Gratitude

Hold on. Why are you talking about gratitude, Greta, it’s not November yet.
Grateful… Thankful… I wish we had different words to describe the recognition and appreciation of what is good in our lives. Too often the words we use are associated with Thanksgiving…with Facebook posts of gratitude each day in November.

We need to attend to the position of gratitude. Let me be more precise: I (i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i) need to attend to the position of thankfulness.

There are a few messages that have come to an intersection in my life recently. All three from differing avenues.

The first is from a podcast interview with Diana Butler Bass. The ‘10% Happier’ podcast is a must-hear for me. I have been reticent to write about the significant impact the book, ‘10% Happier’, the podcast, 10% Happier and the app of meditations (…10% Happier app) have played in my life these past two years. Someday soon I need to flesh out their significance to me.

But back to a recent podcast interview with Diana Butler Bass, author of many books, her latest: ‘Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks‘.

Bass found that she was 56 years old and didn’t fully understand gratitude – always equating it to the torture of having to write thank you notes as a kid, which her mother insisted she do. In writing this book she learned how to be more grateful…to recognize gratefulness. “When you are grateful for one thing it becomes easier to be grateful for two things…” and on it goes.

We need to cultivate the disposition to see THROUGH what’s happening around us in order to see what’s GOOD, right there in front of us. Ex: air to breathe etc. We all too often have a vision of scarcity and fear instead of a vision of gratefulness.

Many people have written about keeping a gratitude journal. I have tried – in various forms – to keep journals in the past. My house is littered with started and eventually neglected journals. So I was somewhat relieved to hear Bass say she had the same difficulty. Instead, she found that a bad thing prompted her to remember the good thing. She used, for example, opening up the morning newspaper and feeling a sense of dread about the state of the world. It was that dread…the ‘bad thing’…that jolted her memory to think about one good thing in the morning. I can understand that way of thinking.

She pointed out a significant word in the scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – a familiar verse to many people. It says IN everything give thanks. It does not say FOR everything give thanks. This isn’t a pollyanna approach to gratitude. The Scripture isn’t asking us to praise and rejoice over our hardships and illnesses. It is merely saying that in the midst of all that pain and frustration, give thanks…recognize and appreciate…the many other blessings in your life.

Another message that resonated with me this morning was from my Jesus Calling devotional book. I know many of you also read from this little book of truth. Here’s what this morning’s message said:

‘I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence.

You can find Me in each moment, when you have eyes that see and ears that hear. Ask My Spirit to sharpen your spiritual eyesight and hearing. I rejoice each time you discover My presence. Practice looking and listening for Me during quiet intervals. Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments.’

It is a discipline – a muscle, if you will – to be purposeful and intentional in your gratitude. Can I step back, in the midst of frustration, and find something of beauty around me? Can I purposefully search for moments when God seems to be saying directly to me: ‘Greta…look at this.’ I think we would all claim we are grateful. We list the common things: friends, family, health, freedom. But are we daily and specifically pointing our thoughts toward just one thing…maybe two…for which we are grateful?

I read an article in the June 2018 Oprah magazine issue entitled, ‘Are You Ready For Some Good News’. I’ll finish off this post with some highlights from the article. It is easy to feel like the world is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket. With each passing day it becomes more and more difficult to see the good. To appreciate the good. To be thankful for the good. Harder still, to be thankful in the midst of the good and the bad and the mundane and the challenging.

Don’t be like me and feel a ‘general sense of gratitude’. I am vowing to be more intentional in my gratitude on a daily basis. Nothing big. Nothing monumental. Just a habit of starting my day with a recognition of something really awesome that’s happening in my life and for which I feel a deep sense of gratitude. If we are struggling and can’t think of anything better: let’s just all agree to be thankful for the air we breathe. Some days, if that’s all we can conjure up, then that’s what we’ll resort to, okay?

Here are some positive things going on in our world:

The ozone layer is repairing itself. Thanks to laws restricting – and people committing to eliminate aerosols – between 2000 and 2015 the hole over the Antarctic shrank 1.7 million square miles.

Every major car company has now committed to adding an electric model to its fleet. Volvo and Jaguar Range Rover have vowed to stop designing fossil-fuel-only cars by 2020. It is projected that by 2030, 40% of all new car sales will be electric or hybrid models.

A 2017 study revealed that trees are adapting to the world’s higher concentration of carbon dioxide by using water more efficiently, which allows them to increase in size, which means they can remove more CO2 from the air.

Millennial’s are the segment of the population most likely to visit a public library.

Millennials donate to charity more readily than any other generation.

84% of Millennials say they want to help make the world a better place and that that’s more important than achieving professional success.

The National Crime Victimization Survey says there has been a 75% decline in violent crime from 1993 to 2015.

Last year scientists have begun testing on patients a process to deposit stem cells onto burned skin to help it regrow faster than a skin graft. Within 90 minutes of a patient’s arrival at the ER, her stem cells can be isolated and sprayed onto her damaged flesh, allowing new skin to generate within four days without excess pain, risk of infection, or extended hospital stays.

Of the 7 billion people on earth, 6 billion have access to a mobile phone – and a far less abundant supply our books. Cell phones now offer people in developing nations the chance to read digitally. Of the more than 4000 respondents to a recent survey, 62% said they are reading more thanks to their phone.

Berlin students turn swastika graffiti into clever street art by making images like a square-torsoed owl, an unresolved Rubiks cube, and a guy doing a ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ dance.

Students make one-legged duck a prosthesis using a 3-D printer.

Gym chain bands cable news networks. Says constant attention to squawking pundits is not conducive to a healthy way of life.

Changes for good are happening all around us in big and small ways. Be a part of that change, yes. But also remember to pay homage to the good you see around you. Notice it. Appreciate it. And occasionally, recognize that it might be God’s small voice saying, ‘I see you. I care about you. This is my gift to you.’

Gratitude. So much more than a Thanksgiving vow…

Advertisements

“Can you please build me a…”

That is such a common phrase around our house. To be honest, the longer we are together the more I’ve begun to wonder if I married Scott for his kind heart or for his access to his father’s power tools! 😉

I’ve *patiently* waited until he had some vacation time off; I knew EXACTLY what I wanted him to build for me: floating wooden shelves.

It started with this picture in the new Magnolia cookbook

(don’t all projects usually begin with Joanna Gaines?!)

Day #1 of staycation finally rolled around and off to the lumber yard we went. I have to say, it’s nice to envision a project and then let Scott take over on the measurements and production. 🙂

We have this little nook when you walk in through our front door that I knew would be perfect for these floating shelves. Plus (a big plus!), it gives me more storage options. I thought I had a better picture of the BEFORE (whyyyyyy do I always forget to take the BEFORE picture?!) but you can see the little inset area over to the right where I had a tall chest of drawers…

I found the shelf plans online. There were other instructions from other sites that didn’t seem very heavy-duty, but the plans from Shanty 2 Chic were really hefty. She said she built her shelves extra sturdy with the idea that her 2-year-old might try to use them as a ladder -ha!

* the adjustments we made to the original plans are noted below if you’d like to make some shelves for yourself

After Scott built the shelves I stained them. Let me tell you – I am willing to paint ANYthing. I’ve painted just about everything over the years. But staining?? Yikes. Staining seems like a grown-up DIY. My parents stained things. Furniture restorers stain things. There’s not much room for messing up with staining. And there’s no painting over it once it’s done. AND THEN THERE IS THE PICKING OUT OF THE STAIN…such stress! It is not unlike picking out a hair color: Is it really this color or will it turn out two shades darker?!  I went with Provincial from Minwax. My plan was to put white dishes on the finished shelves so I wanted my dishes to stand out against the darker wood stain.

The below picture is what makes these shelves so freaking awesome. The outside box slides onto this sturdy foundation. The skeleton of the whole shelf is in this foundation. Plus, you can find your wall studs and go directly into those without having to move the placement of the shelves themselves.


And voila! The shelves look like they have been here all along. Perfectly tailored for this space. I am over the moon excited about the way they turned out! I am certain they will be rearranged a zillion times, but at the time of this post’s printing (ha!) this is what they look like. I am already envisioning more shelves in other places in our kitchen. Famous last words, Give me MORE. MORE!” 

The below pictures are a little odd and not very ‘picture perfect’ but it gives you an idea of where they are in comparison to the wall angles and corners around them.

I am so excited about the way this project turned out. Don’t tell Scott, but I’m already scheming in my head about replacing those folding doors in the laundry area. But shhhhhhh…….we’ll let him rest on his shelf success for just a little while longer.

Here’s to a successful DIY win!

*******************************

OUR PLAN ADJUSTMENTS:

  • instead of cutting each shelf at 32″ from your 8′ board, first trim off a tiny bit at one end of your 8′ board to make sure you have a straight edge (so you’ll lose a tiny bit of measurement there.) Your blade is 1/8″ thick so you’ll lose that measurement as well with each cut. Instead, measure each shelf to be 31 3/4″ wide.
  • we chose to make a 45 degree cut for each shelf corner (instead of a blunt cut.) To accommodate for the 45 degree cut, add 1/2″ to the 1×4 sides.
  • our assembly steps:
    • attach the base to the 2×3 frame (interior frame)
    • mount the frame (with attached base) to the wall
    • assemble the sides and the top together as one piece (exterior top)
    • slide the exterior top onto the mounted interior frame
    • put a screw into the side of the shelf to hold it in place on the interior frame (we counter-sunk a hole so the screw doesn’t show from the side)

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

There are too many loose ends in the world, in need of knots. You can’t attend to all of them, but you have to try.

This was a raw glimpse into a marriage under extreme outside pressure. I found myself continually thinking, ‘This is exactly how I would probably react.’ It was an exposed view into the upended lives involved in an otherwise all-American marriage. We often go into marriage thinking it is an agreement between two people, when actually it includes more people than just two spouses.

It was difficult to mentally assign a protagonist and an antagonist to the cast of characters. The reader can easily identify with and feel empathy for many of the characters and their sorted reactions to love and heartache and the burden of life’s circumstances that are dealt differently to each one of us.

Tamari Jones unknowingly laid open our souls before us to voyeuristically nod our head in agreement and cringe in recognized moments of selfishness. Many readers will not identify with the exact storyline, but will nod their heads in enigmatic acknowledgement. Jones turns us around to the mirror and asks her readers to answer some timely questions about race and class in America.

May was a good month for reading. I enjoyed all the books I read: