Come share your thoughts..!
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 31, 2014 at 7:20 PM||comments (0)|
A 95-year-old newlywed Virginia man has died just weeks after his 96-year-old wife was taken away by family members to Florida.
Eddie Harrison died Tuesday in a hospital after suffering from influenza, said Rebecca Wright, who was caring for the couple in their Alexandria, Virginia, home. Harrison became distressed after his wife and longtime companion, 96-year-old Edith Hill, was taken away, Wright said. Wright is Hill's daughter.
"He lived for her, and she lived for him. It's the love story of the century," Wright said, recalling how they would dance, take walks and care for each other.
Harrison and Hill's marriage this year after 10 years of companionship was disputed in court. Their wedding was problematic because Hill has been declared legally incapacitated for several years. Another of Hill's daughters, Patricia Barber, contested the marriage, saying it would complicate the eventual distribution of Hill's estate. But Hill and Harrison said they wanted to stay together.
A judge appointed a new guardian for Hill to protect her interests, removing Barber and Wright as guardians, but left the marriage intact.
The interracial aspect of the marriage also was unique because the two longtime Virginians would not have been allowed to marry if they had met in their 20s, 30s or 40s under state law at the time.
On Dec. 6, Hill's guardian arrived to take Hill away to Barber's home in Florida for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. Police were called to the home during a traumatic 40-minute negotiation to convince Hill to leave, Wright said.
When Hill did not return home as planned after two weeks, Harrison began to realize she was not coming back, Wright said. Daisy Birch, a family friend, said Harrison was heartbroken. He also became ill with the flu and checked himself into a hospital.
A dispute continues between the two sisters, Barber and Wright, over Hill's affairs and place of residence.
By : Brett Zongker
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 31, 2014 at 6:55 PM||comments (0)|
The suicide of a transgender teen is catching national attention in part because of a suicide note she left behind online.
Leelah Alcorn, 17, of Kings Mills, Ohio, was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on I-71 about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to local media
“My death needs to mean something,” she wrote. “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f---ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
Alcorn's note explains that she has felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body ever since she was 4. Then she cried tears of joy when she learned what transgender meant at 14.
“After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was,” the suicide note reads. “I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.”
After her death, Alcorn’s mother was harshly criticized for referring to her child by her given name — “Joshua Ryan Alcorn” — and using male pronouns.
"My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck,” the mother wrote.
Alcorn requested that all of her belongings and savings be donated to transgender civil rights movements and support groups.
Many people took to Twitter to mourn her death using #LeelahAlcorn and criticize the continued injustice facing transgender people today.
Similarly, members of the LGBT community and their allies have already started to organize candlelight vigils for Alcorn. One such event, called #StandUp4Leelah, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
“This will be a short vigil but one that we feel must take place and one that will take a moment to educate, inform, and bring our community together to work towards a dream of one life. We may not have an instant fix but it's time to make it better,” the organizer wrote on the event's Facebook page.
Suicide rates in the transgender community are exceptionally high, with more than 50 percent of transgender teens reporting at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program.
By : Michael Walsh
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 31, 2014 at 5:40 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 31, 2014 at 7:15 AM||comments (0)|
“Do not judge by appearances; a rich heart may be under a poor coat.”
I grew up believing I was never enough. Ever. Not when I got all A’s in school. Not when I was in the talented and gifted program. Not when my father made more than enough money for me to buy whatever I wanted.
I became an adult who compared herself to others too, always wondering why I didn’t have what they had or why I wasn’t as pretty or as cool.
I brought this behavior into my relationships and my business. I would get super jealous to the point of stalking when it came to my romantic partners. I was controlling and pushy because I thought they would leave me for someone better.
In my business, I would obsess over other entrepreneurs and wonder how they “had it all,” convincing myself that no one cared what little ole me had to say. I played the victim all too well. And it kept me stuck, alone, and broke.
After a series of dramatic events, including a baby, a layoff, and a divorce—in one year—I hit rock bottom. It sucked, but that’s what it took for me to realize how terribly I was treating myself.
I committed to making changes in my life, my behavior, and my attitude. I had to embrace who I was and who I was going to become. I had to risk becoming nothing to become something.
If you catch yourself playing the comparison game often, it’s important to remember one thing: you don’t know anyone else’s story. You can only base your assumptions on what you see, and that’s a pretty shaky foundation to put all your bets on.
A complete shift in focus and mindset around these behaviors needs to happen. Here are some things I learned to do instead of comparing myself to others.
1. Compliment them:-
Most of the time, when you are jealous or comparing yourself to others, it’s because you think they have something you don’t. The natural instinct for most of us is to criticize them. We try to pump ourselves up in by putting them down.
It’s a terrible practice and it puts you at a low vibration, feeling even worse. Instead, find something you really admire about them and compliment them.
If it’s someone you know personally, send them a message or a note. If it’s someone you don’t know or someone with celebrity status, send a tweet or leave a nice comment on the blog. I guarantee you will brighten up their day and feel good about it.
2. Believe in yourself:-
You are a beautiful, amazing human being. You were put on this Earth to do something unique. We all are. Unfortunately for some, they never embrace it and end up living unhappily.
Believe you have a purpose and a mission in this life, whether it’s big or small. If you don’t believe it, then no one else will either. There are few people who will love you unconditionally. You should strive to be one of them.
3. Embrace your journey:-
The comparison game is a sneaky trick. It makes you think you are on the same path as everyone else. Though some paths may be similar, every person has a different journey. Embrace yours.
Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle. You have no idea how much this person struggled or how hard they worked to get where they are. Stay focused on your own path and forge ahead.
4. Find your awesome:-
Along with comparison comes a whole lot of negativity. We start beating ourselves up and talking badly about ourselves for not being as pretty, as smart, or as successful.
Remember, you are unique and awesome. You have talents, traits, and accomplishments that make you who you are. Write a list of amazing things about yourself and put it somewhere you can see it daily. Make it the background of your phone or computer and read it to yourself all the time.
5. Feel the fear:-
Most negativity comes from a place of fear. Fear of failure, success, looking silly, or being judged.
Fear is something that never goes away entirely. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is their ability to see the fear and continue anyway.
What are you afraid of? Identify it. Then ask yourself what’s the worse that could happen. Chances are, it’s not as bad as you think.
6. Live in alignment:-
When I was going through my personal struggles, most of it came because I wasn’t in tune with who I was. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was frazzled. Something felt off.
I had an insane work ethic, but I didn’t work on my relationships. I was preaching self-care, but I was overweight. When your life is not in alignment, it will always feel like something is missing.
Take a look at how you’re living. Are you in tune across the board? If not, examine the areas you need to focus on.
Comparison comes from a place of lack. If you find yourself doing this often, figure out what’s missing and where you can improve.
Chances are, the person you’re comparing yourself to is reflecting something back that needs expansion. Pay attention and trust yourself. There’s always a deeper meaning. Figure out what it is, so you can move forward.
By : Jenn Scalia
Visit her at : http://jennscalia.com/
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 27, 2014 at 7:25 AM||comments (0)|
Genre : Drama, Comedy, Romance
*The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory's Michelin-starred eatery....
A beautiful movie on the aesthetics of intercultural clash--connection of French & Indian Cultures; Languages, Landscapes, & FOOD/CUISINES....!!!
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 27, 2014 at 6:25 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 23, 2014 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 23, 2014 at 7:05 AM||comments (0)|
This is pretty incredible.
A wildlife photographer visiting Noakhali, Bangladesh, was able to witness -- and document -- an amazingly courageous teen risk his own life to save a drowning fawn, Caters News Service reports.
The boy waded into the fast current of a surging, swollen river in Noakhali, holding the deer above his head, even as he, himself, disappeared beneath the water at times.
Photographer Hasib Wahab said onlookers were worried the boy might drown in the dramatic attempt.
"My friend was even ready to jump into the river to save the boy," Wahab said, according to Grind TV. "But he made it, and when he returned, we thanked the boy. There were only five to seven people observe this situation but it was a phenomenal sight."
This is not the first time a deer has gotten itself into trouble. In the midst of the Black Forest Fire in El Paso County, Colo., last summer, a firefighter was spotted rescuing a baby deer from the oncoming flames.
In a similar situation, Jeff Slygh, of Canyon, Minn., saved a deer that had crashed through the ice of a nearby lake. He dragged it to safety in a canoe.
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 22, 2014 at 7:50 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 21, 2014 at 10:25 AM||comments (0)|
Rome (AFP) - More than 250 minor tremors have rattled the Florence region over the past three days, sparking alarm in Italy over the safety of Michelangelo's "David" statue.
According to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the two strongest shocks in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena Friday measured 3.8. and 4.1 on the Richter scale, though many others recorded early Saturday reached three to 3.5.
No one was hurt in the quakes, and fire fighters reported only minor structural damage near the epicentre about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) south of Florence.
Still, media reports said some 200 residents of the area preferred sleeping in campers, cars or tents in neighbouring areas Friday night rather than shaking at home.
The multitude of shocks has raised concerns for Florence's invaluable architectural and cultural patrimony.
On Saturday, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini announced the state is investing 200,000 euros ($245,000) for an anti-seismic plinth for Michelangelo's "David", a tourist magnet in Florence.
Last spring a study revealed that the renaissance masterpiece -- which was sculpted from a five tonne marble bloc that was already fissured -- was at risk of collapsing if "micro-fractures" within the legs expanded.
A platform to protect the statue from vibrations was ordered to address the problem but the recent quakes "make this project even more urgent," Franceschini said in a statement.
"A masterpiece like 'David' must not be left to any risk," he said.
Angelo Tartuferi, director of Florence's Accademia Gallery that houses the statue, told Italian news agency ANSA that with the financing provided, the platform should be ready for use within the year.
The last major earthquake in Italy was a 6.3-magnitude jolt that killed 309 people in the central town of L'Aquila in April 2009, and was preceded by several weeks of minor tremors.
The biggest seismic event in recent history in the Florence region dates back to 1895, when a quake with an estimated magnitude of 5.4 provoked considerable damage in the hills to the north of the city.
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 17, 2014 at 6:40 AM||comments (0)|
Agnieszka Radwanska and Urszula Radwanska took part in the charitable Noble Box project for the sixth year in a row - this year they helped two families in need...
Agnieszka Radwanska and Urszula Radwanska kept a charitable December tradition going recently, taking part in Szlachetna Paczka - or Noble Box - for the sixth year in a row.
Every year through the Noble Box project, volunteers go door to door throughout the year compiling a database of families in need, asking them what would help ease the pressures of the holidays. Then, for a three week period in November and December, donors are given a list to take with them to the supermarket, where they fill a shopping cart with the food, clothing and more to donate to them.
This year the Radwanskas helped two families from Krakow. The first one was a family with five kids under a desperate financial situation - their seven-year-old son is autistic and needs expensive treatment and therapy, and the father recently lost his job because he was driving him around to hospitals. Additionally, the mother recently had an accident that has been limiting her mobility.
The second family is a single mother and her seven-year-old son. The mother divorced her husband because he was abusing her - they recently moved out of the center for abused mothers into their own tiny apartment, and she's been working as a cleaner, but she's also still fighting depression.
Needless to say, the Radwanska sisters' help was in need - and they were happy to come through.
"We join the Noble Box project every year to help people who really are in need," Agnieszka Radwanska commented. "We believe that the Noble Box project can change people's lives, and it's really nice to be a part of it. It's a great joy to make others feel happy, at least for a little while."
The former World No.2 and Wimbledon finalist also enjoys shopping with her sister.
"I always try to buy gifts with my sister Ula," she said. "Two heads are better than one."
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 14, 2014 at 7:15 AM||comments (0)|
In the latest edition of GQ France, World No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a far cry from the tennis court as he models the best of winter coats and jackets in a 10-page spread.
For Tsonga, who has always been interested in fashion, it was an exciting chance to work with the creative team at GQ and an opportunity he relished.
"For me, it's something positive," said Tsonga during the photo shoot in Paris in October. "I'm really happy to do that and be on the other side as a man. Sometimes I'm able to buy magazines like GQ.
"I like to dress fashionably, it's great. I think GQ is the best magazine for me in terms of fashion for men. It's very cool and I'm very happy to do some photos for them."
The 29-year-old Tsonga compiled a 36-19 match record in 2014, highlighted by winning his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Toronto, beating Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer in succession.
He also finished runner-up in Marseille (l. to Gulbis) in February and recorded his 300th match win during the Internationali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
View Tsonga's GQ Photo Shoot : http://www.atpworldtour.com/Media/Photo-Landing.aspx?q=Tsonga%20GQ%20France
Source:- ATP Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 12, 2014 at 6:55 AM||comments (0)|
I am lucky! Not because I got voted sexiest; Because I just noticed God gave me a piece of ugly to carry with me to remind myself and others of how beautiful our imperfections make us....
My thumb used to repel people in school. Today I am posting it to millions like you who I know are just like me.... Beautifully imperfect!
Thank you God for this wonderful life. Make your weaknesses your strength. Be proud. You are beautiful.
(Bollywood Actor / Model)
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 11, 2014 at 6:25 AM||comments (0)|
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
On June 24th I got in a cab at the corner of 72nd and Broadway headed to JFK, hauling two huge suitcases full of medications, bug spray, sunscreen, gluten free foods, a bug tent (really), and cheap cotton clothing.
I checked in, made my way to the gate, and embarked on a 24-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Months of confusion and identity crisis brought me here.
Almost a full year ago, after returning from performing with a national tour that ended up being a lot less fun than I had dreamed, and having a foot surgery right after thanks to a doctor who made just a little mistake, I decided I wanted to try going off of Zoloft, which I had been on for the better part of six years to help with anxiety and depression.
This marked the beginning of what I am now referring to as my “Quarter Life Crisis.”
I started working with a life coach, began a dedicated daily meditation practice, joined a yoga studio, broke up with my boyfriend of three years, and read Brené Brown and Mark Nepo and Tara Brach and Byron Katie.
I went to a million and one auditions, suffered some major loneliness and isolation living in a studio apartment in a Manhattan winter, began letting my ex-boyfriend back into my life, and after several months of this, working so hard to keep myself afloat, I felt 100 percent lost.
I began asking hard questions, like “Why are you in showbiz? Are you just trying to prove something? Was this ever what you really wanted to do? Do you even like New York anymore?”
I sat in my apartment and ruminated; oscillating between feeling God profoundly (life is beautiful! Look—God is in that steam coming out of your humidifier!) and feeling painfully hopeless.
On one of my few gigs last spring, I was chatting with the make-up artist about her travels to Southeast Asia the previous summer.
She told me about the nonprofit organization she taught English with. Before she went to Vietnam, she felt uninspired and “over it”; after, she felt a new person. A light went off inside—maybe this is what I need to do!
In May I applied, and within weeks I had been interviewed and invited to join the trip to Duc Linh, a rural region about 100 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. I had five weeks to make up my mind, get my act together, and either board the plane or not.
I was terrified, but I said yes. I hoped that this trip would bring me some answers and force me to grow in the ways I needed to in order to make it through this no-mans-land of confusion, and into the next chapter of my life.
Duc Linh was nothing like I imagined and nothing like described. I taught English to a group of teenagers and some adults, and spent afternoons playing with little kids of all ages. They absolutely embraced me; it was unconditional love at first sight.
I felt simultaneously alone and isolated there, as well as overwhelmed by human interaction. The kids would yell “LOW-RAH!” as I walked by, run up to me, adorn me with flowers, touch my clothes, touch my hair, touch my armpits, and hold my hand, all while chattering away in Vietnamese.
I kept a blog and drafted posts that I assumed I would fully write and publish in a week or two, once I had learned some amazing, life-changing, clarifying lessons.
I couldn’t wait for several Oprah-worthy “aha!” moments. Those drafts remain drafts, and the “aha” moments came in smaller, less expected ways.
There was no “Aha! I want to be a (insert amazing profession that totally makes sense and clearly was my calling all this time)!”
It was more like “Aha! I can ride on the back of a bike with a fifteen-year-old kid who doesn’t speak my language, have no idea where we are going, and have an amazing adventure in a rambutan garden!”
Or, “Aha! I can become ‘big sister’ to a little girl and boy (Chi and Bao) without having a single conversation.”
And, probably the biggest one, “Aha! You are enough just as you are. They don’t care that the National Anthem you sang for them on the Fourth of July was totally off-key and had some improvised lyrics, they don’t care that you are a sweaty frizzy mess, they don’t even care that you can’t speak their language: they love you just for being here.”
For the first time in my privileged life, I was exposed to an impoverished world, to kids who had no idea what the heck I was talking about when I said “Broadway!?” and who looked at photos of Central Park and said “Wow! It’s like a resort!”
They wore the same clothes every day and played outside barefoot in the dirt. They slept in houses with tin or straw roofs and anywhere from one to four walls.
But they were happy. They were beautiful, and giving, and constantly smiling. I realized that the things I thought were important and necessary were not. I realized that the first world doesn’t hold the key to happiness anymore than the third world does.
My concerns in Vietnam were much more immediate than my American QLC (Quarter Life Crisis) concerns.
I recalled my QLC problems and thought man, what a luxury to be able to think about that nonsense! If I had a working shower and a bed and a quiet space, I would be perfectly happy!
After spending a month in Vietnam, I became completely amazed at the life I live.
In Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl writes, “A man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the ‘size’ of human suffering is absolutely relative.”
When I first returned from Vietnam I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my life, but over time the normal anxieties crept back in.
The confusion I experienced before I left Vietnam was still there, waiting for me in my apartment on 72nd and Broadway, saying, “What, you think you can just leave me here all summer and I would move out?”
Before I left for Vietnam, I had a great plan of how the following months would play out. I would learn a lot, grow heaps, and hopefully figure out my life purpose over the course of the month spent there (so reasonable).
Afterward, I would return to the city a new woman with new dreams and plans and a clear sense of purpose and direction. I would write a captivating article all about my transformation and it would be inspiring, motivational, and amazing.
Everything in my life up to that point would make sense, and I would look back on the last few years and say, “Ahhh, I see why all that happened. It was all to bring me here to this amazing place of self-actualization and peace.”
Alas, there is no amazing conclusion, no way to tie this piece with a clarifying bow.
Of all the lessons learned this summer, the greatest one may be “Wherever you go, there you are.”
I’m still here, confused and lost and scared—but maybe that’s okay.
Maybe all we can do is be where we are, do our best, and go out on a few limbs, not for the sake of finding answers, but for the sake of fully living.
By : Laura Volpacchio
Visit her at : http://duclinhdiaries.blogspot.com/
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 10, 2014 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
“Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”
This week I had the pleasure of waiting in a queue. Now, that is not normally something that I would be able to say, as I’m not the most patient woman.
The queue was for the immigration department in Chiang Mai, Thailand—a busy place full of people who were stressed because they were unsure about where to get a number for their place in the queue, unsure if they had the right paperwork, unsure how long the process would take, and unsure if their right to stay in the country would be extended.
Friends had warned me that I might be sitting in that crowded room for hours, so I had come prepared with postcards to write and a notepad to write my next newsletter. I did neither of those things.
Instead, I sat on the uncomfortable blue plastic chairs, observed the people around me, and observed myself. I watched people get grumpy and impatient. I watched the staff trying to do their job well while dealing with grumpy and impatient people.
I watched myself getting nervous about whether I had all of the documents that I would need to get my extension.
I watched myself getting impatient as the staff didn’t call the first number in the queue so that processing of applications could begin, right on the dot at 8.30AM. I was number fifteen.
I watched myself itching to ask the first person processed how long they would now have to wait for their passport to be stamped and returned to them.
Then I made a decision. None of this really mattered. Perhaps I would have to come back again if I had the wrong documents. Perhaps the queue would move at a crawl. Perhaps I would have to wait a long time to actually get my passport back. Perhaps I wouldn’t get an extension at all.
None of these things were inside my control, so I made the decision to let it all go. To sit quietly. To enjoy the time not doing anything “constructive.” To let my mind wander. To have a brief conversation with the family next to me, the kind you have when you don’t speak much Thai and they don’t speak much English but you understand each other perfectly.
My decision turned a stressful experience into a relaxing and, dare I say, enjoyable one. I even played a game with myself to guess the time that I would be able to leave. I guessed 10:00AM. I left at 9.55. Not bad at all!
This experience showed me that there is a massive difference in how I feel when I deliberately choose to view a situation in a different way.
I know that in the past in situations like this I wasn’t even aware that I had a choice as to how I felt. It’s taken some hard lessons and a growth in awareness to realize just how much influence I can have over my own feelings.
It turned out that the Universe had a reason for keeping me in that queue for as long as it did. As I was cycling back to the countryside, where I volunteer at a dog shelter, I came across a puppy in the middle of the road.
Five minutes either side of that moment and I might have missed the puppy or, worse still, have come across a tragedy on that busy country road.
I was able to get close enough to pick him up. I then had a dilemma; how would I get him back to the shelter, which was an hour’s walk away on a sweltering hot day?
Using my well-rested and relaxed brain, I came up with a solution. I emptied the contents of my bike’s basket into a bag I fashioned out of what I had, and then tied the puppy up in a spare shirt so he couldn’t wiggle about. Into the basket he went.
He sat in that basket the whole bumpy ride back to the shelter with the calmness of one who knew that this situation was outside of his control. He is now taken care of and was adopted after only nine days in the shelter.
The lesson I learned is that we always have a choice about how we feel about a situation. Even if we initially react poorly, we still have the power to change what we think and do next. It’s simply a matter of changing what is going on internally and making a conscious decision.
This week I’m grateful that I had the pleasure of waiting in a queue.
By : Andrea Jordan
Visit her at : http://learndiscoverbefree.com/
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 9, 2014 at 6:35 AM||comments (0)|
“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?”
From time to time during my schooling years I’d be asked to identify my role models. I always chose someone who’d changed the world in a big way—Martin Luther King Jnr, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi.
I never looked within my own life for role models. I had lovely parents and great teachers, and still, I was always looking well beyond what was right in front of me. I was always striving for something more, out there, beyond my own life.
As I reflect back, I see the dissatisfaction that this bred. I see how little I valued myself and by extension, my immediate surroundings. Somehow it all seemed… not good enough.
People and experiences that were far away from my hometown seemed so much more important and exciting.
It wasn’t until I started keeping a gratitude journal that this really began to change. I started the journal because I was depressed. Not sad—can’t-get-out-of-bed-or-even-talk-to-anyone depressed.
It would hit me on and off over the years, and the only coping mechanism I had at the time was to hide in my bedroom and breathe through the long and agonizing hours, waiting for it to pass.
A gratitude journal was the first tool I had to help me shift the fog. I would start very simply with the breath. I’d express gratitude that there was breath in my body (although at times I wasn’t even grateful for that).
Then I’d be grateful that I had a home and a bed to rest in while I recovered. I would then build from there in an attempt to find at least five things I was grateful for that day.
I wrote in that gratitude journal for a good couple of years before I started to see significant shifts in my perception of life. It was a slow and gradual process, but with each list I subtly turned my focus away from the world outside and toward my own life. Eventually, I turned my focus within.
As I began to value myself and my life more deeply, I also valued those around me more. I stopped judging them or dismissing them as unimportant.
I stopped thinking that there might be better people to be spending mytime with or emulating, and I started appreciating the people who were right in front of me.
Eventually, that brought me to appreciate my favorite role models of all time; a small handful of yoga students that I used to teach in an outdoor space by the ocean each Friday morning.
The students were all women and they were all over the age of fifty.
Although I’m sure they had very full lives and many reasons not to get out of their comfortable beds each Friday morning to do yoga, they would show up week after week, no matter the weather.
Some had injuries, some were recovering from illness and some were simply not as strong as they once were. It was this fact that most impressed me.
When you’re young and ably bodied, it’s not overly challenging to do something like yoga. Your body is reasonably supple and your muscle tone hasn’t atrophied with the passing of time. As you age, it’s easier to find excuses—arthritis or a bad hip, the onset of an illness, or injuries in your back or knees.
There’s a saying in yoga that the most difficult part of the practice is doing the practice. I’ve often found this to be true in my own life. It’s even more challenging when it’s dark outside and rainy and cold, and the alternative of staying in bed is right there in front of you.
But here were these women—perfectly ordinary, everyday women—making choices that made them extraordinary.
Every week they were the embodiment of the wisdom I’d learned through my gratitude journal; that with persistence and in small gentle steps, lives are transformed.
Those beautiful students came every week on faith and on trust. They worked hard to build upper body strength and flexibility.
I saw each of them giving it their all, and although I didn’t know them outside of the classroom, I knew that they understood the value of commitment, the value of continuing even when things are tough, and most of all, I knew that they were brave.
After class I would watch them swim in the ocean (no matter the season). They would swim and then they’d have breakfast together. Over breakfast they’d share stories about their lives.
Watching them, I realized something else about these women. They were women who knew how to build community around them. They weren’t isolated and lonely; they were a part of something.
They’d found a place to come together, to connect with themselves, to connect with nature, and to connect with each other.
In witnessing the simplicity and authenticity of this weekly ritual, I felt a deep gratitude that I’d been privileged enough to be both participant and witness.
I realized too that my gratitude journaling days had come full circle. That gratitude was no longer something I needed to draw from the depths of my being as a means of abating depression, but was instead a living, breathing everyday experience.
And in that moment there stopped being somewhere to go and someone to admire who was better, more accomplished, more intelligent, or more influential than me. There was, quite simply, the world and every living being within it.
All teaching through their actions and all learning through their interactions. All role models to one another and for one another. In that moment there was no separation and no isolation. There was only oneness, and it was all home.
Taking steps toward change can be so much simpler than we realize. We can start by noticing what’s around us and finding something to be grateful for in that.
We can stop looking far away for role models in the recognition that we’re surrounded by teachers everyday, and they’re showing up as our friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbours.
We can stop trying to force change to occur immediately and relax into the realization that change occurs through repetition and commitment—by continuing a practice (such as a gratitude journal) even when we’re not sure if it’s making a difference.
And we can remind ourselves that we always have a choice. We can choose to be a victim of our life circumstances or we can choose to build on what we have right in front of us.
My students could easily have stayed home, focusing on what their bodies could no longer do and what they felt they’d lost.
Instead, they chose what they could do. They could show up. They could build community. And in so doing they declared in actions rather than words, “We are enough. This life is enough and we are grateful.”
I couldn’t think of a more appropriate prayer to guide us each and every day.
By : Samantha Nolan-Smith
Visit her at : http://www.freedommembers.com/the-freedom-collective/