Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thank You. by Patresa Hartman

On the day before the year turns, I feel wise and strong, sensing divine purpose in where I've been and alight looking forward. The 365 days before become a collection of lessons; the days ahead streak ready acres of limitless possibility. Possibility kicks ass (Many apologies to my mother for using the word "ass" in a public forum.).

I came to YOG late, invited to round out a shifting Gratitude Team. What an opportunity for big soul work! Thank you, Ms. Kat, for inviting me. And thank you, Ms. Barb and Ms. Angie, for welcoming me so warmly. High fives all around.

There are two key things I believe I have learned in this process: 1) Gratitude is a choice; and 2) Gratitude opens you to peace and joy. Peace and joy also kick ass.

I like math and think numbers are chronically underestimated. They are interesting and expose dynamic layers of the universe when tapped. I like that a -5 and a +5 are equal distances from zero; the concept implies that every number contains two parallel frequencies. Likewise, I think of each moment of my life as a point, a distance from zero, and therefore containing equal opportunities for negativity or positivity. With this acknowledgment, I can no longer believe that life is a series of events that happen to me. I can choose: wallow in the negative frequency; or celebrate the positive. I am learning there is joy everywhere -- in every moment -- if I only choose to look.

My friend, Mary, introduced me this year to a mantra inspired by Morrnah Simeona's teachings of an ancient Hawaiian healing system, Ho'oponopono. Simeona taught that we are all connected and therefore all responsible for one another. The external world is a projection of our internal world, and so the more peace we feel, the more peace there will be. (And the more peace there will be, the more peace we will feel.) The mantra, explained in Joe Vitale and Hew Len's Zero Limits, goes like this:

I love you.
Please forgive me.
I'm sorry.
Thank you.

I find it appropriate that the last line is "Thank you." There is a particular openness and peace that is communicated via gratitude. It is acceptance and surrender to something bigger than our immediate understanding. This concept is alive in every spiritual walk. Saying thank you for everything -- the bad and the good -- is an important acknowledgement that we are part of the universe, not separate, that the universe is ultimately good, and it is providing what it must. (I think it works just as well to say "God" instead of "universe.") I feel a lot of my own personal turmoil comes from resistance. There are things in the world I do not like, people I do not like, things about myself I do not like. When I do not accept these elements, I close myself not only to them, but everything else -- including love and joy. When I am closed, I feel isolated and angry, even superior.

Even in times of sadness, when I sense and accept my rightfully small place in the natural world, I feel open and connected. There is peace in this tiny shift, and sadness reconfigures. It hops frequencies and becomes joy.

So for 2009, I wish for you:

to choose joy
to choose peace
to choose gratitude response to all things.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year's End by Angie Ledbetter

I'm sad in a way that our Year of Gratitude has come to an end, but happy I've had this opportunity to express the good, bad and ugly of daily life with a huge dollop of gratefulness on top of each "dish" served up to me this past year.

By spending so much time writing/thinking about, and steeped in being grateful, I hope the attitude has become an ingrained habit that will rest on my shoulders like a soft beautiful shawl for life. No matter what comes (and especially if it's bad, hurtful or sad), I think the lessons I've learned will continue to take away some of the chill. I hope I have added to the uplifting perspectives and interesting views of my fellow YOGgers.

I'll leave you with these thoughts, as I once and for the last time publicly, count blessings brought about by a year of focusing on being grateful:

  • Above all, I've realized life is all about how you choose to see things.
  • Rain will inevitably spoil the parade now and then, but grateful, joyful thinking makes one heck of an umbrella.
  • Gratitude is contagious.
  • Gratefulness is not only a state of mind, but a way of living.
  • When things are at their worst, a dose of gratitude can change things around, or at least assure you that tomorrow is definitely a new day.
  • Gratitude begets more gratitude.
  • Focusing on the goodness of life increases joy and health.
  • Thankfulness can bring people who have nothing (or very little) in common together.
  • It is just as easy to be glad as sad.
  • Perspective is an awesome and powerful thing.

I will always remember 2008 as the Year of My Gratitude. Thank you, Barb, Kathryn, Patresa and Nannette, for sharing your company and thoughts with me.

May all we've learned by concentrating on gratitude never be far from our hearts and minds.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saying Goodbye to the Old Year and to YOG by Kat Magendie

I went back to read my very first YOG, just to see what I’d written, how I’d written it, and how I was grateful in that moment. So very tempting to place that same gratitude post here again. The message is the same. I am still that woman; mostly, except I am a year older and have a year’s worth of experiences that can’t help but affect one in ways both subtle and profound. How appropriate here at this year’s end I received gifts that will change my new year. Ones that will change the way I see the world, and maybe how the world sees me. Receiving what you asked for is both thrilling and terrifying. I am up for the challenge. I am ready. I am strong. But mostly, I am filled with hopeful gratitude.

Looking back over the past year, it both seems as if it flew by and seems as if it is a distant dream. There were constants in my life, and this YOG is one of them. Days the words spilled and then gathered on the YOG page; and then, the days where I struggled to find words to fill a post. Like now. Now that the time has come for my last YOG post, for me to say “Goodbye” to this year of gratitude within this forum, I am at a loss for the perfect words. Oh, how I wanted this last post to be perfect.

I leave you with a bit of my words from a year ago. I think I said it best then, and it still applies almost three-hundred and sixty-five days later.

Simply by the act of saying, “Thank you,” I am released from old demons. I am unchained from fear and worry. From the comfort of my couch where I am snuggled under a throw while the wild wind rushes over and across the mountain ridge, whips the bare branches, pushes against my log house, from this place of security I sigh as if an old dog on a porch and breathe out, “Thank you.” Does it matter who or what I give thanks to? No, it is only important that I breathe in the air and breathe out the gratitude.

Thank you all, readers. Thank you for visiting and reading and commenting and for just being. This is it. My last YOG post. Here's to whatever comes next.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One Last YOG by Barbara Quinn

My last gratitude post. Oh my.

It’s hard to believe we’ve gone through a year expressing our gratitude on a daily basis, but here it is the end of December with a new year on the way.

I’m grateful that we were able to finish out this project. Life had its ups and downs this past year, but we kept on being grateful through it all. What a help it was to turn to this gratitude blog each day. I learned much from the ladies of the Yog, and because of their words it has become easier to be grateful. Like practicing an instrument or a language, the more I studied their posts, and wrote my own, the more gratitude I was able to express. The more gratitude I expressed, the better I felt, the more I wanted to be grateful. It’s more than a win-win situation, it's an avalanche of gratitude, a gratitude addiction.

We’re going to leave this gratitude blog and journal of the past year up for others to find. That’s one of the nice things about the net. Once something is out here in the ether, it can stay for a long, long, time and be found by new people who need a daily shot of inspiration.

Thank you Yoggers, readers, posters, and lurkers. We’re grateful! And I hope to continue being grateful for as long as I can.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Don't write on her face. by Patresa Hartman

I love my family. I know that I hit some kind of jackpot when I was born, and I am grateful. I have two older sisters, and together with my parents, they are a clever crew with sensible priorities and level heads. There is no drama when we get together...which is not to say there is never conflict. But even when we butt heads, we do it directly and compassionately -- not tiptoeing around one another, not slinging character attacks. And we always always laugh about it later.

My family has taught me humility (repeatedly) and to regard myself lightly. We see humor in small things, and poking fun at one another is a sign of affection -- a celebration of quirks and imperfections:

--> Our mother is stubbornly naive and/or gullible about many things (forcing us at times to explain our jokes), sings harmony with rock songs, and snaps and claps in rhythm with music that isn't playing anywhere but in her head.

--> Our father has at least two of everything, compulsively buys us books we'll never read (at least 3 covering the same topic that none of us have expressed any interest in -- like marketing trends), and gives ordinary items strange names (Mustard becomes "banana juice;" a small water bottle becomes a "bucket.").

--> My oldest sister, Paula, never ever stops talking (Never. I cannot emphasize this enough.), makes odd and alarming noises when she gasps or sneezes, and has absolutely no immediate, regional, national, or international awareness of geographical properties.

--> Our middle sister, Pam, is stoic and reserved, is the world's most standoffish hugger, and spends ridiculous amounts of time researching everything she can think to research (juicers, online radio stations, fish oil vs. cod liver oil, the healing properties of cayenne pepper...).

--> The youngest, I require copious amounts of alone time, am egregiously grumpy at times for no apparent reason (which are my sisters' favorite times to deliberately do things that annoy me), and hate the telephone to an almost pathological extent.

We like this about us, although the endearment of it may not be readily noted by outsiders. We are the funniest people we know without even meaning to be. This brings me to my favorite moment across the entire span of Christmas celebrations this year: the moment I witnessed Paula giving a wordy lecture to her 7-year-old, Katherine, about taking care of her new American Girl doll.

Paula concluded her long, stern lecture with this very serious command:

"Don't write on her face."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day After by Angie Ledbetter

It's the day after the Big Day. Christmas is over, and the only ones left with huge sacks to haul are the garbagemen coming to take away the trashed remnants. Out go the pretty wrapping all scrunched up; the torn boxes, ripped open in excitement; the boxes that held nifty kitchen gadgets, electronics or kids' toys; curled ribbons and remains from the feast.
My small family has a tradition of eating brunch out on Christmas, as we've spent the Eve enjoying the big family gathering, gag gift exchange, and eating a delicious potluck. We patiently waited for a table at the Waffle House, enjoying rehashing fresh memories of this year's holiday celebration with laughter.
Then a strange thing happened after we were seated. It was truly a sight to behold. There at the door of the breakfast restaurant stood a shirtless elderly man with long white hair and matching beard. He looked all the world like a day-after Santa. As most of the other diners snickered and pointed, I asked my husband to go to our vehicle and see if he had an extra shirt or jacket for the man who'd merely stuck his head in the door and asked, "Can y'all please fix me $4 worth of waffles? I'll wait out here."
Soon, my husband and the bedraggled Santa returned, the latter decked out in a brand new hooded sweat jacket with a few more bills in his pocket. I wish I could share the smile I had on my face and in my heart. My husband, not usually a demonstrative person, had gotten the opportunity to share. My teenagers, I'm proud to say, suggested we also pick up the man's tab for breakfast, and asked our waitress to tell him to order whatever he wanted. They had never once laughed at the unfortunate soul.
The other patrons went back to their conversations, and our "Santa" was treated with dignity by the hardworking staff who'd given up their Christmas morning to serve others.
At the table behind us, our Santa smiled and said, "God bless you," before returning to his babbling behind the menu to himself. I imagine he is a homeless veteran, someone who has no warm place to spend Christmas or any other day with loved ones.
Our Waffle House visit with "Santa" will be remembered long after I've forgotten what gifts I unwrapped this year. And the smile on the tired waitress's face when she saw her huge tip. And the pride I felt for my family around a cramped table eating brunch.
I am truly blessed and filled with gratitude. May you receive the same kind of gifts, long after the material ones have faded from memory, throughout the coming year and always.
{Photo by Angie Ledbetter}

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Kat Magendie

I'm writing this on Christmas Eve. Actually, Christmas Eve is my favorite time. Of course, as a child, Christmas Eve seemed to last forever, and I remember the sleepless nights of excitement: what was under the tree? what would I get for Christmas? will it ever GET HERE! Even when we didn't have much money, there were always gifts under the tree. We kids never felt as if there wasn't a "Christmas," for somehow our mother pulled it off, even in the leanest of times. For years I thought Christmas stockings were supposed to be paper lunch sacks with our names written in a fancy script. Inside those "stockings" were fruits, nuts, and sometimes a little candy. As the years progressed, the candy became more present. We were allowed to skip breakfast Christmas morning if we wanted to and eat whatever treats we had in those sacks. Ah. I miss those lunch sacks of goodies. I have stockings now, but they just don't feel the same.

As an adult, Christmas Eve takes on the special feelings of anticipation that differ from those as a child who wonders what she will get Christmas Day. Instead, she wonders at what she already has, and what she has given: me that is, grateful for what I have and what I have been able to give to someone else for Christmas.

Christmas Eve is that pause between. For I know once Christmas Day is here (as it is now, just as you are reading this and I will be eating a Christmas Breakfast and drinking Deep Creek Blend and opening a few gifts and smiling and wondering at others opening their gifts and imagining children's laughter...), it quickly slides away and then soon the new year is here and all the glitter and sparkle of Christmas quickly fades away, the tree begins to lose its needles, the gifts tucked away, the memories caught in snapshots of mouths wide in laughter and surprise. But don't let's go that far. Let's take this moment, this day, and stretch it out far and wide as a Smoky Mountain Sky.

On Christmas Eve, I like to stay up as late as I can, and all afternoon and into the evening I watch certain Christmas movies: Alistair Sims's "A Christmas Carol," "It's A Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and the halarious but heartwarming "Christmas Story."

When the last movie fades away, if I have been able to stay awake before a fire, tucked under a quilt on my couch, I stay there just a bit longer (and I also sneak in a gift or two into Roger's stocking - just as I used to sneak my son's gifts into his stocking and place his gifts under the tree) and just enjoy the quiet, the solitude, the last remaining moments of Christmas Eve--which most times does turn into very very early Christmas Morning.

Oh! Christmas Day! Oh! Joyous Day! Oh! Wonderful Beautiful Day!

I will snuggle in and remember Christmases that have come and gone. I will embrace the one that is here. I will not yet look ahead to the next days coming.

Christmas is here. At last, Christmas is here. Ding, Dong; Ding, Dong; Christmas bells are ringing... And so...

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas(song lyrics removed - just in case...but, you can sing it along with me....make up the words if you do not know them...)

Listen to our Podcasts