Be a Cheerful Giver

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.

H. Jackson Brown Jr., American author (Fun fact—the H in Mr. Jackson’s name stands for Harriett)

Giving Tuesday is a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Dates vary for this day but it’s always five days after U.S. Thanksgiving.

 Last year, $1.9 billion was donated globally. This year is critical for giving as nonprofits are experiencing an increase in demand and a decrease in contributions. 

It may be a cliche’, but God does love a cheerful giver. Whether you give today or other days of the year, give what you can to an organization near and dear to your heart. A few of mine include: Habitat for Humanity, local food pantry, my church, and Alzheimer’s Association. What are yours?

Affirmation: I feel joy in giving.

Coaching question: What does giving mean to you? 

Six Words of Thankfulness

The crinkling eye above the mask. Six words of thanks from a NYTimes reader.

Last week the New York Times invited readers to send six words describing what made them thankful in 2020. It’s a form of writing—the six-word memoir—popularized by author, Larry Smith. More than 10,000 replied. Here are a few responses:

The backyard haircuts are getting better.

Saved a lot of lipstick money.

Mom, 87, rocking pretty, pandemic ponytail.

Sunny mornings, a window facing east.

Still riding’ my horse at seventy.

I’m just thankful for indoor plumbing.

I am bored, but not dead.

It’s just a cold, not Covid.

Dr. Fauci and all truth-speakers.

Healthcare workers. Healthcare workers. Healthcare workers.

I have someone I can hug.

My six words of thanks: I am happy/healthy at home.

Coaching question: What six words describe what makes you thankful this year?

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

Stressing Over Cooking For the Holidays?

The greatest dishes are very simple. Auguste Escoffier, French chef

Alice Waters, leading-edge U.S. chef, shares two of her favorite recipes in her book Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook. 

  1. Go get some perfectly ripe figs in August, put them on a plate, and eat them. 
  2. Go cut some mint from the garden, boil water, pour it over the mint. Wait. Drink.

French chef, Alain Ducasse, says eighty-five percent of cooking is shopping. Find what’s ripe and beautiful and alive and in season. Start with boiling water and adding mint—you’ve got this!

Affirmation: I can cook.

Coaching requests/question: If cooking for the holidays intimidates you, start with something simple. Start with something fresh. How will you apply these chefs’ suggestions to your menu?

Photo by Travis Colbert on Unsplash

When Gratitude Is Doubled By Wonder

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K. Chesterton, English writer and philosopher

I know Thanksgiving here in the U.S. is still a week away, but I believe we can’t consider the value of gratitude too often. In fact, daily gratitude—written down, prayed about, said out loud—is the ideal.

Chesterton was (he died in 1936) on to something when he wrote “gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” If we’re not amazingly grateful for the gifts that are given to us by God and the people in our lives, we’re missing out on the wonder of life. The sunset, a call from a friend, a hug, good health, a loving family, dog kisses—are all opportunities for gratitude. 

Affirmation: I’m grateful.

Coaching questions: What are four things you’re grateful for right now? How will you express your gratitude? 

Photo by Colton Kresser on Unsplash

Finding Comfort For the End of Life

But after my death let it be known that in my old age, at the very end of my life, there was still plenty that made me smile. Orhan Pamuk, author of My Name Is Red 

November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month. A daughter I interviewed for my book, Mom’s Gone, Now What? was so positively impacted by the hospice care her mother received that, as an adult, she became a lifelong hospice volunteer. Hospice and palliative care frequently make a profound, positive difference in the lives of families and patients. 

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care? Hospice care is for terminally ill patients when treatment is no longer curative during the last six months of life. Palliative care can be employed while the patient is continuing active treatment through different phases of their life-limiting condition. Both provide comfort to the patient. 

Affirmation: I’m grateful for the volunteers and professionals who provide hospice and palliative care.

Coaching request: If you are a patient or family member dealing with a life-threatening condition, consider hospice or palliative care now or in the future.

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

The Art of Being True to Yourself

Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and we can reflect light in powerful ways if we choose to do so. Robyn Nola, Artist and believer in the power of affirmation

In almost every part of the world, the Dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization. The Dragonfly is iridescent both on its wings and body. The magical property of iridescence is associated with the discovery of one’s ability by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts cast on his/her sense of identity. 

Discovering and embracing who we truly are is an integral part of our maturity. A friend of mine who faces the challenge of addiction recovery has a dragonfly tattoo on her arm as a symbol of her transformation. To her the dragonfly stands for hope, change, and love. A powerful daily reminder that she has embraced change and remains true to herself.

Affirmation: I am true to myself. 

Coaching questions: In what ways have you changed and become more of your true self? What symbol would you use to prompt you to reflect light and embrace self-realization? 

Photo by michael beattie on Unsplash

Embracing the Gentle Giant

Even the big 12-foot alligator will give way to the manatee. Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director of the Save the Manatee Club

November is Manatee Awareness Month. Manatees are Florida’s official state marine mammal and are listed as treated at the federal and state level.

Want to know more? Some facts according to Aquatic Biologist, Patrick Rose, include:

— Manatees are known as sea cows but are more of a distant relative of the elephant

— They usually travel in small groups through the shallow coastal waters

—They are vegetarians

— They can weight up to 1300 pounds and measure up to 13 feet long

—They move like a dolphin in slow motion

— When an alligator is in its way, a manatee bumps or nudges them to move

— Manatees face threats of collisions with boats, habitat loss, cold stress, toxic effects of red tide and other algae blooms

I’ve been fortunate to see manatees in the wild. They are truly the gentle giants of Florida’s waterways. 

Information for this blog was taken from Coastal Breeze newspaper

Affirmation: I will help to keep manatees safe

Coaching question: Learn something new? I hope so. How do you embrace the natural world around you? 

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

On Taking Churchill’s Advice

Never, never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill, British statesman

In the next week I will complete the first draft of my second book, a historical fiction set on the Nebraska plains of 1875-76. Then, the real work begins. 

As I rewrite, edit, evaluate the point of view, consider the through-line, correct errors, I’m reminded of how this work is an analogy for re-writing one’s life after a significant loss. 

When your mother, husband, child or other significant person in your life dies, parts of your life need to be re-written. Perhaps you’re no longer defined as a care-giver or a partner and you’re wondering who you are and what you’re going to do without your former roles. 

Take a moment and reconnect with what you like and don’t like, how you see yourself in the future, and what contributions you want to make. Re-writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes perseverance, creativity, a determination to succeed and, in my case, prayer. But–never, never, never give up!

Affirmation: I never give up.

Coaching question/request: If you’re recovering from a recent loss, what steps are you taking to re-write your life? Take a moment to journal your thoughts on what’s next. Write a list of specific ways you will move forward—even if it is just for today or this week. 

Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Unsplas

Learning to Dance In the Rain

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Vivian Green, American singer and song writer

It’s been eight months. Have you learned to “dance in the rain” yet? There’s no doubt that we’ve been living in a storm. Some of you have literally been living in a storm of fire, rain, hurricanes, and tornados on top of the storm of a pandemic.

Dancing in the rain takes practice. If you’ve experienced storms in the past—death, divorce, financial crisis, health issues—you know what I mean. You’ve learned resiliency, patience, acceptance—or not. 

To me, dancing in the rain doesn’t mean I’m enjoying the storm. As I dance, I’m wishing for sunny days but dance I will because crying in the rain hasn’t worked for me, wishing away rainy days hasn’t worked for me, dancing in the rain works for me.

Affirmation: I will dance in the rain. 

Coaching questions: What does “dancing in the rain” look like to you? How do you handle the storms of life? What works, what doesn’t? What will you choose today?

Feeling Lonely?

Relationships provide meaning and a sense of purpose to your life. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D.

In a Cigna study earlier this year, 61 percent of U.S. adults reported feeling lonely, this was before COVID struck.

Here are a few tips on combating loneliness at a time when more of us are alone—or nearly alone—than ever before in our lives. 

—Call or Face Time someone you care about daily. Even texting helps us feel connected and less alone.

—Just twenty minutes of exercise helps get our mood-enhancing brain chemicals pumping. 

—Service is a great antidote to loneliness. Send a card, write a check, volunteer at a food pantry (if you’re low risk), make calls to get out the vote. 

Hopefully, being separate from friends and family is making us realize how much we need one another. I don’t know about you, but I will come out of this with an even stronger commitment to the ones I love. 

Affirmation: I will combat loneliness.

Coaching questions: What is helping you feel less alone? What helped you in the past? What step(s) will you take today to combat loneliness?

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash