Practice Gratitude

Suzanne McDermott
Watercolor 8 x 8 in.

A Simple Prayer
"Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. "
—Alice Walker
Give Thanks Every Day

The Oxford Dictionary definition of the word gratitude is

"the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness."

Readiness to return kindness is a key part of gratitude. Each time we give thanks to someone or for something we express appreciation. One aspect of appreciation involves increase in value. Gratitude raises consciousness and allows expansion. Gratitude can be contagious, we simply have to be willing to expand.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
― Melody Beattie
Your 26-Day Gratitude Practice Challenge

Thanksgiving Day comes but once a year.

Thanksgiving is a symbolic day, a reminder to celebrate all that we have to be grateful for. Our harvest.

Thanksgiving also marks our final stretch to the darkest day of the year. Let's brighten each day between now and the winter solstice with an intentional remembrance every day for one thing we have to be grateful for. The winter solstice is exactly 26 days away.

If you play along, on the darkest day, you'll have been practicing brightening each day with this gratitude challenge.

Make a list of 26 things you have to be grateful for right now. It won't be very difficult. You can keep it by your bed or work space to remind you how much you have to appreciate (if you need reminding!)

Don't be shy about sharing your list. It's a way of inspiring someone else.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
—Albert Schweitzer


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Dramatically increase your rate of failure

Just do it

I had lofty plans for an issue on impermanence or practice but have shelved those topics for another time. It's Tuesday and time to go to press.

Here's the deal. I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina not quite twelve days ago and much of my work time has been sacrificed to driving around in circles (or miles past destinations), then finding my way around, meeting and greeting, setting up order in new digs, etcetera.

Also, a group of Tibetan monks were visiting down the street, creating and destroying a sacred sand mandala. I've seen two created before but this time took advantage of their proximity to attend both opening and closing ceremonies, stopping by regularly to see progress.

So, this week, I'll just say that I've started a new daily drawing practice blog (an exuberantly humbling experience.) I've had no time to design or develop the blog itself, only to draw and post. But that's the point!

You can visit that blog by clicking on the image above. Follow the blog or subscribe by email. Don't be shy, leave your reply (comments) on the daily posts. Help me get some energy going over there!

PS If you're in the Triangle region of North Carolina, please let me know. If you have friends or family in the area who might like what I offer, please pass this along to them. I'll be offering regional talk/demos, workshops and have set up a unique invitation list for the area.
"Many artists become so afraid of producing artworks of sub-standard quality, that they never produce anything at all. Unless it meets their imagined ideal of what they ought to be able to produce, they procrastinate and make excuses, instead of making art. That avoids the humiliation, but it also ensures that nothing is produced.

"It has been said that we all learn from our mistakes, so the best way to become a success is to drastically increase your rate of failure. I think we should make failure our goal. How liberating is that? We get to make art, knowing from the outset that it is our intention to produce something not quite good enough. For perhaps the first time in our lives, instead of being afraid of making something that isn’t quite perfect, we’re emboldened to go ahead and make something we know, for certain, won’t be."

Creative Ideas for Starving Artists


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10 things to do in the dark

Autumn Field
Watercolor, 8" x 8"

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
― Mary Oliver

Summer is history. Gone are the long days when it felt as though there was all the time in the world. 

It's full on autumn now. Here are a few good things to do while you're adjusting your inner clocks, eyes and schedules to the falling back season.
  1. Imagine (really good things)
  2. Sleep
  3. Look at the stars
  4. Light a candle
  5. Read an enlightening book
  6. Say a prayer of thanks (because you're safe and warm)
  7. Dream
  8. Remember that darkness is temporary
  9. Drink Ginger Tea
  10. Listen to J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations
Leave a comment below with 10 of your favorite things to do in the dark.

"I imagine that yes is the only living thing."
—E. E. Cummings


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