I woke up this morning and took a long breezy ride on my new Schwinn bike.   This experience stirred up many gratitude memories – the bargain price, finding it in stock, right in my home town, how pretty it is (even though it is white and purple, not indigo), the discounts I nabbed on the accessories, a new option for transportation, and the pleasant exercise challenge cycling offers.  Every time I pass my bike in the garage, I can’t help but smile and feel all happy inside.


In 1980 I had the opportunity to study for a summer in Vienna, Austria. Learning the German language was a huge part of this immersion program. While I haven’t retained much conversational ability, I have always had a favorite German word. That word is “vielleicht” and translates to mean “perhaps”. It is used liberally in daily conversation, often as the first word in a sentence. I remember how much I loved the sound and feeling of this word.  The pronunciation of the word sounds like "FEEL LIGHT"!  It was a constant reminder to feel light. As a word with such an uplifting quality. I often wondered why it was not a word we use much in American English.


I was looking at my Facebook page a short while ago and marveling at the beatifically beaming little faces as I beheld their beauty. Friends from all over the planet, brought together through the marvels of modern technology.  We celebrate each others’ success, comfort each other in times of sadness or sorrow. We offer prayers and delve into spiritual concepts. We offer windows into each others’  hearts and souls, even if we may never physically cross paths. We share a bond nevertheless. Some I have known since childhood (family of birth) and some throughout my life, that I call family of choice.


“If you want to be happy,” said Leo Tolstoy, “BE.” I used to hear people say this and I would think, “Be what?” I know now, that’s the wrong question. Why? Because it implies there is something you must DO in order to BE. There is nothing, however, you could ever do in order to be.


"There's nothing we can't turn into prayer if that is our intention." were among the first words spoken by photographer Catherine Jansen at Circle of Miracles, an interfaith community of which I have been part for nearly 11 years. Admitting to a "love affair with India" that has lasted 30 years, Philly area (by way of Atlanta, Georgia) mother of two who was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church, became fascinated with the country during her initial stay in an ashram where she mostly "saw the insides of my eyelids" in meditation. Since then, she has visited multiple times, each time, bringing back with her, sweet memories of the people she encountered and thousands of photographs that catalog her experiences for posterity and the appreciation of those who view them. Such was the case as our community vicariously experienced The March of the Nakeds. It is described in this way by the artist herself:
I really do try to pay attention when I take my daughter to the orthodontist.  We are getting to the point now where the braces are about to come off.  I should be watching as the assistant cleans her teeth, talks about her progress, or lack of it, in regards to her bite shifting into the correct position.  I should be engaging in small talk, asking the orthodontist about how his life is going and what his kids are up to and what he did for the holidays.  But I can’t.  The windows are too big.
_ There was a sheep bleating at us in the woods.  You could hear it coming closer.  Baaa.  Baaa.  Baaaaaaaaaa!

The kids I was with weren’t used to early morning walks.  They weren’t used to the woods either.  Or the mist that shrouded the lowland by the river that we were hiking through.  They were inner city kids, most of them afraid of the woods, the majority of them had never seen deer before and most were quite certain there were bears hiding out there ready to eat them.  I love those kids.

I AM a firm believer in staying positive..finding the silver lining and so on.  But, the truth for me is sometimes life just plain ole hurts.

Whether I am being called back to a past that was less than honest, or I am experiencing the feelings of loss, or even the reality of life with an unemployed spouse.  I have real life happening to me faster than I want to handle. 

Conference calls, carpools, drive-thru dinners and text-messaged I love you’s make up the life many of us know today. We hurry to get from one destination to another while constantly juggling thoughts of tomorrow and beyond. I decided I was willing to explore simplicity and change my stress level.  Are you?

I consciously feel gratitude every day - when I wake, eat, notice nature outside my door, play with my cats, talk with friends, receive something I requested, receive a gift.  I feel gratitude at the rate with which my business is growing and that I can help support the "light pillars" who in turn support so many others.  I received a wonderful gift the other day from one of my dearest friends, who in a conversation expressed his great gratitude for my friendship and my service to him as assistant and business partner.  I was so moved by that sentiment and felt the need to really look at why I was so touched.