Burned bridges, bucket lists and bare feet.

The other day I told someone that he’s not happy because he’s constantly reaching, chasing and searching for more. He’s missing out on so much joy because he’s not living in the moment. Then it hit me that I am also guilty. Seems that many of us are just never happy with what we have. We want more, always. It’s never enough, not quite good enough and worth complaining about. I, for one, am tired of complaining. It’s annoying and no one likes to listen to it. It brings everyone down. That’s not cool. Sure, it feels good to vent, and sometimes we just need to let it out. But how about we put that much energy into counting our blessings for a change? I decided to try it this week. I told myself that I’m not going to complain for a whole week. No negative self-talk or criticism, no over-exaggerating minor mishaps. Instead, I will be in constant gratitude.

Day 1: On the drive to work, I thanked God for my children. That I was chosen to birth them and raise them and love them. I listed off many of their wonderful qualities and couldn’t stop smiling. Damn, I really am super blessed. I was in a great mood all day.

Day 2: I thanked God for eyes that can see green grass and blue skies. A nose that can smell flowers and coffee. A mouth that can speak, kiss….and drink coffee. Ears that can hear guitars and voices. Hands that can type and feel and soothe. A successful day of positivity.

Day 3: I decided I needed to start over because it was really a bad day and I just couldn’t summon any gratitude.

Day 4: I forgave myself for failing a simple experiment but acknowledged that just two days of over-flowing gratitude had an impact.

Day 5: I decide that I can constantly praise God for my blessings but also get frustrated once in a while, because I’m human. Never having the occasional tantrum is not realistic but flipping the switch and finding appreciation in that part of my journey sure makes it a lot less tragic. My experiment ended with me promising myself that I’m going to try to praise more and worry less.

I would never encourage anyone to stop chasing their dreams. But I think it’s equally necessary for your soul to take a breather, sit back and soak in all the awesome things that you have right now. It’s important to feel grateful for all the life lessons you were taught along the way. All of us have a different dream for ourselves in this life, but isn’t the final goal the same? We want happiness. We miss out on so much of the happiness that we could feel every single day if we would just be thankful for every little or big thing that has gotten us where we are right now, in this moment. Sure, there will be stress and forcing yourself to become uncomfortable. That’s growth! But dream chasing shouldn’t be a lesson in misery. Celebrate the baby steps. Laugh off the mistakes. Make the very best of your journey and the most of what you have now. Tomorrow is never promised. And all the chasing and reaching will be for naught if you convince yourself that it will never be enough.

I am really, REALLY appreciating getting older. I never thought I would say that, but it’s true. Every day that goes by I give less shits about what people think about me. Man does that feel good. I’ve found that most times when I’m stressed out, it’s because I am worrying about the judgment of someone else. Will so-and-so be mad at me or think I’m just a moron? What will they say? What if I choose to not go where I was invited, because I don’t feel like it? Who’s that going to piss off? Oh, and I should probably get the opinions of 9 other people before doing what I really want to do. STOP IT!!

People are going to be judging you no matter what you do. Seriously, it doesn’t matter. You will be judged. So, let them!! You don’t even care! You choose to ignore it because it is not any of your business what people think of you. You are living YOUR life. And besides none of it matters anyways. In a week it will be forgotten, and, in the end, there is only one true judge and He’s going to love you anyways. Do YOU!

I’m feeling more thankful for broken relationships. Friends or lovers, both have taught me lessons with each heartbreak. Be brave enough to say goodbye to anyone who hurts you, plain and simple. Whether they are reminding you of past mistakes, making you feel inferior, telling you what to do or being just a negative Nancy, it’s okay to set boundaries and create distance to save your sanity. Your peace of mind is more valuable than you know. It sets the tone for your relationships and how you treat yourself and others, so keep that a priority. Some people belong in your life and some don’t. I think deep down you know who belongs where. I like to just follow the light. I want to surround myself with people who make me better. The ones who I can be myself around and not worry about saying something stupid (because that will happen). The people who laugh with me and make me feel vibrant and adventurous and loved, even when I’m annoying. The friends who want to help me carry all my baggage (and eventually unpack it) are the keepers.

Nature has become my new favorite blessing. Maybe this is another aging bonus. I treasure it like never before and see beauty in all the things I never even paid attention to. Find what calms your soul. The other morning, I was having a panic attack. It was causing me to shake badly and become dizzy. I went to the window and looked outside to see that it was a beautiful morning and that the grass was still wet. I took my socks off and walked outside barefoot for about twenty minutes. The air smelled so wonderful. The wet grass on my feet was unusual at first but once I walked around in it for a while, I loved how natural and earthly it made me feel. I was connected. This is called “grounding” and it really helps. The ground below me, holding me up was so much bigger than me, and bigger than anything else I was feeling. The earth began to take the weight of my anxiety. It was nature and I could feel myself melting into it. I had visions of myself wearing my hippie skirt and dancing around in all of it. It was blissful. I became calm, content, pure and real. When I snapped back into reality, I had the biggest smile on my face. The tornado swirling inside of me had dissipated and my panic seemed a lifetime away. I lowered myself into child’s pose and closed my eyes, taking in all the smells and feels. I squished the grass between my fingers. My breathing had slowed. Serenity.

Add more of that to your routine. I found more than I was searching for in nature. It’s something we all can enjoy. With that epiphany, I added a few things to my bucket list. Finding waterfalls, solo camping trips, building an outdoor nook for me to write in, traveling and exploring, just to name a few. And when I feel like I am just chasing and reaching again, I pull myself back and look at all the beauty that is surrounding me right here and right now. I may not be in Bora Bora but God’s creation is everywhere and I have so very much to appreciate as it is. Right now.

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