Friday, May 21, 2010

Waking the Grateful Dead

I've been working on a grateful experiment lately.

Garbage in, garbage out was how it got started. I was stringing together too many days of negative attitude and something was beginning to stink (me). So I decided to start thinking differently. I'm always telling my son "use your mouth to speak blessings" -- it was time to walk my talk.

It started small. Little things that made me thankful, small ways people were a light to me, and kindnesses I could bestow -- anywhere I could find a chance to express gratitude, I did it.

Here's a few examples:
--The school band at the art festival -- I wrote them a note to thank them for their beautiful music and inspiring youth.
--The farmer's market co-op -- acknowledging them for doing such a good job in supporting local farmers and bringing me amazing treasure week by week.
--The friend you can count on -- thanking her for always being there and reminding her of all the radiant qualities that make me glad she is in my corner.
--My husband -- writing a note to express gratitude and adoration for planning a fun date night.
--My son's teachers -- celebrating them for the love they lavish on all the kids, including mine.

The response I got -- in a word: shock.

Most people are knocked over when you take a moment to notice them in their gifts. To stop and truly see how people are making your little world a more wonderful place requires a different way of seeing. My encouragement is to try out the "grateful experiment" for yourself. I did it for selfish reasons, but the reward I received was a surprise. I was done with the garbage. Grateful in, grateful out was a much more fragrant way to operate.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Go On, Smell the Honeysuckle

Have you ever time travelled? I tried it out this week during my morning walk.

Trudging along my typical path, I got this overwhelming hit of honeysuckle, now blooming like crazy in North Carolina. All of the recent rains and quick humid weather have flushed out this tropical gem.

Inhaling deeply I was transported back to the 1980s. There I am, 10 years old and watching my older sister getting ready for prom. She wore a heavy perfume that was all the rage back then, Jungle Gardenia – which happens to smell just like our honeysuckle. I watched her in awe, donning makeup, putting on her amazing dress and wondering if I would ever look that beautiful or go to the prom.

That honeysuckle whiff sent me tumbling back to childhood – I am 12 and stealing mists of my mom’s perfume. Then transported again to visiting family in Puerto Rico -- exotic flower blooms mingled with my aunt’s rice and beans. Next, I’m in high school at my brother’s wedding – listening to my mother’s too loud laugh as she donned a corsage of tropical flowers. So much emotion and wonder and dreams and delight wrapped up in the power of smell.

People always talk of stopping to smell the roses. But if you ever cared for anything beyond a shrub rose, you know it’s complicated. You know about the endless rounds of chemicals and fertilizers and pruning and fuss fuss. On top of all that, most roses don’t really smell all that much.

For me, honeysuckle is the true beauty. It grows naturally on it’s own without much trouble. You come around a bend and it surprises you. Just as summer begins to unfurl in full dramatic stride, honeysuckles demands your notice. With it’s heady lushness, you close your eyes, breathe deep and are transported again.