A State of Grace.

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Most mornings for a few weeks now, myself, and my wife on some days, walk to the lake that is right near our house.  We walk in one mile, and back out and home.  We sit by the water.  We spend time in nature.  It is an amazing way to begin the day for me.

 

As I walk in at the lake, I spend the first mile considering what I am grateful for.  Initially, when I first started this morning ritual, I would make a list in my mind, of all the people, things and circumstances in my life that I have gratitude for.  It enabled me to find gratitude for things in my life that might have felt challenging, or persons in my life that I had conflict with, or thought that I did, at one time or another.  It helped me to more deeply understand that gratitude is not just for the pleasant things, but for each and every thing, event, or circumstance that I find myself in.  Learning and growth comes from every experience.

 

Recently, instead of a list of things to be grateful for, I find myself simply feeling gratitude, being in the presence of that feeling.  To do this for me, means to be completely in the moment; and when my mind wanders, to come back to the present as often as possible.  A state of gratitude is remembering that everything that comes to me is a gift; every moment has something that it is offering to me, has beauty, depth, and value; and that if I am in a state of gratitude, I am able to see the beauty and worth in every moment.

 

Brenda described that to someone yesterday as being in a state of grace.  I have always had a difficult time understanding the concept of grace, and what that really means.  Yet, I believe that I have an understanding now that makes sense to me.  To be in a state of grace, for me, is to be present, and to be prayerful.  I may not be consciously saying prayers as I walk every morning, yet I am certainly aware of the beauty, sounds, and smells all around me, and have deep appreciation for them.  I am aware of nature and all that She offers to me.  I am aware of the strength and beauty of my body as I walk and move.  I am filled with love and compassion for others that are in my life, and beyond.  I feel inspired, blissful, peaceful.

 

I finally understand, that grace means to be present to my world, to all that is around me, and to honor its beauty and worth with my thoughts and presence.  Grace feels like a prayer that doesn’t feel like a prayer in the way that I have previously known, yet in such a more powerful way than I have experienced before.  Grace is Presence.  Presence is Grace.  And when I remember that, I am filled with a peace that I have never known.  

 

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To Be a Writer.

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A couple of weeks ago, I decided after much consideration that I would sign up for and take a seven week writers course.  The course is being offered through The Shift Network, which offers amazing on line programs related to self discovery and improvement, as well as connection to others in the world.  The writing course is being led by an author who I have enjoyed in the past, SARK, whose creativity and words I have admired. It is being co led by Scott Mills, whose energy is also dynamic and soft.  I have already had my first session, with many other persons from literally, around the world, and I think I will be in for a treat as it goes forward.

 

It took much consideration for me to take the course, for many of the reasons that create blockages in my writing.  First of all, I worried that I was not a good enough writer, that there would be so many other great writers on the call, including the facilitators, that I would feel inadequate and self conscious at what I would bring to the table.  Also, I often diminish the type of writing that I do as not being “real” writing; I write a blog, I write about life, emotions, and human experience.  “Real” writers write novels, biographies, and the like.  The last reason that I almost said no to the course was because of the money.  Although it is really affordable, especially for whom is leading it, and all of the benefits I will receive from it, I saw that as an obstacle, that didn’t really exist.  However, I plowed through all of that, and said a powerful, YES.

 

The biggest reason that I hesitated in taking the course, and the biggest reason why I said I MUST take the course, is that I have often not described myself as a writer.  I would say to people that I enjoy writing, like a hobby that I find time for here and there.  To say that I am a writer seems like a lie.  I don’t write on a full time basis; I don’t get paid for my writing; I haven’t published any books yet (although I have been published in a chapter book in the past); I don’t make time always for my writing by being on a schedule with it.  All of these excuses I use to not call myself what I actually am.  And, not calling myself a writer is the least of it; I don’t SEE myself as a writer when I am having these thoughts of diminishment and self deprecation.

 

The real, loving truth is, is that I AM a writer.  I AM a person who puts to paper, or to computer screen, ideas and things that scare me, excite me, and help me.  I talk about love, grief, compassion, judgment and fear.  I tell stories of things that I have experienced in my life, and the experiences of others that I have known in my world.  And, I AM a writer, who wants to keep writing, keep growing, keep projecting my words and my thoughts out into the world, for healing, for connection, for love and for Life.  

 

The kicker is, all of the other persons that I have met through this workshop so far, including our facilitators, all have the same fears; of not being enough; of not making enough time for our writing; of others being better than ourselves. Yet, we each have our own, unique version of how we see the world, and that makes whatever we have to say valuable and worthy of the page.  There is so much comfort, connection and love in that.

 

As a true writer and lover of words, I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

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Deep Gratitude.

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Yesterday was my birthday.  I am officially 54 years old, which is really a misnomer, because I feel 54 years young, as corny as that may sound.  I feel amazing.  My life is amazing.  And, I feel more blessed than I have ever realized in my life before now.  

 

At various times in my life, I have practiced gratitude daily for myself, and what that looked like in the past, was writing down each day what I was grateful for, in the morning before I would start getting ready for work.  I also would wear a bracelet, and count my blessings literally on the beads of the bracelet.  It was always a great way to start in the morning, before the hustle and rush of the world set in.  

 

Lately, I began the practice again, but not by writing down what I am grateful for.  During my morning walk, I think about all of the things and persons that I am grateful for in my world.  I find so many things to be deeply grateful for, because I am surrounded with gifts in so many ways.  

 

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A birthday on Facebook is hard to beat; I got dozens of birthday greetings, all lovely and caring, and celebratory.  I felt the love from every single person that wished me well.  It was really beautiful.  And, I felt grateful, for all of the persons in my life, and what a gift it is to have family and friends that surround me, at all different times in my world.  Then, last evening, I saw this beautiful message from my wife, in honor of my birthday, after an evening she had planned for me of fun and surprises.

 

I felt grateful for having us meet one another in the world, to walk this path together with a partner who supports me, and I support as well, and who I have fun with, travel with, and learn new things with.  It really is a blessing.  

 

I feel such deep gratitude for my son, and the relationship that I have built with him over the last few years, more deep than ever before.  And, as he begins this new phase of his life, it is also a new phase of mine, and that we get to share that with one another in love, friendship and support is a joy.  I am so grateful that he is in my world.

 

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I am so grateful for a strong, capable body, that carries me every day to my walks, to take out the trash, that does anything that I ask of it; and is sustaining me in healthy, loving ways.  I am grateful for the lovely home that I share with my wife, that keeps us safe and warm and cared for.  I am so grateful for being in nature, and seeing her sights and hearing her sounds outside my window every single day.  It is a gift to be able to live in and appreciate her beauty.

 

I have had challenges in my life, and I will continue to face them as life goes on for me. Yet, I find myself in joy the majority of the time, and I know that to be in a large part, because of Gratitude.  No matter what is happening with me or around me, Gratitude can always put things in perspective, by reminding me what I have that I am grateful for.

 

Reminding me of all of the gifts in my world.  

 

Waiting for the Sun to show up.

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I have loved being at the ocean for much of my life.  Although I have never lived on the coast, I have visited it from wherever I have lived.  When I was a child, we spent time at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire on summer days; we camped in Maine at Old Orchard Beach; we visited Cape Cod.  As an adult, for ten years my family rented a house for a week on Oak Island, North Carolina.  A week at the beach was absolute bliss.  Our honeymoon was spent at yet another ocean retreat, Tybee Island, Georgia.

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There are many things that I enjoy about being at the beach, at the ocean.  The time with my family.  The walks along the sand.  Shell finding.  And, the Ocean.  Looking out at the ocean, and its vast infinity.  Watching the waves crash against the shore.  See the dolphins play in the surf.  It is so peaceful, and awe inspiring.  

 

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When I am at the beach, I am always up early.  I hate missing a sunrise.  They are like few others that I have ever witnessed.  This morning was no exception.  When I walked out on the deck, and saw what was coming, I was inspired and so joyful.  Nature has such as easy, subtle way of shifting anything within me, to a place of pure peace and deep gratitude.  For her beauty and wisdom that She shares, just by doing what it is that She does every day.  

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I found myself waiting for the Sun to arrive, in beautiful anticipation.  Waves crashing against my legs.  Seagulls diving for treasures.  Amazed at the power and inspiration of it all.  

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And She did not disappoint.  As beautiful as ever.  Inspiring me to keep being my true Self in the world, to keep my eyes open to magic and beauty.  To go after my dreams.  To remember, that when I am my self in the world, my Light comes shining through.

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Work in Progress.

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I think I have spent many of the last 45 years of my life, on a diet, or exercise regimen of some sort.  I’ve done Weight Watchers, TOPS (Taking off Pounds Sensibly- where you got on the scale backwards and they would announce in front of the entire group whether you gained or lost weight since the last meeting), Gloria Stevens, which was an exercise center when I lived in New Hampshire, Intensati, liquid diet, running- and probably many others.  Always, the goal was clear:  lose weight and get into shape.  To meet up to an image that I thought that I should maintain, and feel better about what I would see when I looked in the mirror.

 

Or, so I thought.  

 

A diet, always, every time, no matter how it was presented or set up, felt like deprivation to me.  It was not as much a list of foods that were best to consume, or even to do what was best for my body.  It was not being able to have any of the foods that I liked the most, or so it seemed every time.  I went through much of my life, not eating cheese or nuts, equating that with bad food choices. Lettuce?  Yes.  Apples.  Great.  Anything that I craved, that was crunchy or gooey or extra tasty?  Forbidden.

 

I would obsess about what I did, and did not, put into my mouth.  I would rack myself with guilt, for “falling off the wagon”.  I would binge on forbidden foods like chips, candy, fried foods, all because I had messed up anyway, so why stop there?  Same story, different day, year after year.

 

Exercise never felt like my friend, at least, when I called it exercise.  In my childhood, I would ride my bike or walk around town, but I didn’t ever move a great deal.  I preferred to watch television, or hang out playing games.  So when I started to believe that exercise must be part of the equation to lose weight, I would obsess about that too.  I would run, even though I didn’t really enjoy it.  I would do workout DVDs or go to gyms and feel good about it for the moment, but didn’t feel excitement about going in the first place.  Yet, I felt like I had no choice; I had to do it.

 

This has been my pattern my entire life.  Looking for an external motivator to make an internal change.  And, it has worked over the years.  I would feel so proud to be 118 pounds, wearing a size 2 or 4, seeing how tiny I appeared to myself in pictures.  Then, a few years later, seeing my body after having my child, at 200 pounds, and being mortified.  My love of myself was completely connected to how I judged my size and my shape.  

 

I understand that change takes time.  And, gratefully, I have compassion for myself and my many evolutions.  I am an ongoing work in progress.  yet today, I feel so inspired to have tapped into where it is that I need to be and to stay- I need to come from a place of Love.  Love deep within myself.  For myself.  And, starting from that Love, I get to ask myself every day, what would feel really good to do for me, and for my body?  What would feel really good to put into it?  What energizes, excites and inspires me?  

 

I am on a new path, a path that is not about deprivation, but Abundance.  I am ready to give myself this beautiful gift.  I am on a path, finally, that is not me telling my sad story, about struggling with my weight my whole life.  I am telling a new story- a story of Love.  Of Choice.  Of Nurturance and Care.

 

A story of an Extraordinary Life.  

 

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