The Woods and Gratitude

 Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”  –George Washington Carver

This morning, Xander and I went for what’s becoming our regular morning walk at the St. Francis Woods.  Today was particularily gentle weather-wise, and we took advantage of it.  Tomorrow calls for snow flurries and colder temps.  Walking with my sweet dog and sipping on a hot cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is a great way to start my day.  I was grateful for the chance to take him once again and witness his joy as he ran and chased squirrels and explored.  We even met a few ladies there who couldn’t resist patting him and talking to him.

This morning at the woods.

Little chapel at the woods.

The simple and obtainable Thimble List

Last week I was reading Jennifer Louden’s blog where she mentioned the ‘Thimble List’, an interesting concept she seems to have developed.  According to Jennifer, a thimble list is different from the popular ‘bucket list’ in that items on a thimble list are obtainable, usually simple pleasures and generally involve easy ways to enjoy life to it’s fullest.  Your Thimble List can change weekly-that’s the fun.  Items on a Bucket List usually contains larger, more adventurous things to achieve before a person dies.  The items on these lists usually take a lot more effort and money in order to accomplish them.

I agree with Jennifer in that I’m not now, and never really have been, the adventurous type.  What I really need in my life is more moments of peace and solitude and creativity,  and all the little things that bring me joy.  I agree it’s important to savor those little things in life that sometimes get overlooked and taken for granted.  I sat down this evening and put together my own little Thimble List of simple pleasures.  Feel free to write one of your own.  And be sure to let me know the enjoyable, memorable  things in life that you savor.

Emily’s Thimble List

1.  On these blisteringly hot 90+ degree days, I am so grateful and mindful of how fortunate I am to have air conditioning.  Being cool and comfortable is something I’m most grateful for.

2.  I intend to cozy up in a bed with freshly laundered sheets, just not quite so tired.  I want to curl up with a really good book and read till I fall asleep.

2.  I’m one of those people who drink coffee at midnight-anytime of day is the perfect time for a fresh pot of delicious coffee.  Coffee with sweet creamers is one of my top ten favorite things.

3.  Make time to hug my dog and look right into those soulful eyes, being mindful of how lucky I am to have such a sweet animal to co-habit with.  He brings me such joy.

4.  Take after dinner walks with Xander just as the sun is going down and catching little glimpses of the summer Fireflies, the scent of gardens as I pass by and watching the simple joys my dog experiences as he is running along side me.

5.  Enjoy a hot stack of homemade, aromatic blueberry pancakes.  (With fresh coffee).  Heaven.  And good for you, too!

8.  I can’t wait to revel in the laughter and warmth of my longtime girlfriends when we meet this Friday.  It’s been a long time since we’ve seen eachother and I’m sure there will be so much to talk about, and some tears, too.

9.  I intend to take in the quiet of the house and try to think clearly-no interruptions.

10.  I hope to enjoy a leisurely game of Rook with my family, sharing snacks and laughter for an hour or so as often as I can.

It’s your turn….what will be on your list?

Except for taking a trip to Paris someday, I could probably die a happy gal if I don’t manage to accomplish everything on my ‘bucket list’ (under the tab above called ‘In this Life’, if you’re interested).  It’s good to aspire to more difficult things and to hope to see far away places.  Just don’t loose sight of what’s really important-the simple things in life that comprise daily life.  Live your life to it’s fullest.

human behavior, Uncategorized, women

Just in case your momma didn’t tell you….

Okay, I have to write this post. I’m getting older, closer to menopause and very intolerant of people who are totally inconsiderate of others. Lately I’ve had a series of disappointing interactions with grown adults who seem to have never learned good manners.  I’m sick to death of people who are total assholes so completely self absorbed they don’t even begin to think about the reprocussions their actions have on others.  Nor do many of them care.  See the strikeout and you’ll know why.  I’m sure many of you have experienced these same incidents and have been equally as bothered as I am. As incredulous as I am that people can be so ignorant of these common courtesies, I do realize I, too, am not perfect, having fallen off the wagon many times myself. And I certainly have been guilty of the following at times, too, but I do really try to not commit these things.  Regardless, I feel compelled to say it, so here it goes:

1. Say “Thank You” and be grateful to someone who is doing you an enormous favor or good deed, despite how much you may resent the favor or the situation that brings about the favor. This failing, for me, falls under the “No good deed goes unpunished” column.

2. Providing it’s not a spammer or someone you really dislike (in which case you should make it clear you aren’t interesting in corresponding-hey, we are adults here), if you get an email from someone and they are clearly hoping for a reply or at least the courtesy of some kind of indication that you received their email,  please respond back in a very timely manner. If you can’t write back a lengthy reply at that moment, send a quick note back saying you received their email and you didn’t forget about them and you will (try to) reply at length later on, or the next day or whenever you can make the time. Don’t leave people hanging. It’s damn rude.

3. If you haven’t got something good to say-shut up. No one wants to be subjected to your negativity.

4.  Don’t be a “Poo Poo Promiser.”   When you say you are going to be somewhere or do something for or with someone-do it, unless there’s something really urgent keeping you from following through.  Especially, don’t cancel at the last minute-I’m referring to those times when you just don’t feel like doing it.  Give some notice.   When I was much younger I was guilty of doing this exact thing.  I was a bad poopoo promiser-primarily because when I was growing up people in my life thought nothing of doing it to me.  It was the way I was raised.  My mother in law broke me of this really awful habit by calling me on it (very angrily, I might add) when I did it to her.  She  made me realize how wrong it is to do that to someone.  As a result, now I try very hard to always do what I say I’m going to do.  I’m still not perfect, but I’m continually working on it.   This brings me to my next point…

5.  If you don’t want to do something, don’t say you will just because you are too cowardly to say you don’t want to.  Remember Nancy Reagan’s slogan, “Just say no.”  It doesn’t always pertain to drug use…it’s a helpful phrase you can apply to daily life, too.  Be firm and say what you mean.  It took me till the age of 40 to finally say “NO” to solicitors trying to sell me magazines at my door.  

6.  Unless your mother (or father) is a serial killer, sexual deviate, abusive or dead-call them despite how much they piss you off or how much they drive you crazy.  They need you more than you think and you just might be surprised at how much you might need them.  And if you definately refuse to associate with your living parent, don’t have your hand out when they die.  That’s just unscrupulous.

7.  Oh yeah, and about your childhood?   Get over it.  (I’m speaking in generalities here, not to those who’ve suffered terrible abuse (of any kind) at the hands of a very sick adult.  Obviously, those are exceptions that should not be made light of.) 

My mom always said, “What goes around, comes around,” and she usually said that when someone had wronged her or someone else.  I do believe this is so true.  Don’t let Karma bite you in the butt.  If you have any of these annoying habits, maybe think about taking a look inward and consider working on improving yourself.  It’s so frustrating to deal with people who are totally inconsiderate. I’m still working on my bad habits…..So there, I’ve said it!

Let me know what kinds of things you’ve experienced in your life that really annoys you about other people… (Possibly very blunt bloggers who just SAY IT like me, lol!)


On simplifying, gratitude and reaping joy

I am on the planning committe for a women’s retreat at the beginning of October and I’m leading a 40 minute session on simplifying, practicing gratitude and cultivating joy, just as my blog’s tagline reads.  In preparation for this,  I’ve been thinking alot about the concept of  gratitude.   It is known to be a life changer if practiced regularily and can cause joy to seep into your life just by regularily acknowledging the little things in your days that are surprisingly wonderful, no matter how simple.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Less is more.”  It really is important for us to focus our lives on that one simple saying.  Ask anyone who has way too much-clutter has the ability to make us feel confused, overwhelmed and tends to rob us of contentment.  (Believe me-I know.  Early this spring I had the daunting task of cleaning out my basement that was abundant with boxes and boxes of things I no longer had a need for.)  Quite the opposite, living simply enables us to breathe and stretch in the open spaces of our homes.   Paring down liberates us from the drudgery of time spent having to deal with all that excess “stuff”; we have to organize, shuffle, sometimes shovel, file, or pass along all that stuff.  Sometimes we can’t even manage to give it away.  In this day and age, way too much importance is placed on stock piling material things.  Everywhere you turn there are advertisements trying to entice us to lay down our money in exchange for the newest gadget or hot item.  It really is incredible how many things in the world there are to buy!  Amazingly, we’re better off without most of those things- I won’t say all, because I’m not advocating living like a minimalist. What I am asking you, however, is how much do you really need to be happy? 

What is really important in this life?  Are your basic needs being met?  Do you have a home?  Is your pantry well stocked?  Are there clothes in your closet?  Is there a source of money coming in?  Do you have dreams?  Do you have your health?  Are you able to walk around and enjoy the world around you?   Do you have family and friends who you love and who love you?

For a moment, stop and assess the wonderful things in your life you should be thankful for.  Let your heart awaken to how being thankful can transform you.  Be open to switching out your need for material things for a calmer, simple existence which will most likely reward you with more joy than you ever imagined.

Is there anyone reading this that doesn’t long for a simpler life? What are we longing for?  Should we give it all up and move to a seaside cottage?  Or could we be longing for something more fundamental, like the simple pleasure of having a day with nothing on the calender and having more time for the things in life that are really important like family and God and nurturing ourselves and having frequent quiet moments.

Once we take a good look at our lives and get used to the ebb and flow of gratitude, the next step on the path unfolds naturally. When we appreciate what we have, we should feel the urge to pare down, get back to basics and figure out what is essential for our happiness.  At least, that is what my goal is.   When refer to simplifying I’m not implying doing without.  On the contrary-making a conscious choice to simplify will help illuminate our lives from within.  Simplifying lifts us up, and liberates us from the weight of owning and dealing with too much excess in our lives.  Simplicity can be wonderful… imagine a simple bouquet of flowers, an uncluttered clean house or a closet that holds everything you wear, nothing more, nothing less, or even imagine decluttering your book collection, by purchasing a Kindle or Nook and having all those books on that one little device right at your fingertips.   No dusting, no shuffling those books around.  Just plain and simple.  Trust that through the healing aspect of simplicity, your frazzled and weary soul can open up and spread out and relax. 


I’d like to introduce to you the concept of keeping a gratitude journal.  Part of cultivating a simpler life is stopping to count our blessings and to notice things in our life that are worthy of being thankful for. When we begin to be grateful for the littlest things in our lives only then can we be happier and have more clarity.  Every night, before going to sleep take out your little gratitude journal and write down five things from the day you are thankful for.  They can be as small as the nice smile you got from the bagger in the grocery store to the little bluebird you spied outside your kitchen window.  Let’s take notice of the little gifts from the universe and document them.

Realistically, there will be rough days where you won’t feel thankful for anything…we all have days that are particularly difficult for one reason or another.  On days like that, still write in your journal….just be thankful for your health, your home, or whatever else comes to mind.

By carfully keeping of this journal, you should begin to feel more simplicity, order, harmony; beauty and joy seep into your life.  These things will all bloom greater when you practice gratitude.  The more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given to you. 

I discovered a lovely website called Good List Daily that encourages folks to submit their gratitude lists online to their site.  I’m now contributing my gratitude list along with many others.  Read what others are thankful for on a daily basis.  Join in and add yours.