7 Ways to Grow an Attitude of Appreciation

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Ah, the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. Turkey, pumpkin pies, family gatherings (blood kin and the ones we create) and yesterday’s leftover sermons about gratitude.

Gratitude is incredibly easy to discuss and personalizes so well. “I am grateful for the sun warming my neck, the roof over my head, my family’s health and work that feeds my soul.”

The words swiftly roll off the tongue like a baseball released from a pitcher’s hand.

Not too long ago, one of my blogging colleagues posted an article about substituting the word appreciation for gratitude. I like Angela’s suggestion.

Angela Artemis believes that the words grateful and even thankful have a smidge of desperation and obligation to them. They can also invite feelings of guilt if you don’t repay your debt of gratitude. “The more I think about it, the more I feel that appreciation is a better word to ‘expand what we focus on,'” Angela explains.

What is an Attitude of Appreciation?

There is a spiritual axiom that says what we think about expands. If I’m thinking unkind things about myself, the chances are good that I will attract not-so-good things, and worse, behave with all the verve of someone wounded by her thoughts.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called “Bringing Guilt to Forgiveness.” One of the things I wrote about was how past instances involving feelings of guilt can completely wreck a perfectly fine day today.

“When you think about it, any present guilt you feel is a byproduct of something that has happened in the past.  My ego loves guilt because it can keep a toe-hold on my past supposedly for my benefit.”

What does guilt have to do with appreciation? It’s a rotten juju attitude and it completely blocks the sunlight of appreciation!

An attitude of appreciation generates awe for the expected and unexpected details of your life. Done right and each day becomes one that cultivates hope and gladness no matter outward appearances.

People in my world talk about doing the right thing even if your ass is falling off. That comes from growing an attitude of appreciation.

Shall we move on?

7 Ways to Grow

1. Learn how to dig deep. Fran Sorin’s bestseller, Digging Deepturns acts of gardening into glorious moments of appreciation. “You tap into the flow of a garden by being fully present and completely immersing yourself to the act of tending. You don’t create flow; your surrender to it.”

2. Learn how to count. I’m reading Julia Cameron’s The Prosperous Heart, Creating a Life of Enough and one of her tenants to retraining the mind to believe in abundance is to count. Money in. Money out. Simple, effective and proven to grow appreciative powers.

3. Learn to lean in. We have a tendency to straighten our shoulders and pull back from challenging situations. People with an attitude of appreciation lean in as if to say, “Bring it on.”

4. Learn to see everything as an opportunity. I’ve heard my friend Tess Marshall say, after something goes wrong or simply doesn’t turn out the way she planned, “Oh well. Who cares? Next?”

5. Learn to let go of any fear you may have about money, or more specifically, not having enough. Yes, most of us are taught at a young age that we have to fight others for a very small portion of “IT,” whatever it is. Let that stuff go! We live in a universe of absolute abundance and if you believe nothing else, believe that truth.

6. Learn to respond with positivity. I just interviewed Justin Luke Riley, president and CEO of Young People in Recovery. When I asked how he was, you know what he said with complete conviction? Justin said, “I’m living the dream.”

7. Learn to be of service to others. Doesn’t matter who you serve or how. Just make sure, as Justin said when we talked, that you never think you’re too good to stack chairs (or empty trash or run a vacuum cleaner).

What are some other ways that you use to grow an attitude of appreciation? Please share in the comments below and if you like this article, I’d love it if you’d tell your Facebook and Twitter fans.

Photo courtesy of pippalou

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Mindful People in Recovery Manifesto: Free!

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People are writing all kinds of manifestos these days. Lifehack.org even published a cool post called “10 Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos” that includes several worthy of emulation. But please finish reading here before you click away . . .

By definition, a manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.

I’ve held a vision for this blog since its inception in May of 2010–to share and explore how mindfulness and presence lead to a happier life. It’s a pretty simple mission.

Somewhere along the line I began to incorporate a recovery theme too and for a while split the posts between the two themes. But I soon began to feel like a house divided because I thought I was writing for two different audiences.

Wait. Don’t mindfulness and recovery naturally go together?

This past summer, a spiritual two-by-four smacked against my head. GUS (God-Universe-Spirit) had my attention. Ow.

Anybody who lives on a successful recovery path is mindful and anyone who is mindful has the ability to recover from anything.

Oreo cookie, anyone?

I began to watch people in recovery and easily noticed that people who were mostly happy, joyous and free from worry and fear had some sort of mindful practice.

Conversely, people with a well-developed sense of mindful presence tended to rather easily bounce back from life’s more shitty moments. They recovered from a mental, spiritual or physical deficiency with grace and dignity. I’ve witnessed that too.

Getting back to the Manifesto

Then I made another observation. Mindful people tend to intuitively know how to bounce back. Their faith is instinctual so they have at least an idea of where to turn for help or who to consult to start the process.

But with people new to recovery, the concept of mindfulness is foreign; therefore practicing presence is like teaching a rescued stray greyhound who’s only known homelessness how to play with dog toys. So what if the hedgehog squeaks?

The Mindful People in Recovery Manifesto is that squeaky hedgehog toy.

The MPR Manifesto is a terrific summarized reminder of the truths of recovery for those in long-term recovery as well.

If it resonates with you, I’d love it if you’d tell your friends, your colleagues, and anyone you know in recovery about the MPR Manifesto. Post it on your bathroom mirror, next to your computer or on your refrigerator. Share please with your social media connections.

Let’s start a Mindful People in Recovery Revolution. Let’s advocate for the continued Oreo-cookie connection between mindfulness and recovery. But please don’t dunk the Manifesto. It’s not milk proof.

The MPR Manifesto1 231x300 Mindful People in Recovery Manifesto: Free!

Here is your free copy to download. And don’t forget to share on social media!

Photo courtesy of Penywise

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#RightsForRecovery: Advocacy in Texas

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There’s something rotten in the city of Plano, TX.

The neighborhood around Bentley Place, a transitional living home for men in long-term recovery from substance use disorders, stinks with NIMBY–Not In My Back Yard. Worse, city officials are breaking laws of decency and humanity instead of enforcing them as they turn their collective heads and close their small minds.

The owner of Bentley Place, Michelle Adams, its residents, and their landlord are under attack.

Citywide ignorance

Neighbors have made false allegations of drug deals. City officials have harassed neighbors by going door-to-door at all hours gathering information about so-called wrongdoings.  Police are following up on complaints when cars are not parked the exact distance from a curb.

The Narcotics Division even paid a visit to the house (no drugs on the property!) and, finally, there has been the threat of a lawsuit against the landlord.

Why? Because neighbors, and apparently the city of Plano, are misinformed about people in long-term recovery. For the moment at least, they would rather intimidate and discriminate than receive education about how recovery works.

Michelle hopes to quietly change their perceptions. She wants to make a difference in the neighborhood; she’s all about education, information and collaboration. Michelle wants folks to know that people with substance use disorders can and do lead lives in recovery on par with the daily lives of Bentley Place neighbors–but they need help getting there.

Federal fair housing laws

At Bentley Place, and hundreds of other recovery houses across the country–people in recovery regain their lives under protection afforded by federal fair housing laws. These residents meet house expectations that they’ll get jobs, tend to their chosen recovery path, share household duties and above all, maintain their recovery.

Michelle, herself in long-term recovery, knows first-hand what it’s like to feel the unsavory weight of discrimination. When she left prison after serving 13 months for three felony drug charges, she couldn’t get an apartment in her name.

“I decided at that point I never wanted to see another woman with the look in her eyes that I had,” Michelle said.

It wasn’t long before she opened her first recovery residence–Recovery Inn for women–in 2008.

Ironically, she had help from the Small Business Development Center in Plano. Michelle also brokered a mentoring arrangement between her residents and students and professors of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and with members of St. Andrew United Methodist Church, also located in Plano.

Organizing peaceful support

Michelle has no interest in retaliation against her Plano neighbors. Instead, she and Young People in Recovery-Texas, will hold a large-scale vigil this Saturday in support of all recovery residences dealing with discrimination and harassment from the communities charged by federal mandate to protect them.

“This organization of support isn’t to combat the city or the neighbors–it’s to educate and inform,” says Robert Ashford, chapter lead and board member Young People in Recovery. “Protesting is often about anger and violence; rallying for recovery is something different, something more. We are lending our voices to those who need to be empowered, joining with them to educate those who seem to be heartily misinformed about what recovery is, and what it looks like.”

In addition to the local event, satellite locations will set up in San Antonio, Lubbock, Houston, and Austin. This case will be watched closely by recovery advocates across the country.

Why should you care?

You should care about Bentley Place because its mistreatment symbolizes the agony of discrimination felt by people in recovery every time they can’t get a job or insurance–or a place to live.

Society–including neighborhoods and cities–should see to it that its citizens get every ounce of support they need. People in transitional recovery homes are our sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings, coworkers, pew mates and fellow Rotarians.

Would we treat the people within the walls of our home the way the folks at Bentley Place are being treated? Of course not. So let’s extend a hand of compassion and an arm of support.

As Michelle says, “Let’s all row our boats in the same direction.”

If you’re local to Dallas/Ft. Worth, come out on Saturday night to 4021 Carmichael Dr., Plano TX 75024, at 7 p.m. Don’t come early because from 5-7, Michelle and her staff will open their doors to neighbors who do want to learn about recovery or at least get a free cup of coffee and a cookie.

If you can’t be with us in person, please consider supporting the cause on social media using the hashtag #RightsForRecovery.

See you Saturday night!

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Unearthing Faith Again

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Fran Sorin’s Amazon best-selling book is still on my mind. If you saw Monday’s post, you know that Digging Deep is a great practical and metaphorical guide to getting right with the earth and your spirit.

It’s the latter that consumes me today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and I’ve realized that my faith has been as stuck as a shovel in clay-packed Texas dirt.

I read in the Daily Word this morning that I am rooted in God. “I am never separate from God because God is everywhere present.”

Then, I read in one of my recovery guidebooks that growing through challenges is akin to asking God to prune us back so that we can grow stronger.

It’s a plethora of horticultural messages!

Tweet: I may be rooted in God, but my faith can sure decide to root-rot from time to time. @bheretoday #DiggingDeep

That’s when I know I haven’t been feeding my faith the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Every plant (and every human) needs a good pruning

Faith grows stronger at the point where it’s been seemingly cut away.

After the pruning is the time to pour extra nourishment on the site because it may need special protection and care for awhile.

It’s important to keep the area clean–so no thoughts of lack or limitation are allowed. It’s almost as if the newly exposed area of faith needs a quarantine for a time.

We should be mindful of not exposing pruned areas to the elements that could cause harm. You might even consider a light covering, like a tent to ward off a springtime frost against the sharpness of the cold.

I know I feel much better as I protect my newly rooting (re)faith. Later, as it gains in strength, there will be intended harm–pests and even pestilence. But you and your faith will be stronger and more capable of edging around those threats.

The time to grow is now. The time to ripen is now. There is much to do that requires a deep and abiding faith to emerge with a renewed faith and a deepened sense of peace.

May love forever guide all of you as you experience your own pruning process. May you allow the God of your understanding to give you comfort and a renewed sense of faith.

If you like what you’ve read, please share with a comment or through the social media buttons below.

Photo courtesy of taliesin

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Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary of Digging Deep

fran Fran Sorins 10th Anniversary of Digging Deepdigging deep cover Fran Sorins 10th Anniversary of Digging Deep

November–the month of thanksgiving, appreciation and gratitude–is one of my favorite months. Many people in recovery have an affinity for November and are often known to use the 30 days as a time to “give back what has been freely given.”

In that spirit, I want to share with you an interview with my friend and fellow writer Fran Sorin, who recently released the 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.

Don’t be fooled by the title!

Digging Deep is a powerfully uplifting and transformative self-help book for the creatively and spiritually challenged. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet). If you think, “I’m not creative,” think again. Fran will help you harness your instincts and live a life filled with joy and creativity–and isn’t that the whole point?

I asked Fran how Digging Deep applies to B Here Today readers–gardeners and non-gardeners alike. She said, “When we are on all fours in the garden—digging a hole in the ground –we are not only tending to the garden, but we are tending to our souls. The infinite beauty and magic of nature awakens all of our senses and enables us to move beyond the realm of ordinary consciousness.

“We enter a world of sacredness where we feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for not only being alive—but for experiencing ‘oneness’ with the universe. We tuck these jeweled moments of gratitude away into our consciousness, knowing that we can access them anytime (especially when facing obstacles) to help us stay grounded, resilient and focused on the stuff that really matters.”

Holy cow. That’s so cool and so, well, deep.

“Think about it,” she said. “Each of us has the ability to improve the quality of our lives by freeing up our imagination, improvising, taking more risks, experimenting, living with uncertainty, and being more mindful. Although I use the process of gardening as a tool for making my point, learning to live creatively outside of the garden—in all areas of your life—is the ultimate challenge.”

Is gardening a spiritual practice?

“Oh yes, for sure,” Fran said . “The beauty of gardening is that humankind’s connection to nature is such a primordial one that when you slow down, and let yourself just ‘be’ in the moment with nature, tending to the plants, you automatically can enter a Zen-like state. There’s a rhythm and beauty to it unlike any other spiritual practice I know of.

“Believe me, those moments leave deep impressions in your soul and you walk through this earth overflowing with gratitude and a feeling of abundance. If that’s not spirituality, I don’t know what is.”

I wondered whether, as a spiritual practice, gardening has transformational qualities, so I asked Fran if she had ever felt transformed.

She spoke about the time when she went through the first major renovation in her garden by tearing out all the shrubs in her front yard and replacing them with perennials.

“That was a real marker for unearthing the fear and trepidation that had bound me for so many years. I started trusting my instincts, to pay attention to what I knew would work for me, and to take some real risks and be willing to make mistakes.

“I learned to live with ambiguity and to not always rush to conclusion. In the garden, you just have to wait and see what’s going to happen—something I was never all that good at in my personal life. I liked to know what was going to happen at all times. But I started to trust the process of life more, both in my plants and in myself.”

Thank you, Fran, for sharing your love of gardening and your joy in living with us. Purchase Digging Deep through Amazon here.

Fran Sorin is an author, a recognized garden expert, deep ecologist, ordained interfaith minister, and soul tending coach who has a gift of awakening others to the joy of life.

Photos courtesy of Fran Sorin

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