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An Attitude of Gratitude

When I was teaching high school, I was on the Character Education committee. For those who think public schools are secular-humanist havens of godlessness, I can tell you that, at my school at least, most of the teachers took the development of good people as seriously as we took the development of educated people.

One of the activities we did most years about this time was to have a door-decorating contest on the theme of gratitude. Students would plan the design, which ranged from incredibly beautiful designs from the art department to Spanish and French language doors from the foreign language students to an undersea depiction of sharks and tiny fishes one year from the oceanography class. (The fish were thankful that the shark didn’t eat them.)

Most of the doors, whatever their design, provided a way for individual students to express the most important things for which they were grateful. As you can imagine, high school students say they want and are grateful for material things when they are speaking in the class. However, when they really give it some thought and have to write it, they hold dearest and are grateful for the same things the rest of us are: family, friends, faith and faith community, the basics survival needs like home, food, good health. A few might write jobs or getting into the college they wanted, but I imagine that’s pretty common, too. It was surprising to see how many were grateful for an opportunity to serve others.

Thanksgiving_cornucopiaWhat strikes me about this is that, for all our differences, people end up valuing pretty much the same things across generations, across cultures, and across time. If at heart, we all care about the same things, why do we feel so alone? Why can’t we get along with each other? Why do we struggle and ruin our health and relationships for material things when health and relationships are what we care about most?

It doesn’t make sense.

My challenge to you during this season of hustle and bustle, of family and friends, of giving and receiving, is to show your gratitude. Like the students, write at least one thing for which you are grateful each day. Do it in your journal, on a calendar, on Post-it notes. Decorate your own door if you wish. The place you write isn’t so important as to become conscious each day of the unexpected blessings you have in your life. Then, when New Year’s Eve rolls around, take your list out and see that you have had a good year, in spite of the problems you also surely faced. See that being wealthy isn’t so much about how much you spent on Christmas but about how much you gave of yourself and how much you accepted from others. See that even if you are alone during the holidays, Nature provides you with a plethora of gifts in this late fall and early winter. See that learning to be vulnerable enough to let the beauty and love affect you is what makes life worth living.

It’s a matter of attitude.

Clearing Clutter, Part 1: Closets & Bedroom


junky shed

According to Feng Shui expert, Stephanie Roberts, clutter in our homes can mean we are likely disordered in our inner landscape as well. I admit that I have a hard time with clutter. I am a "saver" (or pack-rat, if you prefer), and I love my books more than anything else I own.

But with the seasons changing and winter clothes to pull or while putting away the summer ones, it just seems like a good time to get a handle on my mess. It won't be long until the holidays are on us, and there will be guests to entertain. I know I don't want them to see the clutter. But how am I going to change from "drop it and flop it" to a home that boasts easy movement and free-flowing energy?

Here are some tips that have helped me clean up and make space. We'll start with the closets and bedroom this month and move to other parts of the house next month.


Next month: The kitchen and the bathrooms.


bookshelf

Recommended Reading

Hamma, Robert. Landscapes of the Soul: A Spirituality of Place. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1999.

Hilton, Suzan. The Feng Shui of Abundance. New York: Broadway Books, 2001.

Kingston, Karen. Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.

Lambert, Mary. Clearing the Clutter for Good Feng Shui. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2001.

Robyn, Kathryn. Spiritual Housecleaning. Oakland : New Harbinger Pub., 2001.

Roberts, Stephanie. Clutter Organizing. 2003. 11 Nov. 2004. http://www.clutter-organizing.com.



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Nov. 2004

In This Issue


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Upcoming Events

Sat. Nov. 20
Reiki I Class
10:00-4:00

Students interested in receiving the first degree Usui Reiki attunement will gather and learn the history and philosophy of Reiki, the hand positions, and the Reiki Precepts, as well as receiving and practicing the ability to pass Reiki to others. For more information, call
828-324-8620.

Sun. Nov. 21
Enneagram Cafe
5:30-7:00
The Enneagram Cafe continues at the Episcopal Church of Ascension in Hickory , NC . The topic for discussion will be Communicating and the Enneagram Types. Participants will look at their own speaking style, body language, distorting filters, and blind spots. They will also discuss how the other styles affect them. Call
828-328-5393 for more information.

Sun. Dec.12
Enneagram Cafe
5:30-7:00
The Episcopal Church of Ascension in Hickory , NC , hosts the third meeting of the Enneagram Cafe . This month's topic is Love, Romance, the Family, and the Enneagram Types. Participants will look at this most important aspect of relating to others in light of their type and the types of those closest to them. Call
828-328-5393 for more information.

Sat. Jan. 22 & 29
An Enneagram Journey
Time TBA
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Newton , NC , hosts this introduction to the nine personality types of the Enneagram. We will look at the Basic Fears and Basic Desires of each type and discover how these cause us to act in patterns that we can break through to get into close touch with our True Selves and Essence. Visit this site for more information.

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Copyright 2004
Suzanne H. Eller

thanksgiving_dinner

Quotes about Gratitude

How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative — or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.  ~Sir John Templeton

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is “thank you”, it will be enough.
~Meister Eckhart

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
~Albert Schweitzer

In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.
~Albert Clarke

I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.
 ~Anne Frank

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. 
~Albert Einstein

i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes
~e.e. cummings

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live.
~Jackie Windspear

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.
~William Faulkner

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