Register 14, Please!

“There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” 

Angel Flonis Harefa

Patiently, I waited my turn making sure to stand at least six feet away from the woman in front of me.  I had stopped at the local supermarket to grab a few quick things but nowadays there is no such thing as quick.  I have no idea how many people were in line behind me but I would guess there were at least 10.  I must have been daydreaming hoping to be anyplace else but in a crowded supermarket when the employee monitoring the line called out to me, “Register 14, please.”

 I looked up shyly at the employee.  “I’m sorry.  Did you say 14?”

Turning to face her, I tried to picture her face.  Her voice sounded almost fleeting and surreal behind her white mask.  It is very difficult communicating these days but even more so for the hearing impaired.  Honestly, I never realized just how much I rely on reading lips until COVID-19.

She glanced at me momentarily and quickly turned her attention to the long line of registers.  “Yes, 14.” Still, unsure if she said 14 or 13, I decided to go with my gut and head over to register 14.  Once there, I noticed that register 13 was empty and there was someone ahead of me in 14.  I started to second guess myself and wondered again if I had misunderstood her.  My first thought was to just head into the empty aisle but something told me to stay put. 

After a few minutes, the customer ahead of me paid and left and I proceeded to put my things on the checkout counter.  The young woman working the register looked over at me quizzically.  Even though her face was covered, her kind eyes welcomed me.

“Do you have any coupons?”

“Oh, I’m sorry . . . what did you say?”

“Do you have any coupons? She repeated.

“No, I don’t.”

“Do you have anything at the bottom of your cart?”

“I’m sorry.  I’m hearing impaired. Did you ask if I have anything at the bottom of my cart?”

She gave me a quick nod affirmatively.

“No, nothing.  Thanks.”

She then proceeded to scan my items as I began to help her bag my items.

Raising her voice slightly so that I could hear her she noted, “My son is hearing impaired. So I understand.”

Looking up at her, I smiled beneath my mask.  “Oh, really?”  She went on to tell me that that he was seven year’s old and would be mainstreamed in the local public school.  I stopped bagging for a moment and gave her my full attention.

“That’s interesting because my mother fought for me to attend a Catholic school when I was the same age.  I was born with a disability known as cerebral palsy.”

Undeniable shock now peered through her brown eyes. “OMG, my son has cerebral palsy!”

“WOW!”

“I can’t tell that you have CP at all.  Can I ask what you do for a living?”

“Sure, I’m an author and motivational speaker.”

At that moment, I could see her eyes begin to water as an impatient customer now showed up in register 14 waiting for his turn.  I pretended not to notice his stares knowing the universe had put me in register 14 for a reason.

We chatted for a few more minutes and she finally said, “Thank you so much.  You never know the truth about someone just by looking at them.”

“You’re very welcome.  And, yes, that’s very true.  You will never know what someone is really going through.  But you can tell a lot about someone when you take the time to look through their eyes.  Or maybe I should say behind the masks.”

She gave me a slight chuckle as she handed me my receipt.  The early stages of tears still apparent in her eyes.

“Do me a favor and tell your son to always get back up, no matter what happens in life.”

She looked up at me—a tear now rolling down her face.  “Thank you.  Thank you so much.”

Somehow I knew she could see me smiling as I walked away from register 14.  I made my way towards the exit and into the parking lot feeling much lighter than I did when I walked in.  Life really does have a way of putting us in the right place at the right time.  For me, it was register 14.

Being Mindful in the Midst of the Coronavirus

The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another.”   Jack Kornfield

The world has literally been turned upside down.  As of today, there were 14,619,746 COVID-19 cases reported worldwide.  Currently, the number of deaths stands at over 608,000.  The past several months have drastically changed just about every aspect of our lives. Everything from the way we learn, work, travel, interact and even love.  In so many ways, it feels like we are grieving a life we once lived as we struggle to adapt to a new normal.

beachThe coronavirus has restructured our personal relationships in ways none of us could have ever even imagined.  Last week, I visited with a friend and her husband.  We hadn’t seen each other since the beginning of the pandemic and we welcomed the chance to catch up.  However, we sat outdoors, six feet apart and did not greet or hug each other.  To me, this was the hardest part.  It is really ironic how we are not allowed to hug each other during a time when we need human contact and affection the most.

During these uncertain and difficult times, however, it is perhaps more important than ever to remain mindful of the present moment and find ways to manage our fears and anxieties.  As Lao Tzu brilliantly said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past.  If you are anxious, you are living in the future.  If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

I know these stressful times don’t exactly feel peaceful.  But the truth is the only thing we can ever master or control is the present moment.  Most of us spend so much time either dwelling in memories or thinking of the future that the present moment takes a backseat.  But in reality, everything only really happens in the present moment and it is the only place to find calm amidst all the distress.

Easier said than done, I know. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about my husband’s job, our health insurance or the ability to continue to pay for the steep college tuition bills our daughters have handed us.  Of course, I’m worried like everyone else but I’m also grateful and mindful.   It is important to remember that happiness is not a place, it is a state of mind.  No matter what is going on in the world around us, we have control over our thoughts at all times. How we think matters.  How we respond matters.

Here are some “TCC” tips to help you stay in the moment:

  1. Take a Step Back:

Stop, breathe and take some time to focus on the NOW.  I mean really take note of the moment.  How do you feel?  What do you see?  What do you smell? What are you thinking?  Notice the colors around you.  Take a moment to pause and be still.  Focus on right now.

  1. Count Your Blessings:

Make a mental note of a few things you have to be grateful for.  No matter what is going on, there is always something to be grateful for.  Gratitude won’t change what is going on in the world right now but it will change the way we look at the world.  In many ways, it is gratitude that helps us to see the roses and ignore the thorns.

  1. Choose Your View:

Our state of mind.  Our happiness.  Our choice.  What we see depends on what we choose to look for.  As we look back over the heartbreak dealt to us by this pandemic, let us remember how far we have all come.  We have faced unprecedented challenges but we’ve also witnessed unimaginable strength.

An American professor named Jon Kabat-Zinn wisely said, “The little things? The little moments?  They aren’t little.”  He’s so right; they aren’t.  It is in those little moments that we will find our greatest strengths.

Find Your Own Beauty

It’s not the face, but the expressions on it. It’s not the voice, but what you say. It’s not how you look in that body, but the thing you do with it. You are beautiful.     

Stephenie Meyer

My Godmother Lucy would always tell me how special I was.  She would tell me that God had a special place in heaven for people like me. I never really thought much about this when I was little.  I didn’t feel special in any sense of the word.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

As many of you already know, I was born with a disability known as cerebral palsy.  Growing up, I did not like that little girl with kinky, curly hair and leg braces looking back at me in the mirror.  I did not want to be her.  I wanted to be someone else.  I wanted to be “normal.”  I wanted someone to make my life all better.  I wanted someone to make me feel beautiful, happy and accepted.

But eventually I realized that this someone was never going to come into my life.  I came to understand that the only person that could make me happy was ME.  And I certainly didn’t have to go anywhere to find happiness because I already had everything I needed.  Happiness is all about what’s within us, not about our life circumstances and what’s going on outside.

Likewise, true beauty is not about what you see when you look in the mirror.  The difference between those who are happy and those who are not has a lot to do with not what they see but how they feel.  True beauty is not about those curves but more about the love in your heart, compassion in your eyes and the smile on your face.

Recently, I came across a quote on Facebook which read, “I’m not beautiful like you; I’m beautiful like me.”* These wise words really struck a chord in me. In short, you define your own beauty.  Honestly, you can find beauty in everything if you truly take the time to look for it.  And when you do, you’ll be more willing to accept and appreciate what you see in the mirror.

I’ll be the first to admit that changing your mindset and how you feel about yourself is not always easy.  That little girl with kinky hair that I once saw in the mirror looks a lot different these days.  She’s older and wiser and her once smooth skin is now sagging and showing signs of aging.

But those winkles represent the love I’ve both given and lost, the pain I’ve endured and the many joys my heart has had the pleasure to experience—lessons learned throughout my life.  If I had the chance, there are things I definitely would have done differently but this is my life and these are my lessons.  Looking back, I appreciate and treasure every single one.

Sometimes we all just need a little reminder to find our own beauty.  Consider this yours.  You are beautiful; you are enough.

*Lyrics from “Beautiful” by Joy Drop

The Different Shades of Control in Relationships

“I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.” Lucille Ball

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Abusive and controlling behavior in relationships comes in all shapes and sizes.  A commonly held definition of abuse is a “pattern of behavior in which one partner seeks to gain or maintain power and control over the other.”  Although most people instinctively think of physical abuse, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuse can be just as harmful if not more.

As the definition above implies, this abuse involves trying to control or manipulate the other person.  Often this behavior is driven by those who exhibit narcissistic tendencies.  It’s important to note that these relationships need not be romantic and show up in all facets of our lives—friends, co-workers, family members.

Often times, the abusers tend to have a grandiose and inflated image of themselves in order to protect the shame or insecurity they are actually feeling on the inside.   In order to deal with these insecurities, they are quick to judge and challenge while attempting to control and even belittle the other person.

There are several “red flags” to look out for and many of these signs can be subtle and elusive.

  1. Attention Grabbing: No relationship should demand too much of your attention or time.  An example, may be getting upset if you don’t answer their call or text message right away.  Also, spending excessive time together is not healthy.
  2. Jealousy: Although some may think of this as normal, jealousy is just another form of a controlling behavior.  There is no need to be jealous when there is complete trust involved. Jealousy equals insecurity.
  3. Gaslighting: According to Wikipedia, gaslighting is a form of manipulation which involves covertly planting seeds of doubt in another person. For example, they deny things ever happened causing you to second-guess yourself and feel confused.  They’ll tell you that you are overreacting and are oversensitive.
  4. Shifting Blame: When confronted, they will often attempt to shift the blame to someone else.
  5. Isolating: A relationship should never keep you away from another relationship. Those who are controlling will attempt to gradually isolate you from your family and friends.  A healthy relationship whether platonic or romantic is inclusive, not excluding.
  6. Snooping:  Have you ever been in a relationship where a friend or partner reads your text messages or even answers your messages for you?  This screams insecurity as well as control.  Of course, it’s different when you ask someone to check your phone.

For obvious reasons, those who are arrogant and controlling often look for partners who are submissive and lack self-esteem. No relationship should ever make you feel unworthy or inferior for any reason.  And, as a general rule, you should never give someone permission to change who you are.

Being free to be yourself and having time to yourself is an essential part of every relationship.  Never allow someone else to speak your mind or be your voice.  As Eleanor Roosevelt brilliantly said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

SEEDS REPLANTED

Photo by Jude Beck

Never forget the world at this moment

Take nothing for granted ever again

Let your hearts be not silent

As the memories of these days remain

 

As we get through this

Remember only what truly counts

Family, friends, a handshake, a hug, a kiss

Precious gifts, may we recount

 

Life’s many pleasures

Dinner, shopping, dancing . . .

Appreciate all those simple treasures

Love and romancing

 

Once taken for granted

Now gone in an instant

The seeds seemingly unplanted

Now so precious, yet distant

 

A walk on the beach

On a warm summer day

Once within reach

Now all kept at bay

 

We shall rise

Stronger than ever before

Amidst the uncertainty and cries

Footprints left upon the shore

Seeds replanted

A testament to all that we adore

Love is the Bridge

“I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.”
Roy Croft

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  Everyone knows the words to this now infamous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’m sure we’ll be hearing them a lot more.

liabrooklynbridge

My beautiful daughter Lia Varga on the Brooklyn Bridge/Photo by Larry Yu

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the expressions of love and gratitude.  My husband still makes my heart skip a beat when he walks in carrying a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses and my ears will never tire of hearing the words, I love you.  While my arms will be forever grateful for his embrace, however, I expect and want these expressions of love every day of the year.

Valentine’s Day has long been recognized as a day when we can show our appreciation and express our love.  Many believe this is best shown through big gestures like expensive jewelry and romantic getaways.  However, several studies have continually shown that the small, repeated gestures are what matter most.  Not surprisingly, researchers also found that people prefer behavioral actions over verbal expressions.

As I often say, words are cheap if your actions don’t follow suit.  The small little things we do are what help us to feel loved and appreciated every day and this applies to both romantic and platonic relationships.  It’s important to feel loved, wanted, and needed by all the significant others in your life.  Those little gestures that say, Hey, I’m here for you, I care about you or I still love you, are important to any relationship because they keep the bond of love going.

Recently, I went out to dinner with one of my closest friends, Karen.  We have been friends since high school (Yes, a very long time!).  Over dinner, we were talking about our high school years and I recounted how she bought me a new pair of sneakers with her very first paycheck.  Karen looked over at me and laughed asking, “How do you remember these things?”

At the time, I only smiled at her in response.  The truth is, though, I remember because those little gestures and those beautiful moments have left footprints on my memory.  I remember because each gesture, each memory has left an imprint on my heart.  And when the day comes for me to leave this Earth, there they will forever remain.

Naomi Judd’s career came to an abrupt end in 1991 after she announced she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.  The announcement was made in the midst of their Love Can Build a Bridge Tour at a time when the Judds were at the high point of their career.  Thankfully, she is now doing well and has since resumed some concert tours with her daughter Wynonna.

“Love Can Build a Bridge,” written as a heartfelt farewell song to her fans, won Naomi an Emmy.  Speaking of her mother, Wynonna said, “This next song represents the 10 years I spent on the bus with my queen.  Those were some of the best years of my life; I just didn’t know it back then.  But looking back, I now realize more than ever that the history we made together was a true miracle.”

(Wynonna Judd singing “Love Can Build a Bridge”)

Beautifully said, Wynonna.  I, too, have a fond memory with my mother on the bus.  My mother took the day off from work to accompany me on a school trip to the Bronx Zoo when I was in first grade.  I can still remember how proud I was to be sitting next to her as she sat holding my hand.  Like you, I was too young to realize just how precious those moments truly are.

Love cannot only build a bridge.  Love is the bridge.

 

 

Three Things I Wish I Knew a Year Ago

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

― T.S. Eliot

new-years-day-4157632_1280 (2)Nothing will teach you more than the book of life.  As I reflect over the past year and look forward to 2020, I am reminded of some hard lessons I wish I had taken more seriously a year ago.

  1. Nothing will change you like pain will.

In April I was walking to my car and ended up tripping over a crack in the broken sidewalk. Putting out my right arm to brace my fall, I had gotten away with a cut on my knee and a scrap on my right hand.  As I drove home, my arm and shoulder grew increasingly painful.  I didn’t think much of it, though, and simply iced it.  After about two weeks, the pain seemingly went away.

The following month I was making a U-turn in a tight driveway and felt a snap in my right shoulder followed by piercing pain.  After about an hour, the pain subsided so I assumed I had just pulled a muscle.  Since that day, my shoulder would continue to hurt every time I moved in a certain way. Then in August, I woke up in such excruciating pain that I was rushed to urgent care.

To make a very long story short, I was misdiagnosed by two doctors and spent two months in physical therapy before going to another shoulder specialist who found a huge calcium growth in my rotator cuff tendon.  I had surgery on November 21, I’m still recovering and now have what is known as frozen shoulder. I have not felt so much pain in a long time and the experience has certainly put me behind on my work.

2019 definitely dealt me some rough cards but I was also reminded time and time again not to ever take things for granted.  To put things in perspective, I could not even brush my hair for several weeks and I needed help just pouring myself a cup of coffee.  Nothing will teach you to appreciate the simple things in life then not being able to do the simple things anymore.

Lesson learned:  Appreciate. Appreciate. Appreciate!

  1. Make moments; cherish the memories.

Let’s face it.  Life can be hard.  Sometimes we spend so much time working and getting through the daily grind that we forget to make time for the things that matter most.  In July, I lost a beautiful friend to cancer.  Rosemary was a renowned author and afterlife researcher and we became fast friends.  We talked about all the things we wanted to do together that never happened.

Looking back, I wish I didn’t put things on hold.  We all think that we’ll have tomorrow but tomorrow may never come. Part of the problem is that we often associate who we are with what we do.  Our work becomes our identity and it becomes increasingly difficult to separate a rewarding career from a fulfilling life.

You are not your work.  Yes, what we do for a living is part of our identity but it is not our identity entirely.

Lesson learned: Make more time. Make more moments.

  1. Put yourself first. Be honest.

This one is a difficult one for me to admit but nonetheless very true.  I spend so much time trying to be there for everyone else that I often neglect myself.  Time and again I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.  Recently, I read a quote by Penny Reid which said, “Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm.”  Well said, Penny.

Putting yourself first and foremost also means being honest with yourself.  It’s not easy to admit that you actually are setting yourself on fire at the expense of others.  Take a good look at your life and the people in it.  What do you see?  Part of being honest and putting yourself first also means taking responsibility. Don’t play the blame game. You are where you are now because of every decision—right or wrong—you made in the past.  Own up to your mistakes and move on.

Lesson learned:  Make yourself a priority.

Last year’s mistakes are this year’s lessons.  May we learn, discover and treasure the moments.

CHANGE IS NOT EASY, BUT NECESSARY

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus wisely said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Just look around you—nothing stays the same; even the human body is in a constant state of flux as it replaces dying cells in the body.

ross-findon-303091-unsplash (1)We all know change is inevitable but that doesn’t make it easy.  In fact some of us down right hate change and do everything possible to resist it and keep the status quo.  It’s much easier to do things out of habit anyway.  It’s much easier to do what’s familiar. Change means uncertainty and treading in unfamiliar territory.  Doing things the same or out of habit means control.  Daily routines make things easier. We do these routines without even having to think about them.  Changing the way we do anything requires effort, time and the willingness to overcome the fear of the unknown.

That is huge hurdle for some to get past but it’s also the only way to continued growth and learning.  The late Dr. Leo Buscaglia, a well-known author, teacher and lecturer, said that change was the end result of true learning.  He believed only through change could we learn and experience real growth. “As experienced human beings we must certainly believe in one more thing than anything else—we believe in change,” he wrote.  He went on to explain that if we don’t like where we are, we can always create a new scene.

Stepping into this new scene may no doubt be scary but it’s sometimes the only pathway to realizing new relationships, taking advantage of wonderful opportunities and truly feeling self-fulfilled and happy.

Looking back over my own life, I’ve made countless changes.  I’ve realized over the years that although some were not the right decisions to be made, all were purposeful.  In other words, I’ve learned from my decisions; I’ve learned from those changes.  Whether or not it was the right decision for me did not matter.  None were without lessons to be learned.

I was once working for a nonprofit association as Director of Communication and Editor.  My job afforded me the opportunity to travel and meet wonderful people.  I also loved the people that I worked with.  It was my safety net away from home.  Although I felt safe and secure, I felt like I needed to make a very difficult change.

This change allowed me to work independently as a communications consultant and eventually gave me the chance to realize a dream and publish my first book.  I went on to have two beautiful daughters and today I’m working on my seventh title.

I’ve sometimes wondered what my life would be like today had I not taken the leap of faith and stepped out of my comfort zone.  Sure, it would have been easy to stay in a job I loved and was comfortable doing.  But I also know that I would have missed out on so many priceless opportunities; I would have missed out on so many beautiful memories. None would have been possible without my embracing change.

You can’t get where you want to go, however, unless you have a clear view of where you are going.

Our habits and everything we do on a daily basis literally change the very makeup of our brains.  The brain is very habit driven and truthfully doesn’t care whether something is good or bad for you.  It only wants to make the neural networks we use all the time stronger so that the brain can function more efficiently.  But you do know what’s good for you.  You do know what’s bad for you.  Only you can know what changes are necessary in your life and only you can put those changes in motion.

WHAT DOES “HAPPY” MEAN TO YOU?

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” Denis Waitley

Over the past few weeks, I’ve wished many of my family and friends a Happy New Year!  Who wouldn’t want happiness in 2019, right?  The question is, however, what does “happy” mean to you?happywoman

My daughter Erica is a student at the University of Maryland.  Last semester she took a course in Positive Psychology which involved weekly exercises.  She would text me questions like, “Mom, what would make you happy today or what are you most grateful for?  She would ask me to meditate on a positive thought and report back on how I felt afterwards.

My husband and younger daughter also took part in these happiness exercises.  While I did find them helpful, I was also reminded that the definition of happiness is not exactly universal.  Sure, if you look the word happiness up in the dictionary, you’ll find things like a state of well-being and good fortune or a pleasurable experience.  However, my definition of a state of well-being may not align with your own.

So, I ask again, what does being happy mean to you?  Asking yourself this question forces you to take the time to focus on what’s important to you.  And your answers will change depending on what’s going on in your life.  As an example, my oldest hasn’t been feeling well over the past few months.  She recently had several tests done and will now be visiting with a specialist.

If you ask me what happiness means to me right now as I sit here typing this blog, it’s knowing that my daughter is going to be OK.  Of course, I’ve always wanted my children to be healthy and well but it is of even more importance to me now.  Knowing that my children are happy and well provided for gives me immeasurable  inner peace.  So, again, the definition of happiness is not exactly universal.  What makes me happy may not have any effect on your happiness level whatsoever and that’s perfectly alright.  The key is to know what you want and what’s most important to you.  What is it that will bring out positive feelings and emotions?

But as you do some soul searching in 2019, keep in mind that being happy does not mean the absence of negative emotions.  We all go through periods of fear, stress or sadness, for example.  And if we allow it, those negatives will eventually take over.  Using myself as an example, of course, I’ve been concerned about my daughter.  However, at the same time, I know I have so much to be grateful for in my life.  The love that I feel for my family and friends fosters feelings of joy and gratitude. No matter what the circumstances in our lives, there is always something to be grateful for.  You need only to take the time to look for it.  And when you look, you’ll find it within.

Why?  Here are a few tips to remember:

  1. Happiness is A CHOICE. Be mindful of your choices.
  2. Happiness is about GRATITUDE. Focus on what you do have and not what you don’t have.
  3. Happiness CAN’T BE BOUGHT. Material things bring us pleasure, not happiness.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.”  The key to her wise response is that she describes happiness as a feeling, not a thing.  A feeling that can only come from taking a deep look within.

Wishing you a very Happy 2019!

Stop and Notice

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

Gratitude is the state of thankfulness.  It means counting your blessings and appreciating the simple things.  Appreciating the good in life, however, can’t happen without first allowing yourself the time to stop and notice them.

thank-you-362164_1280 (2)On Thanksgiving Day, I gathered with my family at my brother’s house.  At the start of the meal, my sister in-law suggested that we try a gratitude exercise.  Each person at the table was asked to reflect and mention something they were thankful for.  The various responses around the table generated both laughs and happy tears.

My oldest daughter Erica is a first-year student at the University of Maryland.  Missing her over the past three months made me truly appreciate her presence at the table.  When it was her turn, Erica, too, mentioned how much she missed us and how happy she was to be back home with her family.   When it was my daughter Lia’s turn to speak, she made many of us cry with her wise, touching words.  Lia will be graduating from high school in June and will join her sister as a college student next year.

“I just want to say thank you,” she said.  “So many of my friends keep saying they want to go far away to college.  Many of them want to go as far as California.  But I don’t want to go too far away.  I want to be able to come home and it’s because of all the people in this room.  Thank you for making me not want to go far away.”

It was certainly a proud moment for me.  Many beautiful things were said as we made our way around the table that day.  Doing this exercise forced us to stop and be mindful of the present moment while expressing our thanks for something in our life.  This is not to say that we didn’t have bad things going on.  We all do.

On average, people experience more positive than negative.  Yet, unfortunately, it’s the negative that gets more attention.  Why?  Simply put our brains are developed to react more strongly to negative stimuli rather than positive ones.  Scientists report that this is the brain’s automatic response in order to keep us out of harm’s way. The brain’s heightened sensitivity to focus on the bad is automatic and therefore concentrating on the positive requires more conscious effort.

Fortunately, it’s an effort well worth making. There are, of course, countless benefits to positive thinking.  Just to name a few, positivity strengthens the body’s immune system, reduces stress, improves relationships, and increases our overall well-being and happiness.

As we made our way around the table on Thanksgiving, we were all dealing with ups and downs, good and bad.  But for that single moment we took the time to stop and savor the positive.  In that instant, we made a conscious choice to appreciate life’s many blessings.

Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the holiday season.  For some “Tis the season to be jolly” but for others it’s the start of stressful times and financial worries. While some things are beyond are control, we are always in total control of our thoughts. It’s a choice that we make in any given moment.

As Roy T. Bennett once said, “Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.”

Thank you.