I don’t think I’m too weird, but the small thing that I use daily for which I am most grateful and which was the first thought that came to mind truly was My Toothbrush (in conjunction with toothpaste). I can’t quite wax poetic over dental hygiene … but, don’t you agree a fresh mouth in the morning, and a fresh mouth at night is pretty fantastic. Such a great tool, don’t you think? Much more refreshing than say, chewing on a stick you’ve pulled off of a tree branch; although that does work in a pinch. Can’t say much more than that … well, except I am grateful for toothbrushes.
For what form of expression am I most grateful? Well, the answer to that interesting question would be Words. The written word and worlds that they create are my favorite form of expression. I love to write … especially if I can keep the fierce critic in my head quiet. It’s always lurking, always judging, always comparing ready to offer its negativity to encourage me to stop trying. I’ve named it Shrew and often yell at it as did Smeagol to his Gollum looking into his mirrored reflection … “Leave and Never come back”!
It does come back, but now that I’ve named it, and imagined its form as small and weak and powerless though it keeps trying to live by sucking life off of me … sort of like Voldemort’s weak succubus fed off of poor professor Quirrell … it is easier to dismiss, and make it be quiet.
Like any negative thought once exposed to the light the darkness flees. So whatever or whoever your inner critic is, kick it out of it power place, and let yourself go free to express your art, music, dance, design, cook, garden, or like me, write … Just let go, create, and send it out to the universe. You know we are meant to create, to explore and to bring new into the world.
For what moment this week am I most grateful is the sweet awareness of eternity I had thinking of this question. On Thanksgiving day, after a taste-bud popping dinner I stood snuggin’ with my youngest grand-grandson Konrad (1 month old) as his mother hovered next to me and then I looked toward my mom, the matriarch of our family. I saw in that moment a family line as long as men and women have been on the earth. Awesome!
One month ago Konrad was in the spirit world anxious to arrive and begin his journey in mortality. My mother is 87, she occasionally says she’s ready to continue back through the veil to be reunited with my dad, her eternal companion, with her parents and family and friends who’ve gone ahead. And I’m on the other side of the middle watching the lines of my posterity spread before me and I envision all the generations to come and I also can feel the eyes and hearts of the generations that came before.
How grateful I am for the wisdom and love of our Heavenly Father and his plan for us to gain mortal bodies and experiences. Grateful for my agency that throughout my life I may choose Him, choose keep His commandments, and know Him. That through the divine atonement of his son, Jesus Christ, through His grace we may be saved and gain eternal life.
How grateful I am for the sealing power of the restored priesthood and for my knowledge that Families Can Be Together Forever. That we may be married in God’s temples for not only time, but for all eternity; with our families sealed together generations beyond generations … as part of the eternal family of God.
What an extraordinary moment.
Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are dedicated to the Lord. Each temple carries the inscription House of the Lord * Holiness to the Lord and most are topped with a golden Angel Moroni heralding the restoration and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the last time in this the last dispensation before the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Today’s thought provoking question is: For What Challenge am I Grateful? And the Million Dollar ball dropped onto … Starting a climb to the top of the Great Wall in China and making it to the top.
My traveling partner Faye, a much younger and much fitter friend (think wildland firefighter fit) and I started up the steps, casually at first along with hundred of other tourists. Every so often there would be a landing as the stairs changed direction … think a very steep road of continuous switch-backs, though without any easy grade change. It was always straight up hill.
You’re asking so what’s so difficult about climbing some stairs? These stairs aren’t standard measurements, like climbing the Eiffel Tower, but are ever changing heights and depths; 6 inches, 9 inches, 15 inches, 4 inches and depths were like 10 inches, 26 inches, 8 inches … each one smooth, slick, and worn deep from millions of feet over thousands of years. You can’t get into a climbing rhythm with changes like that. Add into the mix the count down clock given us by our tour guide; you have 1 hour here before we leave for the tea plantation.
My thought was to climb a bit then stop for a photo op and return. That was not Faye’s thought, no, not at all. I’ve not come all the way to China to climb up this wall and stop part way. Up we continued, at first I tried to keep pace with Faye’s running feet, but she soon out paced me. She would run up to the next landing, look down toward me and urge me on. Me? I fell into a trudge, a stair at a time, huffing and puffing as I tried to keep up with her. Every now and again, I’d say, I’ve had it, this is it, I’m not going any farther. And Faye, friend that she is, would yell back at me, you can do this and if you don’t I’ll tell everyone at work that you whimped out. I wouldn’t let that happen, so I continued plodding up the stairs, pushing on my knees at times to keep them from shaking out from under me as I stretched for those extra tall steps.
Finally I could see the watch tower 100 steps above me and Faye’s face leaning over the path ledge urging me on, encouraging me to make that final grade, that final push. As I gasped for air leaning against the base of the tower, Faye said, we can go inside and to the top of the tower … what? more stairs? She said, “I waited for you so we could go up together”.
How grateful I am for Faye’s laughter and encouragement that helped me reach that pinnacle in the sky. If it weren’t for her shouting and calling and walking next to me I would not have made it to the top of the tower. Isn’t that how we reach success most often in our lives? We don’t really do things ‘ourselves’. We have cheerleaders, we have mentors, we have parents and friends, we have teachers and coaches guiding us, encouraging us to reach higher than we think we can. Encouraging us to see ourselves from the top of the tower and so we might feel the sweetness of success.
Like standing next to my friend looking down at the throngs of people at the base of the stairs at the bottom of the mountain, and saw them rather rapidly thin out as the climb steepened and sheer stamina alone couldn’t pull them up … like the 8 of us standing at the top of that tower, 4 pair of friends each standing in awe at what we had accomplished together.
That awe lasted just a few minutes then we ran sliding and slipping downward to meet our bus … we were the last ones on of course, but the only ones to reach the summit. (Yes, they had to wait longer than an hour, but not by much.)
Okay, I admit it, I’m not an audiophile. I haven’t ‘crushed’ on a song probably since Jr. High School, where I would listen to the radio for hours with my cassette tape recorder at the ready to capture ‘that song’. However, there is music that is the sound track of my life, or periods of my life. Like a smell caught on a breeze that opens memories, music does that too. I will tell you that I am emphatic about this statement …. I despise “classic rock”. Mostly music from my High School years … tell me, just how many times can a person hear The Who’s Tommy, the Lovin’ Spoonfuls I Believe in Magic, or the Beatles Yellow Submarine, and others ad nauseum? It gives me the creeps.
That said I do listen to different radio & satellite stations while I’m driving and I have tried to keep up with music trends; so I can at least be semi-aware and have some common ground with my family & friends who are music lovers. I don’t do that much anymore. I’ve found I’ve become more aware of the lyrics, even if there is a catchy melody, and for the most part I don’t hear much that gives me joy. What I hear is ugliness against others, about others. I find it degrading to people, women in particular. It degrades love and I feel a lot of it sends negativity into the world and is the antithesis of light, joy, and happiness.
You can tell that pondering today’s blog thought took me afield from for what song am I most grateful. With all of my griping about old music here is a handful of music that always makes me smile and turns light on in my heart and gives me joy.
Louie Armstrong: What a Wonderful World
Lee Ann Womack: I Hope You Dance
Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus
W.W. Phelps: The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning
*All music links are via published YouTube links.
Have you ever used a brain-storm connections chart? Circles and lines, boxes and dots, large arrows and small, here a color, there a color to describe conditions or choices. In the end the lines of greatest impact are visibly represented, areas of import highlighted. That is what swirled within my mind as I reviewed today’s gratitude thought: for whom in my life am I grateful?
Of course my parents and progenitors were significantly highlighted. Friends forever, friends for a while, acquaintances for now and those who left impressions for good or bad in our passing. The lessons I’ve learned from them have often changed the direction of my life, brought joy or pain, brought illumination of heart and soul, or sometimes a cloud of darkness and fear.
Today’s brainstorming chart filtered down to Mrs. Rambeau, my first grade teacher. She not only taught me to read and write, but she taught me a greater lesson about love, about my responsibility for caring for one another, and for my actions.
She taught that lesson on a rug in the corner of our classroom. Some of us were bullying a girl. We had made fun of her and made her cry. We hurt her heart so badly she didn’t want to come back into the classroom. I don’t recall what or why this group of girls coalesced against her, but we did. Not willing to let a teaching moment pass, Mrs. Rambeau sent the boys back outside and called us “onto the carpet”.
I remember sitting in a semi-circle facing her. I remember her eyes were sad, but her voice was firm and I remember this as the first time I felt shame for my choice and behavior. She didn’t yell, she didn’t demean, she spoke softly of kindness, of caring, of seeing ourselves in this young girl’s place. She taught me empathy in those few minutes. She also taught me that saying I’m sorry is only the first step in repairing the damage caused by my actions. I have to show that I have changed by doing something to reach out and be a positive change in their life or circumstance.
Today I am grateful that I had Mrs. Rambeau in my life. She was a gift. I sincerely try to be kind, more caring, more willing to walk in someone else’s shoes than I am a ‘mean girl’; some days I am more successful than others. To that end my friends, if you’ve felt any pain or fear from my actions or words, I sincerely apologize and ask your forgiveness. I’m sorry, is there some way I might make it up to you?