Gratitude As a Way of Life

Ah, gratitude. In my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, the verse for gratitude is: “When seen with eyes that appreciate, everything in and around me becomes more pleasing, more beautiful.”

Gratitude As a Way of Life

Visions of Gratitude

And it’s true. The more you express appreciation for things around you and for things going on in your life, the better you will feel about everything. 

You scoff. I know that feeling. Years ago, when I was going to a support group to help with remaining sober, the topic of discussion was gratitude for five meetings in a row. I was disgusted, as I could not feel gratitude for the way my life was going, nor for past experiences.

But I did what was suggested, which was to make a list every day of ten things for which I was grateful. I did this begrudgingly, with anger. I choked on my words…

Then one day, things began to change. I was feeling so much love for my life, the people in it, and my experiences, that I began to feel gratitude for them all. My past painful experiences, after all, had made me into the sensitive and compassionate person I am today, allowing me to have empathy for those who endure what I endured.

Speaking about my past and how I have healed from it can be useful to others. That is the basis for my gratitude when I think of past painful situations. That holds true in current day also, which is what allows me to be grateful for my past, just as it happened.

In present day, you can consciously take yourself to gratitude. For example, I recently got a jury summons and it conflicts with my schedule. Rather than get angry for the inconvenience, I take note that they allow you to change your date of appearance, and this is something for which I am grateful. I changed my day without grudge for having to serve.

At a street fair over the weekend, I sold one book. Rather than being bummed that I did not sell more, I choose the attitude of gratitude for the chance to share my book with that one woman and her 19 year old special needs son.

Yes, gratitude is a choice you make, over each and every occurrence throughout the day. If you choose gratitude as a way of life, life becomes easier, more beautiful. The end result is the feeling of being soothed. Life flows easily when one chooses gratitude as a way of life.

What are the things in your life today for which you are grateful?

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Introspect Can Lead Us To Harmony With Ourselves and Others

“When do we take the time to just listen to the breeze, the quietness, the ramblings of our mind, or the world around us? When do we simply rest, quietly connecting with ourselves and all that is vast and wondrous around and within us?”

Perhaps, we don’t take this time. Yet, it is so important to participate in introspect and self-reflection. We are always bustling, moving quickly from one activity to the next, watching TV or listening to music, never taking the time to sit quietly with ourselves.

This is such an important activity in which to engage, as it allows us to become centered, grounded. Introspect allows us to examine our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions and our interactions with others. Introspect allows us to determine if we have approached ourselves and others with love.

It is a time of sitting idle to allow ourselves to observe what is happening in the world around us, and to determine how we fit in. Activities such as meditation and yoga provide a framework in which to practice introspection.

Other activities might include sitting on the bank of a lake, river, or the ocean, allowing our thoughts to follow the meandering, rhythmic movements of the water. Or, we can sit on our front porch and watch the activity around us.

The benefit of taking time alone, without noise distraction, is a great connection with our innermost self. We can reach that part of us which is love. From that point, we can them touch others with harmony and love. We become available to ourselves and others when we practice introspect.

Post a comment, telling us what the ways are in which you practice introspect and self-reflection? What are the benefits you reap?

 

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Inspirational Sayings About Love

Acknowledgment of Others

At long last, I return to the blog. I took the last topic of patience and really put it to the test. Perhaps I have lost some of you… that is my fear. If not, thank you for your patience. It’s appropriate that today’s topic is acknowledgment, as I wish to acknowledge my lack of writing for almost a month.

I was in Pennsylvania from the end of May until June 6th. Since my return, I have been unable to sit down and write. I have had trouble getting back into my work routine, period. I have taken three weeks to pull together  documentation for an application to a health care program. In the process, I learned to do a profit and loss statement for my business, so it turned out to be positive.

As a review, what we are doing with this blog is this: In my blog, I write on the topics that are in my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, in the order in which they appear in the book. We are going from fear, worthlessness, sorrow, and despair, through discovery and awareness, to lessons learned about how to treat ourselves and others. Finally, we reach joy and peace. It is a chronicle of my own journey from the depths of despair and praying to die, to wholeness and happiness, joy and peace. I’m glad you’re joining me on the journey.

I have to acknowledge that one reason I have procrastinated is because I am uncomfortable writing the blog using my new keyword phrases, inspirational sayings about…, inspirational quotes about… Sometimes, they just don’t fit. Sometimes, I feel uncomfortable using them from blog to blog. I am concerned about what you, the reader, will think. Will you get impatient with it? I have to get past that as I am on page 1 in Google because of using those keywords and phrases. This reaches a large segment of people with which I would like to connect. So please have patience with me as I continue this practice.

On with acknowledgment… In the book, there are inspirational sayings about love, about how we can show love by acknowledging others. “We go within so we can reach out to others, and we reach out to others so we can go within,” is one such example. “We need to matter to each other, and to ourselves,” is another.  I think it’s important to acknowledge another… a smile to one on the street, a clerk waiting on a customer, a response to a loved one when they are talking. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated, but it is so important to show love and respect to others, and this is one way to do that.

In our, perhaps, haste to acknowledge others, we sometimes forget to show the same love and respect to ourselves. We brush aside our hurts, our pains, and do not take the time to feel them, grieving for what it is we have lost, giving importance to our feelings. They are not wrong, they are just what is. Once we can experience them, acknowledge them, we can heal from them, and gain the higher benefit from the experience. I think, too, that once we share what we are feeling, it makes us more human to others. We can all relate and connect at that place of hurt, as we have all experienced it. It is a part of living, a part of being human.

We can watch ourselves, as we go through our days, giving acknowledgment to others, remembering to offer it to ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts. We can remember to acknowledge ourselves when paid a compliment, also. So often, perhaps, embarrassed, or not feeling worthy, we brush it off. Does that not  negate the other person’s thoughts and feelings, showing them disrespect? Does that not belittle our strengths and who we are? Just some thoughts on quotes about life…

 

 


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Life Is A Journey – Join The Journey of Life

What does it mean to join the journey of life? What is the journey anyway? I use that term to include the series of events and experiences that occur in our life as we go about living it, from day to day. In that definition is the inclusion of living a spiritually-based life, believing in some force greater than yourself that keeps the “ball” rolling.

For me, it also includes committing to a journey of sobriety, of living life according to principles of living without drinking, living a better life in my head, being a better person in the world. It involves adopting ways of treating myself and others, such as with tolerance, respect, and love. It embraces a life filled with behaviors such as forgiveness and compassion.

When I say join the journey of life, I refer to taking on the challenge to be involved in our lives… the leaves that have fallen, the leaves that are grown, and the buds yet to form. Life is a journey – climb the stairs and join it.

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Carolyn CJ Jones is the author and photographer of the book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. More about the book can be seen above under “The Book,” or in the videos on the sidebar. “About Me and My Work” above reveals more about her. Carolyn is now offering limited edition professional prints, either as prints, matted, or framed which can be viewed above. February’s limited edition print is Visions of Gratitude.

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Love

Love


The next topic in the book is sorrow. It is most difficult to write about that after such a glorious day yesterday, so I will hold off on writing about it. Instead, I’d like to talk about yesterday.

It was a day of love, one which I hope will continue as the days pass. It was the celebration of the birth of one who taught love for all mankind. I felt that yesterday… love for my fellows… did you? It was a very peaceful and fulfilling feeling. I showed that love by calling my family members, all of whom are scattered across the country. It felt wonderful to want to speak to them, to want to show my love for them…

I resurrected an old tradition from my marriage, which is that on Christmas day, we each would pick a project to complete during the day, a project that filled out soul. I did that yesterday, and ended up cleaning out and reorganizing the closet in my art room which houses all of my framed images, and prints of gates and abstracts. Things were somewhat thrown in there,  to get them out of sight.

Everything was pulled from the closet, labeled and restocked. I gained enough space to accommodate 16 framed pieces which are returning from a gallery show at the end of the month.

Among all of these things, I found the framed image you see above, Love, with baby Jesus looking the viewer straight in the eye, as if to say, “Love. Love one another. Love yourself so you can love others, so your heart is overflowing and can shower others with it”

I echo those words, in hopes that we can shower ourselves and others with love, both today and throughout the coming year. Be the love you want to see in the world…



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Do You Encourage Another’s Differences?

Cultivation of Differences

We ask, require, and demand that those around us be like us, share our attributes and our beliefs. In so doing, we compare… one to another. In that process, do we not squash the spirit of one who is different from us?

One is not more beautiful than another. Each has beauty in his/her own right… if we will only look, if we will only see.

Such are some of the words from the verse for this image. In writing these words, I was struck with the memory of how I was compared to my siblings from an early age, and the effect that has had on me during my life. The result has been the belief that what I do is never good enough. I am always pushing myself to do better, to do differently.

I believe that to compare one to another is detrimental. Let’s, instead, look at the differences of others and celebrate the differences that we see, that we find when we allow ourselves to look with awe at another. Let’s cultivate our uniqueness, thus allowing the other to flourish in their garden of life.

To do this is to show love, respect, and kindness to another. How do you cultivate the differences of another? Do you encourage one’s differences? Do you celebrate their uniqueness? Does it give you a good feeling inside to do these things?

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Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Curls of Kindness

If this is not the time to be kinder and gentler to each other and to ourselves, when will it be?

Such is the verse that appears as the next topic in the book after Pillar of Strength. The associated image shows a gate with curls of iron throughout. Curls, to me, represent the movement and momentum forward, from one to the next, just as kindness is moved forward, given from one to the next, just as one curl leads into the next.

Kindness does not have to be complicated. It is as simple as offering a smile to someone. It is an act we perform, or words that we say, that help to brighten up another’s day. It could be a compliment, or allowing someone that’s in a hurry to go before us in the grocery store line. It could be paying the toll of the car behind us at the toll gate.

It is a genuine display of love toward another, easily performed. Sometimes it requires a sacrifice on our part; usually it does not. Usually, it merely involves time… our time to extend ourselves to another for a brief moment.  When we practice kindness, it produces a good feeling, makes our spirit soar because we have added to someone’s day in a positive way.

Just as we are kind to others, we need to be reminded to be kind to ourselves. This is achieved by praising ourselves when we complete a task, or do something positive. It involves ceasing our negative self-talk and replacing it with positive words. It means treating ourselves in the same manner as we would treat a stranger in need.

What was the last time you showed kindness to another and what did that look like? How about to yourself?

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As the author and award-winning, published photographer of her book of wrought-iron gates and accompanying prose, it is said by others that Carolyn CJ Jones’ book offers inspiration and empowerment to those in transition, to those souls in the corner who struggle. View the video about the book, which is located to the right of this blog. Buy the book from Carolyn’s website  and receive free shipping and your personally autographed copy.

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Are You Being Honest With Others?

Welds of Honesty

Oh, my goodness. I have not written since July 19th! I apologize for the delay. I was out-of-town at my 40th high school reunion and have been debriefing since my return late on the 27th. Going back to my reunion reminded me of how closed I was in earlier days, how I was not honest with others about who I was inside, how I didn’t even KNOW who I was. This thought leads me into today’s topic from the book, which is about being honest with others about who you are.

The verse in the book that goes with this image talks about looking inside to see who one is, then deciding to honestly show others what is found. When doing a self-appraisal, however, perhaps we dwell on the negative and are not able to identify our positive points. We are linked to a negative perception of ourselves.

When we can identify the delightful things about ourselves that make us the unique contribution to the fabric of our world that we are, can we then let people see that side of us, see our strengths and skills, our joys and sorrows? Identifying these things about ourselves may be difficult for some; yet, we each have positive and delightful traits and characteristics, we each slide along the continuum of feelings.

Perhaps, once in touch with who we are, we can share such things as joy, gratitude, sorrow, and despair. There is a closeness with others when one begins to share of themself in this way. The others, in turn, reveal more of themselves and these people connect on a deeper level.

It is important to trust the persons to whom we open up. It would be easier to convey the exhilarating emotions than the grieving ones. Yet, when we act beyond our fear of exposing ourselves and our truths, beyond the fear of being vulnerable, we experience that closeness with others. It generates more joy and more gratitude, as well as more love , kindness, tolerance, and respect.

This is not to say that all persons are trustworthy of our revealings. One must discern that another is safe to talk with. It would not be advisable, for example, to share with one who treats our thoughts and feelings with disregard and abuse, as that wounds our soul.

Do you experience this type of honesty with others?  What is that like for you?

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As the author and photographer of her book of wrought-iron gates and accompanying prose, it is said by others that Carolyn CJ Jones’ book offers hope to the soul in the corner who struggles. Perhaps there is a bit of a struggling soul in each of us. Perhaps we each could benefit from the journey she shares. View the additional information about the book to the right of this blog. Buy the book from her website and receive free shipping.

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Search of Self

search of selfSearch of self, personal inventory, looking at my part in affairs… all the same thing, perhaps. For me it is. When I became sober and first did an inventory, really looked at myself with honesty, I was scared to death that all I would see was a failure, a selfish and bad person with nothing worth mentioning.

What I have learned over the years is that we all have redeeming qualities, even me. Like the image, our minds are a swirl of ideas and thoughts and we even have our shadows… and right in the middle of it all is our heart, shining brightly, leading the way when we let it. Don’t forget to look for those positive things about yourself that are in your heart.

I talk of looking at my part in affairs… what do I mean? For me, it is looking without fear at actions or thoughts I have in response to any given situation. My part in the affair may be that I had self-serving motives, or I was fearful to speak my truth and be honest with someone. It could also be that I had a positive thought of myself instead of beating up on myself or putting myself down.

Doing a self-appraisal was a good way to simply locate myself, to define what I was feeling. It became the vehicle of my inner freedom and peace. A regular habit of looking at my part in the affairs of my life taught me how to value, respect and love myself.

The beautiful thing is that once I can value, respect and love myself, I can value, respect and love others… you! It is a joyful and peaceful place to live and I am so grateful to have found it, one step at a time.

How are you doing with valuing, respecting and loving yourself? How about others?

Thank you for joining my blog today. As you may or may not know, this blog is about my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. Each blog, I talk about the next emotion or action or principle presented in the book, determined by the title of each gate. It will be a while before we get to Moments of Wonder, where I talk about that awesome emotion. Meanwhile, if you’d like to jump ahead, I have guest blogged for Our Little Books, a little book with a big message and  you can read my thoughts on moments of wonder. It’d be fun to have you visit. Our Little Books is a great line of little, teeny books… very inspirational. Hope you can check them out…

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Discover the Magic of the Gates

I returned to that community in February 2004, at the end of the rainy season. joyful hearts-smWalking for hours and hours, from gate to gate, I became lost in time capturing crafted metal, puzzles of brick and stone, and lush, vibrant foliage.

Once I shot  two or three rolls of slides, I took them to be developed, reviewed them, decided there were improvements to be made, returned and shot more, and so it went for days.

I had no idea why I could not stop photographing these gates.

Drawn initially to their beauty, I eventually came to realize that they held great spiritual significance for me. They began to represent the ways in which I had erected barriers in my heart in response to hurts and pains I had experienced in my life. Those barriers prevented me from seeing the beauty that abounded all around me … in others, in myself, and in my surroundings.

They exemplified the beauty and light I wished to experience in my life, yet, could not seem to reach.

Soon, I began to wonder if others felt the same way, if their hearts were closed to themselves and others in response to hurts they’d experienced. Were we all experiencing gates of the heart, preventing us from treating ourselves and others with respect, value and love?

I didn’t know, but in response, I began to journal about the ways in which we, as humans, do not always treat each other well. Return and learn about how my journaling led to the book…

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