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Introduction

It’s getting late tonight, but I wanted to write anyway. I have been working on a new book, you have had the opportunity to read several parts and pieces of this book and I finally finished writing and setting it up last week. This week I was able to get it saved online and approved, and I ordered my proof copy of the book. I am super excited for this new book, it’s set up similar to the other book, in a workbook format.

So tonight, I decided to add one more section of the book here the Introduction, just to give you one more idea of what’s in it before it comes out. I am hoping to have the copy next week sometimes, but who knows with they way shipping goes these days. My fingers are crossed, and all I can do now is wait. The other pieces I have shared are just excerpts from chapters but the Intro is quite a bit shorter, so I will share it all. Hopefully it’ll give you an idea of what the book is about, why I wrote it, and maybe even a desire to read it when it’s printed.

Gratitude Introduction

I wrote this book as a reminder to me, and hopefully a help for others, to begin the process of, or remind ourselves of, the things we have in life to be grateful for.  There is so much in life to be grateful for.  Gratitude changes our attitude, and helps us focus on the good in life.  Gratitude lifts us above the problems in life and helps us find solutions.  Gratitude helps us see all that is good in our lives and turns our attention to those things, rather than the hard and bad.  Not that those things don’t exist, but often when we can look back and see the good, the hard and bad don’t seem quite as big.  Instead, we are able to look ahead at solutions, or at least see that we have conquered so much, so we can keep conquering.  I hope you will use this book as a work book, but as a beginning or middle, not an end.  Being grateful is a lifelong pursuit. 

Throughout this book I will talk about 6 areas of gratitude.  Obviously, there are way more areas, but this will hopefully help you get started on your journey to being more grateful.  I know it has helped me as I have written it.  At the end of this book, I will have the categories listed again with space to continue writing.  You may fill these pages as your read this book, or it may take you weeks, months or years to complete all the spaces of all, or one particular area.  You may also decide to create your own book for those things you are grateful for and not use any of the spaces provided.  The goal is to help you get started on a lifelong path of being grateful.  Whether you’ve been on this path of gratitude your whole life already, or are just starting out, I hope this book helps you move forward with new insights, and new ideas or ways to have gratitude every day.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the what I’ve been working on lately. I hope you are setting goals and achieving them in your life, and that you take time everyday to work on them, or at least most days. What are some of your goals? How are you working to achieve them? What are you grateful for today?

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First’s

Today is the first day of school for my last 2 children. I have been reminiscing about how long it’s been since all of my kids were gone on the first day of school together. This is the first year in 7 years that I am not homeschooling at least one of my children. My girls are not currently in school, my oldest is gone on her mission for my Church, and my second is at a remote hunting lodge working until the end of September. This is only the third “first day of school” that I have been home by myself, as my kids were only in school at the same time for 2 years while in Elementary school. It’s crazy to me how fast time flies.

The first day of school is always exciting, a little bit scary, maybe some stress depending on how smoothly it goes. There are a lot of firsts in life that are the same way. In fact, I think most firsts are like the first day of school. I remember when I had my first baby. We were so excited! We had been trying for almost 5 years when I got pregnant, we had almost given up and had started to talk about looking in to adoption. But, when I went in to labor, things got real. And when I had to take that little tiny baby home, just me and my husband, I was terrified. Fortunately she turned out alright, even though we had no idea what we were doing. That first time though made the next 3 after that a lot easier, and a whole lot less scary.

First’s are like that. A bit scary, but once you pass the first, you become better at it, and it’s not scary any more. It’s no longer a first. Eventually, if we do it long enough it becomes an old hat, and we are more comfortable with moving ahead. Life has a lot of first’s, but fortunately, there are a lot of seconds and thirds, and so on. First’s are fun because of the excitement, even because of the little bit of stress and apprehension. But when you have done it more than once, like the first day of school, the first baby, or whatever it is, the second time around you have more confidence in your own abilities. That’s why seconds are great. But, if you remember and look back at all the first’s you have accomplished or pressed through, you can have confidence even when you are approaching a new first. You have done hard things, you know you can persevere through, and you can move forward with more of that excitement, and hopefully less apprehension or fear. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities helps you become a more resilient person. You learn you can adapt and change in hard circumstances, you learn that you can grow and learn, that you can have confidence in who you are and what you are capable of.

I am so grateful for the many first’s I have had in my life, and how they have shaped me into a more confident, resilient person. I am grateful for the opportunity to do hard things in my life, and for the ability to overcome and progress. Life is challenging, but we can each choose to be up for the challenge. What are some first’s you have experienced lately?

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New Book

I decided to write another book similar to the first one that you can see on the homepage of my website. As with the first book I would like to share some of what I have written. This book will be about Gratitude. I haven’t come up with a name yet, but I am almost done writing. This has been a wonderful process, just like the first, in reminding me about the importance of gratitude. Nothing I have accomplished in this life have I done completely by myself, even though I like to do a lot of things as much as I can on my own. But there are so many people and resources along the way that have influenced me and helped to get to where I am now. I am reminded in writing this book to be grateful and to say thank you. I am sharing today a brief section about where and how I have gained some of the skills that I have. Very little of my education has come from formal schooling beyond High School. Hopefully it will give you some ideas of where to go to find information and education.

This first one is education I did receive from a college, but it was a distance learning program and didn’t have any “college credit” associated with it. When my kids were little, I wanted to learn how to sew better.  I thought at one point I wanted to be a seamstress for a living.  I wanted to learn basic sewing principles and techniques as well as how to make my own patterns.  I looked online and found a course offered through a university in Arizona.  The class was in hard copy book form for the majority of the work, and the tests were given online.  The final was submitted through the mail in picture form.  It was a good class.  The things I learned in this class allowed me to make my daughters some dresses completely from scratch, I made so many shorts for all my kids, as well as pajama pants and fleece jackets.  I still make my own dresses and on occasion I make skirts, pants, and as well.  The things I learned in that class have stuck with me, and I am grateful to have found the class online, as I searched for a while to find one that wasn’t in person, and for the knowledge that it gave me to both make clothing, as well as know I didn’t want to do that for a living. But the things I learned have stuck with me, and helped me in my business as I have ventured into fabric panels for home décor and quilting.

I love to cook, but I haven’t always liked to eat super healthy.  When I started to get in better shape, I decided I needed to learn to cook better so that I could make healthier meals for our family, as well as make things taste good.  I didn’t take online or book courses for this, I decided there was enough free information just on the TV.  I love watching cooking shows, and shows like America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Country were really great helps.  I liked those as well because they had the science behind why things worked and why they tasted better.  I’m definitely not a gourmet cook even now, but as I watched those shows with the intent to understand and apply what I was learning, my ability to make better tasting food increased, and the kids now say that I am a good cook and they like almost everything I make.  That’s a huge win! I also like that we eat a lot healthier when I cook at home as compared to fast food, or boxed foods.  Now, there are so many videos online with recipes that make finding good, healthy food recipes easy, and make learning how to cook easy and inexpensive. 

Painting is a new found love of mine.  New as in the last 6 or 7 years.  This was not something even on my radar until I took my daughters to an art class offered by a friend.  They came home with some awesome art that I decided I wanted to try.  The art teacher created a series of lessons online called Createful Christmas and I decided to try it.  Fortunately, they turned out fairly good initially, because I liked it and kept going.  I decided I liked watercolor more than acrylics so I started to search the internet for online courses.  There are a ton of free courses, as well as many very reasonably priced sites that offer lessons for a monthly fee, usually $10 or less.  I also picked up books about watercolor techniques at the library and our local bookstores.  I have learned so much, but I think the thing I love about painting more than anything, is how relaxing it is for me.  I can be up-tight and frustrated with life and sit down and paint, and it all just melts away.  I am grateful for that initial class my kids took and the inspiration it was to me. I am grateful for the many resources on the internet and you tube where people are willing to share their talents with the world, and I am grateful to be able to try something new.

This is just a short synopsis of one of the chapters in my coming book. I hope that you looked at the ways you have been educated throughout your life. Getting any type of knowledge is important, we should never stop learning. So, whether it’s a college education, or a crazy mashup of a variety of other sources, or a combination of both, learning should never end. I hope you take time to look at your knowledge, and be grateful for the sources, whatever they are, that have helped you get where you are today. I would love to hear about something you have learned recently.

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Example

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The past couple of days I have thought a lot about example. Particularly the example set by parents for their kids. I watched my husband last night and several other men today in Church, and it made me think about the examples set by each one of us on a daily basis. Often people remember what we did, not what we said. Often, as in almost always. When our actions are good, people are more willing to listen to our words, but when our actions don’t match our words, what people most often take away is our what they observed, not what we said.

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Last night, after my husband had gone up to our bedroom to work on a Church lesson for one of our Young Men groups, a woman called and needed help loading her broken down car onto a car trailer, and then turning the truck and car trailer around. I thought my husband had gone to bed and told her I would try to find someone else to help her. I texted him to see if he was awake and knew of someone else I could call at that hour, and told him the situation. He came right down stairs, fully dressed, less than a minute later, and he and I and one of our sons went out the door and off to help this person. It didn’t take long, the lady was able to get on her way home in less than 3o minutes. For her it was a huge deal, for my husband it was a small setback in lesson prep that he didn’t complain about. For my son though, it was a huge example of one neighbor stopping to help another, it was a dad teaching life skills, it was real life experience in selfless service. Nothing was said when we got home, and life proceeded without any more interruptions. But the example was set. This isn’t the first time that example has been set by my husband. He has involved our kids in all sorts of service over the years. Sometimes they complain, sometimes it’s inconvenient, but it is always done, and it always helps improve our kids perspectives, and helps them look beyond themselves.

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Today at Church I had another opportunity to see wonderful men step up and set a great example, not only for my sons, but also for the other young men in our Church. The young men pass the sacrament to the congregation, and there was not enough. Usually they find more people to help ahead of time, but it didn’t happen today. As they stood up it was obvious there was not enough, and 3 men, without being asked stepped up and helped. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it was an example that those young men needed to see, that they hopefully will never forget. People willing to jump in where needed without being asked to do so. I have had so many good examples in my life. People who I know, who I look up to, and people I have never met, and probably won’t ever see again.

One particular incident that had a huge impact on my kids was at a Taco Bell drive-thru. We had ordered our food and were waiting in line to pay. When we got up to the window we were told that our order had been paid for by the car in front of us. My kids couldn’t believe it! A total stranger willing to pay for our whole order! They were so excited that they wanted to pay for the car behind us, so we did. It is something they will never forget, and since then I have done that for people on other occasions, mostly at the prompting of my kids as it was such a cool feeling to be on the receiving end and on the giving end that particular day.

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So, today I am grateful. Today I get to look back at people who have had an impact on my life through their actions, not their words. I also get to look forward, wanting to have that same great impact on someone else. We often forget that, no matter what we do in our lives, someone is watching. Take time to be that example today, tomorrow, this coming week. When you have obvious opportunity to impact someone else’s life in a positive way, do it! This week I am going to look for opportunities to help someone else, and to hopefully find opportunities for my kids to do the same. I hope you’ll take the same opportunities in your life as well. I know that it will not only positively impact the other persons life, but it will brighten your life just a little more as well.

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Overwhelmed

Do you ever start your day, or reach a point in your day, when you just have so much stuff to do that you start to feel overwhelmed? Monday this week, I had a huge list of things I needed to get done, and there was a momentary point that I felt overwhelmed. Sometimes that happens to all of us. I want to share with you some of the things that helped me Monday, and every day when I have a huge amount of things to do, to hopefully help you feel less overwhelmed, and face your days with confidence in yourself and your ability to accomplish everything you need to do.

As I said, it was a momentary point in time. And then there was a quiet whispering in my mind from the spirit that said I could choose to be overwhelmed or I could choose to face the day optimistically. I am grateful for that little tiny reminder, because it set my day back on the right track. My attitude is my responsibility, and no one and nothing can influence it unless I allow it to. When we face the day optimistically, we face the day as a problem solver. When we get discouraged or feel overwhelmed, and don’t correct our thoughts and attitude, we start to spiral down hill, and that leads to more problems rather than solutions. But, just because we are optimistic about our day doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best day ever, it just means that we see the problems and we work on solutions, rather than stopping in our progress and not getting anything done.

After I adjusted my attitude, the next thing I did was to figure out what things were most important. Prioritizing big things in life is super important and you can read my other blog post on Priorities here. But each day also requires a little bit of prioritizing because there are some things more important than others in any given day. The things that were due the soonest became the top priority, followed by the things that were important to work on, but didn’t have fixed due dates, or the due dates were further out. That was followed by the stuff I probably had time to work on, but if I didn’t, could wait another day. But if I have time, I like to get as much stuff done at the beginning of the week so I don’t have so much to worry about toward the end of the week and I have more time to spend with my family. Also, breaking tasks down early on in the game will get the job done without that last minute cramming that often happens when we procrastinate, which I am pretty good at sometimes, but that’s an article for a different day.

Steps, or smaller goals is the next thing I do. Often we see what needs to be done, know what needs to be done first, we have our lists, but it might still feel overwhelming just beginning. But beginning is the first step. I like to break my tasks down into steps, and the simpler the steps are, the better. That way it’s not as overwhelming to start in the first place. Two examples from Monday. First, I had to pay bills. I set aside one day a month to pay everything, which to some may seem like a huge task, but for me it works as I don’t have to remember multiple days a month, which actually simplifies it for me. I break those bills down into several steps. First I pay the bills I need to write checks for. This is the most tedious part for me because it is the most time consuming (we have 2 businesses, and sometimes there are a lot of checks!), so I get it done first. Next is the online bills. These are much quicker than the checks. Last step is to make sure the money in each account is where it needs to be and there is enough for everything. This process takes me about an hour, depending on the month. Second example, I am in charge of a 5K race for our local Library Association. We have been raising money to build a new library (that is now under construction!) and this was a contribution that I could make to assist in that endeavor. This is our 6th annual race, and I have broken down the preparation into really small steps over several months, so everything gets done in order so we have shirts, forms, food, etc. Monday my step for the day was to bring up my signs for the roads, the registration table, etc., and check them out to make sure they are still in good condition. Also, to count my race bibs and make sure I have enough. It took 5 minutes. But with as busy as that day was, I didn’t have time for much more. Small steps.

The last thing, the hard part, doing. This one, for me, is much easier after I have done the things listed above, made my list, prioritize that list, and then broken it down into steps. But sometimes it’s hard to be motivated. This again, is a choice we each make. It’s hard to get up and get moving if we’re tired, if we hurt, if we have no help, etc. But this is the most important thing. I have found that when I am tired, I am less motivated. But I have also found, that when I get up and start moving I am less tired. And when I see things getting done, well that’s some of the best motivation for me that there is. When I really have a hard time getting motivated though, I have a few things I think of/remember. I like to remember how good it’ll feel when I’m done, that’s pretty motivating for me. I also love quotes, especially the ones about doing things, great things, these motivate me. Prayer motivates me. It’s always amazing and a blessing how much the Lord wants to help us, and will give us the energy to get up and start. Past doing is also motivating. If you have done, you have accomplished, it makes it easier the next time to be motivated to get going, because you know that doing so will get you to the end. And when you learn that you can accomplish things, great and small, you become unstoppable. I hope you can find things that will be motivating to you. I will leave you with a motivational quote that I found just today, and hope that if you are feeling overwhelmed, that these steps will help you get up and going, so you can become unstoppable in your life.

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