An Attitude of Gratitude

(Note: Originally posted typo “Gratitudeo”.)

“What are you thankful for?”, a friend asked. I answered with this: “The list is long, my brother. I start the day with the simple stuff, simple prayer of thanks for my health, food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over my head, the same for my family, thankful for my wife, for my kids, for the job I have to provide…and on from there.

Each thing really, as often as I can: for hot coffee, that turn signal that changed in my favor, and on and on…you get the idea.”

That all may sound silly, trite, intentionally simple. Maybe. The last characterization is true for sure: being grateful is simple; putting gratitude high up on your priority list is easy. As the old Nike motto goes, “Just do it.”

Here’s another: “Life is short. Pray hard.” Be thankful. GOOD.

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The Paschal Mystery

Two weeks on, the inspiration continues.

And she said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

What does it mean?

I come back around to these questions every year, reflecting anew.

It’s not only for a day, or a weekend, not just a holiday. It’s to mark a new beginning, a fresh start, with any luck. It’s a time to reset, on the path forward for a better life each day.

Francis puts it this way (via Twitter, no less!):

“As we contemplate Christ’s empty tomb, let us renew our belief that nothing is lost with Him!” The inspiration is simple, in my view. Simple questions, not to answer outright, but to prompt further contemplation. Throughout the season, throughout the year, asking and acting on simple purpose. To be better, to follow what he taught the world, what he meant for humanity.

How can we make small changes to be a better person?

How did it happen? How does it happen?

What were the core lessons he taught? What happens next?

What can we learn not only from him, but from insights shared about the people around him, his friends, those who followed him.

One word: ALLELUIA.

#EasterSeason #Easter2018 #HeIsRisen #Jesus #halffull

Hospital Meditation, #4

“Lessons Learned in 3205: Long-term Effect, Post-Crisis, Discharge, Home”

Eventually most every crisis subsides.

Eventually there’s a return to whatever normalcy is.

And then the question is, how to proceed? If there’s residual effect from the crisis — and there often is — what adjustments are needed on the day-to-day to accommodate the new normal?

And what about the old normal? Laundry, dishes, dogs, groceries, garbage, bills, taxes, whatever your employ might be…

We need to get back into the regular life groove and integrate the new and the old facets of life that are now the new reality.  Life has to get back to normal, but there’s also residual, new demands from the crisis that has just passed.  In my son’s case, it’s medications to continue taking, doctor appointments, time at home to continue healing.  He needs help with all that.

Transition.  It’s a big, BIG life skill, and we have to do it all the time to be successful in life. We transition all the time.  Every day.  Often multiple times a day.  Sometimes transitions are planned.  Sometimes they are not.  Develop that skill and you will be better off.

It takes effort. It takes some thought. It doesn’t happen automatically. It won’t happen unless you make it happen.  It’s like any other learning we do, the application of the new skills, insight, resolve…that’s where the proverbial rubber hits the road.

You’ve got to consider whatever the new dynamics from the crisis are that apply to your life now (if there are any), consider the old paradigm and demands from and on your day-to-day, week-to-week, etc., INTEGRATE the skills, and go forward.

“How do we do that?” you might ask…

Well my two cents, you’ve got to apply the time-tested strategies of mindfulness, and being present, settle yourself, and FOCUS.

You’ve got to bring the lessons you’ve just learned, and the resolve to see the crisis through (if you’re still breathing, you made it!), and lean-in to life once again.

Take a deep breath.  Maybe several, and EXECUTE.

It’s up to you to make it good.

[Sidebar:  As you may have guessed, a lot of the blog posts I write are based on personal experience; at least the inspiration for the piece comes from those experiences.  The past four “Meditation” posts, including this one, are most certainly taken from the recent situation with my son.  The insights are worth remembering for me alone; and maybe too, they’re far bigger, and worth sharing.  I hope you agree.]

Hospital Meditation, #3

“Crisis Illness Stresses Everyone Out.”

There’s little doubt that intense situations can cause heightened stress. The heartbeat quickens, the breath becomes more shallow, the brow furrows, the focus sharpens. Adrenalin pumps through our system, firing the inner engine to respond to the matter at hand.

It’s one thing to be able to directly action whatever is needed to deal with a crisis. When it involves a health issue, the variables can increase considerably. If the health situation involves a loved one, especially a child, that raises the stakes even higher.

There are fears that may surface based on the severity of the illness or injury. There are likely a lot of people involved in the health care being given, lots of personalities to deal with. There’s a whole new vocabulary to learn, trying to understand conditions and treatment options; there’s lots to remember too.

Schedule, sleep, diet, and routine overall may be negatively effected for people involved. Often tempers are short, patience at a premium. People say things they may wish they hadn’t.

It can be really hard for everyone involved as the situation plays out.

There are certain strategies that can be employed if you want to respond in the best possible way when a health crisis arises. Really, I think these strategies apply to most every crisis situation we might face.

1/ Recognize the situation for what it is. Accept reality, adjust your mindset, harden your resolve and focus.

2/ Put your ego aside; it’s only going to get in the way. [Good advice for most any emotional instance, actually.]

3/ First things first. Gather information. Understand the situation as best you can. Make decisions based on information not emotion.

4/ Remain compassionate. Reassure those around you as needed, as the opportunity presents itself.

5/ Be willing to adapt further and change the path if new information warrants it.

6/ Focus on what you can do to assist the situation. Offer to help.

7/ Persevere. Realize you have what it takes to make it through the crisis. More than that, you be part of a solution that makes the situation better.

There’s no doubt that crisis is stressful. But how we respond to crisis is our choice.

As the knight protecting the Holy Grail said to Indiana Jones, “Choose wisely.”

Hospital Meditation, #2

“With My Boy…”

So our five-year old son was admitted to the hospital pediatric unit on Monday afternoon. Massive skin infections, multiple locations on his little body.

I’ve stayed with him in his room a couple nights so far; he’s had good periods and not-so-good; after all, he’s really sick, and hospitals can be scary for anyone, especially little people.

Lessons for him — and me— for present, and future:

*Pay attention to what your body is telling you. And communicate those needs to those who can help you.

*Wash your hands often.

*Short term gratification – “scratching the itch” – can lead to unforeseen problems. And those can become BIG problems.

*Life happens. Sometimes it’s really hard. Don’t stay paralyzed in shock, denial, or anger over the unfortunate. Life isn’t fair. But you CAN cope and overcome. Take it one step at a time.

*Accept council. Listen to those who can help. Follow advice and instruction from those you can trust.

*Hunker down. Bivouac as needed. Celebrate small victories. Build on them. Persevere.

“Bivouac 3205”

Next up…Crisis Illness Stresses Everyone Out.

Hospital Meditation, #1

I started Monday with a good list and good intentions. I ended up in the hospital with our son, who’s stricken with infection.

Immediate thoughts?

1/ I hope our boy is ok!

2/ I gotta get to the hospital.

3/ Be there for him, and my wife.

4/ LISTEN, and gather as much information as possible.

5/ Grateful my life situation allows me to quickly change gears and prioritize my family above all else.

What else?

Use this time to deepen our family inter-connections and learn as many lessons as possible.

Oh yes, and kick start the blog with some up-to-the-minute reflections.

Good Start.