Season of Appreciation

August Sunset

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States. It’s a commemoration I have never felt comfortable with since I became old enough to understand its meaning. I abhor the wars that caused so many men and women to sacrifice their lives, health and sometimes sanity. I want to honor the warriors, not the wars. I know that sometimes good comes from terrible events, I just wish we could learn to settle our differences in ways other than war. So, I’ll just say that I honor these warriors on one of the first days of appreciation that marks this season.

The other morning we had a glorious sunrise. Arizona is known for its sunrises and sunsets. Barry and I have hundreds of pictures taken from our front porch, or from the road outside our house. Each new glorious sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset, I’m filled with gratitude. I pay attention to the sunrises mostly in autumn, and winter because in summer sunrise is at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. and I’m not coherent at that time of morning. But the summer sunsets turn the landscape into a peachy golden flow. The quality of the light is unlike anything I had ever experienced before moving here. Unfortunately, I have not as yet been able to capture the effect with my phone camera. Which is actually something I like about that magical time of day. To appreciate what I’m describing, you have to be present when the sun turns the desert luminous.

In the autumn and winter, we are greeted by the sun streaming through our southern facing windows making gorgeous patterns on the walls and furniture. It greets me as I prepare breakfast and Barry’s lunch. It’s like a lovely companion.

When we first moved here, I noticed something I had never seen while living anywhere else. As the sky is beginning to lighten, or darken, a lavender band forms at the horizon reaching out in the opposite direction. When I lived in Portland, the sky was often obscured by clouds, and when I was younger, I didn’t pay close attention to the beauty of the nature around me.

I can no longer imagine living in a large city with the noise and fumes. I’m much older now and know the value of taking a moment to allow the beauty of nature to sink into my soul.

As we enter this holiday season, I plan to take time to be grateful for all the abundant splendor around me while I can.

I hope you have a magnificent weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Gratitude

December 2, 2014 Western Horizon sunrise view
December 2, 2014 Western Horizon sunrise view

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

“Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, and understanding.” –Alice Walker

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero

November seems to be the month when many of my Facebook friends are inspired to post one thing they are grateful for each day. I think it’s good to focus on gratitude, even if it’s only one month out of the year. Focusing on gratitude shifts our eyes outward instead of inward, and it helps us see the beauty instead of all the things going wrong in the world. It also makes me happier to focus on things for which I’m grateful.

One day I was talking with some friends and I mentioned the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets I can enjoy from my home. One of the people sneered and said, “Yes, all that beautiful red is caused by the chemicals and particulates in the air. Who wants to be grateful for that.” I felt sad for her, because she almost never sees the beauty in anything. What a sad life she must live, not to be grateful for anything good that comes her way. That’s why sometime in 2013, I decided to dedicate an entire journal to gratitude. Each day I write three or four things for which I’m grateful and it’s been quite a life changing experiment.

Today, I awoke before sunrise and was blessed with the beauty of the sun turning the thin layer of clouds red, pink and gold. I remembered what that woman had said about what caused the colors, and I decided to take pictures of them and use them in today’s post. I’m grateful for the beauty of the earth. It’s one of the most simple blessings we have, yet most of the time we’re too busy to notice.

Anyway, after taking the pictures, my thought processes went from how some people have a hard time being grateful, to the time in my own life when I was extremely serious and closed off. I was wound up pretty tight, not wanting to make any mistakes. You see, I didn’t like myself very much and I thought that if I was as perfect as possible, no one would notice the flaws I knew lurked deep inside. I was pessimistic and cynical most of the time, just like the woman I mentioned above. Life was a chore for me then and not much fun. But little by little, I began to unwind the tight control I had on myself.

The first thing I did that helped was to dedicate myself to a year of volunteer service through a program sponsored by my church. Talents that I didn’t know I had emerged. That made me feel better about myself, and I began to feel the smallest bit of gratitude that I wasn’t such a terrible creature after all.

As the years rolled by, I found more things for which I was grateful. When I began keeping a journal at the age of twenty-four, I got the idea to end my entries thanking God for all the love and support that was guiding me along my life journey. This opened my eyes to a larger world of things for which I could be grateful.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but eventually I realized that I liked who I’d become. I wasn’t perfect. I’d made plenty of mistakes throughout my life, but practicing gratitude allowed me to stop focusing so much on myself and my mistakes. What’s more, I noticed that everyone has some burden to bear, and dark places within that need healing. No one is perfect and trying to pretend that you are is exhausting.

A few months ago, one of my spiritual teachers challenged his readers to write three things that we were grateful for every day for two or three weeks. We had to pick three completely new things each day, no repeats were allowed. I took up the challenge, because, even though I was writing in my gratitude journal every day, I noticed that I was repeating myself quite a bit. My practice needed some revitalization.

Doing that was a shot in the arm for my personal growth. There are so many things big and small that we’re blessed with everyday. Noticing them leads us to lots of other wonderful things. For example, gratitude leads us to self-love, healing and finding our purpose. It leads us out of the dark times, or helps us cope with them when they come. Gratitude helps us discover new talents we didn’t know we possessed. It lightens our load and helps us have more fun.

I’m grateful that I let go of my cynicism, self-hatred and fear of being discovered. My life now is so much richer and happier. And when challenges present themselves, instead of yelling at God, I look for the lesson being presented to me.

What are the hidden things you can be grateful for throughout the holiday season, and beyond?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains
December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Live in the Moment

“I find it unusual that it is more socially acceptable to complain about what you have than it is to ask for what you want.”- Phil Lout

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”- Harriet Beecher Stowe

December Sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

The photo above is of an early December sunrise over the San Jose Mountains in Mexico. It’s a perfect visual representation, for, here we are again at the dawning of another new year. Each new year, my friends and colleagues make their resolutions and share them on social media sites. I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, because I like to examine my life day-to-day and make changes and adjustments as I go along. However, this time of year does invite reflection and, so, I’ve been thinking back over the past year and what I’ve learned. The things that stick out most as I write this is that each day is a new beginning, and I’ve learned to appreciate this very moment. I now appreciate where I am, what I’ve got, and trust that what I need will appear when I need it.

I don’t know about you, but for years I lived only in the future, “I can’t wait until such and such happens,” or I lived in the past, “What if this hadn’t happened, or I’d made that choice, or I wish I’d done this or that.”

In 2013, I worked hard on living in the present moment and appreciating my life as it is “right now”. I started a gratitude journal. In it I wrote down all the good things I had in that moment. That’s a practice I’ll continue, because it helps me focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Another miraculous realization was how concentrating on the task at hand, and telling myself, “At this moment, I have everything I need”, makes me feel less stressed and so much happier. Giving up complaining was a big adjustment in my thinking, but I’m so glad I turned away from it toward gratitude.

This is what happens when I tell myself I have everything I need in this very moment: The knot in my stomach relaxes, so does the tension in my shoulders. And something else happens; I let go of having to control the outcome of anything that is playing out in my life. It’s such a relief to trust God, or the Universe, or Higher Power to take care of my life. When I do that, it feels like I’m not alone, and like I have a partner watching my back.

If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, you can still benefit from living in and concentrating on the present moment. After all, as many a wise teacher has said, now is all we have. Worrying about how things are going to turn out just makes life miserable and it doesn’t help you, or anybody else you’re worrying about. As my sister says, “People think worry is love, but it’s not.” She’s right. Worry is a negative state of being, and if I’ve got a resolve for this or any year, it’s to get rid of as much negative thinking as I possibly can. Everyone can benefit from turning their thinking to more positive directions.

Another great thing happened to me this year. I changed the way I think about my writing. I found that when I concentrate on the work of writing, it flows. Worrying about all the stuff I’ll have to do after my book is ready to be published bogs down my creative process. So, living in the present moment and dipping into my creative fountain, makes me much more productive. When it’s time to turn my attention to marketing and promotion, I’ll concentrate on those tasks.

So, Happy New Year to all my readers. I’m grateful for your comments and continued support by reading and sharing these posts. I send my good thoughts out to all of you and hope you’ll find more positives in your life this year.