Tag Archives: grateful

Always Grateful

nov20_2016

Point to Ponder:
Who or what do you need to be grateful for?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

With family coming to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday, I hired my friend’s housekeeper to clean our home. We haven’t had our house professionally cleaned since June and it was in desperate need of a good scrubbing. Erica, my friend’s housekeeper, let me know that she was going to get a friend to help her, and to insure that the house got as clean as possible, she was going to take her time. From 7:45 a.m – 5:30 p.m., Erica and Anna cleaned! I never imagined that they would or could clean for so long, but they did. Needless to say, the house is spotless and orderly- like a model home. It looks wonderful and feels even better! However, while our houses cleanliness is a delightful thing, is it temporary. It will soon look like a jungle gym and a stuffed animal, marker, crayon and Lego bomb exploded. However, what is permanent is Anna’s impact.

Prior to yesterday, I had only met Erica once and I had never met Anna at all, so throughout the day I would strike up various conversations. I tried not to bother them, but I wanted to get to know them. By their actions alone it was clear that they were both extremely hard workers and take pride in their work, but as so often occurs when conversing with people, it doesn’t take long to be reminded that everyone has a story and the human spirit is nothing short of incredible!

As soon as Anna finished up cleaning the very last thing, we began talking and she let me know that twenty-five years ago she moved from Mexico to San Diego. She became a US citizen, got married and had three children. Her children are twenty-two, twenty and sixteen. To use her words, she is unfortunately divorced from her children’s father and while he is a part of their lives, her children live with her, she is the provider and she is their rock. Her twenty-two year old son is in the Navy, her twenty year old daughter is in college and her sixteen year old son attends a high-school academy in San Diego. And, as I continued to ask her questions, she let me know that after dropping her son off at school every morning she goes back home to prepare meals for her family, studies and then works as a custodian at a middle school, from 2:30 – 11:30 p.m. When I asked her what she is studying, she let me know that she is striving to get her GED (her high-school diploma). As I nodded my head in disbelief and amazement of the character and strength of this woman, she let me know that she is fifty-two years old and that the only thing she can attribute her strength to is God. She is faith-filled, grateful and she blew my mind!

When Erica and Anna finally finished I gave them both a hug for all of their hard work, but more than making my house look amazing, I was thankful for the opportunity to get to know them. Not only was I reminded of the blessing of being able to afford someone to clean our house (something my mom or my husband’s mom, both single-moms, never had the luxury of being able to afford), but most importantly, I was reminded that despite life’s disappointments and challenges, the blessings of each day outweighs the burdens, attitude is everything, having faith is essential and living with and in gratitude is the only way to live.


Action Item:
Whether it be verbally or in a hand-written note, thank someone you are grateful for and/or give thanks for what you are grateful for.


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12-Day Reboot: Amy’s Day 4

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Amy Casual headshot

by Amy Chibib

Woohoo – It’s Friday! This is my favorite day of the week. I think that is because I feel a big sense of accomplishment. Also knowing that the weekend is ahead that usually brings a more relaxed routine, freedom and fun! Can you hear some of my core values in there? I hope each of you have had an insightful week focusing a little more on care for yourself. Paying attention to how your body feels, what your Spirit is gently calling to you, and what is the mindset or thinking that is filling your days? These are all excellent clues to guide you in making the most of the process.
I must admit I am NOT following the cleanse completely. I gave myself permission to take the parts of the reboot that I knew I could handle. Which is taking a “vacation” from the white processed carbs, corn, dairy, soy, artificial sweeteners, and most sugars, alcohol, and the social media turn off. The best part, I have been adding in some of the rich nourishing practices this week and thoroughly enjoying it! I hope that each of you have tuned in to what you need – I believe we are all intuitively wise beyond measure and by plugging into your guidance system, many issues will melt away – even in the fog of caffeine deprivation – haha! I enjoy this Re-boot because it is such a great reminder that these are habits I can carry forward for healthier daily living. Here is quick synopsis of my routine this week:
img_2252-1Start my mornings with a gentle harp ringing from my alarm – Yes, I still need the cue to open my sleepy eyes at 6:30am. Yet I feel refreshed and before I move – I always give a quick thank you for this day and grateful for what is to come. I am always eager to make my French press coffee – it is a process in itself and a ritual I am choosing to keep – for now. Heating the water in a kettle – which I use the warm water to first mix my lemon/ACV water. It actually gives me the boost I need as I go get changed for the morning. Nice surprise! I may be able to give up the coffee after all – we’ll see 😉
img_22438:00am – Once drop offs are complete and before I hit the trail for my run – I choose the quick breakfast of oatmeal in almond milk that has soaked overnight. It is delicious and perfect with a touch of cinnamon and walnuts. I get my 4 mile run in and on these mornings feel mentally clear and ready to start the day (a testament to the cardiovascular workout)!

By 10:30 – I make a small smoothie – Blueberries, Kale, Almond milk, ice. This fills me until later lunch.
img_2253-11:30: I grab the deli sliced Rotisserie chicken (it is delicious from Trader Joes) top a field greens salad with a few olives and a hard-boiled egg & drizzle a tsp of olive oil. Very satisfying and filling!
Snack – 4/5:00 – I usually grab a handful of nuts or red peppers in hummus
Dinner – 7:00pm – Grilled chicken has been a favorite this week. With broccoli & peppers and tossed spinach salad.
I keep my meals very simple but love sitting down to eat with my two teenage boys who are ravenous! I don’t have to think too much or spend much time preparing or following recipes. (More clues to my value system 😉 )
Aspects of the Reboot I’ve enjoyed the most:  The awareness, acceptance, slowing down and paying attention. Making notes about how I am feeling and a journal of what I’ve eaten. I recognize trends and appreciate the extra thoughtfulness I am brining to my day and evening.
Something I’ve learned about myself: No judgement, giving myself permission I can choose only the parts that I can handle. There has been freedom in that but also a great sense of compassion and appreciation with no judgement. I don’t have to do this perfectly – there is so much richness in each element. I am taking that into my parenting and work.
Most difficult part:  It was probably the decision to say it’s ok that I don’t follow it perfectly. I have not added the Epsom Salt Bath but would like to give it a try. The other challenge is probably turning off my device long before I crawl into bed. That is a commitment I am working on!
Quality of Sleep: I have the gift of being able to sleep – there has only been a handful of times in my life that I have struggled with sleep and I feel for those that have difficulty falling or staying asleep. However, I do notice increased energy waking up in the morning which speaks to the quality of sleep I am getting with cleaner eating habits!

Energy & Mood:  Monday was not easy and even though I still had a small amount of coffee – I felt exceptionally tired and low energy. But with every day that passed this week, I have gotten better and better!

img_2254Spiritual Practice: My practice is to always read faith filled, meditative quality books before I drift off to sleep. I fall asleep with prayer and wake to a similar prayer full of gratefulness. Any moments in the day – I touch base. I’ve noticed especially in the car in this crazy Austin traffic – I ask for a little patience and take a deep breathe!

Bedside is my library of reads – I usually don’t get too far before I’m out!  I recommend Radical Acceptance – the message is beautiful and after each chapter has a guided meditation.

A Touch of Kindness Goes a Long Way

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part III

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“A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine in someone’s day. Be the reason someone smiles today.

Point to Ponder:
Have you ever considered your daily goal being to make someone smile?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Like many little boys, when my four year old son Durant was a toddler he loved trash trucks. Thursday was our trash pick-up day so that was a huge deal! As soon as I heard the trash truck roaring down the street my husband or I would scoop him up and we’d rush out of the house to catch a glimpse and give a wave. He loved trash trucks so much that I would follow them around neighborhoods. During one of my “I’ll do anything to entertain my toddler”/ “trash truck stalking” moments, I was following a trash truck so close that the sweet garbage man got out of his truck to wave me around him. I let him know that I had a little boy in the car who loved trash trucks. He then invited us into his truck and let Durant push buttons and steer the wheel. Like the quote says, the little spark of kindness from the garbage man put a colossal burst of sunshine in both of our days! I will forever be grateful for all of the sweet garbage men who honked their horns, gave us waves and let us check out their powerful machines.

Before having my endearing garbage man experience which led to a sincere appreciation for this group, my angelic grandmother showed me how important it was to be kind and generous to people who have “thankless jobs”, like a garbage man.

My grandmother, ‘Mama Doris’, might have been the most kind and wonderful person I have ever known. If being too kind is possible, she fell in that category because she nurtured and cared for everyone except herself. In addition to doing anything for anyone and being an amazing grandmother, a few examples of her kindness were that she would regularly bake the mailman and garbage man her homemade apple and butter pies, and she would scramble eggs for stray cats! She was always spreading hope, love and joy and I have no doubt that she is in heaven continuing to bake and cook for everyone.

In consideration of this week being our third week of Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy, my encouragement for you is to continue to be intentional with spreading hope, love and joy by doing something kind for men and/or women who perform “thankless jobs”. Just a few examples of thankless jobs are garbage, mail and delivery services, construction, etc.

Finally, due to travel back to Austin for the holidays we will miss this week’s trash day, so last week I left a Merry Christmas note with goodie gift bag for our trash men. I don’t know about you, but our pantry is never lacking treats, especially during the holiday season, so it was a cinch to find goodies to fill the bag. And, it felt really good to create and leave a gift bag for our garbage men and upon doing so I had no expectation. However, that evening while pulling the garbage cans back into the garage I found a hand-written thank you note from Jaime V, one of the garbage men (see below). I was floored!

While last Tuesday was a great day, Jaime V’s note was the highlight of that day and it continues to make me smile. In fact, I’m keeping it in my day planner as a reminder of not only how truly gratifying it is to give, but how upligting it feels to receive an unexpected thank you.

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A thank you not from Jaime V, our garbage truck driver

 

Action Item:
Spread a little love, hope and joy by doing something kind for the men and/or women who perform thankless jobs such as garbage, mail and delivery services, construction, etc.

 

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Dear Me, Thank you!

Fall Folaige pic 2

Point to Ponder:
How often do you acknowledge and give thanks for all that you do and all that you are?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springman

Throughout the month of November we have focused on expressing gratitude in various ways. We encouraged making gratitude jars and everyday writing what we are grateful for and then placing it in the jar to then look at at a later date. Then, we took the time to physically write gratitude notes to the people we are grateful for, we continue to post what we are grateful for in our social media #ignitegratefulgram challenge, and we are wearing our gratitude, as ‘grateful’ is printed across the chest of all of our new fall apparel.

We believe that gratitude changes everything and of course our efforts were put in place to inspire attitudes of gratitude, but we were also hopeful that it would ignite attitudes of abundance, blessings and fun! Also, our big picture mission is that our gratitude campaign has made a positive impact on you and in your life, starting with your family and then being contagiously caught by thousands of other people.

Finally, there’s just one more gratitude request and call to action, and that’s to thank yourself by filling out our “Dear Me, Thank You!” worksheet. You may think this is totally narcissistic and weird, but stick with me. Typically, when we express gratitude it’s towards the people we love, our health, time with family and friends, things, our work, food, clothing, etc. All of these are wonderful, however what you must not neglect and absolutely must acknowledge and celebrate is everything you do and all that you are, which includes: your commitment to countless people and relationships; how incredibly hard you work on so many things; the impact you make in the lives of others; your dedication to your health and wellness, family and relationships; your beautiful and unique God-given talents and features which allows you to be you and do what you do, and so much more!

I realize this may seem like just another task during a busy holiday week, however I encourage you to take ten minutes to celebrate yourself, because ultimately when you acknowledge and express gratitude for all that you are and for all that you do, it’s simply saying “thank you” for what you’ve been given, which opens your spirit to receiving more, giving more and becoming more. And, becoming all that we were created to be is one of our greatest callings and life’s missions, and in doing so, our impact is extraordinary.

Action Item:
Print the “Dear Me, Thank You!” worksheet, gratefully fill it out and place in an area where you can frequently see it and give thanks.

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Who are You Grateful for?

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."  -John F. Kennedy

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
-John F. Kennedy

Point to Ponder:
Who are you grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Who are you grateful for? If you are like me, I would guess that this is a fairly simple question to answer and that you could create a long list of people, however, it’s likely that these people may not hear or see the words “I am grateful for you” as much as they’d like to and as often as you feel grateful for them.

It was at this exact same time last year that we launched our “I am grateful for you”, week-long letter writing campaign, and it was nothing short of beautiful! As a result of you, our members, writing gratitude letters during classes, we mailed over three hundred notes by the Thanksgiving holiday. That was approximately 2.5 gratitude notes per person, which translates to over 600 uplifted and happy hearts — with both the sender and receiver experiencing the proven benefits of gratitude. Therefore, we are absolutely committed to making this a pre-Thanksgiving tradition! My personal goal is to crush last year’s number and aim for at least three hand-written notes per person.

iGnite is emotionally invested in your well-being and we believe that the act of expressing gratitude verbally or in a handwritten note has the power to repair relationships and transform lives. And because having healthy relationships is paramount to living a low-stress and fulfilling life, we have ordered one thousand cards and we’d love to have ZERO left over when you’re done with them! The only action required is for you to attend classes throughout this week, have at least three people in mind that you are grateful for, then fill out the notes & envelopes during designated class time. The postage and trip to the post office is on us!

Finally, there is one more thing that I encourage you to pay close attention to during and after writing your gratitude notes, and that’s how you feel. Because you will have just finished exercising and/or practicing yoga, your endorphins will be flowing and you will already be feeling great, but all gratitude research proves that the result of expressing gratitude is an increase in life-satisfaction and well-being. In fact, one fascinating and very relative study by Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, found that “when a study participant wrote up to three gratitude notes about something that was important to them (not a generic “thank you” for you a gift, etc) the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction. The new and potentially important finding is that depressive symptoms decreased. Even more fascinating is that by writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three weeks to different people – well-being increased significantly.”

Gratitude. We can question its power and significance, but it’s all backed up by research. The more we express it, live in it and share it, the happier, more fulfilled and healthier we are. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the cheapest and most effective fix on the market. Unlike everything else, there are no crazy side-effects — with the exception of extreme joy — and we can access it at our disposal. Now that’s what I call some serious good news!

Action Item:
Think about 3 people who you are grateful for and write them a personal “I am grateful for you” note this week!

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Fourteen Reasons to be Grateful

iGnite -gratitude changes everything

Point to Ponder:
Do you regularly acknowledge what you are grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As you have likely noticed, during the month of November we are celebrating gratitude! Not only are we eager to blast out our gratitude in our social media #ignitegratefulgram contest, but we are fired up to wear our gratitude loud and proud with our NEW ‘Grateful’ fall apparel.

We are not at all suggesting or asking that you post or wear your grateful spirit to be boastful about your “things”. Instead, the motivation behind our Grateful Campaign is to encourage the daily action of giving thanks for our amazing lives and blessings…because when life gets inevitably tough, a grateful spirit can change a bad day into a good day, and a good day into a great day, because gratitude changes everything. I’m hopeful that our Grateful Campaign will inspire and reignite a grateful spirit in everyone.

There is no denying that acknowledging our blessings on a daily basis leads to a physiological reaction that creates a happy and peacful state in the body. To go a step further, based on the findings from a fascinating gratitude experiment conducted by two psychologists, writing down what we are grateful for leads to even greater results. Check this out:

“Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of 1. alertness, 2. enthusiasm, 3. determination, 4. optimism, and 5. energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less 6. depression and 7. stress, and 8. were more likely to help others, 9. exercised more regularly, and 10. made greater progress toward achieving personal goals. In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more 11. creative, 12. bounce back more quickly from adversity, 13. have a stronger immune system, and 14. have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.” – The Change Blog

Something that I am experimenting with in our family is a gratitude jar. The jar sits in the middle of our dining room table and each evening at dinner, we talk about one thing we are grateful for, followed with writing it down on piece of paper and placing it in the jar. Because I have small children who can’t write, I have been writing what they say as as well as including the date. It has become a sweet and focused time which stirs up great conversation (even with a two and a four year old). My personal goal is to revisit the jar of notes during our Thanksgiving meal and to continue writing down what we are grateful for throughout the month of November and the remainder of the year.

Another idea is to print and cut out our Grateful Printables. Then, place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. From a good nights rest, a warm a cup of coffee to the blessing of good health, family and friends, it all counts and taking the time to acknowledging your blessings will make a positive impact in your health, relationships and overall quality of life. And, several months from now or anytime you need a pick-me-up, all you have to do is read what’s in the jar and you are guaranteed a good laugh, happy cry and/or mood booster. Why? Because gratitude changes everything!

Action Item:
Print out our Grateful Printables. Place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. Or, at dinner each evening have each family member write down and discuss what they are grateful for and place in the jar.

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Join Our #ignitegratefulgram Challenge & WIN BIG!

What are you grateful for?

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