Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Coffee and Gratitude

Years ago when I was a practicing therapist there was a ritual I followed every morning.  Part of my ritual was to sit down at my kitchen table with my first cup of coffee and write a gratitude list.  I believe that when we have an appreciation for our gifts the quality of our life can improve.  There is science to support my theory.  Positive Psychology tells us that practicing thankfulness can combat negative situations.
During the span of time that I was truly diligent about writing my Gratitude List I was living in a rural small town about 20 miles outside of Houston.  I had a small vegetable garden in my back yard.  I grew potatoes, onions, leafy greens, yellow squash, tomatoes and jalapenos… nothing extravagant, just the things I wanted to eat.  I made my own strawberry and apple jam.  My office was exactly 8 minutes from my driveway, that’s if every traffic light was red.  I’m wandering a little, but it’s to illustrate a point. 
My life was simpler then.  I was able to take the time out of each day to reflect on my life and pay attention to all of the things in my life for which I am grateful.  Effective today I am reinstituting that part of my morning ritual.  I have started my Gratitude List.  I encourage you to join with me and start your own Gratitude List.  Let me give you a few words of warning before you decide to join me.  Gratitude does not come as easily as complaining.  Start slowly. Learn to be grateful for both the obvious things like waking up and the things you may take for granted, like the ability to walk to your car.

I wish now that I still had those lists I made so many years ago when my child was still young and I would look out of my kitchen window and watch the birds at the bird feeder, the spring flowers billowing in the wind and an occasional deer creeping through the woods.  I plan to hold on the new list so that I can reflect in one year, five years or even in ten years.  As we move forward in life it’s always interesting to stop and take stock of how far we’ve travelled on our journey.
How often do you stop to acknowledge the things for which you are grateful?

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Graduations and New Beginnings

Please enjoy this repost that remains relevant today.
I am from a large family.  May and June of every year is a time for graduations and new beginnings.  Each year I can expect at least two or three family members to graduate from something.  Kindergarten, middle school, high school, undergraduate college, graduate school…there is always a graduation.

This year with the economy in its current state, I can’t help but wonder what will come of the graduates in my family and in yours.  Gone are the days when a person could graduate from college and have 5 or 6 really good job offers to consider. Many traditional college graduates (those that graduate on time, in four years) are seeking internships in lieu of seeking jobs.  It is the hope of many that the internship will lead to a more permanent job opportunity.  For the class of 2013 the future is not necessarily bright.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. employers added 165,000 workers to non-farm payrolls in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent.  That is the lowest unemployment rate we have seen since December 2008. Yet we are still faced with millions of people in the U.S. who are among the ranks of the long-term unemployed.  How does this fresh new crop of eager, ready and educated graduates impact their ability to find work?

I was always told that the key to ensuring a successful and secure future was education.  Life has taught me that education is only a good, solid start.  I will always be a strong proponent for education.  Yet I want the class of 2013 to understand that they must work hard to ensure their own futures.  While it is great to get a job with a top tier company, don’t rest on your laurels.  Learn what you can from every job opportunity you have. Figure out how you can contribute to the American landscape.  Think about entrepreneurship. 

When I reflect on my freshman year of college I think of how certain I was about my future.  Now I see how much I have moved away from the vision I had for my life so many years ago. Class of 2013, here is my message for you“The only thing constant is change.  Always be prepared for change.”

Graduation is only the beginning.  Now is the time to start the real work. 

Are you doing now what you expected to do when you were 18 or 22?

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