Gratitude

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

Yesterday, while driving to work in the morning, I had quite the moving experience. I don’t know if it was the conversation I had earlier in the week with the Dish network customer service rep, or just the stressors of the past few weeks all coming together, or the fact that I was driving, listening to my ‘liked songs’ playlist on Spotify in complete silence . . . no phone calls while I drove, just me and the music.

As I drove, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. Not just thankfulness for the blessings in my life. I mean, an all-enveloping, warm hug sensation of peace and gratitude that just filled me up and bubbled over in tears as I drove. I don’t mean a silent tear slipping down my face, I mean an all-out steady stream of tears rolling down my cheeks (which miraculously did not smear my non-waterproof mascara).

Earlier in the week, I called to pause my Dish network service and the customer service rep, Debra, and I had the longest conversation about gratitude and what was going on in our respective lives. I do not know Debra, I’ve never met her . . . never spoken with her before. For whatever reason, when she asked how I was doing, and I said “okay . . we have a warm house, utilities, food on the table, clothes, jobs . . . ” she went on to say that she and her husband were having some difficulties and he had suggested listing all the things she was grateful for — a gratitude list. She had done that for the first time THAT morning, and was surprised how much it helped offset the negative things that were happening in their lives. By the end of the phone call, not only was my service paused but we were each thankful for an opportunity to encourage and lift each other up.

We all have stress in our lives. It can be easy to focus on all the problems and forget the little things we no longer notice or have taken for granted. Making a gratitude list has many benefits:

  • Shields you from negativity
  • Has been shown to make you feel 25% happier
  • Rewires your brain to see gratitude before negativity
  • Eliminates stress
  • Heals
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts self-esteem and performance
  • Improves relationships, and
  • Enhances the law of attraction

Let’s look at that last one. How can having a a sense of gratitude enhance the law of attraction? Think about it. Would you rather spend time with a person who is smiling and upbeat, or a person who is down and negative? Tigger or Eeyore? In the workplace . . . who is more likely to get promoted — the person who is confident that things can be done, or the naysayer who insists that things cannot change? Who do you feel better about talking to — the person who makes eye contact and asks questions about your day and sincerely waits for your answer, or the person who is busy with their phone while loudly complaining to anyone who can hear about all their personal problems?

I have a sweet friend who delivers food for Doordash. She commented this week that she had actually made small talk with her customers while delivering their food and found that they tipped better. Then she used the Doordash app to send not just a message stating she was “on the way” but a funny meme with the message which also improved her tips AND made her customers laugh and had a few mention that it “made their day.” That encouragement then increased her gratitude and it just grows from there. So YES . . . a spirit of gratitude can enhance the law of atttraction.

Does it mean there won’t still be people trying to rain on your parade? Of course there will be. The world is not a perfect place.

Feel free to comment . . .what is on your gratitude list today?

Caramelized Pears

“Fun Fact: there are also 3,000 varieties of pears. That’s right. Even pears are more complicated than you thought.” ~ Scott Westerfeld

Pears. I’ve been getting them the last few months in my Misfits Market box. I like pears as an alternative to apples, but they have to be “just right” to make eating them enjoyable.

Warm.

Juicy.

Sweet.

Not just any old pear will do at any old time. But what do you do with pears? My mother used to make a pear crisp, almost like a cobbler but it didn’t have the flaky crust on it. Hers was topped with a rough mixture of oatmeal, brown sugar, and butter.

I had a few pears staring at me from the counter this morning as I debated what treat I should make with them. I settled on caramelizing them and serving them over vanilla ice cream after dinner. A nice change from plain old ice cream, but using up the fruit without wasting it.

I also had a couple of spaghetti squash sitting on the counter. I prepared those as directed in this post, and then will place the pulp in a large ziploc bag to go in the freezer. As long as you squeeze the air out to avoid freezer burn, it should last 7-8 months in the freezer. Of course, when the kids saw what I was cooking I’m fairly certain that it won’t be sitting in the freezer for nearly that long.

I also chopped some cilantro, and placed it into a freezer bag. This will be good for use in my Carnitas recipe as it cooks down during the process. If I were needing cilantro for salsa or guacamole, I’d purchase fresh at that time.

I have done the same with kale or chard that comes in the Misfits Market box. Simply blanch it by boiling it in hot water for a minute, then submerse it in cold water. After it has cooled, I press out as much water as possible using paper towels and then spread it on cookies sheets and place it in the freezer to flash freeze. Once frozen, I remove it and place it into bags in appropriate amounts to be used in my Zuppa Toscano

But . . . back to the pears.

Caramelized Pears

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

5-6 pears, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup butter, cut in slices

1/4 – 1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 c. brown sugar

Directions

In a non-stick skillet, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. This should take about 4-5 minutes, but depending on your stove could take up to 10 minutes. Add pears. Cook and stir until pears are tender, 10-15 minutes up to 20 minutes if needed.

Changes

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

There are so many fantastic quotes about change and changes, I can’t begin to share them all here. My goal as I have said previously is: to do the most good for the greatest number of people I can in my lifetime. Sometimes that leads to big changes which can be a wee bit unsettling for the loved ones in my life.

Changes can be big — moving to another state to change jobs and careers

Changes can be medium – hospitality, offering a respite to others in the midst of the craziness of their own life

Changes can be small – a haircut, moving furniture around, increasing my running pace

Some of the changes may not seem like a big deal to me, but to others who aren’t accustomed to how I think and operate, it may seem like I’m over-reaching or adding more stress to my plate which makes me laugh. I’m past the point of being a “yes” person – I have no qualms about saying “no” to something I do not have time or energy to do.

Then there’s the narrative that others may have in their head. That isn’t on me . . .that’s on them. Life is ever changing, transient, and unpredictable. Circumstances and the thoughts about them can change. I am not a “set in stone” type of person. While I may feel a certain way about things at one point in time, circumstances can change which can change my thoughts, which then changes my feelings and the actions I may take.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ~ Albert Einstein

My decisions are not based on emotional whims. I matured and moved past that a looooong time ago. If I cut my hair, it’s because I wanted to . . . no other reason. If I change jobs or move again, it’s because it serves me best. I cannot live my life to make someone else happy. I have always been able to weigh the pros and cons and quickly make a decision – my jobs have required it. If a change occurs, it’s for good reason and I’m not required to explain my decisions to anyone but those closest to me. Even then, they don’t have to like it or agree. Toughlove doesn’t just apply to parenting, it applies to other relationships as well.

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are sure to miss the future.” ~ John F. Kennedy

This is another step in the year of being the terrifying, unapologetic me. If you want the watered-down, sweetened version of me . . . I’m sure there’s a Stepford wife out there just waiting to be found. For years, I danced about on eggshells watching every word, every look, second-guessing every action – but not any more. And so, on that note, I leave you with two more quotes:

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ~ C.G. Jung

and, my favorite:

“I yam what I yam!” ~ Popeye, the sailor man