(Did anyone think that there would be photos of my body based on my title? Just feeling a little silly this morning…)
It sounded like a strange resolution, perhaps even vain, but I’m so happy that I took more photos of myself this month. I should have mentioned that I was inspired by this post and another post (that I can’t locate) about a daughter’s unsuccessful search for a photo of her late mother to display at the funeral. My own mother shared a story about her grandmother who would lean out of every photo taken of her. Unfortunately, she was still captured in the frame and thus, there are numerous photos of her awkwardly leaning sideways.
This won’t be my story. I won’t pretend that I don’t take advantage of the delete function on my camera when a photo is unflattering but I’m more comfortable than ever with the images of me: fancy or without make-up, just-the-right-weight or a bit puffy, tired or energized. It’s me, enjoying all of the blessings of my life.
This month, I’m going to continue this long, long journey of self-acceptance. I love how an increasing amount of people embrace a practice of gratitude during November and my expression of gratitude this month will focus on my body. Our bodies deserve a bit of recognition, yes?
Finally, I can’t mention gratitude without sending it back to you. I appreciate you each taking the time to read what I write. It fills my heart more than you’ll ever know.
The other day, I read an article on Oprah.com about her journaling styles throughout the years. It looks like Oprah also practices gratitude in her daily reflections which has to mean I’m onto something here, yes?: 😉
“In my 40s, I got wiser. I started using journals to express my gratitude—and watched my blessings multiply. What you focus on expands.”
This week has been an emotional roller coaster as my furry friend, Niko, suddenly developed huge swollen lymph nodes and my vet prepared me for the worst. Lymphoma. He kept Niko for a couple of hours to do a biopsy and blood work and in the meantime, I tried to keep it together. Niko has been a huge part of my life for the last 11 years.
Practicing gratitude leading up to this really helped me cope. I felt so very fortunate that my husband was in town and not traveling like he typically does. Those hugs were much needed. He walked Niko slowly around the neighborhood each day and helped me clean up accidents in the house that were caused by Niko’s medication. It was heartbreaking to watch yet comforting to know we were in this together.
Results from the tests came back with questions still unanswered so we went in for additional testing. As I left the vet for the third time and drove us back home, I started adding up the vet bills in my head. It suddenly occurred to me that the commission check I received the week prior was within $2 of the vet bills all combined. Isn’t that something? The money was all there, preparing me financially for this week.
I’m still in awe of how extremely blessed I am during such a challenging time. The biggest blessing of all? Niko’s swollen lymph nodes have significantly gone down today after experimenting with some antibiotics, which is very encouraging that this could just be an infection, not cancer (going against all odds of what the vet has witnessed in his profession).
Maybe we do have control on our blessings multiplying or maybe it’s merely being more aware of the things we should be thankful for. All I know is that I’m hugging my little family closer these days and am thankful for the time we have.
“Learning without reflection is a waste, reflection without learning is dangerous.” – Confucius
Self reflection hasn’t been as natural of a process as I thought it would be for me. I have kept a journal off and on throughout my life, however, in the past I only tended to journal when there was drama around me. Now that I’m in my 30s (and thankfully my relationships have matured), I’m discovering that it’s a challenge to find things to reflect about. Life is good; what is it exactly that I’m seeking?
I do believe that the simple daily exercises of practicing gratitude and jotting down basic insights is a good start, but there are days that I want to dig deeper.
Today, I stumbled upon a list of questions to prompt self reflection and wanted to share some of my favorites:
- What are my most important values?
- What does it mean to choose? To live proactively?
- Who am I at my best?
- Who am I at my worst?
- Who am I becoming?
- What am I avoiding or resisting?
- What would I do if I were ten times bolder?
- What am I most grateful for?
- What am I settling for?
- If I knew I would die a month from now, what would I do?
- What is my gift to give to the world?
Read the entire article here. (it’s a goodie!)
What about you? Are there specific questions or exercises that you practice in your self reflection time?
I recently read the book Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom and the chapter on Happiness really caught my attention. In short:
I knew depression was real, and in many cases required medical attention. I also knew we overused the word. Much of what we called “depression” was really dissatisfaction, a result of setting a bar impossibly high or expecting treasures that we weren’t willing to work for.
To these people, unhappiness was a condition, an intolerable state of affairs. If pills could help, pills were taken.
But pills were not going to change the fundamental problem in the construction. Wanting what you can’t have. Looking for self worth in the mirror.
What makes a man happy?
Be grateful. For what you have. For the love you receive. And for what God has given you.
Week 1 into self-reflection and I seem to be consistently (or inconsistently, if you will) hitting my goal of alone time every other day. I have found writing my thoughts keeps me focused and accountable rather than let my mind wander aimlessly. When I am lost on where to take my focus, I come back to what I’m thankful for that day and make a list:
gorgeous fall weather in KC
my beautiful, healthy, unconditionally loving pups
hubs, home today (and the entire week). no travels. hooray!
a yummy bottle of pinot noir, on sale
my skinny black pants still fit!
time to squeeze in a workout to continue to fit into those pants
sweet clients that make me laugh and my job enjoyable
pork chops and asparagus on the grill. dinner for two.
How blessed I am! What are you thankful for today?
When I realized that this post was my 100th blog post, I felt this need to make it special. Honestly, the only thing that has made my blogging experience special is having (gasp!) readers, so thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading my posts. Whether you read every single one, or only occasionally, you keep me accountable, encourage my creativity, and just plain old make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. A million thanks!
Thanksgiving is done but the gratitude continues. This week I’m thankful for:
- time with my family this week
- …and only 3 more weeks until we get together again!
- capturing special moments with little D on video
- Stevie Wonder Christmas Collection
- writing time last week with my inspiring friend, Colleen
- watching little D’s face when the Christmas tree was lit
- board games, in particular Apples to Apples and Quelf
- crunchy fall leaves
- Dudley’s amazing ability to catch cockroaches and take them outside
- the movie, Elf
- our neighborhood toads, still around to entertain us
- my Green Goodness smoothie from HEB, a few sips take away any guilt I had from indulging in delicious food
- having a friend who is also a photographer extraordinaire (Thanks, Emily, for the family photo shoot!)
- an inconvenient task-turned perfect solitary evening walk around the block
- time to do yoga
- getting to bed early and reading
- repetitive requests from little D, “mama, mama”
- Real Simple magazine
- momentary acceptance of my muffin top
- perspective, presence, awareness, breath
- little D giggles
- my husband- thank you for all the things you do for little D & me!