Category Archives: Mindfulness

The Fine Art of Appreciating You . . .

How much can you appreciate you? Make your appreciation as big, bold & beautiful as you are . . .

Recently as I was planning my day, the words “appreciate you” bubbled up. I jotted “Spend the day appreciating you” in my magical day planner with a few, but not many, other items to do. I just knew that I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my day of “appreciating me.”

Appreciating myself, not my accomplishments, but just me, isn’t something I was taught. I wasn’t taught that I wasn’t worthy of appreciation. It just wasn’t something we made time to do. There were so many “important things” at hand.

And so, on this Sunday morning, I decided to devote the day to “appreciating me.” I began by reflecting on my qualities, way of being, perspectives, strengths, weaknesses, basically the whole spontaneous, beautiful, messy package of me.

There’s no right way to appreciate you. Follow the guidance that comes to you . . .

I immediately wrote out a list of 31 things I appreciate about me. (Sounds like alot, I know.) Next, I appreciated each and every item on the list and the list-making process. I planned to take “appreciation pauses” throughout the day, which I promptly forgot and which I notice I’m remembering more often as the days go by. I read “My Appreciation List” every day during my morning mintues — quiet time I devote to me.

According to a post by The Purpose Institute on Nov. 13, 2015, to appreciate can mean:

  • To be fully conscious of,
  • To hold in high regard,
  • To be grateful for,
  • To increase.

Let’s play with “appreciating us” and see where it leads, what we notice, what surprises us. Whether you create an appreciation list, poster, love song, rhyme, jar or some other wonderful way of appreciating your gifts and grace, happy appreciating!!!

“Patience,” she laughs . . .

I used to ask nuns to pray for me to be more patient.  This is funny because I’m not Catholic.  However, one thing I’ve learned in life is that if you have a hard task ahead that most would dismiss as hopeless, the nuns have a better than average chance of getting it done.

Knowing how busy the nuns are and being an independent sort, I waited to make my request until a myriad of other attempts (meditation, relaxation, visualization, yoga, walking, dietary changes, reframing, etc., etc., etc.) produced only lackluster results.  I had an “impatience” problem and was pretty much at “my wit’s end” when I turned to an often-overlooked strategy:  prayer.  I prayed and I sought assistance from some of the foremost leaders in prayer in the world — the nuns.

My impatience tended to coalesce most quickly around gender injustice, although race and socioeconomic issues could also set me off.  In my estimation, my impatience was entirely justified.  After all, had patriarchy not been a social system in parts of the world for 5,000 + years?  Be that as it may, the rage my impatience induced was unhelpful, exhausting, and taking a toll on my well-being.  The “p-word” was winning again. 

A memorably troubling moment occurred when a wise friend who worked with gender disparities globally (not a nun) patiently explained that impatience was “a western problem.”  Gulp.  The inherent truth of her words hit me in the gut.  Who, but members of the most privileged societies, would be arrogant enough to assume that an issue that has dogged and impeded humanity for thousands of years could be resolved in a single lifetime?  (Overdue or not.) 

Healing an impatience problem can feel like walking on cactus . . .

Being a pragmatist, I realized that if patriarchy was not going to be vanquished any time soon, I had best turn my impatience problem over to higher powers AND look more deeply at the privilege inherent in its roots.  This journey began 18 years ago.  I’ll always be recovering from my impatience problem and there have been more relapses along the way than I can count or care to admit.  Happily the two-pronged approach of letting go and asking for help while compassionately exploring my accountability seems to have strengthened my patience muscles and freed me to engage in steadier, more productive courses of action.

Hopefully, you don’t have an impatience problem. Since you’re human, there may be something that’s causing you and the people around you to suffer more than necessary. If you’re lucky perhaps you know some nuns who can help.  

Staying Grounded in Tricky Times

It’s hot.  There’s a global pandemic.  The election is 96 days away.  Racial and general unrest is rocking our cities.  The short- to mid-term economic outlook is, at best, uncertain.  Tempers flare.  Sparks fly.  Blood pressure rises. 

I am privileged and the fabric of my days has changed dramatically since mid-March.  I go to the market, occasionally get a take-out coffee or meal, meet colleagues and friends on Zoom, and enjoy family photos and phone calls rather than in-person visits.  I wear a mask when I’m out and about.

Strengthened by meditation & prayer

After witnessing a few particularly charged interactions, I decided to share practices that are making it easier for me to stay centered in the hope that you’ll share some of yours as well.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  • For the last 54 days, I’ve risen early and started my day with 45 minutes of meditation and prayer,
  • I’m drinking lots of water – regular and coconut – aiming for roughly half the equivalent of my weight in ounces,
  • I do my best to spend at least as much time performing activities like reading, writing, cooking, weeding as I do on the screen,
  • After dinner, weather-permitting, I spend 20 minutes in the hammock staring up at the clouds, hummingbirds, owls, leaves, butterflies, bees, or whatever is right in front of me,
  • Three to four times a week, we take a 20+ mile bike ride to enjoy nature and move our bodies,
  • Three or four times a week, my yoga mat and I spend an extended time together,
  • When friends come to mind, I send cards, usually by local artists,
  • Appreciating, purchasing, preparing and serving dishes of organic, locally-grown produce has become a daily ritual,
  • I’m working more intently than ever to align my work, purchases and contributions with my values,
  • Sometimes because it’s so energizing, I just let it all go and act silly, laugh and be weird.

It’s definitely true.  There are serious matters at hand.  There have been for centuries and, with any luck, there will continue to be. 

My intention has become to FIRST appreciate the joy and beauty of living and what is working and then move from that place.  I don’t know that the new patterns I’ve formed will change as our world does and I don’t know that they won’t.  My plan is to enjoy them while I can.

Be well, all,

Sherry