Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Gratitude Project #6--Driving through Roadblocks

We're all addicts. At least that's what Angeles Arrien says in Gratitude: The Essential Practice for Happiness and Fulfillment. Her theory is that four universal addictive behaviors prevent us from feeling gratitude:
  • The Need to Know--some of us really want to know what's going to happen, whether it's in our relationships, our work, or elsewhere. We like to control our outcome and we have trouble trusting that everything is going to be okay. Can you see how this works against gratitude? If we wait until we know everything to be grateful, we'll always be waiting. (I am sooo guilty of this.)
  • Fixation on what's not working instead of what is working--This one's self-explanatory. It's so easy to focus on the failing grade, the bad review, the stain on the carpet, etc. Gratitude requires us to focus on what's going right.
  • Perfection--A lot of us think that if we just work hard enough, we can achieve perfection. If you have this addiction, Angeles suggests you strive instead for excellence. Be grateful that you're doing your best.
  • Intensity--Some of us fear that our lives will become dull or boring. To compensate, we make mountains out of mole hills and dramatize the bad stuff. I'm only guilty of this one during one week of the month. ;-)
Learning about these four addictive behaviors really knocked the wind out of me. It makes sense that I won't be able to feel gratitude while I'm thinking in these ways and I spend quite a bit of time thinking in these ways. Knowledge is power, right?

I've loved immersing myself in gratitude this month. I have so much to be grateful for, and one is being able to write things that people read. Thanks for reading. What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gratitude Project #5--Ordinary Stuff

"Never forget how easy it is to forget.
I wish I could tell my younger self: Make a photo diary before you leave this place! You think you won’t forget, but you will! Instead of taking photos of unusual sights, take a photo of the most usual sights. In the future, you’ll be a lot more interested in seeing a photo of your dorm-room closet or your laundromat than seeing a photo of the Louvre."
—Gretchen Rubin

This week, I'm following Gretchen's advice and taking pictures of ordinary stuff. I don't know about you, but taking pictures always makes me feel more grateful.

Here are some pictures my husband took a long time ago of one of my kids who had a lot of trouble falling asleep. It used to frustrate me to have him fight sleep every single night. Now I think these pictures are funny, and I'm so glad my husband took pictures of ordinary, every day events.

Sleeping beside the bed

A boring book did the trick this time.

This time he chose to sleep in a box with his bum on the pillow
For more sleeping pictures, see this post.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Next Book

I've finished writing another book, and today I'm answering questions about it.

I was tagged by A.L. Sowards, author of Espionage. Here's her website , facebook page  and twitter (@ALSowards).

So about my current project:

1: What is the working title of your book?

Emma: A Latter-day Tale

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to write a book about a life coach who likes to play matchmaker.

3: What genre does your book fall under?

Romantic comedy with a smidgen of inspiration

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Whew, I hate these kinds of questions. My two male leads look Bob from The Biggest Loser and a younger version of Mel Gibson. The female lead looks kind of like the little cartoon girl from Brave only she's 23 and six feet tall. How's that for a realistic cast?

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Emma sets out to make the perfect match, her friend ends up with a burned behind instead of a new boyfriend; nevertheless, Emma doesn't give up, coaching her friend from one disaster to another until she makes the perfect match.

 6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I just heard that Cedar Fort will be publishing Emma. The release date is around August 2013.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A little over a year.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Books by Elodia Strain, Rachael Anderson, and Melanie Jacobson.

9: Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Jane Austen's Emma.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

My book pokes fun at country music since Emma's nemesis, Jena Farley, is a rising country music star. Don't worry, country music lovers, you won't be offended. Most of all, though, it's a book about learning to overcome perfectionism and learning to love yourself.

Here is a list of authors I've tagged to join the hop for week 22 on November 21st. It's totally up to them whether they participate though. I'm a really lazy tagger. I hope you’ll visit their blogs and learn more about their books. Maybe one of them will become your new favorite author!

1 Laurie L.C. Lewis
2 Misty Moncur
3 Mandi Ellsworth
4 Mandi Slack

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gratitude Project #4--Books about Gratitude

I always love to read Christmas stories in December. Why not read books about gratitude in November? Here are a few books that help me feel thankful:

Picture Books:

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig: This is a cute story by the author of Shrek.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Charles C. Mann and Paul Kennedy: This book contains photos of people from different countries who are standing in front of their homes with all their possessions. The differences are a good reminder for me of how rich I am compared to most people in the world.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. I love all books by Patricia Polacco. This one is about a teacher who made a difference for a young girl with dyslexia.

The Firefighter's Thanksgiving by Maribeth Boelts. This book is about some hard-working firefighters and how some kind citizens thanked them for their dedication.

Longer Fiction:
It's Only a Mountain: Dick and Rick Hoyt, Men of Iron by Sam Nall
(or watch videos about Team Hoyt on YouTube.com)--Dick Hoyt is famous for running the Boston Marathon while pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair. This is their story.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is one of my favorite classics. It's a great reminder of how we should all be grateful for our blessings.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This is a story of a Christian family in Holland who went to the German concentration camps for hiding Jews. Despite her unimaginable trials, Corrie fought to hold onto gratitude and forgiveness.

Do you have any books about gratitude or Thanksgiving to recommend?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Gratitude Project #3--Thank You Visit

Fifteen years ago, I woke up in an ambulance after a car accident. I was nine months pregnant with my second child and had suffered a concussion and a grand mal seizure. Without the help of EMTs, I doubt my son and I would be alive today.

Since I had a long recovery, I never took the time to thank the fire department and paramedics for rescuing me. It's always been in the back of my mind, but I had a bunch of excuses, like the fact that I didn't remember the paramedics' names. Today, my son and I headed down to the firestation near where we had the accident. We brought a thank-you note, a picture of our family, and a jug of orange juice. It felt good to finally say thanks, and I think it made the firefighters happy too.

 Vaughn E. Worthen, Ph.D suggests that a good way to express thanks is to make a gratitude visit: "Think about someone who has been kind or has done something for you whom you have never properly thanked. Consider, for example, parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, coaches, and employers. Write that person a gratitude letter, being specific about the details of the kindness toward you and how it affected you. If possible, deliver it in person, sharing the contents and expressing your appreciation. Tell the person how and what you are doing now. This approach will not only enhance your own feelings of gratitude but it will also encourage the people you visit to continue in beneficial service to others, knowing that the service is gratefully received."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gratitude Project #2--Creating a Positive Mood

Everyone wants to be happy and grateful, but some days it's not that easy. Even people who've achieved their highest goals can feel unhappy. (Just think of Elvis.) One key to living with gratitude is learning how to create a positive mood. In his book, Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins writes, "Emotion is created by motion . . . Even the most minute changes in our facial expressions or our gestures will shift the way that we're feeling in any moment."

I tried some of Tony's suggested actions, and they did make me feel happier. Here are a few:
  • Smile--Tony suggests smiling at yourself in a mirror for five minutes a day.
  • Laugh--Watch a funny movie or try to copy the way someone else laughs.
  • Skip--You'll feel silly, but it'll change your mood.
I've also created my own list of things that make me feel instantly happier. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Sing along with the radio
  • Dance
  • Run
  • Look at my kids' art
  • Read picture books
  • Decorate
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Write a Thank-You note
  • Do something kind for someone else
  • Plant some happy thoughts
What makes you feel happy?