gratitude

Sara Letourneau – Writer

Sara Letourneau is a writer who lives in Massachusetts. She’s a published poet and is currently working on the first draft of a fantasy novel. She also writes tea reviews for A Bibliophile’s Reverie and articles on the craft of writing at Grub Street’s blog. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books. It always surprises me how many fantasy readers haven’t heard of this series. And though it’s not as well-known as the worlds of Middle-Earth, Narnia, and Hogwarts, it deserves a place on the shelf with them. LeGuin’s Earthsea series combines magic, conflict, and (in some stories) the presence of dragons with the rustic, simplistic lifestyles of its native peoples and a pursuit of harmonic balance comparable to Taoism. In other words, it contains elements that will feel familiar to fantasy readers while offering something unique to the genre. I love that aspect of the series as well as LeGuin’s writing style, which is concise, lyrical, and powerfully evocative.

 

Allan G. Hunter’s The Path Of Synchronicity. I read this book about 2 years ago when I was going through a period of situational depression. Not only did it introduce me to the concept of synchronicity (the coincidental occurrence of seemingly unrelated events), but it inspired me to make positive changes in my life so I could lift myself to a better, happier place. Hunter also handles the discussion of synchronicity with great care. He writes with the understanding that some readers may be learning about the topic for the first time, and presents examples from literature and real life to support his ideas. If you’re interested in self-help / spirituality books, I highly recommend this as well as Hunter’s most recent work, Gratitude and Beyond: Five Insights for a Fulfilled Life.

 

Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy and Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book Of Days. These are my two favorite writing prompt books of all time, and for different reasons. In Poemcrazy, poet and writing instructor Wooldridge offers prompts, strategies, meditations, and stories from her workshops and personal life. It’s also beautiful to read; the fluid, engaging prose allows the reader to feel Wooldridge’s unbridled joy for poetry. A Writer’s Book Of Days is a treasure chest of inspiration. Prompts for every day of the year, a wide variety of exercises to flex the writing muscles, quotes from and amusing facts about famous authors – Reeves packs so much into this book that it’s hard not to learn or be spurred by something new every time you open it.

Good things to watch.

I rarely watch TV, but I discovered Orphan Black earlier this year. Wow!! Science fiction, drama, comedy, and horror mashed together to tell the story of a group of female clones who come together to fend off a biogenetics corporation clamoring for the secrets of their creation – secrets that the clones themselves are trying to figure out. How’s that for a cool and original premise? The acting on Orphan Black is incredible, too. Tatiana Maslany plays all five clones – yes, five different characters, each with their own personality and voice / accent. Her talent knows no bounds, and I hope Orphan Black can be a launching pad for an increasingly exciting career for her.

The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy and the Harry Potter film series. Can you tell I’m a fan of fantasy? (laughs) I don’t know how to concisely describe how much I love both series other than by saying they’re the only films that I a) revisit on a consistent basis, and b) immerse myself in completely each time I watch then, no matter how many times I’ve watched them before. Great acting, stunning visual effects, and – above all – wonderful storytelling.

Househunters on HGTV. I’d religiously watch this show with my mom when I still lived with my parents after graduating from college. I loved guessing which property the prospective buyer(s) would pick in the end (and seeing if I was correct!). Once I started condo-shopping, I realized the show’s educational value. It taught me to use a realistic approach that balanced budget with my wants and needs – and to pay attention to that “falling in love with the right place” feeling when it hits!

Good things to use.

Teavana’s Copper Tea Tumbler. If you drink loose-leaf tea and want to take it on the go, this product’s for you. It’s easy to use, functional, and sleekly design. The stainless steel interior keeps your tea hot (or cold, depending on how you prepare it) for several hours, but the heat / coldness never transfers to the exterior. I take this tumbler – with tea inside, of course – with me on long car rides or driving vacations.

Pilot® G-2 Retractable Gel Ink pens. Not the prettiest pens on the market, but they write so smoothly and fit so comfortably in your hand. They come in different point sizes, too; I love the ultra-fine point (0.38 mm). This is the only brand of pens I use for journaling or writing by hand when my laptop’s not handy. Nothing else feels right.

A sense of gratitude. Remembering one thing you’re grateful for each day works wonders for your outlook. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the past couple years. The results have been nothing short of amazing. I view myself and my life in a more positive light, and I have more hope and confidence about the future now than I’d had at any other time in my life.

Connect with Sara at her websiteFacebook, or Twitter, (@SaraL_Writer).

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Lauren Bowling – Financial Blogger

Lauren Bowling is the financial blogger at L Bee and The Money Tree where she lifts the curtain of taboo about personal finances. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Relic. The first of the Agent Pendergast novels by famed authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, I’ve been a fan of their books for many years. Since Relic is the first it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for a series of “grown up” novels to get into. The subject matter is pithy and often science based, so in addition to being entertained, you’ll learn a lot as well.

Gone Girl. This book was a bestseller since it came out in 2012, but with the movie (starring Ben Affleck) coming out in theaters in October, I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about. I literally couldn’t put it down, and I never say that about a book. In addition to being a “thriller” it also highlights a lot of things about long term relationships that I thought were interesting.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Dang. This book is cool. Relying heavily upon research the author, Brigid Schulte, examines why the American culture is so obsessed with “doing it all.” Definitely recommend this read for people who feel guilty about having “me” time or are looking for ways to scale back.

Good things to watch.

Thirtysomething.  This show dates back to the late 80’s/early 90’s and chronicles the tales of a group of friends in their –you guessed it!- early thirties. While I’m not quite into my thirties yet a lot of the issues around friendship, work, family and life in general are still relevant today. I was surprised by how timeless the themes in this show are. Available on DVD or Amazon Instant.

Moonrise Kingdom. My boyfriend is a big Wes Anderson fan, and he’s been getting me into the films. So far, Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite. Although it has all of Anderson’s favorite actors making cameos (Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, etc.) the movie surrounds a pair of star-crossed pre-teens and their search for love and acceptance.

Orange is the New Black. Netflix is killing it with the dramas they offer to viewers. OITNB seems like everyone’s new favorite obsession, and it is the writing and acting that make it so superb. If you haven’t watched it yet, you are missing out!

Good things to use.

A List of Things You’re Thankful For. I’ve been having a rough time of it lately between the death of my dog and a falling out with a family member. When I’ve felt sad or overwhelmed, I embarked on a gratitude project, where I list three things I’m thankful for each day. It keeps things in perspective and instantly lightens my mood. It really works!

A Net Worth Tracker. I still have a budget and track my expenses monthly, like every good financial steward should do 🙂  BUT I set a large “net worth” goal for the year, and track my debts and assets quarterly to ensure that even if I miss the smaller targets, I’m still hitting my bigger goals in the long run. This is a great way to stay focused, and get motivated by the progress. I offer the one I made in excel to my email subscribers, and CNN has a great net worth calculator as well.

TheSkimm. It is a completely free newsletter sent your inbox every morning that breaks down all of the highlights from the last 24 hours of news so you can be abreast of everything that is happening in the world. I love this because it enables me to speak comfortably and confidently about current events, even though I only read the “highlights” from the newsletter. It makes my day easier, better, and makes me sound like a “grown up.”

Connect with Lauren on Twitter, @LBeeMoneyTree.

 

Meghan Nathanson – Mindful Mothering

Meghan Nathanson writes about appreciating our children and enjoying moments with them each day at her blog Mindful Mothering, these are her good things.

Good things to read

There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer. As a mother, I am met with countless challenges throughout my day. To someone without children, these hurtles may seem minor and kept in perspective, they are. Things like, negotiating with a little one who doesn’t want to go be strapped into his carseat. Removing a toy being used as armament from clutched fingers in a gentle way. Comforting hurt feelings and smoothing out misunderstandings between two boys who have only been walking around on this planet for less than five years combined. Maintaining patience and mindfulness for marathon lengths of time. Alongside these experiences, I am a human being with a journey of my own, sometimes struggling to overcome the various ways in which life can feel like an uphill climb. All of Wayne Dyer’s teachings speak about the wisdom we may find within and from our higher source, if only we take the time to look. It doesn’t matter if we are taming toddlers or negotiating world peace. This book in particular sits in plain view in my home always reminding me that I have a choice to choose a spiritual solution in any situation no matter how big or small a problem may be.

Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. This is a book that was required reading for my husband if we were to continue dating more than eight years ago. To this day, we remain spiritual partners even when we have days when it doesn’t seem that way! Especially when we have days when it doesn’t seem that way. This book holds a special place for me because it opened my mind more fully to the idea that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and that each person we encounter may be—if we allow them to be—a spiritual partner. Along with Zukav, I believe that even when our agreement isn’t conscious, we are all teachers to one another, constantly changing roles and living out various story lines as needed for our souls to grow and become more fully whole.

Quotes and Writings by Emerson & Thoreau. My favorite memories, my favorite days with my children take place almost exclusively in nature. Watching my two boys spin around and around looking up at the sky, then falling down at the beach last week with bare feet exposed but still snuggled in winter coats was pure heaven to me. Leaning back against a wall of stone, heated by the sun, I thought about how time at the ocean has long been a place of solace for me—the rhythm of the ocean grounding me and settling any rough waters I may be experiencing within. As I’ve grown more devoted to mindfulness, my love, my attunement to nature has expanded as well. With this I have discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and all of the Transcendentalists in a new way. Choose a quote of theirs, any of them and just sit with it. Sit with it in nature and discover a whole new way of looking at the world.

Good things to watch.

Water Dripping.  Last week I was traveling to an appointment when I suddenly realized that I was supposed to drop my car off for an inspection. I had to change directions, the loaner car that I was given was almost out of gas and when I arrived at my appointment one minute before I was supposed to, I felt anxious and ungrounded. In the waiting room there was a water cooler with a hot-water nozzle to make tea but there was no water bottle present and so to make tea I needed to allow a very slow drizzle of the left-over water in the machine to make its way out onto my tea bag. I crouched down comfortably and allowed that moment to begin calming me. I watched as the water came out so very slowly. I noticed the way the tea bag appeared when the water dripped onto it. I breathed. I settled into myself and I made tea. These moments in life in which we must wait, the stop lights, the long lines at the market, can be incredibly grounding, incredibly soothing if we allow ourselves to slow down, sink into our bodies and just take them in.

Your Breath. In my mind breathing is incredibly underrated. It is that which ultimately allows us to continue living in this wild and magnificent and monotonous and exciting and lonely and loving and thrilling place that we call life. Sitting and closing my eyes, first deepening my breath and then beginning to watch and notice the circular nature of my breath, beginning to watch and notice all of the places my breath touches, I settle more deeply into myself. If all we do is begin to notice our breath, we begin to live more deeply, more meaningfully and with greater joy for all of the little miracles of being alive.

A Child’s Face. There is no more lovely place than a child’s cheek. With your eyes, trace their lashes, notice the precious nature of their lips, the curve of their hair. Observe a child’s face when they laugh, observe them when they cry or protest or are surprised. Watch them especially when they are watching you. Watch them as they take it all in and learn to live. There in a child’s face are his joys, his concerns and all that we need to know to help him along.

Good things to use.

Intuition We have five senses that are commonly counted on to take in the world around us—sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Peppered in between the messages we receive from these senses are other signals found sometimes in our “gut” and sometimes posted on a billboard as we drive along a highway. Conserve time and energy in your life by tapping into and using these messages as guideposts along your journey. If you pay attention and tap into this powerful Sixth Sense, you will know clearly which job to take, whether or not you need to move and who to call at the exact moment needed. Among others, author and teacher, Sonia Choquette, was one of the first messengers who awakened in me a powerful appreciation for my intuitive gift, a gift we all have if only we may listen.

Forgiveness. It can be very difficult to let go of painful experiences and forgive those who have hurt us. However, when we choose and use forgiveness as a practice in our lives, we can move on more quickly to the real purpose of our being here. Carrying around pain, whether recent or very old, can be like carrying along an extra weight in everything we do. Knowing that we are choosing forgiveness as a way of being will set us up for easier encounters when a situations arise that are potentially hurtful to us. This is not to say that we should allow people to continually injure us without some consideration for their role in our life but more of a plan to travel lightly. Unload the pains of your past, plan to keep your luggage light and move forward in being all that you were called here to be.

Gratitude. Oh-how-differently I feel when I chose gratitude. Like most people, when I examine my life closely and not-even-so-closely, I see that I have much more to be grateful for than to complain about and when I choose to focus on these things, I inevitably feel happier and more focused, more loving and connected to the meaning of my life. If only you may count three reasons to feel grateful at the start of your day, you will notice a tone of gratefulness rippling across your life and creating tremendously positive waters.