30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #11)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

It is ironic I suppose that this post comes out on Friday the 13th. Not exactly a holiday, but a day people either fear or celebrate. What holidays are your favorite? My quick answer would be Thanksgiving. There is no other holiday that involves no gift exchanges, no rituals or dogma set in stone. Just a simple gathering for a meal and to celebrate all that we are thankful for. This year Margie and I had a small and wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Here is another interesting fact, I love to learn about and celebrate holidays outside of the beliefs I grew up with. An example would be the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world and includes 10 days of introspection and repentance. Who among us couldn’t use some of that? Yom Kippur, also know as the Day of Atonement, where individuals are encouraged to make amends and ask for forgiveness. Once again, who couldn’t use a day like that in our lives? The Muslim holiday known as the Festival of Breaking the Fast, is a celebration of the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. It is celebrated with not only enjoying a good meal, but also giving zakat al-fitr or charity in the form of food. What a great tradition this is! There are certainly more to both of these holidays and I do not mean to not give them their full explanation here. Rather, my purpose is to introduce you to some amazing holidays you may not be familiar with.

What is your favorite holiday to celebrate? Why do you enjoy celebrating it? Are there some fun traditions or rituals that make it special for you? Let us all learn and maybe incorporate some of your ideas into our holiday celebrations. 

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #10)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Taste can ultimately conjure up thoughts of food. Some of my favorite tastes have little or nothing to do with food. This is extremely shocking considering I live with one of the best cooks I have ever met, my lovely Margie. Her culinary creations are second to none.  Why are they not my favorite tastes? I am going a little metaphorical here. I love the taste of success. When you begin to see something you have worked hard for begin to take shape, that is exciting. The taste of the spring air on your lips. This may be normally seen as a smell, but I think it is something so tangible you can actually taste it. The same holds true for me in an even more intense fashion when it comes to the salty ocean air. When you are near the ocean the entire ambience changes. It is a change in vibration. Not only can you see, smell and feel it, but I think you can taste it in the air as well.

This leads to my favorite taste – the lips of the one you love. I don’t care how full I am from eating one of her delicious meals, I always have room for a kiss from my lovely lady. To me, there is no dessert sweeter than that of her kiss. Talk about a taste with an emotional reaction. I can think of little that is better than enjoying a delicious meal prepared by one of the most amazing women I have ever met, sealed with a kiss to show how much she loves me.

Your tastes need not be so metaphorical. They can be a certain dish prepared just the way you like it. I am a big fan of my Mother’s lasagna. As I write I am always grateful for the flavor of hot coffee. Another author, Honore de Balzac routinely drank 42 cups of coffee while writing. Due to my heart condition and desire to keep typing instead of visiting the gents, I usually limit my consumption to two cups. I am grateful to be able to share that story with you. I look forward to hearing what your favorite tastes are. 

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #9)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Places. This one is a little vague, but let us run with it. What place are you grateful for? There can be that little place in the park you escape to. I have one where I go meditate and read. There can be favorite vacation spots. I love Jamaica and would be inclined to host a book signing at Tony Robbins resort in Fiji if I was so invited. There are also places like being with the one you love. In Margie’s arms or laying next to her are two of my favorite places to be. Places can even be non-physical. Not sure that is really a word, but I digress. We all have places in our mind we escape to when the boss is coming down on us. Sitting across from aunt Mable at the holiday dinner listening to her medical history? Then perhaps it is time to mentally transport ourselves to our upcoming vacation.

I love to sit in the sun and read. It matters little where that sun is. I love to be surrounded by good friends and music. Again, the specific location matters little. Sure some are more preferred. As you can see in the preceding examples, sometimes a place can be less geographical and more about who you are with. Whether your place is with friends and family, on the beach, in the mountains or anywhere else, why not share with all of us?

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #8)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

There is an obvious answer here and that would be my book, A Happy Life for Busy People. It is true I am very grateful for that book. It has opened so many doors in my life and introduced me to so many wonderful people. It is also owned by rock stars, movie stars and billionaires. If you would like your own copy there will be a link at the bottom of this post. Yes, that is one of the books I am most thankful for.

There are, however, a handful of books that I would recommend everyone read. Let us start with my favorite book of all time, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I read this book on average once a year. I gain something new everytime I read it. That is the amazing thing about a great book. You always gain something new from them each time you read them. Not because they are different, but because you are. I also loved the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. This law of attraction classic is filled with great basic ideas and formulas. The World According to Mr. Rogers is another favorite filled with great stories and fundamentals. Anyone who knows me knows that I am also a big fan of the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne. Not only are they uplifting and full of joy, they often have great lessons hidden in their pages.

 Books are stored knowledge. You can save yourself years of work by reading the lessons someone who went before you wrote. You can escape by slipping into pages that transport you to entire different worlds. You can learn, you can be inspired. There are so many books to be inspired by. Which are some of your favorites?

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #7)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Memories…songs have been written about them, movies have been made about them. They can cause us to shed tears or to beam a smile. When we think of memories the first thing to come to mind can often be times with those who have already passed on. I recall times spent at Military reenactments with my grandfather and late uncle. I can also recall summer trips to the Iola car show with my uncle. Those are nice memories and they cause me to smile. I am certainly grateful for them.

What about the painful memories? I recall a day when my grandfather had asked me to go to this communal rummage sale called ‘Rummage-o-rama’. Every single time we went he would pause to look at stuff that I knew he had no plans on buying. He would often spend a great deal of time talking about farming, the military or nothing at all really to a vendor. We would leave with either nothing or some mismatched things like a phone cord (these used exist) a razor blade and a dish towel. As a young man it was frustrating and seemed to last forever. I usually tried to find some excuse as to why I might not be able to attend. On this day, however, he asked me 3 days in advance. I had no excuse. After hanging up the phone with him I spent the next day thinking of ways to make the experience less painful or to get out of it all together. 2 days later, my grandfather passed away.

We never did go to that last rummage sale extravaganza. Guess what? I can often be found wandering through aisles, talking to people about anything and everything. Although I have no use for a phone cord, Margie can always use a dish towel or two. In hindsight, I realize the ‘Rummage-o-Rama’ was less about shopping and more about socializing and spending time with his grandson. At the time I have to confess to being too ignorant to realize what life is all about. Is that memory painful for me? It was, maybe still is a bit. More so, now it is a reflection on how much I have grown and changed. It is also a good lesson on how to keep memories of loved ones alive.

Speaking of loved ones, memories do not just have to involve those who have left us. Last year my trip to Jamaica with Margie produced more great memories than any other equal amount of time. We were just looking at the pictures and watching the videos the other day. I am really grateful for those memories as well.

One kind of memory I am grateful for that we may not think of, is those that haven’t happened yet. This may truly sound confusing. How can something that hasn’t happened yet be a memory? That does sound confusing at first blush. I know being with the lady I am with that we will find ways to be loving and romantic in ways I cannot conceive of yet. The fact that a lot of my relationships in life have grown and evolved as I have also excites me. I can only imagine as I am better able to relate to others what great memories we will create.

As you can see, thinking about gratitude can take you places you least expect. I am grateful for all of the memories in my life because they made me who I am. Mistakes and times that I was not the best person I could be are painful memories, but they motivate and remind me to not do so in the future. How about you? What are some of your favorite memories?

A DEDICATION TO AMY

I realize reading a blog post on a Sunday here is most unusual. We are going to take a break from our gratitude list to discuss a very special friend of mine – Amy. I had met Amy through my lovely lady, Margie. Right from the beginning, Amy and I clicked. We had many conversations  about life, friendship and philosophy. Throughout it all, Amy was always grateful and kind. You can see this in the picture of our messages above.

Amy had a host of health issues she battled. These both restricted her movement and caused her a great deal of pain. She never let that stop her from fulfilling her passion of creating hand-made stuffed animals. Margie purchased a penguin for me that she had made. The quality was amazing. Amy created every animal conceivable from buffalo to mythical creatures such as dragons. In doing so, she brought joy into so many people’s lives. One of the many great things about

Amy is she was always open about her struggles and how she was facing them. I have a Facebook group where people come to share what inspires them and the struggles they may be facing getting there. It is a great online community that helps everyone who is a part of it. When Amy joined she gave herself over completely. She not only shared her struggles so that others may learn from her, but she listened and did her best to help others with their struggles as well. In doing this she became friends with many of the members including my frind Cari, another amazing caring soul. I can only imagine how difficult it may have been for Amy to do this while she was going through her own struggles but she did. Many people would be focused on  and consumed by their own pain and unwilling or unable to comfort others, not Amy.

It made me proud to have a friend that was so giving in a time where she had the right to be a little selfish. She made all of us proud with her creations that will give joy to the lives of all of them who have the privilege to have one. I am sure everyone who recieved one, much like myself, had an additional bit of happiness in their lives.

Amy also was kind enough to let me know how much my work affected her and how grateful she was for that. Many of my readers never say a single thing in regards to how my work may play a part in their lives. That is ok as long as they are reading and it is offering something to make their lives better. Amy, however, would take the time out of her busy day to let me know how she was usuing what I wrote about and how it both worked, and what did not work for her. I was always so grateful to her for hearing this and told her so. It makes what I do fulfilling. It is also my inspiration to keep writing and bringing all the material to the world that I do. It is people like Amy who keep me inspired to do so.

Sadly, last week we lost Amy. She passed away unexpectedly. While she was here she made a great difference in many people’s lives. She brought joy and happiness with her creative creations she shared with the world. She brought feelings of empathy, love and compassion to all of those she touched in our online community. She also brought a great feeling of value and appreciation to this writer. Amy will be missed greatly. It is my sincere hope that she knew how much she brought to the world and how much she helped every life she touched.

With the loss of those who know and care about, I find there is always a lesson. In Amy’s case I feel there are a few. First, use the gifts you have to bring joy to others. Whether that is sewing amazing animals, baking a great cake, singing a song or any other talent you may have. Second, is to offer those you meet who are struggling with a sense of understanding and compassion. Lastly, is to let those around you who affect you positively know. In expressing your gratitude you offer a great gift that means the world to the other person. I know I will miss these gifts Amy brought to the world but will do my best to instill them myself. I encourage you to do the same as a dedication to Amy.

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #6)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

This is a bit tricky for me as I love nature in general. I will try to narrow down some of my favorite aspects for sake of this post. Without a doubt, sunshine leads the way here. I love the feel of sun on my skin. I find it both relaxing and energizing at the same time. The fact that I live in a city that was recently named one of the 10 gloomiest cities in the United States, means it is also rare here. That makes me even more grateful when it does arrive. I really enjoying seeing deer grazing along the side of the road as Margie and I drive through the park. I love green, which again is rare this time of year. I like watching fish in fish tanks. I find it kind of sounding and hypnotic. I love a good summer thunderstorm. I find it so primal and moving. The smell of the earth after a spring rain is amazing. The sound of leaves rustling in the breeze.

Nature, like so many of these topics we are highlighting in these 30 days, has so many things to be grateful for. We are only on day #6 and I have already learned something and had a profound insight. Once we begin to focus on being grateful for a certain subject, it seems to expand. You may try to pick your favorite thing in nature to be grateful for, and then one thing leads to another and then another. I could literally spend an afternoon thinking of things I am grateful for in nature.

How about you? What in nature inspires you to feel gratitude? I have friends that are runners, cyclists, campers, hunters and fisherman. I am sure they all love nature and would probably have a different thing they are most thankful for. I look forward to hearing yours. Whether you live near the redwoods, the Amazon or even on the coast of Greenland, nature is all around us and very beautiful.

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #5)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Sound, like smell we covered earlier can connect with such emotion. For the sake of clarity, I am going to separate sounds from music. One of my favorite sounds is birds chirping as I make my way to my car in the morning. A voice coming over an intercom saying, “Welcome to Montego Bay Jamaica.” is always a great sound to hear. I love to hear Margie laugh and say I love you. I love the noise she makes when she yawns and stretches. I love the sound of trains in the distance. I love the sounds of crickets on a summer night. There are so many sounds I am grateful for. Ocean waves are relaxing. People cheering as I hyperventilate my way through a 5K is always inspiring.

How about you? Do any of these sounds resonate with you? Do you have some other sounds that you are grateful for? I would love to hear all about them. 

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #4)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

This is a really tricky one for me. I grew up surrounded by great cooks. Now I live with one amazing cook. They all have their special dishes they create and depending on the mood, a different one will sound perfect on a different day. Recently, my mother recalled a recipe from my grandmother called “Wash-day quickie”. Named, I would presume, for something prepared with haste on a day you are doing laundry. There is this basic casserole of hamburger, mac-n-cheese and onion I am quite found of. I love everything with basil. There are quite a few dishes Margie makes that I could eat vast amounts of.

After much thinking on the subject, none of these are my favorite. My favorite food is the one that is in front of me. The thought never escapes me that no matter how many other challenges I may have in my life, I have never had to go without food. Living in a society where a meal is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I would have to consider myself very blessed. I never have to hunt for my dinner or go out into the field to pick it. That is unless of course I am in the garden. Being able to afford and have access to a wide variety of food would be unheard of even a few generations ago.

What is your favorite meal? Is there one that has a special memory attached to it? Is there one whose flavor you just happen to like? Food has such a wonderful place in culture. I have learned doing my food reviews how important the enviroment in which food is served plays a big part in how much you enjoy it. I would love to hear about your favorite dish.

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30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #3)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Colors can make such a huge difference in our lives. There is the complex psychological reason that this is so. How colors make us feel hungry or full, angry or calm. In the simplest of terms, however, they either make us feel good or not feel good. On a personal level I am a fan of the combination of teal/turquoise and yellow. It makes me feel the tropical sun on my shoulders and refreshes my recent trip to Jamaica with Margie. We made a lot of great friends and even better memories. In the winter time here in Wisconsin I love the color green. It becomes a rare and precious site.

How about you? What is your favorite color? What does it make you think of? I would love to hear your answers in the comments below. 

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