In my dreams, I dance! I dance with the practiced perfection and beauty of the most skilled ballerina. I am grace in motion. In reality, I stumble and fumble awkwardly, and the only joy my disjointed movements produce is from comic relief.
In my dreams, I sing! My voice is like that of the angels. It is pitch-perfect and capable of reaching the highest of highs and lowest of lows. But, in actuality, my voice falters, wavers madly off-key, and forgotten lyrics turn into an odd monotonous hum. My cats don’t mind. People though! That’s a different story.
In my dreams, the world is at peace. There are no wars, what makes us different is honored and respected, and our children grow up knowing they are loved and safe. Unfortunately, as the days unfold, the Utopia that I dream of appears to slip farther and farther away. None-the-less, I will not give up my dream.
The path to peace is complex and has many components. I believe one of them is gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion of the heart and the quality of being thankful or appreciative. Can something as simple as gratitude change the world? I believe it can. It has been scientifically proven that the practice of gratitude improves physical and mental health, increases empathy, reduces aggression, and opens doors to new relationships. In other words, it makes one feel better, experience more joy, be kinder to others, and make more friends. Gratitude changes everything.
Yet, how does one connect with gratitude during such a tumultuous time? Our country is more divided than ever. We are at war with one another over politics, religion, race, and so much more. Our angst, heightened by the COVID-19 Pandemic, serves to add fuel to the fire that was already burning. We are hurting, angry, confused, and grieving. Given the gravity of the issues we face, gratitude may even feel frivolous, or like a luxury we cannot afford.
Gratitude is not foolish or inconsequential. It may be the only thing that can bring brightness to an otherwise dark day. It will bring you joy and has the capability of healing your heart. To begin practicing gratitude, take a break from negativity. Let the news be the news, twitter be twitter, and Facebook be Facebook. It will be there when you return. Then, focus on something in or around your home that brings you joy. Take a walk and find beauty in nature! If that doesn’t work, consider calling a friend to tell them you love them, write a letter, pray, meditate, or begin a gratitude journal. Say thank you!
There are many avenues to peace. Gratitude is only one possibility. We all possess talents that can be used for good or not. We are living during a pivotal time in our country. This moment! Right now! Presently! We, the people, must act. We must use this time of unrest to create a better nation and world. What can you do to be part of the change? I challenge every one of you to think of and put into action practices that will create positive changes in the world.
In my dreams, the world is at peace.
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
____ L.R. Knost
Please consider participating in The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo (that’s me). The goal of the Gratitude Project is to promote better living through gratitude and to unite diverse populations through our shared experience of gratitude. Volunteer to have your photo taken while you ponder gratitude, and share a gratitude word or story. Images and stories will be published on social media, art exhibits, and more. Participation is anonymous unless the participant gives express permission. For more information go to gratitudebylakehouse.com or contact me at [email protected]
Song of The Post: This Is My Wish/Let There Be Peace On Earth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hajBdDM2qdg
Photography Website: https://www.lakehousephoto.com/
The Gratitude Project: http://gratitudebylakehouse.com/
2020© Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo. Unauthorized use or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Yesterday I was mad. Not just a little heated up, but over the top angry. And, the fact that I could not put my anger in its right place made me furious. Didn’t my anger know I had important things to do! 2020 is the year of Gratitude, and I have articles to write, plans to make, people to meet, photos to capture, and stories to gather. And didn’t my anger know that I am a woman of peace and love? My mission, no matter how lofty it seems, is to make this world a better place by uniting people with different ideas and belief systems.
The irony is that I was upset with an organization that has different ideas and belief system than my own. Yes, please, let me have that anger with a large helping of humility. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I glanced in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I want to say that I took the high road, let go of my anger, and continued my journey to spread peace and love to all the nations. But I felt I justified in my rage. I was right, and they were wrong. I recounted all the years of feeling discounted, rejected, and judged by this group. No, despite the image in the mirror, I held onto my anger. After all, I earned the right to feel this way.
I spent my entire day wondering how I, an angry woman, could move forward with The Gratitude Project. How could I launch a project to encourage the building of bridges between communities when, in this circumstance, I was refusing to place the first plank or hammer the first nail? Late in the evening, I found the answer. In an attempt to do something positive, I began to look at photographs that I had taken in the fall. Perhaps I could edit a few images. The first picture I saw brought tears to my eyes and I felt a knowing in my heart. I was humbled for the second time of the day.
The photo was of a Maple Tree. I have always thought if love were a tree, it would be a Maple. They are big, tall, strong, and have branches that extend slightly upturned like arms to hold children just right when they climb upon them. The light honey-brown wood is stunning and often used in home construction. If that is not enough, they even feed us with their sugary sap.
The Maple tree reminded me that we are all one. As I studied the image, I noticed first, the trunk, then branches, smaller branches, and finally the leaves. Each had a unique shape, color, and texture. The tree was magnificently complex and beautiful. My mind shifted and I began to think of the trunk of the tree as God, the branches as nations of people, breaking off into smaller and smaller groups, and finally, the leaves as individuals. Again, I thought, we are all one.
How is it then that my anger could possibly be justified? By withholding my love, forgiveness, and compassion from any group, I, in turn, withhold it from myself. I have been building and maintaining this wall of anger for over thirty years. Sadly, I only recently realized that it is not impacting the group that caused me pain. Instead, it has hurt the people I love the most and me. For that, I am truly sorry.
So, to answer the question, how will I, an angry woman, go forward with The Gratitude Project? I will deconstruct the wall. It will take time. It will take practice. And, it will take an abundance of Grace and Gratitude.
Authors Note: Would you or your organization (e.g., community group, retreat) like to participate in The Gratitude Project? Please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
Song of the Post: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) By BYU Noteworthy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Mtpk4jeVA
Instagram – The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo – https://www.instagram.com/gratitude_by_lakehouse_photo/
The Gratitude Project – https://lakehousecc.com/
Instagram – Lakehouse Photo & Living At The Lakehouse – https://www.instagram.com/livingatlakehouse/
2019© Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.