I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.
It’s November, can you believe it? For many of us, November is a reminder to be thankful and express gratitude. But, how do we find appreciation when we are knee-deep in a serious pandemic? Like you, I have been preoccupied. Finding gratitude is not always an easy task, but there are still numerous things to be grateful for. Sometimes looking a little harder at what we already have, increasing our awareness, or finding the preciousness of a moment can lead to deeper appreciation. Personally, I have found that opening my heart to the miracle of gratitude fills my life with more light and love.
A grateful mindset has immense benefits. So, I am pushing you to search for gratitude because it is important to your health. For example, gratitude can increase your psychological health, enhance optimism, self-esteem and resilience, and even improve your sleep! Today, let’s look toward this positive mindset and count our blessings.
So, on this cool November day, I want to warm you up with a little “chicken soup for the soul.” I will share a few personal (sweet, slightly absurd, and more serious) anecdotes and suggestions to help elevate your attitude of gratitude. I hope that living a life bursting will appreciation will fill your heart with love, blessings and peace.
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen it before.” (-Maya Angelou)
Dana’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul”-
Gratitude. Sometimes it’s in the unexpected. My first story… Last weekend, my 14-year-old daughter, Shoshi, plopped herself quickly on the couch. A quarter of her ended up on top of me, but she didn’t move and neither did I. It was late, and Shoshi was supposed to be heading up to bed, but instead she thought it was the perfect time to show me inane videos on her phone. So, blurry-eyed and we cuddled together and laughed. In those few unexpected, intimate minutes, I found my heart overflowing with the preciousness of the moment. That was love. Like everyone else that has children, my house does not always feel this way. Still, there it was; a lovely moment that I felt the blessings of motherhood. The love seemed to glisten.
You never know when the moment will occur. …Sometimes it’s when your daughter half-sits on you at midnight that you feel a rush of gratitude. When was your moment? Think hard… I know you have one too.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are they charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (-Marcel Proust)
Gratitude. Sometimes it’s an awareness of a funny situation. Sometimes it’s the mundane. Here’s my next story… I am close to my parents; I love them and appreciate them more than I can say. I also talk to them every day on the phone. Often, they have a propensity to both talk on the phone at the same time, and/or put me on speakerphone. Sometimes, if I am really lucky (said sarcastically), I call when they are in the middle of finishing a project or making a meal. Of course, they continue multitasking while we talk. Consequently, some days our phone call feels a little like a Jerry Seinfeld episode (TV sitcom); it is often slightly ridiculous, but in an endearing Jewish way. “Arlene, are you crumbling something? I can’t hear Dana. Will you please stop that?” “ Howie, I’m trying to make dinner. I’m making soup. Dana, can you just talk louder!? …No, I still can’t hear her.”
Yep. Welcome to my life. A special thank you to my amazing parents for creating the best, can’t-make-this-stuff-up, phone calls and for filling my heart with so much love. I am supremely grateful. Do you have your own ridiculously absurd Seinfeld moment? Think hard… what is your story?
“Be grateful for every second of every day that you get to spend with the people you love. Life is so very precious.” (-quotling.com)
Gratitude. Sometimes we need to look closer. Maybe the blessings were always there, but we need to increase our awareness. Each day, I challenge you to widen your gaze, and look for small things to be thankful for throughout your day. Start keeping a journal, and at the end of the day write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. At the end of the week, read through all the small things you discovered. Then, at the end of the month, make your heart soar and read the extensive list of blessings! Enjoy this exercise; it will create happiness as your blessings increase. Here are just a few examples of everyday things to be thankful for: food on the table, a pay check, a song you love, your favorite morning drink, sleep, sunshine, clean water, a moment of quiet, or your favorite book. Adopting this optimistic attitude and routine will invite more beauty and hope into your life.
“Spend the day appreciating every little thing that comes your way, and you’ll end the day feeling deeply grateful for your life.”(#gratitudeapp)
For all doctors/nurses/health care professionals- say thank you and do your part!
Wisconsin is facing soaring numbers of Covid-19 cases. Our healthcare professionals are walking into a person’s room that is Covid-19 positive to provide care.
Related to the gravity of this situation, I wanted to share another story that shook my mind and soul. Unexpectedly, one of my dearest friends (who works in a hospital) announced she was “excited to be fitted for a respirator.” (If you can’t picture what a respirator looks like, picture something similar to a 1930’s gas mask. Absolutely frightening.) …Let that statement and jarring image sink in for a moment. As I processed her words, I felt like I was in an alternative universe. She was excited about a respirator?? As I pictured my friend in this alarming way, I thought, “Should I be excited too?” No, mainly I felt fear. Incidentally, my beautiful friend is not obligated to be in a hospital; rather, she does this work because she wants to help others in our community. Like other essential workers, she is a person of valor.
So, with profound admiration for their kindness and bravery, I ask you to sincerely thank our hospital professionals and staff, and all the essential workers. They are the heroes; they are the angels on earth. These angles also work at Ovation Communities. They are taking care of our loved ones. In addition to sharing grateful words, let’s also express our thanks in deeds. Our greatest expression is taking the pandemic seriously by wearing a mask, washing our hands for 20+ seconds, and staying home. All our angles are safer when we do our part to help.
…The next time my treasured friend is excited to share something new with me, I would like it to be a new shirt or delicious recipe.
“You are not stuck at home. You are safe at home.”
Try a Gratitude Brain Health Exercise
- Write a letter to someone who has had a positive impact on your life. Maybe it is someone in your family, a close friend, a confidant, a mentor, a teacher, a colleague, or clergy. What did that person do and why was it so meaningful? Did he/she care for you, or teach you an important lesson? Feel the love and strength in this appreciation, and if you are able, share with this individual.
- List ten friends/family and what you like about them.
“This is not the year to get everything you want. This is the year to appreciate everything you have.” (-author unknown)
Check out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Museum Moment Shabbat is a weekly reminder of G-d’s role in creating the world, and provides a regularly scheduled way to show appreciation and find respite. Curator, Molly Dubin explores artwork related to the Shabbat exhibit, The Seventh Day. What does Shabbat mean to you? Click here to watch: https://youtu.be/QHS2htvtuUE
Grateful people feel happier, are less stressed and have more ways of coping with the challenges in their lives. I pray that as we move toward a more grateful perspective, we each find increased joy, meaning and peace. This Thanksgiving will be different, but let’s be thankful for good health and blessings. We will get through this storm.
“Be grateful for today and never take anything for granted. Life is a blessing.”
As always, I am here for you, and would love to assist or answer questions with issues related to aging, memory loss or to offer caregiver support. Please do not hesitate to contact me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org
Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,