Tag Archives: Cynthia Lenz

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,


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Competitive Eating… Really?

I was driving home from Bellport on the Fourth of July when NPR announced the winners of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Joey “Jaws” Chestnut ate 69 hotdogs including buns in 10 minutes to take the men’s title.  My immediate reaction was “that’s disgusting.  How could someone do that to his body?”  The female winner, Sonya Thomas, downed 36.75 franks.  I was silently blech-ing in my head and wondering what is wrong with society.

Then the announcer said something that floored me: Sonya Thomas, aka the Black Widow, only weighs 100 pounds!  This did not jibe with my preconceived notion of what someone who would enter an eating contest would look like.  That evening, Missy Conn, who had seen the event on T.V., explained to me on Facebook that many competitive eaters “train like athletes” and “they have to be thin, so their stomachs can expand.”

Missy’s tidbit sufficiently blew my mind enough to check out the The Black Widow’s website.  In her FAQ section, she explains that she stays thin because, “These competitions and eating events occur but once or twice a month. They are the exception–not the rule. “   She also mentions that she generally eats healthfully: “lots of fruits, vegetables, rice, seafood, and chicken–not too much fried food. I sometimes enjoy sweets, but only in moderation.”  Thomas also does a two hour aerobic workout five days a week.  That explains how she stays so thin but is it still safe and healthy to stuff so much food in your body in such a short time span?

Major League Eating, the governing body that oversees these competitive eating contests, does have safety standards (or eludes to them on their website anyway):

MLE will not sanction or promote any events that do not adhere to proper safety regulations and the league believes that speed eating is only suitable for those 18 years of age or older and only in a controlled environment with appropriate rules and with an emergency medical technician present.

To me this roughly translates into them doing everything they can to make sure no one dies during a competition but does nothing to address what this rapid and mass consumption of processed food does to the human body.  After poking around a bit, I found a Huff Post article from last year in which Dr. David C. Metz, a professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that these over-eating competitors seem to have the ability to relax their stomachs, thus allowing them to expand well beyond the capacity of most humans.  They can consume roughly double what I could before having the urge to vomit.

Since most people do not have this stomach-capacity-expanding ability, it’s important that they don’t try it.  Metz is quoted in the article: “Not to mention, there are tremendous risks associated with stuffing the stomach to its capacity, even just one time — like rupturing the stomach, he says. “Make sure the public knows not to try this at home.”

While I am still disgusted that competitive eating contests exist, I have to stop short on saying that they shouldn’t.  The reason is I admire the passion these competitors have for their …um, “craft.”  The Black Widow states, “I want to be the # 1 competitive-eater in the world, period!”  That’s commitment! I love to see people pursue their dreams.  Everyone has to go with his or her own gut no pun intend- …well, okay maybe a little intended…

What are your thoughts on competitive eating?  Good clean fun or the contemporary versions of the food orgies that created the ancient vomitoriums?

Love and blessings to all,


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