

book_thumbI haven’t been writing much on this blog lately. A friend asked why I haven’t posted anything recently and the only way I could explain it was to say that I didn’t feel like I had anything interesting to say.

I started this blog in August of 2012, a year after I retired from 22 years in the social services field (and 10 years in retail management before that) so I had recently experienced a big life style change. My purpose in writing a blog was twofold – 1) I wanted to look back on my life, “take a personal inventory” (the title of one of my first posts), process everything, and share my thoughts with anyone who wanted to read them and 2) I was taking a writing class at the time and the instructor told us that anyone who was trying to market a book should have a blog and, since I had two books and was working on another, I decided to give it a try. I also use this blog to market my greeting cards – uh-oh, time for a commercial break … if you’re looking for unique and reasonably priced greeting cards (you can even customize the inside verse if you don’t like mine – you can’t do that with a Hallmark card!) or would like to order my books please visit www.lyndalinke.com and go to Greeting Card Universe to order cards, Zazzle to order merchandise with my artwork on it, or follow the links to my books. You can also order my books directly from my Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008YY4NHU.

Okay, back to regular programming. I told my friend that, after more than 55 blog posts, I began to realize that my thinking had changed and would probably not be as interesting for others to read about. I had spent a lot of time on self-reflection and analysis and worked through an important emotional process and I wrote some good posts over that time period. Other people seemed to like them, too, judging by the number of followers I picked up but, for the most part, I’m finished with that phase. These days my thoughts are not focused on evaluating my past life experiences and are more focused on my everyday life, what I’m learning and how those things are changing me and the way I think. I walk Liberty every morning for at least an hour, I say my prayers while I’m walking, I read, I watch and listen to programming on The Blaze (and I’m pleased to say that my son now works at their NYC headquarters!), I watch movies on Netflix, I spend time with my Mom & my friends, I write emails to far away friends, Liberty and I do pet therapy visits for Haven Hospice and I do all the usual household chores that everyone does. I said I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to read about those things and my friend told me that lots of people write about their ordinary everyday lives and many people enjoy reading their blogs so, here I am again except now it might be more like journaling.

This blog is titled “Try Lots of Hats: Making the Most of Your Life” for a reason – it’s because I think life is a journey and every day is a new opportunity to learn, grow and move closer to being the person you want to be. In hindsight, I see that August 2012 actually turned out to be a watershed month for me because I not only started evaluating my personal experiences and writing about them but I also began educating myself about politics, current events, and American history. I went from a person who rarely watched, read or listened to news to one who does all three every day. So, without even realizing it, I’m still being true to the title I chose for this blog almost three years ago.

As a formerly apolitical and uninformed person this has been a trans-formative experience for me. Up until just a few years ago, if pressed, I would have said I was a “liberal” but that word has been hijacked by far left progressives and doesn’t mean what it once did. Here’s a good definition: “Classical liberalism is a political philosophy that supports individual rights as pre-existing the state, a government that exists to protect those moral rights, ensured by a constitution that protects individual autonomy from other individuals and governmental power, private property, and a laissez-faire economic policy.” Today people who uphold this philosophy are called “Conservatives” or “Libertarians”. My self-education has led me to a love for the Constitution of the United States and reading the Constitution and American history seemed to naturally lead me back to exploring my Christian roots – another very surprising development for me and one that proves you’re never too old to open your mind to a new way of thinking. The change in my thinking during this part of my journey is probably best illustrated by the books on my bedside table today as compared to July 2012.

2012:

Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem” and “Wishes Fulfilled”

Mike Dooley “Infinite Possibilities”

(and probably a Michael Connelly or Ann Cleeves mystery)

Today:

Boris Johnson “The Churchill Factor”

James Ostrowski “Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea That is Destroying America”

Walter Isaacson “Benjamin Franklin”

Smarty-pants

Smarty-pants