Attitude of Gratitude–Day 15–No Mud, No Lotus

It’s the worst days that make this gratitude practice the best.

You know, the days when you run your story of victimization and self-denigration over and over until you embolden your emotions and convince yourself of their truth? Yeah, those days. Today was that kind of day for me.

For a moment (or two..) I allowed myself to be overcome with frustration, to feel bad for myself and play the victim. A person can do this for a long time…hence the reason there is so much conflict in our world. However, I refuse to let my ego get the best of me by ruining my day with patterns of habitual negativity.

I knew that today, no matter what, I had to find something to be thankful for. I’ve committed to this practice, and so even on the toughest of days, I give thanks.

Today, in the midst of a very frustrating moment at work, I saw some payoff  from my gratitude practice. It was like a little reminder clicked in to tell me that out of the mud, a beautiful lotus could bloom — if I asked it to, of course.

And so this is what happened:

I took a breath.

I acknowledged my anger.

I went for a walk.

I had a quick cry.

And I then I asked what I could be grateful for.

It was then that I saw the support of my friends, my team, my boss. I saw the opportunity for me to practice patience and listening and communication. I saw how I would do things differently in the future. And I saw an opportunity to grow as both a manager and a human being.

So today I am grateful for the benefits of this practice and to be developing a reflex for gratitude. Gratitude always shows me that I am the one in control of my well-being. If I want to change something from negative to positive, all I need to do is accept my present state, honor it, give thanks and see the light.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 14–Wine Down Wednesday

Every Wednesday for a year, I have celebrated Hump Day over a bottle of Malbec with the girls that I work with. It is our sacred ritual. Today I am grateful for our Wine Down Wednesday tradition, because it allows us to catch up on each other’s lives and laugh about anything ridiculous that has happened that week. It’s good for the heart and even better for the soul.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 13–A Good Meal

Today was one of those days at work where I logged a solid 12-13 hours. Typically when I pull a long day like this, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook a meal for myself. Usually I’d be way too tired to motivate myself and end up eating a bowl of Fage greek yogurt, a spoonful of peanut butter and some granola and call it good. But because one of my colleagues is here visiting from Boston, I was motivated to whip up a meal for us so we could sit and chat over a bite to eat and a beer.

Today I am grateful for her company, her perspective and the hearty meal that brought us together around my dinner table. Sharing a meal with someone is a very personal experience, especially if it is one you’ve cooked yourselves. I appreciate the opportunity for connection that cooking a meal with someone invites. Moreover, I appreciate the blessing of a full stomach–something that should never be taken for granted.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 12–Worker Bees

Today I am most grateful to the worker bees of my company. Those who take on the night shifts and hold the emergency phone over the weekend. To those who professionally handle the most grueling customer service phone calls or go into homes to conduct a mediation. They are the the life blood of the company, and, along with proper management, are a powerful force for change, success and growth,

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 12–Skype

One of the many marvels of our technological age is the ability to connect with people on an instant’s notice. Whether it’s by text message or whatsapp, Facebook or Instagram, I have the ability to remain connected and follow the daily happenings of the lives of the people I care about most.

And while it might seem unnecessary that I should know what someone ate for breakfast or how “good” they look in a selfie, I find that the internet helps me maintain and balance my relationships. Inevitably Facebook or Instagram will remind me that it’s been way too long since I’ve talked to so-and-so and it’s time for me to reach out via Skype, phone call or text message for a check in.

I’ve always been good about keeping in contact with friends, and it’s something I am quite proud of. Though I have friends in every corner of the globe, Skype and Whatsapp have permitted me to stay close with those who are so far.

Today I am grateful for Skype, but moreover, I am grateful for the conversation that it facilitated. I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with one of my soul friends, Nicola, today.

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Nicola and I walked the Camino de Santiago together at the same time during the summer of 2013. We started on the same date and crossed paths many times. We had mutual pilgrim friends, but never got the chance to really get to know each other until we both hit our stride towards the end of the walk. We finished our camino, walking (well, I was limping) into Santiago together. Our connection was so deep, so real, so pure. I was devastated to say goodbye to her, but knew that she would be a part of my life for ever.

Today as we talked via Skype it was apparent that our connection had not faded with the passing of a year and a half. We are the kind of friends that when we talk, the passing of time doesn’t matter. Whether it’s been a week or 4 months since the last chat, we always pick up where we left off. When we do catch up we talk for hours about our lives. We share our triumphs and our trials and we give each other advice. We understand each other’s needs because we are very similar, and we are able to use our coaching skills to help reframe each other’s challenges in a way that is meaningful for each of us.

Gratitude hardly expresses how I feel today for this conversation. Being able to reconnect with such a strong, independent, thoughtful, beautiful and aware human being is food for my soul. So thank you so much Nicola for the lovely conversation, and thank you Skype for bringing Australia into my living room!

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 11–Conversations

This past week has officially been a week of restaurants for me. Too lazy to go to the grocery store and restock my fridge, I have taken the habit of eating out by myself a few meals a week out. Yesterday was one such day.

Around 7pm I decided to venture out for food and found myself at a local watering hole that I frequent. I took my seat at the bar and asked for a menu. An older couple came up and asked if the stools beside me were taken. Being that I was alone, I shook my head and invited them to sit.

I had started my meal with the expectation that I would eat and leave, but I ended up in a 2-hour long conversation talking about everything for prison reform to Islamic feminism to our broken education system. The husband, a captain at a correctional facility, sat directly next to me and his wife, a real estate agent, on the other side of him. He was kind and would listen adding his opinion sparingly. His wife was outspoken and conservative. We disagreed on many things, but our conversation was diplomatic and lively.

Leaving the restaurant with each of their business cards in my hand I felt a sense of gratitude for being able to connect and discuss some really fascinating topics with two absolute strangers. It was an unexpected conversation and it totally made the solitary experience of dining alone not so solitary at all.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 10– #ThinkingThoughts

Last weekend a friend of mine explained how much he relished long car rides because they give him so much time to think about things. He explained he likes to pick a subject and take it as far as he can go by asking questions, hypothesizing answers, and usually generating some more questions.

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And so I tried it and I learned something really interesting about myself.

I learned that I always think about the same few things. Notably spirituality, travel and work or some variant of the three. It was actually hard for me to come up with a topic that I wouldn’t try to relate back to one of those three subjects and I was a little disappointed when I realized that my life could be summed up in three hashtags. But it was a cool exercise for my brain to see how far I could expand my perception of the world around me, and it furthered my belief that I am the sum of all of my experiences. I will naturally continue to view life through a series of a few different lenses, and project them outwardly onto the people and places I come into contact with… because that is comfortable.

But it also raises the question, what happens when I try to think about things I can’t relate to? Video games for example.  I can’t relate to them in the slightest. So if I can’t relate to something, how am I supposed to perceive it? If I can’t force one of my lenses to comprehend video games and what they mean to me, does that make video games bad or void of meaning? I would probably cast a negative judgement on video games, but is it because I am trying to understand something that to me is incomprehensible? So this brings me to judgment, a  negatively charged thought resulting from the discomfort of the unknown, different, or confusing.

[Insert thought about applying this theory to identity, race, religion, sexuality, politics etc. here].

So anyway, you get it. This is how the game goes–you take a topic and run with it and see where it brings you. This one brought me to judgment, which I could have taken in many different directions, but I would at some point inevitably try to relate back to one of my favorite topics. However, I’m going to stop there and just say thanks for the good think.

I am grateful to this new practice. I think it will be highly beneficial for me to break down and analyze some of my patterns, try something a little uncomfortable and see how long it takes me to eventually come back around to what is familiar. Hopefully when I do come full circle I’ll have some fresh perspective or at least a few new unanswered questions to ponder for the next think session.

Happy Friday, friends!

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 9–The Beat

In the middle of this cold winter, New York City’s concrete streets insulate the cold and the tall building make a tunnel for the wind to whip through. Keeping warm and keeping your spirits high are crucial to surviving a New York winter.

How are you supposed to do that? Dance.

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Today I took a West African dance class at the Alvin Ailey Extension studio on 55th St. West African is one of my favorite forms of dance because the movements are so earthy, so grounded, so energetic. The dancer and the drums work together to paint a beautiful story through movement. The dancer stays low to the ground, heaving their chest up and down, bobbing their head back and forth, swinging their arms wide and drawing them back inward. The drums call to the dancer, letting them know it’s time to change their repetition, to move on to the next step driving forth the dance from beginning to end and allowing for fellow dancers to move alongside them in tandem,

Today I am grateful that I got to shake it like a polaroid picture. When I dance my spirit comes into alignment, I ground myself and allow for a smile to stretch from ear to ear as I move to the beat of the drums. What more could I ask for?

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 8–Opportunities

I caught the travel bug when I was 15 years old on my first international jaunt to Geneva, Switzerland. The experience was so exhilarating and magical that I vowed to myself I would make it my priority to appreciate the far flung corners of this beautiful earth as much as I possibly could. Since that trip I have managed to touch my feet on the soil of 16 different countries and 4 continents, and have called two of these countries my ” home away from home.”

Traveling provides priceless growth opportunities. Opportunities to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, meet new people, learn a new language, eat different foods and invites time for self-reflection.

When I chose to study International Relations in college it all boiled down to that feeling I felt the first I traveled–the exhilaration, curiosity, confusion, magic. Those who study the workings of the world can attest that the reason is due to a genuine desire to call it our home. We want to make it accessible. We want to break down the barriers of language, culture and geography. We want to impact the world and leave our marks on it.

And so when I would get the question, what do you want to do with your studies? my answer my answer was pretty generic. “I would like to find a job that would allow for me to travel.” (Unless I was talking to my dad..then, of course, it was because I wanted to be some high profile diplomat, yielding immunity to traffic tickets and paying off my student debt…)

Today, as I booked my first international work trip to Poland, I thought to myself, “ya done good, kid!” Not only am I doing a job that is fulfilling my need to learn and grow, but I get to travel too!

So today I am grateful for the feelings of excitement I get when I start to plan a new voyage. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel and explore a new part of the world, to my company, Education First Cultural Care Au Pair, for encouraging it, and I’m grateful for all the roads that lead me to my home.

“May your trails be crooked and dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 7–Dream Team

Today I will be brief. Not due to a lack of time, due to a lack of words. I do not think there are possibly enough to describe how lucky I am to work with such an amazing group of women. Today I am most grateful to my team… my posse…my clique. I am grateful for their creative ideas, their support, their humor and most of all their commitment.

I have learned so much from them this past year, and I continue to learn from them each and every day.

We push each other. Why? Because we’re pushers.We push people.

Brittany has taught me how to be calm in the midst of chaos. Kristin has taught me to ask questions until the answer becomes clear. Maura has taught me care for the whole being.

Today I am grateful for my dream team of pushers and the lasting impact we are having on our au pairs and the future of the Training School.

Where ma dawgz at?

WOof!

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