“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
Count your blessing every single day!
Gratitude is on everyone’s mind this time of year. Isn’t it a shame that the thoughts that are so strong and prevalent during November and December don’t stay as strong and prevalent the rest of the year?!
I have to admit, when I was younger, I never really realized just how beautiful a gracious and thankful heart is. I remember one Tuesday morning I was having lunch (pizza!) with the pastor of our church, his adorable wife, and a few of our friends. Somehow the subject turned to being thankful and expressing gratitude. Southern preachers do many things with great passion and eating is certainly amongst them, but between bites, our pastor said, “A Gracious heart is a beautiful thing.”
I remember this so clearly because:
My three daughters, with their lives, preach the same sermon this wonderful man did over pizza. My daughters are so incredibly gracious and thankful that it never ceases to leave an impression on me and I always think of the “Mini Pizza Sermon.” Graciousness is beautiful. They express the same gratitude whether I fix them a mug of hot chocolate as they would if I bought them a purse that costs way more than any purse has a right to cost (seriously, what’s up with purses?).
When I read the article below, the tip, “Model the behavior” jumped out at me. I believe that, over the years, my girls saw that my husband (“Daddy” to them!) and I simply don’t take anything for granted. We are always genuinely thankful for anything we have as well as for anything anyone does for us. I think that, more than anything, this helped them to become so beautifully gracious.
I notice graciousness in others and always realize that it speaks absolute volumes about an individual.
Below is a timely article that’s being shared with Self Help Daily’s readers. It’s written by Robert Nickell (a.k.a. Daddy Nickell) and offers fantastic tips on helping your kids find ways to give thanks. More importantly, it tells how you can help your kids to be more thankful. ~ Joi
by Daddy Nickell
Thanksgiving is almost here, and parents everywhere are wondering how they can teach their kids how to express thankfulness on the holiday and beyond. Rather than just going around the table and saying a quick list of things they are grateful for, moms and dads want creative and unique “I’m Thankful For…” ideas that will get the kiddos in the spirit of giving thanks!
Daddy Nickell’s tips will help all parents teach their kids to be thankful on Thanksgiving and beyond! Use them to ensure that your kids make giving thanks a part of their daily life.
Author: Robert Nickell (a.k.a. Daddy Nickell), father of 7, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of DaddyScrubs.com, delivery room duds, gifts, and apparel for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog, where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.
About Daddy Nickell
For his blog, Nickell writes from a father’s perspective on topics such as bonding with your child and what the father should expect during pregnancy and infancy. Daddy Nickell also contributes his parenting expertise to national talk shows and daytime television shows. He has been featured on “Good Morning L.A.,” “Good Morning Texas,” “Daytime TV” ABC15 Phoenix, MSNBC, WZZM 13, San Antonio Living, KSBI TV, and as a syndicated columnist for national newspapers, parenting magazines and websites including Baby Couture Magazine, Oh Baby! Magazine, City Parent Magazine, The Bump, Parenthood, and Homeschooling Parent.
You can also see DaddyScrubs on YouTube, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter (@DaddyScrubs) and Pinterest!
I was talking with a family member recently about how a lot… NOT ALL…. but a lot of boys and men today are lacking in the “tough guy” department. Naturally, it should go without saying – but I’ll say it anyway because experience has taught me to always be thorough and leave no room for interpretation and even less room for wise guys – but when I say “tough guy,” I’m not referring to bullies.
For an illustration of the difference between the two, you need look no further than a street in black and white Mayberry. When Opie stood up to a milk-money-thieving bully, Opie was tough. The bully? Well he was a punk. Punks aren’t tough guys – they’re just target practice for tough guys.
It’s kind of hard to describe what makes a man or boy tough, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what makes it hard to be tough.
I’ll use another illustration. This time a real life one, in living color. When my oldest daughters (Emily and Brittany) were around 1 and 2 years old, they were sitting with my dad in his favorite recliner. This particular man thought these particular girls hung the moon and stars. I was never one to argue because I was pretty sure they did too. He had just gotten home from work and was so excited to see that we had come for a visit, that he sat right down with the girls without taking the ball point pen out of his shirt pocket.
I was on the other side of the room, talking to my mother when I heard my dad calmly say, “I’ll be right back, girls, I just need to get something in the kitchen…” He had his pen in his hand, so I just assumed he was putting it up.
Come to find out, somehow, in the chaos of four little excitable hands, the pen had come out of his pocket and had poked him in the eye.
He later said he didn’t want to scare the girls or make them think they’d done anything wrong, so he just calmly excused himself. There was a tear that required a doctor’s attention and he wore a patch for a few weeks, calling himself “Grandpa Pirate.”
You know – and I know – that there are men today that, if this had happened to them back then – they’d still be screaming about it. They’d have pitched such a fit the two little girls would have been scarred for life.
This is just one of the illustrations of toughness that come to mind. Possibly it’s the one I choose to use I’ve had something similar happen to my eye before and know that the pain is excruciating. What’s more, it’s frightening – I mean, it’s your eye! And yet, my dad (who was not at all a big, strapping man – in fact, he was WAY more Barney than Andy) summoned the toughness to take command of his fears, his pain, and his emotions. It left an impression on me then and it still leaves one today.
Another illustration of toughness involves another of the most important men in my life – my husband. He was chosen to throw the first pitch out at an important minor league baseball game. He was lined up for the honor for nearly a year. Tragically, his adorable mother passed away about a week before the game. I never even assumed, for a minute, that he wouldn’t go through with his duty. I knew he was one of the last remaining tough guys, so I knew he’d manage to go through with it. I just didn’t know that he’d be able to do so with so much strength. He managed smiles and even laughed about not throwing the ball into the dirt. No one in the entire stadium (except for one wife and three daughters) knew that underneath the smile was a broken heart.
He put on his loud Tommy Bahama shirt and did what needed to be done. No questions asked. He wasn’t going to let anyone else down or not do what he said he’d do.
Yet again, this illustration sticks out to me because, yet again, I’ve had something similar happen to me with my mom and know the pain is excruciating. And frightening.
As with most things in life, I don’t have the answer to the problem of our current drought of tough guys or cowboys. Too much catering to whims… lack of accountability… too many parents “babying” their sons?? I don’t know. A lot of people point to too many single parent homes where young boys don’t have a father figure to “look up to.” While this certainly sounds reasonable and probably does account for a lot of it, my dad was raised by his mom after she divorced his dad. So, even that “excuse” has holes in it.
Maybe, just maybe, a lot of men aren’t tough today because… Hey! Being tough is hard! It’s easier to complain, whine, gripe, pout, scream and bow out. I watched a lot of westerns with my dad and I never saw the cowboys act like that. They pulled up their boots and… more times than not.. quietly did what needed to be done. Quietly and nobly.
They didn’t throw pity parties, they didn’t demand attention, and they didn’t whine. They were too busy doing cowboy stuff to have time for any of that “sissy” stuff.
Maybe part of it comes from selfishness. People today seem to be more self-oriented and selfish than ever before. After all, this is a generation that added the word “selfies” to our vocabulary. Most of us, when we were teens and even into our twenties, we pointed our cameras at everything and everyone BUT ourselves!
I think all of us would be a lot better off if we pointed our attention… as well as our camera… at other things and people as well. If we stopped putting ourselves in the center of everything and stopped worrying that we weren’t “getting our way” all the time. Basically if everyone just pulled up their boots, got over themselves, and went on about life and the living of it.
Maybe then the cowboys would show back up…
Fellow cat lovers, have you ever noticed how gleefully busy your cat gets immediately after you’ve cleaned her sandbox and given her fresh litter? It’s as though she can’t do enough or do it fast enough.
I’m so there.
And, frankly, I love it. I love busy-ness. I don’t know why, but I kind of get a charge from it. It makes you feel alive – as though every one of your senses has to stay on guard because something’s about to come around the corner like Vin Diesel – guns blazing.
That, and the fact that it’s justification for keeping chocolate and coffee in front of me. My greatest riddle in life is, “Which makes my engine hum along better, chocolate and coffee?”
I think I’ll need more work in the lab to arrive at the answer.
One of my favorite quotes is by Satchel Paige: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” This week has been one that – on several occasions – I actually went out of my way to carve out a few chunks of time in the evening for think-free sitting. It was such an uncommonly busy week that I felt like I owed it to my psyche. While I believe that being busy is actually a darn good thing for us body and soul, it is imperative that we make quality time for our loved ones – which, of course, includes our family, pets, and even ourselves.
My extra business has been more than just this week, actually. The past few months have been kind of crazy. It’s all good, though, because I like crazy – quite a bit, actually. It’s normal that gives me the heebie jeebies… at least I think it did. Let’s see, that would have been 1980…
I’ve been swamped with online work. Again, that’s a good thing, but I don’t have a to do list anymore. I have to do lists – they start on one page then continue on the next. Then the next. Then the next. When I hear someone complain about their to do list (emphasis on singular), I want to throw all of mine at them.
But I just smile – sometimes I wink.
Here’s one of the beautiful things about being busy… ironically, it’s THEN when you actually get the most done. It’s as though the mind says, “Well, I’m already running at a frantic pace, I might as well do THIS too.. and THIS… and why not THAT?!” We went to a particular church in Madisonville, Kentucky for years and our Pastor always said that if he needed something done, he’d look for the busiest person and assign the task to them.
Why? Busy people get stuff done.
Another benefit of busyness is the fact that it keeps you sharp. Your brain cells crave activity – in fact, I’m convinced that every cell craves activity. We weren’t designed to sit and do nothing day after day. We were designed by the Creator to get busy and stay busy.
On a mental level, staying busy forces your brain to come up with new solutions. Your brain is also challenged to become more creative and to, often, think outside of the box. All of this may seem like chaos to us, but to our brains, it’s like a mental gym. Inactive, unchallenged brains are the ones headed for the most trouble. Never, ever resent extra activity for your brain – it’ll reward you for it today, tomorrow, and in years to come.
Emotionally, busyness is also a blessing dressed in work clothes. When we’re busy, we don’t have time to worry, grieve, or cave in to feelings of loneliness, sadness, envy… or any of the long list of negative emotions that can drag us down. Staying busy is actually the best remedy for just about every negative emotion on the list.
The next time you find yourself having “one of those days,” don’t recoil… rejoice! Then listen really close – you’ll hear every cell in your body buzzing.
What if you simply don’t have enough TO keep you busy?! I’ve heard about this from quite a few individuals and, frankly, I’d never really stopped to consider it! Being a mother of three as well as running a web publishing business and writing leaves me wondering what that must be like.
I have a lot of days when I’d LOVE to find out!
In all seriousness, though, when your life simply doesn’t have “an awful lot going on,” it’s up to you to create the busyness. The options are pretty amazing and once you start thinking of things to do, you’ll be amazed at just how many things there are just waiting to be done. Below are just a few…