Tag Archives: gratitude

Naturally Grateful: Actually, I practice…

Gratitude is a very popular word these days. You can’t go for very long, it seems, without someone mentioning having, “an attitude of gratitude.”

I had been flirting with a gratitude practice for a long time. I mentioned in my birthday post that I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I also used to try to close my journal entries by writing three things I was grateful for but I didn’t always keep it up.

Last October, I decided that I wanted to establish a daily gratitude practice. A quick google search revealed there are a myriad of different ways to do it. Some people opt for the typical method of writing down what they are grateful and why. Others have come up with unique approaches like snapping a daily photo or shooting a quick video of what they are thankful for and then sharing it on social media. One artist, Lori Portka, expressed her gratitude over a two year period by making 100 paintings to honor people who have impacted her life in a positive way.

Combining your personal creative passion with gratitude is a beautiful daily practice! Since I am a writer… that pretty much brought me right back to where I started BUT with a few helpful changes! I bought an old school composition notebook. (By the way they are still only 99 cents. Isn’t that amazing?) I decided I wanted to keep a separate gratitude book because I like writing freely in my journal. I also wanted a cheap book because I wanted to make sure I wrote daily without trying to save space for truly sterling, eloquent expressions of gratitude. This practice is about being thankful for all things, big and small.

I do have a few rules for my daily gratitude writing. Each day gets one page. I write only about what happened that day. It’s easy to write about a bunch of things you’re perpetually grateful for but the idea is to train my mind to focus on the good I encounter each day.

I noticed during that first month that was exactly what occurred. I think knowing that I was going to do the ritual at the end of the day, kept me aware of good things as they happened. I was then able to pause and relish them, instead of rushing on to whatever bit of business to which I had to attend next.

Take Chauncy, for example, I am always grateful for him! However, this is how it shows up in my gratitude book:

“I am so grateful that I looked back in the window before I got in the car this morning to go to work. Chauncy was on the other side with his paws up on the window seat, watching me go with all the love in the world shining in his little face.”

I catch so many more of these moments when I maintain my notebook. At times, it has almost seemed like more good things were happening. Although, it’s more likely that my shift in awareness allows me to see more of these twinkly moments, that actually happen all the time to everyone.

Now, to be completely honest, I fell off this practice for several months after my dental disappointment in December. It can be hard to feel grateful all the time when you’re heartbroken. While I am always aware I have a lot to be thankful for, knowing it and feeling it aren’t the same. Sometimes, you just can’t force it and need to give yourself a break. I am pleased to report I am easing back into a more regular practice again… and I am grateful for that!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

A Different Kind of Birthday…Naturally!

My birthday has never been a convenient day to celebrate. When I was a little girl, my birthday parties were rarely looked forward to because it meant summer was coming to a close and school was starting soon. As I got older, many friends and family members would be away because it falls on or near Labor Day weekend. So, I have gotten quite used to not celebrating on my actual birthday. This year looked like no exception, as it fell in the middle of the week.

I knew I was going to be alone on my birthday and honestly, as an introverted person, that is absolutely fine with me! I like spending time with people but I also need, make that NEED, time alone. So, normally, a day to myself: to read, practice yoga, write, be in nature, make jewelry or some other artsy-crafty project would suit me down to the ground. However, since it was my birthday, I wanted to do something to celebrate. I decided the best way to do that was to make it a day of gratitude and giving.

My first stop was Target. Since I started all this dental work, my monetary donations have dwindled. So, when I got a gift card from the sales guys at work for Target, I decided to buy food to donate to a local food pantry. I was inspired by Mimi Ikonn’s birthday video for this first deed. (Our plans diverge after that. She gave people free hugs.  I’m … not a hugger.) I went over the limit for the gift card but it was worth it. I was pretty happy with my haul:

Target Food HaulI also may have gotten a treat for myself.

Why do I dig English Muffins so much?

Why do I dig English Muffins so much?

Okay… two! (It was my birthday after all.)

iice cream and Enlish muffinsWhen I returned home, I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I won’t be sharing this (you’re welcome!) It is a really good exercise to do, especially on a birthday. We are trained by advertisers practically from infancy to think about what we are going to receive on our birthdays. It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate all that we already have.

It’s funny. The landscaping guy broke my car window by accident the day before. Initially, I was pretty annoyed that my birthday was going to start at the glass place. Then I gave myself a little smack-down. How many people in the world would love to have a car in the first place? How many people would love something to eat on their birthday? “#1stworldproblem, Cynthia Lenz! Get over it!”  And I did quickly.

I decided not to keep all my gratitude to myself.  I wrote out a card to one of my friends expressing how pleased I was to have such a good friend in my life. It was a lot of fun mailing a card to someone else on my birthday. How nice is it to get an unexpected bit of appreciation in the mail? At that moment, knowing I was doing something to bring a bit of cheer to someone else, which no one else knew about, was a gas! I think it will be a new tradition. Thankfully, I have a lot of other people in my life to send cards to.

cardAfter I mailed the card and dropped off the donated groceries, I was hungry. So, I had some lunch. Then I took a nice, long nap. Highly recommend a birthday nap, by the way.

My last act of goodwill was to make banana bread for everyone at work the next day. Judging from how often I see people at the vending machine, I figured an unexpected homemade sweet treat would be appreciated.

Banana BreadWhile the banana bread was in the oven, I sat down to eat dinner. I poured myself a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. The wine was a gift from my buddy, Jack, at work. I told him I would toast to his health and prosperity on my birthday and I did.

Chilled and delish!

Chilled and delish!

I really enjoyed my different kind of birthday. Birthdays have a special energy to them. They remind us we were given the gift of life. Think of what it would be like to never have existed. Impossible! I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna. Life is really REALLY hard sometimes. Having a little awareness of the beauty, that is all around us every day, makes it much easier to endure those challenges. What better way to celebrate it than by creating a little beauty for others?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: Patience Rewarded

Today- two years, one month and eight days after I fell, I reached a milestone in my dental reconstruction.  My dental implants have been implanted and my periodontist said they look beautiful!  I saw the x-ray and I have to agree (even though the local is wearing off and my mouth is throbbing with pain.  Don’t worry; I can handle it!)

Have I mentioned my periodontist before?  I had consults with six different periodontists.  SIX!  Only two felt confident that they could do what I wanted.  I wanted all separate teeth, to keep my own teeth and to avoid pink porcelain.  It seems reasonable enough, right?  It would have been if I hadn’t lost bone in my upper jaw when my right front tooth was knocked out.

The first periodontist I went to, tried to tell me my only option was an eight tooth bridge.  After I finished crying, I set out to find someone who could give me what I needed and I did find him.  Although, there are never any guarantees when bone grafts are involved, my periodontist believed it would be possible to restore the missing bone enough to place two side-by-side implants, giving me the separate teeth I wanted.  He delivered on that today.

It’s been a loooooong process.  I had to have a tooth super-erupted through orthodontics.  That took around six months.  Then I received a socket graft. That needed to heal for three months.  I had to have a frenectomy.  That needed to heal for about six weeks. Then I had the BIG bone graft!  That healed for six months.  Today, I took a giant leap forward toward having a beautiful smile again!

Whether I am able to dodge the  pink porcelain remains to be seen.  So far though, so good!  I’m so grateful!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

A Year after Super Storm Sandy: Challenges, Tumbles and Surviving It All with Gratitude!

A year ago when all the hubbub started about Hurricane Sandy, like so many people in the area where I lived on the water in Amity Harbor, I didn’t take it very seriously.  Although, I lived on a canal, the warnings that were being issued seemed extreme. I had stayed home through Hurricane Irene the year before without the water even coming up my back steps.  So, in my mind, Sandy would probably only be slightly worse.

Chauncy and I hunkered down on October 29, 2012 with every intention of waiting it out.  And for most of the day, it appeared I had taken the right course.  Then around 7pm, things changed radically.  I waded through knee high water to move my car to higher ground.  Forty minutes later when I finally left with my dog and one bag that same water was up to my thighs and had begun pouring into my home from every conceivable point of entry including the sinks and toilet.

I was oddly pretty calm for someone driving around in the midst of a hurricane.  I picked up a stranded driver who was soaked to bone.  He warned me not to go west on Merrick Road because that was where his truck got stranded.  I deposited him at the pizza place where the emergency workers were staying.  I couldn’t stay there with Chauncy.  So, I had to move on.  (There are very few safe public places during catastrophes on Long Island for people with dogs.)

Chauncy was freaking out as we weaved around fallen trees on Sunrise Highway.  He kept trying to crawl inside me practically.  So, I eventually threw an entire bag of treats on the passenger seat to distract him.  First, we tried going west to my folks, and made it about 10 miles before the road was blocked off.  So, I turned around drove further East than where I started and ended up at a friend’s house in Bayshore.  Thankfully, her family was willing to take us both in.

The next day I went to my folks’ house and have been here since.  I thought by now I would be in my new apartment with Hurricane Sandy fading into an increasingly distant memory but a short five months later, I experienced an event that made Super Storm Sandy feel like a mere inconvenience.  On March 2nd, the day after I launched this blog, I fell down the stairs at the Madison Square Garden Entrance to Penn Station. I broke my upper jaw, lost a front tooth, damaged seven more top front teeth, ripped my upper lip completely through, sprained my wrist and broke my nose.

Given the opportunity to take that moment back and hold the handrail, I most certainly would take the mulligan.  I won’t have anything close to my smile back before 2015 (…and we are talking closer to 2016.)  However, several people have told me I would find the blessings in these events and they were right.  When something like this happens, at first you just want to crawl into a hole and disappear.  You wonder what you might have done to deserve such a shitty, fucking thing to happen to you … and in my case two shitty things in row.  You wonder, “is this going to be what breaks me?”  Then a little voice deep inside answers very confidently, “no, it’s going to make you stronger than you have ever been.”  Then you pick your head up and start noticing all the things you have to be grateful for like your family, your friends, your dog, the perfect strangers (who turned out to be paramedics) who stopped to help when you fell, all the flowers, cards, prayers, well wishes and good, competent doctors to help put you back together.  There is so much I have to be grateful for, I couldn’t possibly fit it all into this one blog post.  That is how fortunate I am!

There is one other thing I want to share with you and then I’ll wrap it up!  That is the lesson.  The most profound shift I have experienced since all of this happened is what I thought mattered before… most of it… doesn’t matter at all.  I used to sweat everything: my boss yelling at me, getting a ticket, a friend being distant, paying bills… any little negative thing could tip my mood.  The worse thing on my mind before I fell was that my car had a leaky head gasket.  It seems so silly now ruminating about how I was going to find a new apartment, furnish it and get a new car at the same time.  I thought THAT was something to feel sorry for myself about.  Now, I am looking at a $30K-$40K dental reconstruction.  It’s okay though because getting my smile back to me is priceless!

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: A Moment of Gratitude

When you have been through as many dental consults as I have (six periodontal, four prosthodontic and two orthodontic) and several months of procedures with an oral surgeon, you can get pretty tired of going to dentists’ offices, especially when the actual dental reconstruction work hasn’t started yet.  It begins to feel endless before you even begin.  Then the blessing comes.

I had to have my broken bicuspid bonded in order to be able to have a brace put on it.  The entire front was missing. I am going to be in braces for over a year. So my prostho didn’t want to put a temporary crown on it for that long.  When he said he was going to bond it, I figured it would like a patch, similar to the blob of bonding material my oral surgeon put behind another tooth to save it.

So, you can imagine my surprise when he molded it to look like an actual tooth…  not just a tooth either, MY TOOTH.  I could barely talk when his assistant put the before and after photo up on the monitor. It looked like it had never been broken… like nothing at all had happened to it.  It looked perfect!

I know it’s just one tooth and a temporary solution at that.  I still have a looooooong way to go in this dental reconstruction but it’s hard to express how it good it felt to have that first little step be so beautiful!  I felt a little bit more like myself than I have in a long time.  Even with my appliance in, I felt uncomfortable smiling wide because I knew my broken tooth would still show.  Thursday night, I wore the widest, brightest (had a cleaning too) smile that I have had in almost six months when I showed his work to my family.

I knew the prosthodontist I had chosen was an artist.  …I can always spot one a mile away.  I wasn’t worried about whether he could do the work but it is awfully nice to see proof that I was right in my own mouth!

What was your big moment of gratitude this week?

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

Happiness: What else do you need?

Happiness is something I find endlessly fascinating.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about it; trying to get it; chasing after it and most recently trying to master it.

When it comes right down to it, once the basic necessities of life: food, water shelter, good health and sleep are all met; what else do we really want except to be happy?  Why does it seem so complicated sometimes?

Happiness is the subject of endless pontification.  Books, articles and poems have been written about it.  Documentaries have been made about it.  Studies have been done on it to determine who the happiest people on earth are, where and how do they live.  We are surrounded by so many platitudes on happiness that they become almost like wallpaper, no matter how wise they are:

  • Happiness can’t be bought
  • Follow your bliss
  • Count your blessings
  • Accentuate the positive

We know how important happiness is; so why does it seem so fleeting for so many people?  Why do we get so distracted by the circumstances of life that pull us down?

I came across a new happiness quote on Facebook (new to me anyway) that may shed some light on the situation:

 “Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble because that reason can be taken from you.”

Deepak Chopra

Hmmmm… interesting, right?  That Deepak Chopra is a pretty smart guy.  He makes a lot of sense.  Usually, we get happy because we have gotten something we’ve wanted: a car, a relationship, a job but then something happens and that initial elation begins to diminish and we begin looking for something new to regain that wonderful euphoric feeling.  The funny part is that as nice as it is to have the thing, what we really want is the feeling.

So, then the question is how do you get happy if you don’t feel happy right now and how do you stay happy?  That’s the rub isn’t it?  If happiness isn’t about getting what you want then how do you go about getting the feeling?  I’m hardly an expert on this but I have learned a few things that I will share with you now:

Be mindful:  When I get into my worst funks, it’s usually because something unpleasant has happened and I get caught up in it.  Before I know it, I let it sweep me into a place of self-pity where I convince myself I am a loser and things will never get better.  Sounds pretty grave; doesn’t it?  The easiest way to get out of a spiral like this is to realize that you are in it.  Check in with yourself: How are you feeling?  If you feel good, be grateful.  If you feel bad, identify it and then do something to nourish yourself and take the power away from your negative feelings and then refocus that energy into something positive.

Be Grateful:  Being grateful feels good and attracts more things to be grateful about.  Just try it.

Breathe:  Most of us in the west really don’t breathe very deeply at all. Taking a few deep breaths is like an act of personal power for me.  It is something you can do anytime, anywhere. You don’t need anyone else’s permission.  In my experience, it always makes me feel better.  One of the reasons for this is that breathing deeply encourages the parasympathetic nervous system to trigger a relaxation response rather than the “fight or flight” response which may be induced by a stressful situation.

Invite a better feeling:  Sometimes, we just feel crappy and overwhelmed.  Shit happens.  We get sick, hurt or heart-broken.  Forgive yourself if you are having trouble keeping a stiff upper lip through the pain but always stay open to feeling better.  One way to do that is through affirmations.  Acknowledge that things may be crappy right now but invite something better.  One of my favorite affirmations is from Louise Hay, “All is well.  Everything I need comes to me at the perfect moment.”  And it usually does.  That doesn’t mean I get everything when I want it always but by and large things always work out.

Last one!  This one may seem like being happy for a reason but it is one you have control over.

Do something you enjoy: One of the best ways to get your mind off your troubles and get happy is to do something you love.  Since my accident, I am very grateful to have this blog to write every week.  It gives me a continued sense of purpose while I am healing.   (Not to mention, it is also a way to communicate while my jaw is wired shut.)

What makes you happy for no reason?  I would love to hear your suggestions for boosting your mood.

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyhappy

ChauncyonGrass

Chauncy Boo Boo Puppy Pants Lenz

“All animals except man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it”

-Samuel Butler

 

 

 

 

Healing: Turning Why into What on the Road to Wellness

Almost always, after a personal trauma or crisis, the big question is, “Why did this happen to me?” … Why now… why me?  I experienced a double whammy of this after I fell on March 2nd.

Falling down a flight of stairs and being injured like I was seemed so unfair; I had just begun to feel like I was getting my act together after Hurricane Sandy and now this… why?  I realized though I already knew why.  It’s pretty simple.  It happened because I was careless and there are no mulligans in situations like this one.  What I really wanted to know was how to turn back time and get to do it again but hold the handrail this time.  Not gonna happen, Cynthia.

The better question is “What can I learn from this?”  Another is “how do I become better for having had this experience?”

One of the best ways I have discovered since Hurricane Sandy to stop feeling sorry for myself is to start counting blessings.  What are my blessings?  1. I am alive.  Several people have shared stories with me of people who had an accident similar to mine but didn’t fare nearly as well. 2.  I am grateful for what is working well: my brain, internal organs and spine are fine.  I can walk and breathe.  3.  I am thankful for the support that I have:  My parents have been helping me in so many different ways since this happened: food, shelter, care, making phone calls, talking me for me, scheduling and driving me to doctor appointments.  My friends and relatives have been texting me to check in because they know my jaw is wired shut and I can’t talk.  My dog Chauncy has only really left my side to eat (and to tussle with my folks’ bichon Lucy)  since I have been home from the hospital. 4.  I found a good doctor who has begun putting my mouth back together.  5. Percocet (I normally avoid pharmaceuticals but this situation has proven exceptional.)   6.  The bruises are fading.  7.  The swelling is going down.  I am fortunate in that I can go on and on.

Since I have begun this shift from self-pity to gratitude, I have noticed that I feel better.  I have a road ahead of me to recover from this accident but starting out on the right foot seems to make a really big difference.  If whatever, you focus on tends to expand then I choose to focus on being positive and believing in my body’s innate ability to heal.

Another opportunity I have here is to learn how to help my body heal itself.  Did you know that sea veggies and foods containing pectin are effective at helping the body rid itself of radiation?  Apples do extra duty in my case because they are also rich in malic acid, a natural pain reliever.  I know I will learn even more about how proper nutrition will aid my recovery.

Lastly, I don’t have the chance for a do-over or un-fall but I can recognize that I need to be more mindful and be present in each moment.  Before this happened, I remember feeling like I never quite had enough time to do everything I needed or wanted to do.  When Hurricane Sandy hit, I realized that present moment is all we have.  This fall has reminded me of that in a way I can never forget.

Love and Blessings to all,

Cynthia

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