Welcome to the 1st EVER video BLOG day.
It wasn't as scary as I thought.
Maybe in my "New Season" I will overcome some FEAR.
Today on the BLOG...
How the Neuroscience of Gratitude works in our most significant relationships.
I would love any feedback you want to share on the Video Blog Format.
Since I have never done this before I consider all feedback as important information.
Have a wonderful end to your week and don't forget
to tell someone you LOVE... "Thank you"
for something they do for YOU!
"For everything there is a SEASON"... has always been one of my favorite verses,
and has truly helped me go through some major struggles in life.
Believing that "THIS too shall pass" because I understood "this is a season"
has pushed me onward with strength that I knew
could only be gained in the STRUGGLE.
I have also used this verse to push me through the "SEASONS"
like winter and the yucky, cloudy, depressing drizzly days
we have been in for what feels like WEEEEEKS now.
I know there are people out there who do NOT love the summer sunshine,
and they treasure the chilliness of winter.
So, for those people...this verse has helped me SHARE.
Today, as I was getting the buckets and buckets of Fall Decorations from the attic
(because it is my little son's favorite SEASON)-
I got my literal 100th message from a BLOG friend
asking me to please start doing videos.
The reason I know this is the 100th request
is because I HAVE been counting!
And.... secretly, when this all began I told myself
when then 100th person asked me for a BLOG video
then I would know it was the right time
(feeling VERY safe this would never happen).
So... Today while decorating our house for FALL
"For everything there is a SEASON"...
took on a WHOLE NEW MEANING
as I guess I am about to embark upon a new one myself.
To be very truthful, I have resisted the video form of media.
I HATE my voice and the terrible West Texas drawl that flows from my every word. AND... I have NEVER wanted to make anyone listen to me on a video or recording.
I sound like I should be on an episode of HEE HAW.
In fact, my whole life I have had countless people tell me TO MY FACE...
"Oh, I didn't know you were smart!" haha
I have to laugh and say yes, I know... it's the voice.
As I gather my strength to go WAY outside my comfort zone
and face my BIGGEST neurological negative "trigger" thought -
REJECTION and Abandonment ,
I promised myself that if I could preach it to someone else,
then I was going to have to live it as well.
NOTHING GOOD ever happens in THE COMFORT ZONE.
So... I am going to put on my BIG girl Boots, wash my face,
and give it my best shot next week.
My goal is to pass along the Neuroscience of Gratitude
with a BLOG and a video version
so those 100 people who have asked
can listen in their cars or while they get ready in the mornings.
and...I promise NOT to make them very long! haha
I'd love any type of feedback you could give me
on topics you'd like more information about.
You are welcome to Message me on Facebook
if you'd rather write your request there.
If you're not already my friend on Facebook,
my user name is - Staci Danford-Motley
I realize a video format will allow me
to explain things better and I sincerely hope
it helps to fill those of you who read this weekly blog
with a little more GRATITUDE.
May we all be more fruitful and thankful in "this new season".
Today on the BLOG....
The Neuroscience of Creative HOBBIES & My NEW Junkin' Truck!
For those of you who know me... this will come as NO shock,
and for those of you who don't.... this may very well cause you
to curl up your nose in disgust..... but either way it's TRUE!
I LOVE to dig through junk yards, garage sales, old abandoned buildings,
and YES.... I have even been known to climb INSIDE a dumpster
to rescue a lonely abused furniture friend that needed a new home!
AND... I have always had to bring these NEW friends home in my car,
which has torn my seats, ripped my window tinting, & scratched my dash.
I have even driven down the road with a table hanging out my sunroof
while my friend held the legs of the table on the inside of the car.
Because of this intense desire to save unloved items.....
I have wanted my OWN junkin' truck for over 20 years now......
and guess what my husband bought me this week?
YES...You got it.... my very own 1993 Chevy Truck!
She is the same age as my daughter and I thought that had to be a good sign. Though she hasn't held up quite as well as my daughter...
I decided to just think of her as having been SUPER LOVED for 25 years.
So... what in the world does this have to do with Neuroscience you say....
well, LOTS actually. Did you know that people who have creative hobbies are happier and more resilient than those who do NOT have a hobby?
A recent article in Psychology Today by Dr. Jaimel Kurtz says,
that people have come to wear their "BUSY" as a badge of honor."
In fact, most high functioning 21st century societies, look down on those
who make time for FUN hobbies and consider them "time-wasters".
According to a brand new study published
in January 2018 by Neuroscience News,
FMRI brain scans revealed people who engage in a creative hobby
or endevor actually have more blood flow to multiple areas of the brain.
Brain scans also found that those partaking in a creative activity
have a higher degree of brain connectivity throughout the inter-networks
than those who merely do nothing or watch TV in their "free-time".
One of my favorite lines from Dr. Brenae Brown (I'm paraphrasing)
is when you tell people you are having F. U. N.
they think you should get another J. O .B. !
So... today as I sit outside scrubbing on this old girl,
I have to just smile and think... man-oh-man, my brain is in TOTAL Overdrive
while I imagine all the wonderful things I will find on the side of the road
and be able to BRING HOME in my very OWN truck.
Right now my truck is looking a little tired,
but when I take her to get her new paint job....
she will be driving' down the road as "Lucy the Lemondrop" !
And... she will be filled up with treasures someone else threw out
because they saw the lemon, and I saw the lemonade !
So... if you're one of those people in the world
who have a creative hobby of any kind.
SMILE today and give yourself a NEW BADGE of HONOR
because you now know that people whose brains CREATE
are the only people we know of...
who are simultaneously using
a combination of the brain's controlled thinking power
and their spontaneous abilities ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
Wear your new Badge with Pride realizing that your brain
is firing on all cylinders and connecting multiple networks
while also increasing blood flow and boosting endorphins.
AND... let those who think you're having too much F. U. N.
go back to their J. O. B.
The NEUROSCIENCE going on inside your HOME!
I've had so many people ask me what my house looks like now
and for updates on our remodel and our "50 year old clutter clean out" project.....
so TODAY on the Blog...
is a whole post about the SECRETS of Neuroscience
you didn't realize were going on INSIDE your own home!
At the end of a Long Day... there is nothing BETTER or WoRsE...
than the first step inside your HOME.
Modern Psychology will tell you that one of BIGGEST factors
on the state of your MOOD... is the INSIDE of your own HOUSE.
So.... How can you fix that without spending a fortune on redecorating?
Here are a few easy fixes of some things Neuroscience can tell you
about what your BRAIN is doing when you walk in your door.
#1 Factor- The Entrance
Wherever it is that you 1st walk into your house, be it the front door, the back door or through the garage.... Make THAT space Clean, Neat, Organized and Inviting. Even if it means you have to move the junk, clutter or less than lovely stuff somewhere else. This is the very 1st TRIGGER your brain receives as it begins the looping cycle of how it feels about your HOME. Does it create anxiety, frustration, the constant weight of a project left on the "To-Do" list? Or, does it give your brain a release of the "feel good" endorphins that leave your body in a state of happy. Whether you know it or not, your brain is releasing chemical and electrical signals for EVERYTHING around you..... especially VISUAL stimuli. Your Entrance is vitally important and starts the circuitry your Brain uses to determine how you "feel" INSIDE your House.
#2 Factor- Color
This is HUGE, and one of the easiest fixes you can do to alter your MENTAL state of being. A can or two of paint can literally change the chemical signals you are releasing throughout your body. Like it or NOT, our brains respond to color. Did you know that the colors Red and Orange make you EAT MORE? .... so if you're on a diet and your kitchen or dinning room are one of those colors.... you might be fighting an uphill battle.
Ps... I giggle every time I'm at the sink.... thinking that old man is trying to play his cards right so he CAN hook up with the MERMAID!
When we remodeled our kitchen, we took down every single BROWN cabinet door
and repainted them white. It was an easy, inexpensive fix that
added what appeared to be countless square feet to our space
as well as lots more light.
We also took 1 set of doors to a cabinet maker friend and had glass inserted.
If you can't paint your cabinets, or love your brown woodwork,
then add in lightness with the accessories.
Granted... NOT everyone wants a 3 ft. Mermaid in their kitchen....
but that's the whole point.
Fill your space with things you LOVE and create YOUR OWN HAPPY!
If YOU love it.... then YOUR cognit network is signaling chemicals
for your joy and creating a state of HaPpY for YOU!
Here are a couple of color charts that will help you better understand
what COLOR is doing on the INSIDE of your Brain.
Here are a few more pictures of our kitchen.
It really is filled with some of my FAVORITE things....
and it's one of my favorite rooms to be in.
Soooo much of my Granny Rube is here with me in this Kitchen and it is one of the places I feel her presence with me most. Her precious memories surround me here!
#3 FACTOR- FUNCTION
See what is causing your house the biggest disarray or lack of function and just correct that problem! Ours was the "drop-off" area. I think everyone needs a place to set down purses, bags, backpacks etc. Which for us was in the laundry room..... so I went on a month long junking journey until I found this little typewriter table and BOOM... no more "drop-off" on the kitchen table.
Since this is also the laundry room... it still had to function in the most efficient way possible for 4 people's laundry. So...we gutted the room, removed one set of cabinet doors and took down the rods that ran along both sides of this tiny room.
Then Butch created one small rod coming straight out of the wall. It gave us back VALUABLE space in this small room and functions just as well.
Next... to get 4 people's laundry to fit in this small space... we used an old door and cut it in half to create 2 shelves. We now each have a basket for clean clothes, and I use the top as a folding table. This space is literally no more than 24 inches wide, but we made the best use of the inches we had... and I have to say I LOVE it.... every time I fold clothes, my brain releases signals of an enjoyable space rather than one that frustrates me due to BAD Functionality... which only made me HATE Doing Laundry.
#4 FACTOR- LIGHTING
Like it or NOT... Lighting plays an enormous role in the signals released in your BRAIN. It can change a mood faster than almost anything. Don't believe me... Wonder why all spook houses are dark...because it creates signals for anxiety and fear. Wonder why all fancy restaurants have soft lighting...because it creates signals to relax and eat more.
Natural Lighting is an easy, valuable way to create endorphins for "happY" inside your home. It stimulates the cells on the inside of the retina which also affects your circadian rhythm. Poor lighting, or dark lighting is one of the highest ranking characteristics in people who say they feel depressed. So.... open your windows, pull your blinds, or if you live in the country like me...... take those curtains OFF and let the light in. It will almost instantly CHANGE YOUR MOOD!
I have natural lighting SHINING in from every room in our house....
and when it goes down, I turn on almost EVERY light in my house.
At least now I have some science behind why we NEED The LIGHTS ON. haha
#5 FACTOR- ADD PLANTS
When you add plants to a room (even if they're fake)
research shows it has a comforting affect on the brain.
Bringing some of the outside IN also keeps a home feeling connected
and shows to signal endorphins that may also help with relationships.
#6- FACTOR- CURVED lines over HARD angles
Not everyone has curved furniture, or even wants it for that matter... but when there is nothing in your home but HARD lines, it seems to signal to the brain a state of coldness and unapproachability, as well as signals for uneasiness and fear in the brain. This is an simple fix too. Just add a curved pot, or any little "knick-knack" you have to something hard or sharp edged, and it's amazing how much softer a room feels with just the quick addition of a bowl.
#7 FACTOR- MAKE IT PERSONAL
Your house should feel like you...
and when people leave there, they should have a better sense
of just how wonderful you are!
Even if NO one likes it but you and your family...
then at least they know it's something they DON'T want in their house.
(maybe a 3 ft. Mermaid)... but that's why it's personal to you and your brain!
I rescued this old piece of wonderful from the side of the road many years ago. It's been at least 8 different colors and done at least 8 different jobs. BUT... now it's white and holds many of our family treasures and pictures of all 5 kids when they were little. It's in the hallway, and I walk past in at least 20 times a day with a SMILE.
#8 Factor- Change your THINKING
This may sound silly... but it works! If you hate your house, or are always complaining about all the projects that aren't finished yet, you are forming pathways in your brain as to how you feel EACH time you are in it! So... start today and say a little statement of GRATITUDE when you walk in... even if it's just... Thank you that you keep me from being homeless.
Start with just ONE area.... and focus on it
until you can be in that space and feel HAPPY.
Then move on to another one.
Don't worry about what anyone else will think about YOUR home.
You and your brain live there.
Their brain isn't signaling for you. Find some things you LOVE
and fill your house with ONLY that. Remove those things which do NOT
bring you joy, fill you with precious memories, or are useful!
If it's valuable but you don't use it.... sell it,
and free up some mental space to hold your own treasure!
#9 FACTOR- SMELL
Almost EVERYONE underestimates the importance of smell.
When in reality it is one of the most powerful triggers to the brain.
Utilize that factor and start creating a home that smells like HAPPY!
I LOVE the smell of coffee and I love my morning coffee bar because it fills my house with a mood changing dose to the Olfactory nerve that makes my morning GRIN last all day. I also have candles all over and light them almost every day!
Here are a couple of Olfactory charts that might help you
decide what smells you'd like in your home.
#10 FACTOR - Enjoy YOUR Own Space
The TRUTH is... Neuroscience has massive amounts of research showing your space affects your MOOD, your productivity, your creativity and most of all
Start today and ENJOY your space... give yourself permission to Make it YOU!
Your brain will love you for it!
If you've ever had a BAD habit, or wanted to create a NEW good one
.... then Today's Blog is for you!
Since most of the world is BACK-To-SCHOOL,
it seems so much easier to spot our habits... both good and bad.
1. Staying up too LATE
2. Wasting valuable time on FACEBOOK
3. When we eat, when we snack
4. Breakfast (do you or don't you)
5. Finding time to Exercise
6. Making Beds
7. Always running LATE, or always EARLY
8. Shower in the morning or shower at night
9. When you do Homework
10. and... the dreaded BED TIME
ALL of these things are products of our HABITS!
On our recent "Vacation Road-trip" drive to Arizona, we listened to the Audio version of a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. (link below)
If you get a chance, or like informative books.... this one is a MUST have.
I have listened to it 3 times now and hear something I missed previously each time. It contains cutting edge information about how to create NEW GOOD habits
(like a daily practice of GRATITUDE), or for some.... BREAKING the
DESTRUCTIVE Habits that seem to haunt us:
from anything like staying up to late, to biting your fingernails,
all the way to excessive gambling, or drug and alcohol addictions.
IT is an incredible book that I highly recommend.
But... if you're not a reader, or that's not your thing ....
then I will give you the shortened run down right here.
Here is the Amazon link if you are interested:
I can tell you that our family is like most American families
where everyone is busy... and it is TIME, or the LACK of it
that leads to many of our BAD Habits!
IN our house- it's not having a set homework time,
or doing a grab and go meal because everyone is home at different times,
early morning rushing, or OUR BIGGEST problem..... staying up too late...
often times watching cat videos on Facebook...
when we KNOW that tomorrow always gets here about 2 hours too early.
YET.... why is it, we continue to do these things "WHEN WE KNOW BETTER!"
image by: Medical News Today
Research by Dr. Ann Graybiel, published in a February 2018 article
in Current Biology showed some very shocking evidence about
how our habits work. Dr. Graybiel calls this new finding "bookending".
Her research showed that when we have a repeated habit
the neurons fire a very specific signal at the beginning of the sequence
and then not again until the end.
ALL of the steps in the middle are part of
an "interneuron" network that are similar to
a passer-by along the habit loop.
Our brains are built for efficiency and this a way
to "box up" a repeated sequence and save valuable
Neuronal Real-Estate for other Brain Functions.
For example: Think about this morning when you went to go brush your teeth,
You probably did the whole entire thing as a Habit Loop.
If you don't believe me... TAKE A LOOK!
You most likely did not consciously tell yourself to:
1. Get toothbrush out of drawer
2. Get toothpaste out of drawer
3. Unscrew cap on the toothpaste
4. Squeeze the toothpaste tube onto the toothbrush
5. Raise arm to mouth
6. Brush teeth from side to side and top to bottom
7. Spit when your mouth becomes full of bubbles
8. Rinse out your mouth
9. Rinse off your toothbrush
10. Put items back in the drawer
image by: HuffingtonPost.com
We do the same thing on:
1. Our Drive to Work
2. Which shoe we put on first
3. If you put on your makeup first or fix your hair first
4. Do you listen to music in the car, a podcast, or like silence
ALL of these things are HABITS.
So... in our house (after listening to this book) we decided we were going to implement some new habits for the new school year, like better bedtimes, 3 nights together at dinner, and... the BIG ONE is we were going to make the boys start making their beds before going to school each day.
I have most always been a bed maker... and I can tell you now that I understand more about the brain, that there REALLY IS something about having a MADE BED that sends endorphins that signal accomplishment, goal setting, self respect, appreciation for one's space..... and there is just something about getting into a MADE BED that makes it feel just a little better than climbing into one that you have to dig the covers up from the foot or find your pillow that landed in the floor. Changing 1 small habit can activate new stimulus in the Basal Ganglia of the Temporal Lobe that can alter the brain's habit looping system just enough to make room for other habit changes.
Neither one of these beds are gonna win any prizes in bed-making...
but hey, it's a start! And 10 days later..... I can slowly see some new habits forming. I didn't even have to remind Brady this morning to make his bed.
He did it right after he put his clothes on....
just the same as we'd been doing it the other 9 days.
NOW... I'm not going to kid myself and think
that if I wasn't here to check up on the Bed-Making 101 Project
that either of these boys would still do it... but 10 days in...
I'm elated with the progress!
HOW does this affect ADDICTION?
All addictions are habits... granted, some are much worse than others, but they are habits none the same. One side of my family has been cursed with a looooooong line of addiction and I have always been fascinated as to how it works, particularly along genetic lines.
BRAND NEW RESEARCH from Duke University has found very promising evidence isolating brain activity in BAD HABITS. Research on lab mice has located a very specific gene in the Basal Ganglia called FSI cells that are activated during BAD HABITS. These cells make up only a tiny fraction, in fact, only 1% of the neurons in the striatum contain these FSI cells. HOWEVER, when laboratory mice were given a very specific drug that deactivated the FSI cells.... the BAD HABIT brain sequence no longer performed its loop. This is an incredible new discovery for those suffering from addiction and one that could possibly change the lives of thousands of people across the globe.
image by: positivepsychologyprogram.com
So...start today and try changing your negative habit sequences, or better yet.... work on creating some new ones like going to bed 30 minutes sooner, having dinner with your family, or starting a daily practice of GRATITUDE.
All you have to do it simply begin! One of my favorite quotes ever is by
Mark Twain, which says, "The secret to getting ahead, is GETTING STARTED."
Disclaimer upfront.... This post uses the word sh%t.....
so if that offends you then come back next week.
However, please note that I am not cussing AT anyone,
merely using the term in reference to unhappy situations
and how to DEAL with them.
The slang dictionary definition for Sh%t Sandwich is: Something highly undesirable made triflingly more palatable by attempting to surround it with more tolerable things.
image from dreamtime.com
WELL.... I can tell you this week has been a sh%t sandwich week for me.
And I have had numerous phone calls from friends and clients in the same boat....
which got me to thinking.....
"There has got to be a better way of dealing with this than the one I am using!"
So... I started reading through my Psychology books
and looking for the best ways to deal with less than pleasant situations....
and I can tell you that most of what I found was VERY VERY text book info.
and totally NOT helpful to everyday life.
Except for the part about Rumination.
According to an article in Clinical Psychology Review, February 2011
Rumination is the tendency to dwell on and replay a situation over in your mind, and is a high risk factor for depressive thoughts and impaired disengagment!
WOW!!!! That's exactly what I've been doing all week long.
that same negative situation in my mind
at least 50 times this week!
image from fuerahilos.com
So.... just to be blatantly honest....
I have ruminated (yes....negatively) ALL week
over something that happened on Sunday.
(Someone who I do not even know, and has never so much as spoken a single word to me,
doesn't know my name or anything about me, unleashed their WRATH on me in my own front yard.)
My 1st instinct was to lash out right back....
and if you know me... you know...
that I may be a little person... but I am a mean Tasmanian devil
when it comes to defending myself and my people....
However, I chose instead to remain silent and try my hardest
to find some form of a high road...
Knowing that Hurting people HURT people....
and forcing myself to acknowledge that this situation
cannot really be about me
and holds a much deeper issue for another.
PS... it doesn't make it hurt my feelings any less!
AND.....I cannot for the life of me...
"Let it go".... and I KNOW BETTER!
I've tried all my neuroscience tricks,
I've even written a letter to this person
(not to send...just to get all my feelings off my chest)....
and it just won't go away!
So.... I started reading and reading and reading
in both neuroscience and cognitive Psychology books....
until I saw the Sh%t Sandwich theory.....
developed by Mark Manson
That's just what I needed!
image from dreamtime.com
If you've lived longer than a couple of decades....
you realize that anything GREAT
comes with some form of a Sh%T sandwich along the way.
ALL the things we LOVE have drawbacks from time to time:
1. Raising children
2. Having an organized, clean home
3. A happy marriage
4. A successful career
5. Healthy eating habits
6. A regular exercise program
7. Aging Parents
etc. etc. etc.
This theory simply helps you realize that fact...
And requires you to ask yourself 1 BIG question:
What do you love enough to take a sh%t sandwich for?
This is a wonderful interview but is a little long if you don't have time.
You can skip over to about minute 13:00 to get to the sh%t sandwich part.
WOW!!!.... so today as I sit here and write this post....
I've had a new epiphany about this particular sh%t sandwich....
YES, IT IS ...something I love enough to tolerate unjust wrath,
an occasion sneer and unkind look....
or whatever second sandwich you throw my way....
because I now have NEWfound control of my own thoughts
in a way I'd totally lost ALL week....
I had completely let someone else's anger steal my joy.......
so NO.... you won't be getting any more of my HaPpY
because I'm owning this sandwich
and NOW willing to down the 1st bite!
Next time you find yourself in a situation where
someone or something has stolen your HaPpY....
ask yourself that question......
Is this worth taking a Sh%t Sandwich for?
Sometimes the answer is NO.... but sometimes it's YES....
so just bite that sucker and move on down the road kicking rocks!
I was working in my office this morning....
hanging my NEW DIPLOMA and rearranging old files....
when it dawned on me it was Thursday!
Since we got home from vacation
I have been off on my days
and just can't seem to get it together this week.
So.... I decided to just go with it...
NOT stress about being super scientific
and enjoy the LAST week
of my sweet (almost 5th grade) boy
being home for the final days of summer.
If I hadn't already done this once before....
(since my oldest son is almost 29)....
my heart might very well be in a totally different place.
BUT... God has given me the unique blessing of being a mom to
two generations of children.
Very easily my 1st son could be my little son's father.
And.... because of this, I do know how quickly
these precious days pass and how
dearly a mother longs for them
once they are gone.
So.... today I decided to just STOP
and not get frustrated that I didn't
have anything earth shattering prepared....
and focus on "The Little Things" for which
I am DEEPLY GRATEFUL!
And... as I sit here in my office,
I can hear the rumbles and giggles
coming from across the hall
as a room full of almost 5th grade boys
make a HAMSTER adventure video,
eat their 3rd pizza,
drink and SPILL countless glasses of tea,
create a bedroom full of blanket forts,
and dump almost every lego we've ever owned in the floor
..... I have to STOP and smile.
Because.... I do know for sure...
that it's these "Little Things"
that I missed the most
when my big kids grew up.
You turn around one day and realize
NOBODY is asking you to wash their uniform
for tomorrows game, or saying...
"MOM can you help me with my homework?"
No more hungry teenagers home from football practice
eating up my kitchen and
smelling to high heaven
as they sat their sweaty bodies on my couch.
No room full of giggling girls,
make-up all over the bathroom counter
or loud music shaking the walls.
It was these days of being NEEDED
by my children that I missed the MOST.
So... today we are just gonna play Monopoly
and eat lots of bad food.
Ride skateboards, bicycles and scooters
in clothes that don't match and...
be truly GRATEFUL
for every single minute of "Little Boy" that I have left.
One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Robert Emmons,
the world's leading expert in GRATITUDE, is.....
"Gratitude is a way of seeing that alters your GAZE."
We are on vacation this week and I can tell you that this quote has literally come to life as I've watched Brady experience things he's never seen or done before.
Genuine GRATITUDE (especially through a child's experience)
is something to truly treasure.
It caused me to also STOP
and look at things I'd seen many times before
with a FRESH Perspective and new pair of glasses.......
Brady's example during the 1st day of the trip pushed me
to also put on my GRATITUDE glasses
as we experience our vacation.
If I've heard the word "MOM look" once,
I've heard it no less than 500 times in the last few days....
IT's sooooooo easy to get annoyed
with all the questions and millions of comments....
until you take a moment to grasp
that this excitement and genuine wonder
is coming from a place we often lose as adults.
To see the Grand Canyon as a canyon or mountain range
does NOT due it justice....
but to see it from a 10 year old's perspective
left my heart with bubbles!
From that moment forward....
I have tried to experience each step of our trip
through the GRATEFUL eyes of a 10 year old....
one who sees things with AWE
(in his grateful glasses).
AND. I giggle to myself as I hear.....
"MOM, are you looking at this?"
"MOM, how high do you think we are?"
"MOM, have you ever seen anything like this?"
"MOM, out of all the places in the world,
why do you think this happened right here?"
"MOM, are we gonna get struck by lightening up here if it rains?"
"MOM, would you just look at this!"
"MOM, can you try to paint this."
"MOM, just look at all these colors!"
Thank you Brady.... for teaching me
that GRATITUDE is so much more than just being grateful...
It's also experiencing your life with a thankful AWE.....
IT's realizing... when you look at things with a FRESH perspective
you see them in a WHOLE NEW WAY!
Mountains become magical
Clouds become mysterious
Trees become monsterous
and Rocks become magnificent!
So.... when our 10+ mile trail ride
in the Tonto National Forest of Arizona .... (on horseback)
left me with tiny moments of fear and terror...
(I'm not a very experienced rider,
and I was on the side of a mountain
with my 10 year old on the horse in front of me)
I tried to channel my inner BRADY and see this moment
NOT OUT OF FEAR (of all that could happen)....
but rather from a place of MAGIC
for the moments we were experiencing NOW!
And when I got the million....
"MOM, do you see me?"
"MOM, are you proud of me?"
"MOM, I think I saw a bear."
"MOM, do you think we can drink that spring water?"
"MOM, isn't this awesome?"
"MOM, can you believe we did this?"
I just smiled and took a deep breath full of
10 year old GRATITUDE
and let the fear drift away
and let the excitement of a little boy
(who was experiencing this with AWE)....fill my soul.
So... I set off on my own journey
to experience something in a whole new way.....
and began to look at cactus...
NOT as a prickly bush that causes pain,
but rather a thing of beauty that has adapted itself
to live in a location with limited rain fall....
and WOW.... Brady's method worked...
when I began to wear my own GRATITUDE glasses,
I could see that I was missing out on so much.
We get so USED to the things in our life
that we no longer see their beauty.
This goes for our homes, our cars, our family,
our jobs and our pets.....
Could this be a new secret to GRATITUDE
that only children know?
Could I have learned something from a 10 year old
that hasn't been in a single book I've read in my entire Graduate studies?
So... as I watched Brady with a sick little pony
(who everyone thought would die any minute of colic)...
I saw him talk that little horse back to life.
I watched him tell that horse to
"JUST POOP and you'll feel better."
"You can do it, all you have to do is believe in yourself."
...and I knew that no book knew what Brady knew....
in the days that followed I saw that little horse
(who no one but Brady believed would live) come back to life....
and I saw his little face light up as he said
"MOM, I told her to be grateful she was alive!"
And.... as we left Arizona to head on to new adventures in New Mexico...
That little pony had "POOPED" and was up and eating!
AND.... even if she would have gotten well on her own...
to a little 10 year old boy,
having someone believe in you
and encourage you to find your own kind of GRATITUDE
worked for an animal just like it does for people!
So... as we head today to the White Sands of New Mexico....
I will be wearing my GRATITUDE glasses
and listening with my own kind of AWE
to the million questions and
million lessons about the beauty of life
from a precious 10 year old boy... named Brady!
Today's BLOG is a truthful self confession.
NOOOOOOOOO, I am NOT GRATEFUL all the time.
There I said it!!!
This past week, I had someone say to me,
"Wow Mrs. Grateful, I thought you never got upset!".....
WELL, the truth is YES I DO. Having a daily practice of GRATITUDE does not make me perfect any more than a daily practice of prayer leaves a life trouble free. A coach's kid can still drop the winning pass in the end zone, or strike out with bases loaded. The preacher's kid can still struggle with the same anxieties and peer pressures other teens face, a doctor's kid still gets sick, and the teacher's kid is not always the smartest student in the classroom.
The TRUTH is... NO ONE IS PERFECT!
We all have great moments and we all have moments when
we feel...less than perfect.....
BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN!
So.... for all of the people out there who tell me,
" I just can't be grateful all the time.",
or "I'm not like you.... I still get mad sometimes.",
or "I'm just not feeling very grateful today."
Please know that's ok!
I'm not grateful every minute of the day either.
I still feel sad when people I love are hurting.
I still get mad sometimes too... and YES, there are people in the world that I truly just DO NOT LIKE and I choose to remove myself from their presence in order to keep my emotions where I WANT THEM to be.
BUT... that's ok.
And... yes, there are some days
when I don't feel that grateful either.
I still get my feelings hurt,
and sometimes people are rude to me
and yes, it does still sting a little. AND ...
NO, I'm not instantly grateful in the midst of heartache......
BUT I do recognize it quicker, and know that in order to change these negative feelings my brain is looping through, IT IS UP TO ME TO ALTER what I am thinking about!
Just this week alone, I've had:
1. Someone I care about disappoint me emensly.
2. Want something that I've really prayed for, and it just didn't work out.
3. Not been able to do something correctly even though I tried my very best.
4. Been extremely sad over my inability to FIX another's problems.
5. Miss a friend I rarely get to see anymore.
6. Been turned down for something I KNOW I would be great at.
And... yes, in the instant I was faced with these setbacks, it hurt.
A daily practice of GRATITUDE is not about burying your head in the sand and PRETENDING nothing bad ever happens. It is about realizing in the midst of the struggle, you have an opportunity to take a second look at what you consider to be the problem. Ask your self ..... is this "fixable" and use your brain to start thinking of solutions rather than telling every single person you know about the PROBLEM.
(This only makes the brain loop of that problem deeper and more profound)
Because..... truthfully, we ALL have problems and setbacks, and if you learn to change your focus to The THINGS you HAVE rather than The THINGS you think you've LOST.... your life will drastically change.
Yesterday, my heart was heavy and my eyes were filled with tears as my beautiful, precious daughter drove from Dallas to go with me to the vet to put the world's greatest dog to sleep. My children have loved this big old dog like a family member. Brook got him from the pound
with her Christmas money back in 2005
and he has loved us through the hardest moments of our life.
"Bear" rode in the back seat of my old GrandAm
back and forth to Snyder....
(at least a million times) to watch Brent play baseball...
taking up the entire backseat,
with his head out one window
and his tail out the other.
He is the very essence of man's best friend.
All he ever wants is a pat on the head, a rub behind the ears and an occasional treat. But.... he's really old now (especially for a big dog), and I can't fix him.
His back legs are crippled and I have to help pick
his 130lb frame up by the tail
every time he goes outside.
He sleeps about 23 out of 24 hours each day
and has started to whimper
while he lays at my feet in the kitchen.
And NO... I'm NOT grateful for any of this!!!!!
Brooklyn and I were prepared to say goodby.... we tried hard to think about all the precious memories we've had with this incredible dog, but tears rolled down our cheeks. As the vet examined him, he said, "Yes, he is hurting and NO, I don't have anything that will heal his crippled old legs. His body is big and heavy and his legs just aren't strong enough to hold him the way they used to. BUT..... I can see he still loves you guys and still enjoys being in your presence, and at this point I would say that even though he is hurting, his quality of life outweighs his pain level. AND... I do have some medicine that can alleviate some of that for you." That's all we needed!!! So, we got ourselves some new medicine, the biggest chew bone we could find, and 2 little short girls worked our butts off to get this old fella loaded back in the car and we headed HOME!
SO... this old dog came home to a mani/pedi spa treatment to celebrate the magical moments we STILL have together.
PS... I will NOT be going into the dog grooming business any time some! He looks like your grandma cut your hair while your mom was out of town. haha oops..... but hey, he's gotta be a little cooler.
AND.... this is NOT the real "BEAR".... this is the hair I cut off of him to make a fake "wig" Bear.... sometimes the creative in me pops out at the most awkward times!
Yes... I know our time with "BEAR" is limited. AND... No, I am NOT grateful for that. BUT.... I do know that my brain energy FLOWS where my attention GOES, and I am going to cherish the moments I have left. From all my research I can tell you the greatest lesson I have learned is when we focus our attention on what we DO NOT HAVE rather than what WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN, our life follows that same direction. So, No.... I'm NOT always grateful instantly, but boy do I work hard to change my thinking quickly. We can all sit and dwell on the people who don't like us, or the one's who won't change, or the car we can't afford, or the opportunity we didn't get....
OR we can focus on the people who love us instead of those who don't, the changes WE CAN MAKE for our own lives rather than all the OTHERs who won't do what we want. We can focus on the fact we do have a car to drive and are not WALKING in this summer heat rather than dwelling on the one that isn't yet within our budget, and we can believe that the opportunity we THOUGHT was ours, yet was given to someone else, is merely a small step compared to the one that's coming our way!
Where your focus goes..... your energy FLOWs.
The word GRATITUDE comes from the Latin word "gratus"
which is also the exact same root of the word GRACE...
"gratus" means pleasing or thankful... but when looking specifically at the word grace,
it also refers to having: favor, regard, generosity or goodwill.
WOW.... after three years of studying gratitude, and I just read this!
So... what does this mean to the average person?
It means... GRATITUDE (in it's most genuine form) offers a special GRACE
or favor, regard, generosity and goodwill
that is not always available to the same degree without it.
According to an article in Harvard Health, gratitude is strongly AND consistently associated with greater levels of happiness. Research has spent thousands of hours combing through the data in its quest to understand exactly why. Yet, over and over again, genuinely grateful people (from all walks of life) rank as the happiest people. What is gratitude doing to the brain that causes such a behavior shift?
image by psypost.org
This is where the term GRACE comes into play with GRATITUDE. The original meaning of GRACE has to do with favor and kindness GIVEN to another. It is considered an ACTION word.... and gratitude (in the scientific sense) is too. In order for GRATITUDE to have beneficial effects within the brain, it must be FELT. There has to be a purposeful recognition of WHAT you are grateful for....and.... an affirmation that the gift has been given to you from a source outside yourself. Sounds just like GRACE!
In my lifetime I can tell you I have learned more about the GIFT of GRACE from my mother than from any other place. She is the essence of offering favor, generosity and goodwill with NO thought of what she would receive from her gift. Over the years I have made countless mistakes, do-overs, changing of paths, and had multitudes of unexpected road blocks... yet, there has been one place I knew GRACE would always be consistent "My Momma".
Webster says - Grace is something given that you did not ask for or feel you deserve.
So... for all of you mothers out there who feel you DON'T:
1. make enough money
2. give your child enough opportunities
3. look the way you want
4. exercise enough
5. plan every meal ahead of time and have 3 squares a day
6. have a home that looks like Better HOMEs and Garden
7. provide healthy snacks after school
8. plan the perfect gifts months ahead of time
9. go on yearly trips to exotic locations
10. show your children a perfect "Leave it to BEAVER" example of marriage
THEN.... forgive yourself
LET IT GO
and realize that no matter how old you get....
a MOTHER's grace is the greatest GIFT you can offer.
Over the last 6 months I have heard from many, many mothers... and most of them wanting to learn how to "feel" grateful when they believe they have not been their best for their children. I can tell you NONE of us have. The social media world has made this "feel bad about yourself" syndrome drastically worse! However, no matter how much we KNOW IT... we seem to think everyone else's life looks great and ours never seems to match up. BUT... please realize that people are not posting REAL life. They are posting a "snapshot" of their BEST life in a series of photos. So... start today and give yourself the GRACE you need to be proud of who your are RIGHT NOW. When you know better do better! Look in the mirror and be kind to the skin you're living in. Know that you did the best with what you had and make a genuine effort from this point forward to look at life through the lens of GRATITUDE. Say thank you for the opportunity to show GRACE to the people in your life, and become a living example of graceful gratitude.
Today's BLOG is a life changing SECRET I learned by accident
on the road to REBUILDing my shaken soul...
and I thought it might be helpful for someone out there
who has also felt "Not good enough".
I have learned from Neuroscience
that our thoughts are like the "software"
that run the "hardware" of our brains.
People often consider the Mind and the Brain to be one in the same....
when in fact THEY ARE NOT!
This is an over simplified way to explain it... but if you think of your MIND as your (thoughts or a lightbulb) and the BRAIN as the (physical anatomy) or the THE ACTUAL GOOEY BRAIN
then you can better understand how I used them both to heal my own broken thoughts.
My daughter made a comment to me a while back
and it has really stuck with me.... she said
"Mom, I'm so proud that even after 50 you still find ways to have 1sts in your LIFE." WOW... I hadn't realized I was doing that until she mentioned it, but I had.
AND now that I see it, I'd love to pass this little secret on
to those of you who may have also felt like SECONDS.
For many people out there (like myself) who this is NOT your 1st go round at love, children, homes, jobs, marriage....etc. it's hard to keep the same level of excitement and giddy emotions you felt when it genuinely was your 1st. AND... more importantly.... it's extremely hard to "move on" without carrying the baggage in your mind (the lightbulb) of being "Not good enough" the 1st time. Whether you feel as though the fault was your own or someone else's.... the fact remains.... it's up to you to gather your pieces and learn to move on with grace and gratitude. It's a little like a car wreck... It doesn't really matter where the fault lies.... the truth is you've been in a wreck and there are broken parts that MUST be fixed in order to get back on the road!
images by carbuyingtips.com and from carfromjapan.com
So... during my recent trip to the beautiful mountains of Bozeman, Montana,
Butch and I made a purposeful decision to create as many 1sts
(granted some of them were silly) as humanly possible.
Clearly... this is neither one of our 1st marriages, in fact it's not even my 2nd,
so we had to work a little EXTRA to make memories
that belonged as "OUR FIRSTS" !
We used our thoughts (the lightbulb) to make our brain (the anatomy)
work the way we wanted it to.
This one was easy... because it really was our 1st... but we stopped and asked someone to take our picture so we could keep this memory as truly OURS... and as we sat and watched the geyser erupt we both observed nature's beauty with a renewed type of AWE at experiencing something together for the 1st time.
Sometimes you have to remind your (lightbulb) to work
so that your (anatomy-brain) can experience the benefits.
We see beauty every day and often don't even STOP long enough
for the memory to hold in the cortex of our brain,
or even to give it a second thought.
Now this one.... was a stretch. BUT... the laugher we experienced will forever be our 1st ! As we hiked up the mountain (which both of us had done before)... yes... NOT that exact mountain, but we knew what hiking was like.... so we purposely thought of ALL the things that we'd never done before (using our lightbulbs so we could have OUR own type of 1sts)
1. Taking BEAR spray on our hike. (I didn't even know that was a real thing)
2. Looking for all the wildflowers that were in our Cabin bouquet on the hillside.
3. Making it all the way to the TOP even though we were breathing like we needed oxygen tanks.
4. Dancing to our favorite song at the very TOP. (Thank you cell phone & Youtube)
5. Taking a nap in the wildflowers along the hillside.... EXCEPT I kinda freaked out that while we were sleeping we might get eaten by a BEAR .... so mostly this was just a silly 1st thought (and photo op)... but hey, it counted... I'd never worried about being eaten by a bear while napping before!
I know this may sound silly.... but there is research to back up the fact that neurotransmitters are releasing a special cocktail of chemicals (like dopamine and serotonin) in the brain when you are HAPPY (aka. endorphins) ... even if your happy is contrived and crazy... THE biochemical reaction in the brain is REAL.... so go ahead and make a silly 1st... the endorphins are the same!
We had to work a little on this one too, since we'd both seen a waterfall before and both stood next to one admiring it's beauty....BUT... We'd never asked a stranger in the car next to us to TAKE our picture beside the waterfall, who encouraged us to get a little closer.... not realizing I AM PETRIFIED of heights. So... this was the 1st time we'd stood together at a waterfall, entirely too close for my taste. And... the 1st time Butch had ever had someone grab his back in a "death grip clinch" while standing next to the waterfall... haha We do love this picture, and still laugh at what it took to get it.... most defiantly a 1st. (Thank you random man I will never see again.)
AND... now that I had my brave meter tested to the limit... I'd built my courage up... another 1st... so we stopped on the side of the road, took our shoes off and decided to walk through the river. Neither of us had done that before. AND... I had sure never climbed a pile of rocks to prove my new-found braveness was real.. haha You can see by the forced smile and the one hand clawing the side of the rock my braveness was fleeting. BUT... hey it was the 1st time I pretended to be BRAVE!
From gentle streams, to roaring rapids in the canyon...we stopped at every chance to spend the day at Yellowstone National Park creating our own 1sts.
Yes... many of them were contrived and crazy... but they were ours,
and I can tell you for sure... if you get a chance to have a 1st after age 50...
you should ALWAYS TAKE IT !
Montana is one of the most incredible places I have ever been in my life.
I can not begin to narrate with proper vocabulary
to expresses the profound awe
it felt to be a part of nature so untouched by human hands.
For me... it felt like we were walking with God,
in the simplicity of the original beauty that was 1st created.
If you have a Bucket-list... then you should for sure put Montana on it.
AND even more importantly... if this is NOT your 1st go round in life...
Start today building your own 1sts.
Use your own thoughts (lightbulb) to
experience the JOY of the chemicals released in your brain (the anatomy)
as you go through life knowing that someone's 2nds
can become their own type of 1st.
Release the sadness, anger, hurt, and blame you carry with you.
If you don't let go of the OLD... you don't have a hand left to grab the NEW!
Have you ever been heartbroken?
I mean shattered somewhere so deep within yourself ...
to the point you felt the life you planned was OVER.
I hope you haven't, but chances are if you're past the age of 30 then you have.
Once you've been hurt badly, it's easy to live on "Careful Corner"
just going through the motions and not investing too much of yourself into life.
Then... if something happens, you don't have your WHOLE heart on the line.
Or, you may even travel on occasion from Careful Corner to Bitter Boulevard, or as in my case to the very edge of Watchful Road.
The only problem with that however..... is while you're living in the house
YOU CHOSE to live in.... all safe and sound and on full alert for the next sign of pain... you've also boarded yourself in!
Neuroscience tells us that PAIN... whether it be physical or emotional registers in almost the exact same location in the brain. In fact, during the course of my degree, our professor had us read a book called SOCIAL by Dr. Matthew Lieberman. The book explains how our brains are wired to connect socially. AND when that social connection is broken (via pain) the signals to our brain are much the same as those you have if you break your leg. BUT.... the difference is.... it is socially acceptable for people to be kind and accommodating while you're healing in your cast. Yet, when we are hurting from a broken heart, others don't see your pain. Dr. Lieberman discusses in his book several research studies where people who were emotionally hurting were given Tylenol (the same as we would do with physical pain). The scientists then tested the patients' brains..... and the data showed that the pain relief was equally as helpful with emotional pain as it is for physical pain. I went back and read those studies several times and the research is astounding. Heartbreak is a REAL, measurable thing in the structure of our brain.
So... KNOWING that heartbreak is a real thing... leaves you with the choice of how you decide to move on from there. Will you remain in it for the rest of your life? Will you live on Careful Corner always keeping back some of yourself so as not to get hurt again? Will you live on Bitter Boulevard and blame others for the pain you live in, YEARS later living in anger and resentment for what could have been? Will you live on Watchful Road with your binoculars out searching for the "Red Flags" of sorrow coming your way? OR.... will you decide to throw it ALL IN and LIVE !!! Either way.... the choice is yours.... and your brain is responding to your subconscious choice.
When I remarried....AGAIN....
I had to let go of "what was" in order to build "what is"....
and together we decided to release our brains from past pain
and spend our "life after 50"
LIVING in fullness, JOY and complete GRATITUDE for the life we have NOW!
We are in the Magical Mountains of Montana this week on vacation,
and truly treasuring each and every experience the beauty of this state has to offer.
( I will write another entire post about Montana)
Yesterday we went on a hike in the hills and came across a FrEeZing cold creek.......
and while we were standing there in awe of the sounds it made,
saying OUTLOUD all the things we were grateful that our ears could hear....
Butch decides to do a BIG MAN jacuzzi cold plunge
in the 49 degree waters of Cottonwood Creek!
If you're gonna LIVE... then you might as well do it with ALL YOU'VE GOT!
We've all got 3 choices as to how we live our life:
1. In the PAST... which fills your brain with what could have been or what was... most always releasing neuronal chemicals that cause sadness and depressing thoughts.
2. In the FUTURE... which fills your brain with the Someday Syndrome... leaving happiness, joy and LIFE.... somewhere off in the distance. This releases signals in the our brain that usually create feelings of anxiety.
3. OR... you can live in the PRESENT moment.... making the decision that yes I might get hurt, I might hurt someone, and yes... it doesn't feel good.... BUT in the meantime, I am going to LIVE in the gratitude this MOMENT has given me and cherish all that it has to offer.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS!
Start right now... you don't have to be in the beauty of the Montana sky to be grateful. STOP where you are and take a look around. Be grateful for the eyes that allow you to see the smiles of the men and women in your office. Be grateful for the ears that hear the cars on the highway. And be grateful for the 2 legs that walked you into work this morning. If you still have air in your lungs.... then you have something to be grateful for!
How many of you have ever felt like LIFE was running you
rather than YOU were running your life?
Well..... if that's the case then today's BLOG is for you.
Being... SUPER BUSY has almost become a status symbol in our country.
image by Proctor Honda
We run from place to place and have adapted to LIVING in our cars.
In fact, recent data from insurance companies say that a mass majority of car crashes are due to people performing acts other than DRIVING, in their cars.
Top 5 things people do in their cars:
1. EAT - (did you know eating in your car increases your chance of an accident by 80%)
2. SHAVE/APPLY MAKEUP (including painting fingernails and toenails!!!!!)
3. CONFERENCE CALLS, APPOINTMENTS, Sending and Answering E-MAIL
4. SHOPPING online
5. CHANGING CLOTHES
So.... in a world full of busy people.... WHAT can you do?
Neuroscience tells us that even a 15 minute break to "UNPLUG" from our busy lives
can give the brain a much needed rest and energy boost.
Something as small as:
*a 15 minute nap,
*a relaxing meditation in your office
*or even a quiet walk outside or down the hall
can literally change the way your brain is working!
AND..... if you don't have 15 minutes to spare, then you don't really have your HEALTH as a priority.
In May 2017 an article by The Journal of Neuroscience, uncovered astounding new data revealing that "portions of synapses (our brains way of communicating with itself) are literally eaten because of sleep loss." Images above, from the study, show how the lack of sleep causes actual DAMAGE to the BRAIN! A continual state of BUSY does not let the brain regenerate and creates a state of bombarded stimulation.
According to a study by The Mayo Clinic on stress....
a SHIFT in mindset is another easy way to deal with the tensions of a busy life. We have all heard at least a million times about the harmful side effects of stress, however, most people don't know the real BENEFITS of using GRATITUDE and positive thinking.
Here are just a few of the scientifically studied changes reported in thousands of studies across the globe on the effects of changing our NEGATIVE THINKING!
SO... in a world packed FULL of busy.... take a moment to SHIFT your thinking. With a little practice you can make almost any situation an opportunity to be grateful.
*I HATE this stupid job- can be: I am grateful that while I look for a new job, this one provides the financial means necessary for the things my family needs. (I can promise you there is someone in the world praying to be in exactly your "sucky" job)
*This weather is so HOT I feel like I'm going to burst into flames- I am thankful for the opportunity to go inside my AIR-CONDITIONED house, and I am NOT living under a bridge somewhere today.
*No one appreciates what ALL I do- I am so very thankful that I know how to do so many things. (Someone out there has worked very hard to learn the skills we fuss about having) A man with NO HANDS would certainly LOVE to be doing your dishes!
Dr. Robert Emmons calls this method comparative gratitude! I learned about it 2 years ago and boy-oh-boy does it change your perspective. When you pause for just a moment and realize that there is a person somewhere in the world whose greatest dream is to have what you are complaining about.... it sure changes your attitude!
SO.... stop for 15 minutes and let your BRAIN relax and be grateful for the things you take for granted: Even in this heat you can appreciate that there are people who LOVE you and are grateful you're alive!
I was the happiest, sweaty loser on the course knowing 2 of my favorite fellas
love me enough to want to spend the day with ME!
May you all take a moment to be grateful!
After a 2 week break for the WEDDING
I came home to TACKLE the Dinosaur of my Garage Project.
I am still not quite finished..... but the difference
in both my brain and my garage are simply AMAZING!
If you remember the state of my (PRE-organization)
GARAGE Destruction.... it was merely a
"stack it anywhere- walk around it and squeeze through the door"
kind of GARAGE disaster.
I HATED walking in it, walking through it, or even opening the door.
However it is the DOOR
we walk through each and every time we come and go in or out of our house.
If you look really closely .... you can see the door to the house on the far right
of this image. It's the white tall thing on the side. haha
NEEDLESS to say... it put a damper on my mood!
BONUS BLOG: Wedding Day Part 2:
as seen through the eyes of
"The Mother of the Groom"
I'm not really sure how to even begin this blog,
tears are rolling down my face as I look at all the pictures on my phone
of my precious son's wedding day!
I have always told Brent that he was the first thing I ever TRULY loved,
and the one who showed me what genuine, UNCONDITIONAL love looked like.
So....as I scroll through these images,
I am filled with such a mixture of joy and pride
knowing that my once "baby boy" has turned into an incredible man.
Anyone who knows our family....
knows that we ALL worship the ground Brent walks on.
His sister even talked about it in her nuptial speech.
There has never been a single time that Brent has walked in my door
that we didn't STOP what we were doing and run to him.....
saying BUBBA's home.
Brook teased Deanna that we set her up for failure
because we've told him everything he did was WONDERFUL........
Well I can tell you that one of the most WONDERFUL things he did :
was to pick Deanna as his FOREVER.
There is not a more thoughtful, kind girl in the world!
She literally went to every length to make HER Wedding Day special for ALL of us! WOW... she thought of every detail.....
from personalized hangers, to hair/makeup robes,
to our own monogrammed champaign glasses!
I started at 7:30 a.m. having coffee with one of my dearest friends in the world.
Carla and I sat on the patio of the hotel
(where she gave me final tips on cherishing this day and each moment of it)...
what wonderful advice I truly treasured and would love to pass on to each of you
who haven't yet had the privilege of being a part of your son's Wedding DaY!
ENJOY every single moment of it.... it's gone in an instant!
We started hair and makeup at 10 a.m. with the most talented people
that Deanna and her mother (Christi) hired to make US all feel special and beautiful.
It was such an honor to have someone "get you all fixed up"....
I've never had that before and was so grateful
sweet Deanna and her parents thought of US as she planned HER special day.
We popped champaign and toasted
to hold dearly to each and every memory we were making together on this day.
I can tell you there was not a single face without a SMILE
and laughter filled our suite.
WOW, WOW, WOW!
As we prepared to go downstairs for pictures... my heart began to race....
THIS WAS IT!
I giggled as I began to think of the areas of my BRAIN at work. haha
I could almost feel the endorphins flooding my system with JOY and excitement.
Endorphins are our bodies own natural narcotic, and I felt so "geeky"
1. knowing this silly piece of trivia, and 2. wanting to tell everyone about it.
PS... you will be happy to know I DID NOT share this info. ha
The girls went 1st....
It was soooooo much fun to watch young and beautiful in action.
AND what an true blessing to see how much each of these girls
(including my own sweet baby girl) genuinely loved Deanna
and how proud they were to be a part of the day she'd planned for over a year!
There is just not enough "MUSHY" to explain how happy these 2 families are with the choice our children have made in a spouse. Deanna's mother is such an incredible, kind woman who not only teaches NEXT DOOR to Brent every single school day, but who has graciously loved him as her own for over 3 years. I truly, truly couldn't ask for more.
Next came the BOYS....
Lost my phone during this phase of the day...
but I can tell you these were some handsome, hilarious fellas...
someone needs to invent a phone holder to hang around my neck...
DARN I missed some good pictures.
I have never been more proud in one single day, than I was on JUNE 9, 2018.
Everyone I love was in the same room celebrating the same moment,
and, as I looked at these 2 incredible boys, who I brought into this world
I had to fight back the tears.
THEN... as I watched my precious Brooklyn walk down that aisle,
and saw sweet little Brady standing with his Brother....
the bubbles began to burst from my face.
What an HONOR it is to be these children's mother.
What a JOY it is to share their lives with this world.
What a treasure to witness the BLESSING of love my son shared
as he read his own vows to sweet Deanna for everyone in that room!
My cup runneth over with gladness at the site of such incredible love!
As I close this post with my last tearful truth...
I am so thankful to understand the neuroscience of GRATITUDE,
because it helped me cherish (like never before)
these precious WEDDING moments that will never come again.
I wish for every mother of a SON to feel the joy
of having been a part of raising a boy
who grows up to be a once-in-a-lifetime MAN!
It's hard to believe just 1 week ago I was packing up everything
on my way to my first born's wedding.
Now... here I sit a full week later
still reveling in the joy of that incredible weekend.
It is so hard to put into words the gratitude I felt
as I watched all 3 of my precious children stand in front of me at the alter.
Never before have I had all 3 of them a part of the same monumental event.
Needless to say..... there were bubbles of joy running down my face.
Our weekend began
(with 2 days worth of help from of one of my dearest friends in all the world)
preparing the decor for the rehearsal dinner.
It was so cute and fun and filled our night with hugs and kisses..... literally!
Carla and I created pot/plant versions of the BRIDE and GROOM
as well as, the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
It made for a great dose of giggles and grins
and started off our spectacular night with a SMILE.
I walked into that night's rehearsal dinner.....
knowing this was officially the LAST day for these to be MY children...
Tomorrow I would have a Man for a Son, and a precious new daughter-in-law
to love and cherish. AND..... I can tell you with complete certainty that I entered that room with a buldging, beating, grateful heart for 3 lives that I treasure beyond words.
Never before have I witnessed 2 families
so incredibly joyful at the choice their child has made.
Brent and Deanna are both so deeply loved by the people in their lives
and each of us... cherished this union with boundless blessings.
As I watched the faces of Brent's siblings throughout the night....
I saw a sincere thankfulness that they were EACH witnessing
the genuine joy of their BROTHER.
And I know little Brady will forever remember every single moment of this journey.... from the once-in-a-lifetime proposal at Dallas Cowboy Stadium
seen all over the world on the Jumbotron and Youtube
(which Brady filmed on his little iPad to show his friends)
to the final pronouncing of Mr. and Mrs. Bollinger.
I know there is no one he looks up to more than his BIG brother,
and I couldn't ask for a better role model.
I can honestly say.... there is no greater joy in this lifetime
than knowing your children are truly HAPPY....
and I can say without hesitation that I know Brent Bollinger is!
Stay tuned TOMORROW for a BONUS BLOG
and the tearful truth from the actual WEDDING DAY!
So sorry I'm this late getting to the BLOG today.
I've been meaning to sit down and write something ALL day,
but just haven't had the time....
TOMORROW I am leaving for my precious son's
I’ve spent the last week getting the final details
and touchups ready for the Rehearsal Dinner.
(with LOTS of help from a dear precious friend❤️)
I promise to post pics later...
but am holding all my cards back
for a surprise.
So... as I sit here and prepare myself for the beautiful festivities to come.
I am NOT thinking for one second about the neuroscience of it all......
but I can PROMISE you that I AM gratefully treasuring
every single moment
of this boy's life and the genuine honor of being his MOTHER.
All my LOVE All my LIFE.
Thank you GOD for choosing me to be his MOTHER.
I am Glowing with Gratitude!
Today is the LAST day of school, and the 1st time in over 45 years,
(since I started Kindergarten) that I have been neither a teacher or a student.
For all but the first 4 years of my life, I have felt the anxiety to "hurry up" and ENJOY my precious summer off.
Now that I am no longer a teacher, or even a grad student ......
I have really had to talk to the chattering monkeys of my mind
as to "what in the world am I going to do with myself this summer?"
I've been reading about American's and our use of "STORAGE BUILDINGS"....
and felt sick as I clearly found myself a part of the same cycle
we've come to accept in this country that
MORE IS BETTER.
Well, I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
As I began to do a little research into the subject,
I logged on to the University website to see if there were any
scientific articles about clutter....
and HOLY MOLY... there is actual neurological data as to what
TOOOOOOO much stuff does to our brains.
Hence the beginning of MY SUMMER of a STORAGE CLEAN OUT!
True Confessions..... This was my garage 1 week ago!
When two 50 year old lives converge.....
You Have A LOT OF STUFF!
When my Ft. Worth house sold, I had 1 week to get out
in order to close the deal quickly..... so what that meant was "a grab and cram"
into Storage Buildings and OUR GARAGE....
and now that I have a
BRAND NEW KIND OF SUMMER !!
IT's CLEAN OUT TIME
The first thing I did was begin to clean out 1 of our storage buildings.
As I was cleaning, and getting sooooooo frustrated at the CRAP
we've been paying to store I did a little research into this BOOMING Business! According to comparebusinessproducts, Storage Buildings are the "easiest, cheapest, highest yielding type of business" to make a profit in the 21 century.
It has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
BILLIONS.... that's crazy!
Did you realize that 1 out of every 11 American's have a storage building.
And storage facilities have increased by 75% since the millennium.
According to a recent poll, there are over 60,000 storage facilities in the US, and more being built each day.
WHY... do Americans feel the need to have so much stuff?
Researchers at Yale University identified that there are 2 areas of the brain associated with pain that are triggered when we are asked to "LET GO" of our items.
Other research results showed that people seem to have an unrealistic attachment to things that they KNOW they will not use or have room for
because of their DESIRE to remember the item.
Another study from Princeton University compared people
who work in an organized vs. disorganized environment
and revealed that PHYSICAL clutter competes for neuronal mental attention
showing a significant decrease in performance and far higher levels of stress.
When our senses are OVERLOADED with stuff...
our BRAINS ARE NOT functioning at their highest levels!
So... the more I kept reading, the more my desire to "LET GO"
and not contribute to this problem grew.
I began just like they do on TV and cleared the entire garage out
before I put a single item back inside.
I decided exactly what I needed the garage for and came up with 4 distinct uses.
1. Yard/Lawn needs
2. An Art Space
3. A workout Space
4. A Tool Workshop Area
Space #1 done.
Our brand new yard/lawn area!
Stay tuned NEXT WEEK for the rest of the "clean out"... I am on a mission to clean up our clutter and clean up our lives during my 1st Summer of THE NEW ME!
Sometimes you encounter people along life's journey
and you have to STOP and say......WOW!
Then take a moment and be GRATEFUL
that this is NOT your life!
I just got home from my GRATEFUL Graduation Get-Away
in Hollywood, California where I had the most amazing time
with one of my dearest friends in all the world,
.....in the Airbnb condo next to ours was the most ANGRY woman
I have come across in a very long time.
I have not seen or heard anything quite like this
and had forgotten that there are people doing life
with EXTREME amounts of daily anger.
image from bravotv.com
All 4 days we were in California... you could set your watch by it....
there was going to be a nightly battle.
GRANTED... I do NOT live with these people,
and do NOT proclaim to know any of their history or their story....
so I can only give you a neuroscience perspective
of the ENERGY coming from that room,
and tell you a little about the inner workings of the BRAINs
of myself, and the couple involved during these OUTBURSTS....
I have been known as a "smiler " my entire life, and my own children
tell me on occasion to "reign it in MOM" when we are taking photos
because I can quickly look like the cat who is holding the canary in its mouth....
but did you know there is actual neuroSCIENCE behind a SMILE.
A 1989 groundbreaking study by Dr. Robert Zajonc, on the emotional effects of a SMILE, revealed that even a "fake" smile (one you purposely create) has a direct effect on chemical signals in the brain. The facial muscles used to create a SMILE... change the blood flow to the carotid artery which is the main artery supplying oxygenated blood to the brain. In Dr. Zajonc's study, participants were asked to produce "fake" smiles by making the vowel sound of a Long E, as well as by placing a pencil horizontally in their mouths while clamping down on it with their teeth..... AND.... regardless of whether the smile was "fake" or "real", the same endorphins, (better known as the brain's "feel good" chemicals) were released.
So... what does that mean for the average person
who is NOT walking around being a part of some scientific study...
It means you need to SMILE MORE!
The next time you're having a bad day, something in life is stressing you out, you're having anxiety, feeling sick, or just in a down right grumpy mood... stop and force yourself to smile! I know that sounds crazy, but there are mounds and mounds of evidence showing scientific provable data that your brain is releasing chemicals into your body because of the facial muscles used when you smile. Those muscles are creating a firing of neurotransmitters in your brain that cause the chemical components of happiness.
image by hfboards.mandatory.com
Edinburgh, Scotland.... known to have some of the most unhappy people
across the globe (based on world happiness reports) used this "fake" smile research
to see if it might work with average people on the street.
Watch this 2 minutes video to SEE WHAT HAPPENED!
It says in Proverbs 29, "Where there is no VISION, the people perish"......
and you don't have to be religious or even know this scripture to
use the SCIENCE behind Mental Imagery!
Today I am going to talk to you about something that I KNOW many people will think is whooooo whoooooo, (and that's ok... I'm ready, I've heard it all)
but I am here to tell you I have personally been doing this since 2013
and TOMORROW night (as I walk across the stage)
100% of my original 8 image VISION BOARD will be complete.....
and here is a little bit of both SPIRIT and SCIENCE to explain why.
I Photoshopped my face on the above image
5 years ago......
(nope... that's not my body and I don't even know those people)
LONG BEFORE I had even applied to Grad School,
much less been accepted to the program,
attended a single class, or completed my degree!
BUT.... in October of 2013 I read the book :
by Terri Savell Foy
that changed my life forever.
The book talks about Vision Boards and Goal setting.
Neither of which I'd ever heard of in this way.
The book left me with an "ok" to DREAM again.....
even in the midst of Middle Age.
So.... I sat down one Saturday morning,
and thought of all the things I would dream for myself ....
I wasn't afraid to fail, and truly believed that
"All things are possible to him who believes"
That last part...... Is the KEY
"To him who BELIEVES!".....
and here comes the neuroscience
behind the words that were written about 2000 years ago.
When most people hear of the word "FRAMING" they think of the object surrounding the family photos in their home, the beautiful works of art they cherish, or even those priceless children's drawings scattered about the refrigerator. But.... the term "framing" is also a very important term as it relates to how our brain works.
The Neuroscience bias of "FRAMING" is a term which describes the way information is USED to influence how the brain receives it. "USED" being the Key Word here. Neuroscience has done extensive studies on how people, commercials, marketing and our own words can be USED to influence the way we think.
This is (the same way a picture FRAME influences how you see artwork).
If you have ever gone to Hobby Lobby or another frame shop to have a piece of art or photo framed, then you know the difference between how a cheap frame vs. an elaborately designed frame makes the art appear. It INFLUENCES the way you see the art due to the FRAME that surrounds it. Most everyone understands this concept as it pertains to art however, did you realize your OWN thoughts and words are influencing or FRAMING the way your brain works?
For example.... Do you FRAME your day with:
Good God it's Morning!!!!!
God, it's a good moring!
The choice is yours.
The FRAME you choose determines the way your entire day looks.
Let's dig a little deeper.
art work images by the world famous Itzchak Tarkay
Here you can see a perfect example of some very expensive artwork
by one of my all time favorite painters:
Israeli Post-Impressionist artist Itzachak Tarkay.
This is an excellent way to see how something beautiful can suddenly look like something you might buy at a garage sale or Goodwill,
as compared to something that looks like it has
an important value placed on its WORTH
based on the FRAME one chooses to display it in.
Neuroscience knows that our thoughts and words work EXACTLY the same way!
You've heard the phrase you're a glass "half full" or glass "half empty" kind of person.
But... I didn't know until very recently that there is actual
SCIENCE behind that statement.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is a rendition from William Wordsworth... "Your MIND is a garden, your THOUGHTS are seeds, you can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds." I have used this phrase numerous times throughout my teaching career and even created an entire AP Art project around it.... but, NEVER have I understood it with such clarity as I did during the final stages of my new degree.
Last night I presented my Capstone Research Project to my professor and cohort peers. It was the final step toward graduation and the culmination of my
2 years worth of research into the neurological and behavioral effects of GRATITUDE. And..... though I discuss gratitude with at least 1 person every single day.....even I, was shocked at the data analysis results.
The final data for my research ended with a 16 day online GRATITUDE journal writing format (via a private Facebook group). The only requirements were that each participant take a Pre-attitude survey prior to the journal writing experience and a Post-attitude survey when the 16 day process was complete, and contribute a minimum of 6 entries to the online journal during the course of the research period.
In the journal writing phase of the research, participants would post an image of something they were grateful for and write 3 reasons why they were grateful for that image.
Sounds too SIMPLE to really do anything measurable
...... and I genuinely thought so too.
I didn't think the time restraints of this project would be conducive to any scientific results, but this is what the graduation syllabus called for, and that's what I did!
Using this formula to calculate the difference from the Pre and Post attitude surveys..... the final analysis was MORE than I'd hoped for. (P.S. Thank goodness I have an engineer husband who created an Excel spreadsheet to load my data into this monster and could explain the OVER-THE-TOP formula to me.) I'd NEVER seen anything like it before!
But.... Let me tell you what the results showed!!!!!
As my final research comes to a close, I am ending this part of my journey
with a mixture of JOYful relief and some honest sadness.
I have spent the last 2 years of my life totally dedicated
to learning everything I could get my hands on about the BRAIN.
I have spent countless hours looking into a computer screen, read more books
than I did in my previous 49 years (put together), met some of
the most incredible, brilliant people, made some wonderful new friends,
and climbed an educational mountain
that only a few years ago.... I dared not even dream!
BUT... what I am most excited about, is the opportunity
to share some of what I have learned with all of you.
(Today's BLOG is for anyone who has had a loved one suffer from a BRAIN disorder such as Alzheimer's or Dementia)... there is NEW HOPE!
Our BRAINs are genuinely one of the last unexplored frontiers,
AND... the last decade of technology and research
has brought about incredible new information
that can alter the way we CHOOSE to live our lives.
One of the most exciting discoveries scientists have unveiled over the last decade, (which debunks the old MYTH that our brains, as well as our DNA,
are hard-wired and there is nothing we can do about it) is that...
Neuroscience now KNOWS with great certainty that this is NOT TRUE.
In fact, both our brains AND our DNA are adaptable throughout our entire lives.
image from www.nicabm.com
In working on the final data analysis for my research study on gratitude/happiness....
I have come across one of the most shocking pieces of data
AND, I couldn't wait to share it with you!
Coincidentally, it comes at a perfect time..... since one of my dearest,
lifelong friends is here visiting, painting, giggling, drinking LOOOOOTS of coffee
and redecorating my office with me for the WHOLE weekend.
The LONGEST running research project in modern history,
is a 75 year study
done by Harvard University.
This study began with 724 young men, from 2 opposite ends of life's spectrum. One half were Sophomore students attending Harvard College during WWII, and the other were from the poorest neighborhoods in Boston, Massachusetts.
Original data hoped to find
what generates genuine, longterm happiness.
The results of this project are SHOCKING to each of the 4 directors who have poured over the thousands and thousands of pieces of data, which includes: EEG's, multiple types of cardiovascular testing, blood-work, numerous interviews with the participants, their spouses,
their children, and even their employers.
image from video blocks.com
Of the 724 men who were studied in 1938,
about 60 of them are still alive,
many of which are now in their 90's.
The research is also studying over 2000 grandchildren
of the original study participants to continue the data
and it's correlations into genuine, longterm happiness
along generational lines.
AND.... of all the things they studied,
and the zillions of tests ran......
guess what the #1 link
to longterm health and happiness is?
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!