Over the last few months, by being withdrawn from a lot of the things and people that once kept me busy, I have turned inward and taken a good, hard look at myself. I have thought a lot about the kind of person I want to be and with whom I want to surround myself. I have made a mental check of who and what drains my energy, and what are the things that really fill my cup. Little by little, I have reduced the number of things that drain my energy, and I have increased those things that fill my cup.
Prayer and scripture have been one of the things that most fills my cup and that grounds me in a way that nothing else does. It had been a long time since I really sat down and thought about how I was applying the Gospel to my own life. We had been attending Mass regularly before the pandemic, and we have tried to make sure to attend virtually throughout, but my attention is never one hundred percent there, because I have small children who require my attention and correction. And while I try to remind myself often that Jesus meets us where we are, I have found that turning to prayer, reflection, and Scripture has helped to ground me throughout this pandemic. Many of the ways I pray are tailored specifically to my Catholic faith, but many of them can be adapted to fit your own denomination. Here are 5 convenient tools to help your prayer life.
Also, just like I have made my gratitude practice intentional, I have done the same for my prayer life. I have been using the Blessed is She planner, which has a checklist for daily prayer each day. Each time I post about it, I get questions. It's an awesome planner with tons of space and awesome features. If you're looking to incorporate prayer into your life a little more, I highly recommend it!
If you have any other tips, send them my way. And if you haven't tried any of these, I hope you will!
Over the last few months, we've all gone through stages. Stages of grief, acceptance, frustration, fear. I have found that when I allow myself to focus on the negative, the dark, I forget about how much light there is in my life. I have found that actively practicing gratitude has helped my mood immensely. I have always been someone who is grateful for what she has, but I have found it even more important lately to practice gratitude.
When I forget to be grateful, I focus on my husband leaving his clothes on the bathroom floor instead of reminding myself that he serves me coffee every morning. I focus on the messes my kids make instead of on the memories they made. I focus on the things I didn't get done instead of the things I did.
At the very beginning of this pandemic, I quickly realized that if I wasn't being actively grateful for the things I DO have, I could easily fall into this hole of self-despair and woe-is-me. And honestly, that's not a place I really wanted to be. So throughout the day, I found ways to stop and be grateful for something.
I chatted with Dr. Erika Velez of The Mindful Corner, who gave me some really interesting information. Robert Emmons is considered the world's leading expert on gratitude, and he says that gratitude has two important components. The first is that gratitude is an affirmation of good things in the world. In the second, we recognize that the things we are grateful for exist outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that God and other people give us gifts both big and small to help us achieve the goodness in our lives. Gratitude is a source of strengthening relationships because it requires us to see how other people have been able to support and affirm us.
Emmons found that people who practice gratitude consistently report many benefits. Physically they can have stronger immune systems, can be less bothered by aches and pains, can have lower blood pressure, exercise more and take better care of their health, and sleep better. Psychological benefits include higher levels of positive emotions, more alert, more joy and pleasure, and more optimism and happiness. Social benefits of practicing gratitude include being more helpful, generous and compassionate, forgiving, outgoing, and feeling less lonely and isolated.
Practicing gratitude is something that requires mindfulness and intention, so while sometimes it may seem like I am just doing something to check it off a list, it is done intentionally and to build it into my routine so it becomes a natural practice. Because I have seen firsthand some of the benefits listed by Emmons above, I want to continue to be consistent in this practice.
Some simple ways I practice gratitude:
And there you have it - 5 simple ways to practice gratitude daily. It doesn't have to be a complicated process. Just make the intention to do it, and you will find yourself finding more ways to be thankful each and every day.
Let me know in the comments, how do you practice gratitude?
Today, I turn 35. I remember being 15 and thinking 35 was old. When I was 15, my parents were only 38! Most days, I still feel like I'm pretending at this whole "adulting" thing.
And the older I get, the more I realize that I will continue learning every single day. This year in particular I feel has been a very enlightening year, and I've learned (or re-learned) so much.
I've learned that...
You can love people and not always agree with them.
Friends might be forever, but they might also just be for a season, and that's okay .
There is no substitute for fresh air.
How much I put in will determine how much I get out.
Time is valuable, and MY time is worth something.
Tuning out the outside noise is not just good, it's necessary sometimes.
If I surround myself with negativity, I will become negative. The same goes for the opposite.
There is no greater confidence booster than realizing you were perfectly made by God.
But mostly, I've learned that I am the only person who is responsible for myself. The way I wake up, the way I spend my free time, the people with whom I surround myself, and the information I take in all affect me and my outlook. In 2019, I decided to simplify, and it was such a release for me to start saying "no" to events, to activities, and to things I didn't want to do. And this year, I have truly simplified (as have many of us since it was forced on us with the pandemic). I have turned inward often, in prayer, in reflection, and I have reminded myself often that the choices that I make are what is best for me and for my family. I have come to the realization that I will never be able to control anyone else's actions - my friends, my children, my husband - but I can control my REACTION. I can control my own actions, and that has been a lesson more valuable to me this year than anything else.
Cheers to growing, learning, and living each day in faith and in positivity.
For so many of us, Lent is a time of prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving. Going into this Lent, none of us ever imagined that we would be sacrificing so much, especially when it comes to our faith and the practice of it. Last Sunday, as we virtually took part in mass, I was overcome with emotion. All the times I huffed and puffed about going to mass - it was all I wanted to be able to do last Sunday. How often have we taken for granted being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist? How often have we taken for granted the sign of peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ? How often have we taken for granted the community, the body of Christ that we make up?
The next week will prove to be a Holy Week like none other we have ever imagined, and I for one plan on working hard to make sure my family remembers it is Holy Week. Like never before, we have the time for Christ. Let's use it and find a way to reconnect ourselves to the Church.And when we are all able to return to mass, let us not take that privilege for granted.
Today is Palm Sunday, and Archbishop Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami has asked us to place palm fronds on our doors in order to help us be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks. He said, "We may be physically isolated, but not separated. We are united as the body of Christ." So we hung a palm frond on our door this morning.
If you would like to watch mass live-streamed, there are SO MANY parishes doing so. You can find a list here of which churches, what times, etc. (I may be partial, but this is my brother.)
But I also would like to extend Holy Week into all our activities this week, and continue to teach Caleb about our faith in the weeks that he is home with us. I've gathered up a few resources - many of which were sent to me by some of you, and I'm putting them all together below. Let me know if you use any of them and how you like them! As always, if you find something you think I could add to this, please let me know!
I hope that this helps some of you to continue to observe Holy Week in the days to come.
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