Yearly Archives:2010

Being Grateful

If you were asked to describe how you begin your day, are your mornings filled with rushing around, dragging kids out of bed, fumbling to find your shoes, dreading the bus ride to the city and complaining about going to a job you do not like? For most women, the mornings are not filled with an hour of meditation, some time for reading, a quiet breakfast with the family discussing their plans for the day. Yet how we set up our day in the morning will most likely be responsible for how our day progresses.

Although we would love to start our days with peace and quiet, and a cup of coffee while we sit by the fireplace; limited time robs us of the opportunity to do this. But what if there was a way to bring a positive spin into the early morning that would last through the day? While you brush your teeth, or feed the dog, or ride on the bus, or walk into the office – give thanks.

Give thanks for the house you live in, the family that surrounds you, the people on the bus who smile at you, the change in your purse, the clothes you wear, the job you have. Give thanks for your health, your dog, the food on the table. Thanks for your relatives, friend and co-workers.

Now it may seem improbable to be grateful when kids are sick, you missed the bus, the boss is angry, and you’re in a rut. Yet it seems almost impossible to be thankful when there is no money in the bank, the mortgage is overdue and you were passed over for that raise. Worries about family, work and money steal your days and take away the ability to enjoy life. Living becomes existing.

But even at these most despairing moments, you need to reach beyond the “liabilities” to find those things to add to the “asset” side of your life’s ledger.

By starting your day in this spirit, you set up your day to be prosperous and satisfying. If you start the day feeling stressed and lacking, you will have a day of stress and lack. But if you take an inventory in your mind of your life’s assets, you will realize just what a rich woman you really are. You will see that you have much to be grateful for and that you are probably taking for granted the abundance that already exists in your life. The world around you will give you more if you appreciate what you already have. If you sow seeds of lack, you will reap lack. But if you sow seeds of abundance you will reap more of the same.

Melody Beattie wrote in the Language of Letting Go, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”

Begin each day with gratitude; because if you do this every day for a month, you will simply not be the same person you are today. By giving thanks each day for the abundance you already have in your life, you will set in motion an ancient spiritual law that says, the more you have and are grateful for, the more you will receive. Set up your day by being grateful for what you have; and for what the day will bring. See in your mind the kind of day you would like to have; and then be grateful that you are having it.

I “Miss” Manners

Although I was raised by a single parent, who barely ever made more than minimum wage; she managed to pay all the bills, keep food on the table, and teach us the life skills that she felt were important for us to live with class and grace. She had the uncanny ability to understand and educate
us on the ways of the world, even though, because of her means, her real world was very small. She felt that good manners were a necessity in order to reach our goals, feel comfortable in the right circles and grow beyond our circumstances.

On occasion she would read to us from a column in our local newspaper, called “Miss Manners”. People would write to Miss Manners with questions regarding etiquette. She would respond with lessons on acceptable and appropriate behavior.

This came to mind recently, when my friend and I had dinner at a local upscale restaurant. Years ago eating at a restaurant like this would have meant that the clientele would have dressed up and would be using their very best manners. Not so, today.


 That evening, with a quick look around the dining room, I saw a young girl with her elbows on the table; a man talking on his cell phone; a preteen yelling at his mom “give me some bread”; a middle-aged woman standing, reaching across the table and stabbing a pat of butter with a knife; a fairly well-dressed gentleman chewing with his mouth open while his napkin, that should have been in his lap, was on the table; a twenty-something couple having an argument that should have been left at home; an attractive young woman standing at the bar drinking beer out of a bottle; another woman brushing her hair while picking up food with her fingers; and various people holding their silverware as though it were a weapon instead of a utensil.

Today when I come in contact with a young person with exceptional manners, I am in awe; as it seems to be the exception instead of the rule. I have a niece with a houseful of young daughters, and although they are well versed in the ways to behave in public, their mother reminds me that with kids today you have to “pick your battles”. If her girls forget to put their napkin in their laps, or say “please and thank you” she does correct them; but in a world of drugs, teenage pregnancy, school shootings, and so on; these things may seem so trivial. Perhaps that is why the rules of etiquette have been lost.

But I miss manners; even if they are “passé” or “old fashioned”. Because I know the joy of what good manners can mean; as that same night at the restaurant I so appreciated my friend as he held my chair when I sat down; helped me with my coat; opened the car door for me; said “please” to the coat check woman; and “thank you” to the valet; stopped to personally tip the wait staff; said “excuse me” to a man he walked in front of as we came in the door. His elbows never rested on the table, he held his silverware with style; and he left his cell phone in the car, so that his conversation with me was not interrupted. All this was done without a second thought. All of this was done with ease and grace.

Some may say that this is all a cliché so “passé” and so “old fashioned”. Maybe they are right. But I think with manners comes respect. Respect for yourself and respect for those you are with.

Some may say that it certainly is not the answer to all the problems in the world; and I agree. But a little class, a little style; a little dose of “Miss Manners” could make some small piece of the world a whole lot nicer.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

My mother was very Irish. So with this being the month of St. Patrick’s Day I find that I recall her very Irish ways. My mother had a story for everything. She believed in magic. She believed  in curses. She had many superstitions. And she had a saying for almost anything. When things would go wrong and there was no way to fix them, she would just remind us to move on as it was a waste of time to cry over spilled milk.

I realized this was never more true than on a certain day 30 years ago, when my 4 year old son was walking from the kitchen down the 5 steps to our game room carrying a glass of milk. Just a few days before brand new carpeting had been installed in the room. As he started down the stairs, I stopped him and suggested that I carry the glass so he didn’t spill it on the new carpeting.

He gave me a cross look suggesting that he didn’t like that I didn’t trust him and he reluctantly handed the glass over to me. I walked down the steps and as I reached the bottom, my foot slipped and I began to fall. In an effort to brace myself I let go of the glass and the milk soared through the air covering the new carpeting as well as the couch, a table and one wall. My mother’s words came rushing into my mind, as my anger and frustration melted to embarrassment and then laughter. I knew it would be a long time before my son would let me forget this, there really was no reason to cry over spilled milk. Just clean it up and move on.

How often in life do we mourn and suffer over things we can’t change? How often do we lament past failures? There are so many life challenges that we can’t control, but we can always control how we react to them. All the choices we have made in our lives have brought us to where we are today. We have traded our days for the choices we have made. We can continue to cry over the past or we can choose to control our future by choosing to trade the days to come for something more. We can spend our days crying over spilled milk or we can clean it up and move on. Seems to me cleaning it up and moving on is the better choice.