The Walk of Gratitude

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. -A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Dear Friends —

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Last year, post feast. Food coma hasn’t hit yet. 😉

Welcome to November and yep, you guessed it, this month’s theme is focused on Gratitude and Giving, because one can’t really happen without the other. I believe in order to experience gratitude you must be able to step outside of yourself and give fully to others. There is nothing more liberating than stepping in someone else’s shoes and offering your heart, mind, time, resources or whatever it may be to someone in need. As St. Francis of Assisi stated, “For it is in the giving that we receive.”

It’s ironic because at this time of year when we are all talking the talk about gratitude and giving, so many of us are not walking the walk. Encumbered by the daily grind of stress, busyness, f*d up elections and 24 hour news feeds, we become easily detached and even apathetic to what’s happening around us. I think it’s called survival. And no kidding, we all find ourselves there from time to time. I know I do.

However, there are those rare moments that bring us back to the truth. The truth of who we are. The truth of our essence. Those glimpses can come to us in a variety of ways — some arrive in moments of bliss and harmony or even in a moments of extreme mindfulness, but sometimes they arrive in those dreaded, stop-you-in-your-tracks, once in a lifetime moments that you think will never happen to you. Unfortunately, I recently experienced one of those moments. (I will be discussing this in more depth later when I am able, but right now I’m still processing the loss.)

One thing I can communicate to you now is that in times of tragedy you often see the highest level of human nature shine through:

People come together in service to one another.

People bring their hearts cracked wide open.

People show up ready to give completely and unconditionally of the one thing
that we all are and always will be — LOVE.

I have pondered over this past two weeks — what if we always behaved in this way? What if we didn’t need tragedy or even death to take us there? What kind of world would we live in?

As we embark on November and prepare our tables for the feast, step back and ask yourself — How can I be here now? How can I truly cherish what’s important in my life? How can I be of service to those in need? How can I be my highest self? How can I shine my brightest light? If we can focus our thoughts on these higher truths, I think we can feel a sense of peace that has long been gone. And don’t we all want that?

On the blog we will be discussing Gratitude and Giving in all sorts of ways. I am thrilled to announce two partnerships this month that illustrate this idea.

bloom-giveMy Houston and Dallas boutiques will be hosting trunk shows with the organization Bloom & Give featuring beautiful scarves handmaid in India. Bloom & Give supports education programs for girls in India and is committed to breaking societal barriers that prevent girls from going to school. I love that every purchase of scarves helps send a girl to school. You gotta’ love the girl power here.

And my amazing friend and guru Elizabeth Irvine and I have collaborated on a stunning bracelet in which proceeds benefit Best Buddies, the organization that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. mitra

So not only do we express gratitude by giving but in other ways as well. Many people keep daily gratitude journals. In this tough time, journaling and gratitude practice has helped me process the situation and emotions. And a gratitude ritual can be as easy as pausing to make a mental note of thanks as good things happen. There are innumerable benefits to gratitude practice. And three of the most profound are that it helps us take nothing for granted, focuses our attention on the now, and will help you to find moments of grace in tough times, to which I can surely attest.

Gratitude has an amazing way of shifting brain thought in the right direction. It has been studied at length. In fact, researchers Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami found that study participants who wrote daily about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those who wrote about negative topics. And socially, gratitude practice helped spread a little goodwill, as daily gratitude practitioners were more likely to report helping someone with a personal problem or offering emotional support to another. (Source and gratitude study findings can be found here.)

My practice of gratitude has allowed me to see divine moments of love and grace during a time of deep sorrow. Imagine the reward in better times! Throughout our daily interactions and engagements this month, let’s slow down, open our hearts to others and shine our brightest light during this season of gratitude.

XOXO, Elaine

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!

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