An Attitude of Gratitude Can Save Your Life (Guest Post)

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Gratitude. The word brings to mind thankfulness, contentment, satisfaction, peace. It’s a mindset that calms. There are degrees of gratitude: We start at the admonition that if you can’t be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you have avoided. We end at the overwhelming appreciation for every vein of every leaf on every tree, which could easily lead us to the edge of insanity. Somewhere in the middle, maybe veering a little toward the insane side, is an attitude of gratitude.

“When you are grateful for what you have, more will come into your life.”  There is a law that states, “You get what you love, what you fear, and what you think about most.” If you’re coming from a place of lack, turn your focus on the things in life that you do have, with love and appreciation. Let go of the fear that you are going to lose the person or thing or feeling that you love, because if you focus on that fear, you will surely make the loss your reality.

“An attitude of gratitude is a never ending prayer.” Cultivating an attitude of gratitude in the good times and your day to day life helps you recover faster from the horrible times: the death of a loved one, a terrifying diagnosis, the loss of your job.  Grief, rage, anger, despair all appropriate, expected, necessary, but you can’t stay in that dark place forever.  It’s that background work that will help you emerge. I am not saying that you will ever become grateful for that devastating event. Because of your gratitude practice you are used to focusing on the good and the beautiful things in life, and even in your darkest time the birds sing, the sun shines, and people love you. It helps.

Practicing gratitude is all about creating the life that you want. It will not protect you from bad things happening. Life is full of obstacles and challenges; it’s how we deal with them that can make life meaningful and satisfying or a state of constant despair.  An event that throws your life into a spiral can give you a feeling of unreality, like you’re in a movie. The truth is, you’re writing the script, you decide how the main character is going to deal with this life event.

Gratitude is about appreciation. Gratitude is about contentment. It’s not about attachment, it’s about the moment. I think to say to a loved one, “I am grateful for you,” says even more than, “I love you.” “I love you” can be scary and full of landmines for some people. They might think, “OK, you say love me, what does that mean you expect from me?”

~Kristina Runciman, owner Lifeforce Glass, Inc.

{Kristina is a business colleague, mentor and friend of mine since 2002.  I am grateful for her, her business, her advice and her inspiration.  ~Brenda}

How do you define bravery? (GUEST POST)

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Did you know that about 1 in 300 kids will be diagnosed with childhood cancer? I bet if you add up the kids represented in your facebook friend list, you get to more than 300. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so now is the time to learn more and to bring awareness to the need for research and support of childhood cancers. Unfortunately, I have a friend whose son recently lost his battle with cancer.This month I will wear gold in his honor and try to spread the word about ways to support those children fighting cancer.

Like so many of us, I didn’t know what to do or say when I heard the news. Fortunately, my friend was surrounded by friends and family who know her much better than I do, but I still wanted to let her know that she was, and continues to be, in my thoughts and prayers. In searching for ways to show my support without intruding on her life, I got a small token from CourageInStone.com that I hoped would be a tangible way of letting her know my thoughts. I put the token on my hall table with the intention of mailing it within a few days. Unfortunately, the token disappeared and I didn’t see it for weeks. Until one Sunday morning…

My son and I were headed for church, walking down our driveway as we do several times a day, every day. As I was getting into the car, I noticed something on the ground. It was the token. How in the world did it get there? How did I just now notice it? How did it not get run over/smooshed/dirty? I have no idea. I picked up the token, put it in my pocket, and vowed to get a card and mail it that day. Off we went to church. It turns out that when we got to Mass, not only was my friend at church with her son, but they were heading out of state for additional medical treatments the next day. At this mass our Priest gave them a special blessing and the whole Parish offered their prayers. After Mass, I found my friend, surrounded by many others. I gave her a quick hug, assured her of my continued prayers, and put the token in her hand. Clearly, it was no accident that I found the token in the driveway that morning.

I have no idea if my friend still has the token or if she even remembers our encounter. I suspect not – in the midst of all of the chaos that day, and in the weeks and months that followed, I’m sure our brief hug was relatively insignificant. But I hope my prayers and wishes were one small drop of love, hope, and strength that combined with many others to surround her with a sea of support. Sadly, this brave young man lost his battle with cancer. His spirit and bravery still live on and are still inspiring others.

Please take some time this month to learn more about childhood cancers. More importantly, please take this time to DO more to support children with cancer and their families. Consider making a donation to an organization like St. Baldrick’s Foundation that focuses on childhood cancer research: http://www.stbaldricks.org or to Camp Sunrise that provides a summer camp experience for kids with cancer: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/campsunrise.

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Modern Cairn (Guest Post by Stacy Schroeder, executive director of KAAN)

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A camp where I used to work observes the end of each experience by inviting that week’s campers to place a rock on a cairn pile while sharing a memory or lesson they will carry with them. This tradition pulls from many ancient ones across the world. It is one that has always spoken to me, a tactile sentimentalist who appreciates symbolism.

I now help to lead an organization for adoptees and their families. While year-round in service, we gather once a year for a weekend that is intense, transformative, challenging, uplifting. It is through this organization that I learned of Brenda and her business, CourageInStone.com. They worked with us to create a custom logo rock as well as others with words of direction and inspiration. We gave these rocks as thanks to some of our leaders and speakers as well as sold them at our store. Friends purchased these rocks for each other as acknowledgement of their connection. Others took home rocks to place on their desks or by their beds as daily reminders. Some even playfully take pictures of their rocks in different settings and use as Facebook profile or cover photos. To me, all these actions represent a modern cairn … a way to physically mark the time spent and community felt together at our conferences.

Thank you, Brenda and CourageInStone.com for providing these beautiful stones.

Stacy Schroeder is the executive director of KAAN (the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network). You can learn more about this organization by visiting www.KAANet.org.