Adventures in Thanks-Living

Living the gift of life one breath at a time

Archive for the tag “breathe”

Just Breathe…and be Generous

The car hemorrhage

Bye, bye transmission!

Some days it can be tough to live with a spirit of generosity. Things happen. Details derail. Complications come up. What’s that old saying about the best laid plans?

It’s when our carefully laid plans or hopes and dreams are sidetracked that generosity becomes even more difficult. We look inward and focus on what’s wrong or what did not go as planned. Ironically, it’s at these frustrating moments in life when a spirit of generosity can be even more important.

Try this: The next time something inconvenient derails your daily plans, take a deep breath and take stock of your situation. Are you safe? Are you alive (well obviously if you’re doing this exercise)? Was anyone hurt? Will the world as you know it end because of what happened?

Most of the time the answer to all of these questions will put you in a frame of mind to be grateful–or at least help you to reflect on the situation more realistically. So your friend had to cancel lunch; maybe the dog could use an extra walk or you could use some quiet time. Maybe locking your keys in the car really isn’t the end of the world. Even not getting that job you thought you wanted so badly might have a silver lining before you realize it.

So how is this being generous? By being generous with yourself and with the situation, you allow yourself to be present in the moment. You open yourself to the possibility of thankfulness. You become aware of options that could have been oh so much worse.

A few weeks ago, my husband’s transmission blew in the driveway. It looked like a scene from “Garage CSI” complete with an undercarriage “bleed-out.” We had just moved to a new neighborhood and started new jobs. Fortunately, my husband caught one of our new neighbors at home who recommended a good garage and an excellent mechanic.

Getting to know this new mechanic has been a real blessing. He’s done an awesome job–both with putting in a good used transmission and with getting the transmission on our other car back in good order, too. Yes, we ended up spending what for us was a LOT of money. Yet as we look back and reflect on the situation we feel incredibly grateful. If this had happened a few months ago we might not have had the income stream to address it so readily. If the car had blown somewhere else, we might never have met this fine mechanic.We are grateful, and feeling grateful inspires us to be more generous in other ways because we recognize the extent of our blessings.

The flow of generous spirit–from my spouse who didn’t allow the situation to unsettle him, to the neighbor who was willing to help, to the mechanic who did amazing work–that same spirit of goodness and blessing keeps rolling on today and helps us to give thanks every day for our lives, for our blessings, and for the ability we have to make a difference for others by paying these blessings forward.

Ready for chemo in 2004 with a pony tail for Locks of Love

Chemo-bound in ’04 with ponytail for Locks of Love

Sure, not every situation can be solved as easily as a Chrysler van transmission, but even a grave illness or major life loss can be an opportunity to experience the amazing flow of generosity that’s part of life when we let it be. I can honestly look back almost a decade ago and say that my experience with breast cancer has left me with a more generous spirit, a more grateful heart, and joys I could have never imagined at the time of diagnosis.

So, dear friends, when life “gets your goat” and threatens to plan a pity party for you, STOP. Just breathe. Allow the spirit of generosity, of being present in the moment, and the joy of being alive wash over you. You, with the help of friends, neighbors, and the Creator of the Universe, can handle anything–somehow, some way. And looking back in that proverbial “rear view mirror” of experience, I can promise the perspective will probably look a whole lot different than it did in the midst of whatever happened. It may not be perfect (it might really stink), but you will find blessings. In turn, you can be generous with others and make this world a much better place.

Blessings on the new week that lies ahead.

Advertisements

Slow Down!

There’s absolutely no reason for being rushed along with the rush. Everybody should be free to go very slow. ~ Robert Frost

It’s finally Friday! Are you still scurrying around in a frenzied fever pitch? Is your to-do list all too handy? Do you have yourself booked solid for the weekend? Are you speeding through life as fast and furious as your little human self will take you?

Why? What’s the rush?

Think about it. You know the guy who tailgates you for several miles until he finally gets the clearance to whiz by you with an evil glare? You shake your head and drive on. Guess who ends up in front of you at the next traffic signal? Yes, that’s right. There sits Mr. Speedypants in all his grumpy glory. You just know he’s fuming. All that fuss and increased blood pressure for one car length’s advantage. What a pity!

You, on the other hand, are free to take your time, to enjoy the day, to treasure the moment. Unless you’re more prone to behave like Mr. Speedypants, that is. I will admit that I have my speedypants days, more often than I’d like to acknowledge.

But here’s what I’m learning. Speeding through life is not worth it. Savoring life moment by moment is better. Being mindful enough to slow down and really live, to truly appreciate what it means to be drawing breath and taking nourishment, is a much more thankful way to live.

You are free to go slowly and deliberately through life. You really do have a startling degree of choice about whether to rush about like an angry tornado or move gracefully and calmly through your own life.

What might it take to slow down and savor your one precious life?

  • Do you need to do a better job of saying no to excess commitments and obligations?
  • Do you need to learn to pare down your wants and live beneath your means?
  • Do you need to take all of your vacation time and quit worrying about whether your job will be o.k. without you?
  • Do you need to unplug and take a tech Sabbath?
  • Do you need to simply take a real day of Sabbath rest on a regular basis?
  • Do you need to put family and friends above money and stuff?
  • Do you need to reconnect with the natural world?
  • Do you need to lay off the fast food and enjoy some slow cooking with fresh, local ingredients?

What else might you need to decrease the speed of your days and increase your capacity for thanks-living?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I am a work in progress. Right now, however, I pledge to make tomorrow (Saturday) a day where I am free to go very slow, to focus on living, giving, and sharing. How about you? What can you do to enjoy a slow day, month, year, or rest of your life?

Photo by dannysullivan used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Post Navigation