5 Books That Remind​ Me to Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In honor of the holiday, I was thinking about books that remind me to be thankful. Here are the few I picked out.

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Pollyanna, by Eleanor M. Porter

This book is a classic! It might be silly, but I think it teaches us an important lesson… there’s always a reason to be glad (and grateful).

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Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

This is such an important book that I absolutely think every person should read. It’s about Viktor Frankl’s time in a concentration camp, and also how he survived. It’s bleak at times, but it’s also inspiring, encouraging, and reminds me to be grateful for all the wonderful possibilities in my life.

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The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank

This was my first time reading this book, and it was moving. Anne was in a horrible situation, but she tried to keep her spirits up and constantly reminded herself to be grateful for what she had. If she can do it, any of us can.

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Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

The idea of living in a world without books terrifies me. Zombies and ghosts and the bird flu make me shrug. But no books? Shudder. We live in a world where we can get just about any book we might want and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m so grateful.

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The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

We live in a world of lots of freedoms. Sure, freedom is always a moving target, and there’s always going to be some inequality and some injustice, but overall, it could be far worse. For some women, in some parts of the world, The Handmaid’s Tale has more fact than fiction. I’m grateful for the freedoms I’m privileged to enjoy.

My friend Ramona over at While I Was Reading did a similar post, about books to inspire your gratitude practice. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, it’s worth a read.

Five Things Friday- August 2018

One- What I’m Writing

I submitted my YA thriller, Not Dead Enough, to Pitch Wars! (Keep your fingers crossed for me!) I’m editing my YA horror novel, Acheron Crossing, along with my amazing critique groups. And I’m outlining/ brainstorming/ writing/ cursing another YA novel, currently titled Hide in The Light.

Two- Random Fact About Me

I used to practice with a roller derby team. I had to quit before I could ever join (because I got a new job that conflicted).

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful for no kill shelters and rescues… they do great work and have amazing volunteers.

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

I went on a ghost walk in Austin and went to a roller derby bout, both of which were a lot of fun. We also brought a new dog home.

Five- Favorite Picture This Month

Ripley and Midnyte never could have lay this close without grumbling and growling, but Comet and Ripley get along with no problems. It really warms my heart to see them together.

Five Things Friday- January 2018

Starting today, I’ll be participating in Five Things Friday on the last Friday of the month.

In the past, my focus has been on more of what I’ve been reading, but since I now post updates on that every Monday, it would get a bit redundant. Because personal posts were pretty popular last year, I thought I’d change the focus a bit.

One- What I’m Writing

Right now, I’ve been working on my newest YA horror novel, set in a post-apocalyptic world with some terrifying creatures. I’m also querying my last novel, and have a short story that was just accepted for publication. Stay tuned…

Two- Random Fact About Me

I’m a vegan at home. When I go out to eat, it’s a cheese extravaganza! I use cream in my coffee! But at home, we try to stick to no animal products.

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful that my animals are currently all healthy. I’m grateful that I get along with my sister-in-law and her husband, and that we have our annual “Christmas” celebration every January. I’m grateful for my fireplace and stereo, which make for a cozy and wonderful reading experience. I’m grateful that my house is finally unpacked and organized.

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

This month, I was mostly cleaning up and organizing my house, or going on walks with my dog. This past week we had our annual “Christmas” celebration, and we were playing board games and laughing a lot. I went to my first hockey game, Texas Stars vs. the San Jose Barracudas. I loved it, and got to see the home team win in overtime.

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Five- Favorite Picture This Month

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Our very patient 17 year old kitty let us line up Exploding Kittens cards on her. I guess she wanted to play too!

 

6 Ways to Be Happier

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a wellness topic.

Most of feeling happier is to stop caring what others think.  No, seriously.  It’s not rocket math.  Most of the things we worry about has to do with how others view us.  Okay?  Got it?  So I can end this blog post here, right?

Oh, if only it were so easy!

The fact is that people aren’t like light switches.  We can’t just turn on and off the caring thing.  And caring about what others think is a good thing, sometimes.  But there’s a difference between caring about others and caring what they think.

I care about other people.  I try to be a good person and cause no harm to others.  But if they don’t like me for some reason (my weight, the way I dress, the fact that I laugh and talk too loud, my really bad jokes), I don’t care.  I don’t care what they think.  My friends think I’m wonderful.  And honestly, there will always be people who don’t like me.

So how can you learn to be happier?

1.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  This one is really important. You’re you, and you’re beautiful and perfect in your uniqueness and flaws.  Maybe your best friend is a great cook or a great decorator.  Maybe your dad can fix anything in a MacGyver-esque way.  Maybe your neighbor’s dogs don’t bark or their kids always look clean.  Maybe everyone else is thinner-has a better car- better clothes- makes stuff that looks like it does on Pinterest.  Whatever.  Who cares?  We all have things about ourselves that we’d like to change, and things that we could be doing better.  You’re you, so only compare yourself to you.

2.  Continually strive for improvement.  “But wait… you just said that I’m great the way I am!”  Yes, you are.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve.  Now, improvement does not mean perfection.  I’m going to say it again: improvement does not mean perfection.  If you’re not naturally organized, deciding that this is the year everything is going to be and stay in perfect order probably isn’t realistic.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  If you want to get organized, start with one thing, like the kitchen pantry or the living room.  Try to be a little better than you were yesterday.

3.  Practice acceptance and non-judgement.  One of the hardest things to learn in life is to stop judging yourself and others.  Unless you’re perfect, you don’t have the right to judge others.  And if you don’t expect others to be perfect, don’t expect it from yourself.  You can dislike a behavior without judging the person.  Please believe me that unless you have the whole story, your judgement is likely a mistake.  There are certain behaviors that are wrong, but at the time, it may have seemed like the best choice.  Accept others for who they are, mistakes and all.  This acceptance and non-judgement doesn’t mean that you allow toxic people in your life; it just means that you don’t judge them for who they are and where they are in life.  Same goes for you.  We all make mistakes, even when we know better.

4.  Try to forgive.  This may be one of the hardest things that anyone does.  Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did was okay.  The other person doesn’t even have to be part of your decision to forgive.  All forgiveness means is that you’re choosing to let go of what hurt you.  Sometimes you can forgive once, and sometimes you’ll have to forgive over and over.  You’ll let go of the pain and it will stay away for a little while, then come back.  It’s okay; you’re only human, and you’re doing the best you can.  But the act of trying to forgive is freeing, and you’re worth it.

5.  Look for the good in yourself and others.  You see what you look for.  If you’re looking for all the bad things people do, that’s what you’ll see.  Shift your focus.  It’s like that optical illusion, the old lady and the young woman. Maybe you look at the illusion and immediately see the old woman.  And if no one told you it was an optical illusion, if no one told you to look for the young woman, that’s all you’d see.  But once you look for the young lady, you find her.  Maybe you have to look for awhile.  Maybe someone tells you where to look.  But eventually, you see it.  She was always there, whether you saw her or not.  Same with the good in yourself and others; it’s there, even when it’s hard to find.

6.  Practice gratitude.  Instead of focusing on what you want or what you don’t have, focus on the things you do have that you’re grateful for.  Take time out every day and find something to be grateful for.  Write them down or share them.  When we write things down or speak them out loud, we give them power.  You’d say your complaints out loud, wouldn’t you?  Try the same thing with your gratitudes.

We’re all just works in progress, and being human means being in a perpetual state of growth and learning.  Try one of these things and work on it.  When you notice a difference, try another.  Don’t try to do it all at once, or you’ll end up feeling bad about it.  We all have days when we can’t do any of these things, when we should stay in bed with the covers pulled up.  Just be the best you that you can be today.

 

 

Feel Good Friday

th-1Stray dog joins racing team.

A young woman reaches out to a family having a bad day.

Austin teen raises money for an automatic door for his wheelchair.

A child with autism asks for mail for Christmas, and hundreds respond.

Bystanders rescue strangers from an apartment complex.

Michigan cops and UPTV teamed up to hand out presents instead of tickets.

You get to choose your attitude today, and every day.  What do you choose today?  Do you choose to focus on what makes you happy and grateful, or what makes you sad and full of longing?

Feel Good Friday

I believe in an attitude of gratitude.  It’s easy to see the bad stuff in life; heck, none of us even need to work at that one.  But what you see is magnified, and this includes both troubles and blessings.  Which do you want more of?

th-1Lessons in gratitude from the dog.  If you read none of the other links this week, click this one.

Therapy dog help keeps a child with autism safe.

Volunteers pick fruit for food pantry.

9 year old collects 401 pounds of food to give to food banks.

Family gets to listen to their son’s heart live on in a veteran’s chest.

We all get choices.  Either you’re part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Doree Weller

Photo credit: Doree Weller

In my family, Thanksgiving has always been all about the food.  I love the filling, the sweet potatoes, the green bean casserole, and the dessert.  In recent years, I’ve started to reflect on why we celebrate Thanksgiving, and it boils down to gratitude.

I’m a big believer in having a gratitude practice, and studies back it up.  People suffering from depression and anxiety do see improvements by practicing gratitude daily.  The holidays are a great time to start a gratitude practice, as most of us tend to see family more often during the holidays, and we’re reminded of what we have to be grateful for.

For me, the things I’m grateful for don’t tend to change much, and that’s how you know they’re valuable.  I’m grateful for my wonderful family who loves and supports me.  I’m grateful for my husband, who encourages me and shows me the best parts of myself.  I’m grateful for my friends, especially those I consider family.  Without these wonderful friends, I wouldn’t be who I am.  I’m grateful for my dogs, who love me no matter what and provide constant reminders that they think I’m wonderful.  I’m grateful for books and the authors who wrote them, as they’ve introduced me to worlds I otherwise never would have explored.  I’m grateful that I have enough and some extra.  Having enough is a wonderful thing.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  What are you grateful for?