Practicing Self Gratitude

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Gratitude is the quality of thankfulness and the readiness to show appreciation for kindness. Expressing gratitude on a daily basis can shift life in powerful ways. I know. I’ve experienced how life changing gratitude is.

About ten years ago, during the process of facing lifelong fears and moving beyond them, I recognized the role gratitude plays in raising quality of life. What I learned is just like there is a connection between loving oneself and loving others, there is a similar connection between expressing gratitude for self and feeling gratitude for other things.

We find it difficult to love others, unconditionally and without expectations, if we can’t love ourselves first. And equally difficult, feeling genuine gratitude for others and for life challenges us if we can’t feel gratitude first for who we are.

In fact, I’ve found that practicing self gratitude helps us to more easily love ourselves, raise our vibrational energy and then love and appreciate others.

Signs That Self Gratitude is Lacking

How do we know if self gratitude is an issue? We experience the following:

  • discouragement, frustration, anger
  • negative thoughts and emotions about ourselves and others
  • refusal to look into a mirror
  • dislike of being in photos
  • criticism of self
  • dislike or hate of self
  • putting self down or making negative jokes about self
  • difficulty coming up with anything to express gratitude for
  • criticism of others, especially when they remind us of ourselves

A common  gratitude practice involves listing things we feel thankful for. When the page remains blank because nothing comes to mind or only a few items make the list, then a deeper issue needs attention. It truly is hard to feel grateful for others or for blessings when we can’t summon gratitude for who we are and what we offer.

I discovered, while working through issues with fear, that the biggest fear I had was fully accepting and appreciating myself, gifts, quirks and all. Fear of shining as my true self kept me small, especially since I’d worked my whole life to keep parts of myself hidden away.

I found a natural progression of acceptance of self, gratitude for self and finally love for self. That inner work changed my life and created a different outer world. Creativity ramped up. Opportunities presented themselves. Doors opened.

Practicing Self Gratitude art
One of the results of practicing self gratitude is an increase in creativity. Book art that I created, about my journey.

Self Acceptance and Self Gratitude Go Together

It’s difficult to experience self gratitude before completely accepting self first. And look, that doesn’t mean we can’t change. In fact, I thrive brilliantly on that delicate tension between accepting who I am at this moment and constantly shifting and changing who I am as I grow.

Start with fully accepting who you are. Do a “this is me” list of all of your characteristics, your abilities and your gifts. Then add those quirky things about yourself that others may not understand. Finally add the things that you’ve been taught are too much or not enough. These are the characteristics that make you unique, even if others don’t appreciate them. And don’t forget physical characteristics…those you like and those you don’t.

My list included a wide array of qualities such as “loves people” and yet, equally true, “distrusts individuals”. And “loyal” and “stubborn” both made the list as did “tends to follow the rules” and “longs for freedom to make my own rules”. For me, the most difficult part of myself to appreciate was my intuitive side. I’m sensitive to energy, empathic, psychic and I experience those who have passed on. Yes, I know when dead people are around and my spider sense brings me all kinds of information that I don’t always want.

I came to accept and appreciate all aspects of myself. You can too. Go back through your list and genuinely accept everything about who you are…your appearance, your abilities, your strengths and your weaknesses. Tell yourself, “This is me. This is who I am.”

Practicing Self Gratitude journal
A gratitude journal is a wonderful part of practicing self gratitude.

Discovering Self Gratitude

It may take days, weeks, months of work to fully accept yourself. However, it’s worth the effort and time. YOU are worth the effort and time. The healing that it brings to the heart is powerful. After living with a divided and fractured heart for so long, creating a whole heart felt unbelievably healthy. And, I found that I needed a whole heart…what I considered my “normal” side and my “weird side”…to fully live as the person I am meant to be. It’s that important.

Now go back through your extensive list and express gratitude for all those things about yourself that you accept. Start each sentence with “I am grateful for…” and fill in the blank. “I am grateful for…my courage to do hard things…my green eyes…my love of plants.”

If you get stuck on a characteristic, back up and remind yourself that “this is me” and go deeper into acceptance.

I could physically feel my heart changing as I practiced self gratitude for the first time. Tears came to my eyes and it felt like I could finally take a deep, deep breath.

At the time of this work, I’d suffered for more than ten years with constant pain due to sciatica. I especially struggled with my left leg. Accepting what was, at that time, and feeling gratitude and appreciation for all that leg did to walk and move in pain, helped. Eventually I discovered freedom from pain through a plant based lifestyle. However, I expressed gratitude often for my body and left leg, even through the most challenging times. Did that stop me from seeking healing? No. I could express gratitude for my wayward leg and still desire healing and make the changes that delivered it.

Practicing Self Gratitude quote

Practicing Self Gratitude

Practicing self gratitude is an ongoing journey. It’s not a do it once and you are done thing.

Include these self gratitude practices in your life:

  • begin the day with gratitude for self “I am grateful for my strength…the opportunity to work today…my creative ideas.”
  • express gratitude throughout the day
  • shift negative thoughts immediately and express gratitude. Turn “I am stupid!” into “I am grateful I realized that I made a mistake. I’ll change it.”
  • pause several times a day and simply say, “I am grateful.”
  • create a vision board, full of things about yourself that you feel grateful for
  • reward your accomplishments (not with food, please, unless it’s healthy) with something you enjoy and express gratitude for what you did
  • end the day with gratitude…write a gratitude list or speak your gratitudes aloud

Truly, practicing self gratitude transforms the life. And gratitude then flows outward to others, to all things, to life itself, to God. It becomes easier to appreciate others. Kindness from others is received and rejoiced over and passed on. Blessings multiply. And I’ve found that I can shift anxiety by finding things about the situation to express gratitude for.

My journey in practicing gratitude continues. I learn and grow through the experiences and find that my trust deepens. My gratitude extends to the Divine and throughout each day, during continual conversations with God, my simple prayer is “I am grateful.”

And, I am.

Practicing Self Gratitude cup of tea
I am grateful.

Posts About Fear

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

Inviting Fear to Pull Up a Chair

Gratitude Journals from Amazon:


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Give Joy Get Joy

The day after Thanksgiving, commercially known as Black Friday, officially launches the Christmas season. Many people dislike Black Friday shopping, and worse, even shame people for taking part in the day. I don’t always take advantage of the incredible sales. When I do, however, I have fun with the experience. A sign I saw hanging in Kohl’s, as I waited in line to purchase, inspired today’s title.

Give Joy Get Joy.

There’s incredible truth in those words, which sparked gratitude.

Give Joy Get Joy

Black Friday Shopping at a Kohl’s

I looked through sales flyers last night, with a mental wish list of items. As hoped, I found several at deeply discounted prices. I’ve rarely been one to get up before dawn to get the best deals. So I slept in a bit this morning. By mid morning I was in the car, with Greg as my driver.

He drops me off at the front of the store and finds a parking spot while I shop. Sometimes he joins me as I wait in line. Most often he waits in the car with a book. On rainy days, like today, I especially appreciate his chauffeur services!

Kohl’s was bustling with cheerful chaos. Lines snaked down either side of the store, stretching to the back. Unconcerned, I did my shopping, carrying the sales flyer to help me locate what I wanted. The lines seemed equally long, so I walked across the back of the store and found the helpful employee holding up a sign. This marked the end of the line.

I don’t mind crowds and waiting in line. If I did, I’d stay home. I choose to participate in the experience in a fun and playful way. The man in front of me turned to say “hi”. I learned his name was Steve and by the time we reached the registers, we were friends. We chatted easily and laughed and smiled at each other every time the line moved forward. His wife popped in and out of our conversations as she continued to shop while Steve kept their place in line.

In less than 20 minutes we were at the registers, after spending those moments in pleasant conversation. I’m grateful for happy people, like Steve, who find joy in life’s experiences. We wished each other a good day, as we walked to different check outs, and he turned to call out, “Have a Merry Christmas too!” The cashier asked me if Steve and I knew each other. “We do now!” I answered.

Give Joy Get Joy

Christmas Mug

I am grateful that I chose to walk across the back of the store and get in the other line. Not only did I enjoy talking to Steve, I spied a Christmas display that reminded me of something important.

Each year, since 1977, I buy a Christmas mug to add to my collection. Greg’s mom began this tradition for me, by giving me a couple of vintage Santa mugs she made in the 1960s. I realized this morning that I had not purchased a mug yet for 2018. I believe the Divine is interested in everything that I do. Every tiny detail of my life is significant. Seeing the display, with every item on sale, was a Divine invitation to pick out a mug.

I selected one that’s completely different from the others in my collection. The gray and white cat represents Shy Boy, Rilynn and Angel. Buying a Christmas cat mug might officially mark me as a “crazy cat lady”. I love my new mug, and instead of paying $14.99 for it, I paid $3.49. I’m grateful for inspiration that guided me to the display and the wonderful sale.

Give Joy Get Joy

Give Joy Get Joy

As I moved slowly and steadily toward the front of the store, chatting with Steve, I noticed a banner hanging from the store ceiling.

It proclaimed:

Give Joy Get Joy

I felt so drawn to the sentiment that I snapped a photo as I drew even with the banner.

The words are true, on multiple levels. We get back what we give out. Give a smile, receive one back. Give love, get love. Be a friend, connect with friends. Frown at someone, get one back. Give complaints, get complaints back. Give joy, get joy.

It’s an energetic truth. Whatever we put out into the world are like little energy missiles…with homing devices. What we send out always returns to us. Be kind, compassionate, helpful to others, and those qualities are given back to us. Be mean spirited, hateful, and unkind and we will experience the same in life.

On this day, it was easy to see the evidence of this law. The complainers just got more frustrated and found more to complain about. The joyful people were happy and relaxed and found more to express joy about. I choose to be mindful about what I am putting out there, energetically. Life just keeps bringing me more to be joyful about as a result.

I’m grateful for the visual reminder of Give Joy Get Joy. It’s my choice whether I shop on Black Friday or stay home. It’s your choice as well. There’s no right or wrong in such decisions, and no reason to make a judgment about it. Do what you enjoy doing, and allow others to do the same. For some the sales make Christmas money go much further.

On that note, I saved $412.33 today, because of sales. I’m smiling about that.

Give Joy Get Joy

The Idea Light

I spent the afternoon working in my creative studio. I’m accomplishing task after task as I tweak the blogs and tackle new technology. As darkness pressed against the windows, I paused to turn on lamps in the small room.

Last year my symbol for 2017 was the light bulb. I have a large Franklin bulb hanging in the corner, above a vintage chair. When I switched on that bulb, my creativity seemed to switch on as well. I enjoyed taking a break from the computer by sitting in my “thinking chair”, beneath the lightbulb. Often used as a symbol for creativity, I sat underneath that visual representation and daydreamed for a short time. Ideas flowed and inspired me.

I’m grateful for this corner of my studio. Create a space for creative ideas to flow…and guess what happens? They flow.

Give Joy Get Joy

Healthy Comfort Food

The day concluded with gratitude for healthy comfort food. When I tell people I am plant based, they picture me eating lots of salads. I occasionally eat a salad, however there is such a wide variety of meals I can prepare within the plant based guidelines.

This easy Macaroni Bake is a favorite. Made with gluten free brown rice pasta, a dairy free cashew sauce, and peas and broccoli, this dish supplies all the comfort of comfort food without the unhealthy stuff. I make Macaroni Bake often during the cold winter months.

What a gratitude filled day. I love that the theme of the day was set by a store banner, on the busiest shopping day of the year.

Give Joy Get Joy.

That joy is rippling through my soul even now, and flowing out in waves that move outward into my world…and Beyond. I know that joy will return to me, multiplied.

Give Joy Get Joy

Thankful for Habits of Health

As I prepared for a busy day, two days before Thanksgiving, I was especially thankful for habits of health. In a rush to get out the door, it would have been easier to skip my normal health boosting drinks and just grab a piece of fruit to go. It would not have been better, however. Habits kicked in. I’m grateful.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Celery Juice for Healthy Digestion

Celery juice is a health elixir. It’s the first change I made in my diet, more than two and a half years ago. The difference in my digestive health has been profound. Celery is an alkalizing food that counters acidity in the body, easing stomach disorders and calming the intestinal tract. I feel the difference, if I go without celery juice for several days. Read more about the benefits of celery juice HERE.

On a busy day, I need to take the time to care for myself in powerful ways. Standing in the kitchen, drinking 16 ounces of fresh celery juice was exactly how I needed to begin my day. To prepare, wash one bunch of celery, trim off leaves (juice can be bitter with the leaves) and run stalks through a juicer. One bunch of celery makes 12 – 16 ounces. Drink immediately.

I’m thankful for this green juice.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Detox Smoothie

While I sipped celery juice I prepared my second morning drink. I alternate each day between a fruit smoothie and a detox smoothie. It was a detox day. My 32 ounce drink contained 1 banana, 1 pear, 1 orange, 1 cup of wild blueberries, a handful of fresh cilantro, fresh aloe vera gel, and a spoonful each of hemp seeds, chaga mushroom powder, Atlantic sea dulse and Hawaiian spirulina. Typically I include barley grass juice powder too. I’m out and have more on the way.

I’m grateful for this powerful drink as well. It pulls heavy metals and toxins from my liver, thyroid, and brain. Drinking this yummy mix eliminated restless legs syndrome, something I suffered with since childhood. When I travel overseas, I drink a detox smoothie every day for the 30 days prior to flying. I travel well as a result, without restless legs or leg cramps.

I’m thankful that these strong habits overruled my perceived need to skip my morning routine and get out the door. My body benefitted as did my day.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This time of year people ask me what I eat during the holidays. They are curious. Do I stay plant based?

I do. I know I would not feel well if I spent even one day eating meat or indulging in foods rich in dairy products, refined sugar and eggs. For Thanksgiving, my family gets together. My adult kids prepare a traditional meal. I bring along plant based foods for me and Greg to eat and to share.

I tried out two new holiday worthy recipes, with great success! Find both recipes HERE.

I won’t be eating turkey and all the fixings. Instead I’ll dine on acorn squash stuffed with a delicious rice, pear, cranberry and veggie “dressing”. With something new, I do a trial run. I made enough to take to the family meal on Thursday. The savory blend of veggies with pears and cranberries was wonderful and the squash was tasty as well.

I’m thankful for plant based options that are “fancy” enough for holiday meals.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

In lieu of sugary desserts after the Thanksgiving meal, I’m offering a light, subtly spiced pumpkin bread. Dairy, gluten and egg free, the recipe uses coconut sugar and pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar.

This was my first time preparing a vegan pumpkin bread. It won’t be my last! The loaf has a rustic look, however it is moist and slices perfectly. I enjoyed a couple of slices of pumpkin bread with hot tea, after dinner. It was so incredibly good. I’ll prepare another loaf tomorrow night, to share Thursday.

I’m thankful for gluten free products and options such as maple syrup and coconut sugar.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Clear Skin Tea Blend

I ended this long day with a custom made tea blend. I’ve been reading Liver Rescue by Anthony William. It’s such an amazing book and I’m grateful for Anthony and all the healing information he provides. I’m excited to experience this next level of health that focusing on my liver will provide.

Reading about how healthy skin is connected to the health of my liver, I realized I had several of the herbs Anthony recommends as supplements. I combined them to create my own clear skin tea blend.

In 2 cups of very hot water, I combined 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm, 1 teaspoon dried licorice root, and 1 teaspoon dried nettle. After steeping for 15 minutes, I sipped my special blend. It was so refreshing, so good. Each of these herbs supports and enhances liver function and heals and soothes an overheated liver burdened with toxins. Cleansing the liver ensures healthy, radiant skin and slows the signs of aging.

I’m thankful for the healing power of foods. I’ll be drinking this tea several times a week.

My day is ending, as it began, with drinks that nourish me at a deep level. I’m thankful that I’ve created health habits that support me and keep me healthy.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden

With warmer weather today, and cooler temps predicted tomorrow, it was the perfect afternoon to do garden maintenance. This time of year brings a bit of sorrow with it, for me, as plants die back and leaves fall and colors drain away. As I worked snipping spent blooms and pulling out dry annuals, the words faded glory came to mind often. There is much to appreciate about this time of year as well in the garden, even as it prepares to sleep.

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden

Noticing the Energy

What I noticed as I began the task of removing annuals that were nipped by the cold last week, was how different the energy feels in the fall. I much prefer to tuck living, growing plants into pots and containers, over pulling up brown, dead plants. It is a necessary gardening task. I don’t have to like it!

I expressed gratitude, however, for each flower, each plant, as I removed them. How quickly the summer passed. Until the heavy frost last week, these flowers in Annie’s red box still bloomed. This plant on the baker’s rack still grew. There is a time and a place, indeed, for everything under the sun. A time to grow…a time to wilt away.

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden

Garden Cat

Sensing my mood, perhaps, one of my cats appeared and stayed close. Rilynn is the smallest of the three cats, a brother and two sisters, that I rescued as kittens. They all have their own quirky personalities, and I am hard pressed to say which among them is the quirkiest. It might be Ri though. She is tiny, with a sweet face that looks like she dipped her nose in an inkpot. And she is ornery, independent, and sometimes downright odd.

She watched everything I did, following me from the front deck, to the raised veggie bed, to the backyard garden. Rilynn loves the garden, more than the other cats. This is her domain. She suns in the garden every afternoon. The tall ornamental grasses are her playground where she hides, or naps, or pretends to stalk prey. Any container, whether it is full of flowers or not, might be selected for her nesting spot.

As I emptied  flower pots and trimmed back dead stalks, Rilynn kept me company, pouncing on waving grasses, swatting playfully at my hands, running back and forth in gleeful abandon. I’m grateful for this little gardening companion. She made me laugh more than once.

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden

Faded Glory

Everywhere in the garden, colors had faded, green leaves and sturdy stems had shriveled and turned brown. I know this happens every year, and yet it surprises me still, the suddenness of the change. Warm temps continued well into October and colorful leaves still fluttered on trees, until the sharp drop in temperatures and a cold north wind ushered in snow.

My clematis vines had rebloomed, because of the mild fall. As I worked in the meditation area, I paused to study the blossoms that hung there. These large flowers exhibited faded glory indeed. And yet, there was beauty still as well. They reminded me of aging…and how even as looks or hair color fades, and wrinkles and fine lines appear, there is beauty that shines forth from a soul that has embraced life and bloomed with abandon. I left those flowers where they were, grateful for the visual reminder.

I did gather a basketful of dried herbs. Lemon balm, lemongrass, lavender, basil,  chamomile and sage, dried by the change in temperatures, are still aromatic. I had a plan for these herbs.

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden

Goodnight Garden

Fittingly, the sun dipped below the horizon, as I completed my gardening tasks. I’ll use an electric trimmer, on the next warm day, to cut down the rest of the stalks still standing. Only the ornamental grasses will remain throughout the winter. They display faded glory as well. The cold leeched away their vibrant green color, however they are beautiful still, in shades of gold, brown, cream and beige. And their tassels wave merrily in the breeze.

I watched the sky change to reds, pinks and purples. Just as I raised my phone to snap a photo, my sister, 100 miles away, sent me a pic of the sunset in Oklahoma. How serendipitous! I felt a connection with my sister, knowing we were both appreciating the same gorgeous sunset. And I felt deep gratitude for all the goodness in my life. Turning toward the back door, I paused to whisper, “Goodnight lovely garden. Rest well.  I’ll wake you in the spring.”

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden

Offering Up Gratitude

I completed a little ritual this evening, that has become a tradition as the garden falls asleep. Using the dried herbs that I gathered in the garden, I lit a small piece of charcoal and placed it in a ceramic holder. While the charcoal turned ashen, I lit candles throughout my bedroom, tiny lights flickering against the darkness that had already fallen.

When the charcoal was ready, I added bits and pieces of the herbs. The wispy smoke that coiled into the air was fragrant with lavender, lemon, basil, chamomile and sage. Inhaling deeply, the aroma seemed to settle gracefully around my heart. This ritual is a benediction for the garden. The smoke carries with it my prayers of gratitude for another season of growth and blessing. I am thankful for the backyard paradise that I have, thankful for the beauty and peace it offers, and deeply grateful for all the joy it brings to me. So be it. All is well.

Faded Glory: Goodnight Garden


Snow Day Gratitudes

What a surprise, to wake up this morning and discover it was a snow day! We don’t typically get much snow here in the Joplin area, and it’s a rare occurrence before January. As the day progressed we received about 3 1/2 – 4 inches, keeping school aged kids at home and providing me the opportunity for snow day gratitudes.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Autumn Collides with Winter

I’m way past the point where I enjoy playing in the snow. I feel the cold more deeply than I did as a child. However, I appreciate the beauty found in snow covered landscapes.

When I had to get out for a short time, I combined errands and accomplished everything in one trip. Greg drove for me, and although the roads weren’t yet icy, I appreciated the chauffeuring. His generosity freed me to take in the wintry transformation.

The photo below represents the day well…a brightly colored fall leaf lying in fresh snow. It’s beautiful and I’m grateful for the sight.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Thai Food to Warm the Body

My friend Mike surprised me a few days ago, with a gift certificate to my favorite Thai food restaurant in town. While we were out today, Greg and I stopped by Kinnaree to pick up a to-go order.

The little restaurant was packed! When I remarked on how busy they were the waitress paused to say when it’s cold, people warm up with Thai food.

I’m grateful for Kinnaree Thai Restaurant for their veggie meal options and exceptional service. And I’m thankful to Mike for the gift certificate. He made me smile, when I asked Why the gift? His answer: “Because you are being Cindy.”

I love that!

Snow Day Gratitudes

No Two Snowflakes Alike

I learned as a child that no two snowflakes are alike. Each one is wonderfully unique. As the snow gently fell around me, tiny snowflakes landed on my arm and I studied them, fascinated.

It doesn’t matter how old I get. I’m still in awe of nature and the beauty it offers when I have the eyes to see it. The minuscule flakes were perfectly formed, and they were each different from the other. What a marvelous life lesson snowflakes present, reminding me to just be myself, my unique, glorious, quirky self…and allow others the same freedom. I’m grateful for their magic.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Snow Day FaceTime

Another happy surprise came today in the form of a phone call. A snow day meant the grandkids got an extra day off added to the weekend. Aubrey called me, using a feature on our phones known as FaceTime. We could chat, we could see each other as we talked.

It was fun to carry our phones around and show each other what our respective yards looked like, under their blankets of snow.

With a touch of a button, Aubrey’s sweet face transformed into a “drawing”, a living, moving, talking animation. I love that my grandkids are all so techie. She laughed as I tried to duplicate what she did, without success. I’ll have to be shown the next time we are together. I’m grateful for the fun talk and for learning something new about my phone.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Winter Wonderland

As I snapped photos of this early snowfall, I was most drawn to the backyard garden. I’ve learned to appreciate this personal paradise year around. Each season brings its own charm and beauty.

I seldom see the garden cloaked in a layer of snow, even during the winter. It’s so breathtaking. Magical is a better word. Familiar plants and tables and containers change with the snow and I am enthralled with the unfamiliarity of this space that I know so well.

Every time I see snow falling and piling up in the garden, I wish for a working lamppost next to the path, similar to the one in the Narnia stories. Even without that beacon of light, the garden is welcoming and draws me in.

I’m so grateful for every gift this snow day brought to me today. If it’s the only one we receive this winter, it is enough.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Movie Review: Outlaw King

The Scotsman Robert the Bruce, also known as the Outlaw King, began his reign in 1306 as a fugitive. This historical man is the subject of a new Netflix film, which released Friday on the network.

As one with Scottish ancestry, and a deep love for the country, I couldn’t wait to watch this biographical drama.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Outlaw King

Outlaw King stars Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane, Billy Howle, Tony Curran, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Josie O’Brien. David Mackenzie directed the film, which carries an R rating, for violence, language and brief nudity. Outlaw King has a run time of 2 hours and 1 minute.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Oppression and Civil Skirmishes

This story takes place immediately after William Wallace’s efforts to thwart the English by uniting the Scottish nobles against them. King Edward I (Dillane) of England seeks to control the Scots, and any desire to place a king of their own on the throne, by demanding taxation, pressing men into armed service, and creating alliances with nobility.

During this time of unrest and uncertainty, Wallace is killed by the English, inciting rage throughout Scotland.

Robert the Bruce (Pine), a descendant of Scotland’s King David, decides to challenge Edward I. First he eliminates a powerful rival for the throne, then he has himself declared king, becoming Robert I.

Robert the Bruce and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh (Pugh) are inaugurated King and Queen of Scots at Scone on March 25, 1306.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Fugitive King

The news immediately sends a ripple through Scotland and England. King Edward sends his son, Edward (Howle), Prince of Wales, to handle the upstart. Most of the Scottish nobility don’t recognize Bruce as king and fail to support him.

Robert the Bruce narrowly escapes capture when an English army attacks during the Battle of Methven. He sends his wife and daughter Marjorie (O’Brien) to safety while he becomes a fugitive. Not only is Robert trying to establish an independent Scotland, he’s also facing a civil war.

Surrounded by a small group of men led by his friend Angus Macdonald (Curran) and wild man James Douglas (Taylor-Johnson), the outlaw king strategizes. As they seek to draw more men to their side, for the battles that will come, the group seizes one castle after another. The Bruce makes the decision that every castle he takes is to be destroyed because for King Edward to win Scotland, he must garrison Scotland. And he can’t do that unless he has castles to seize.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Fight With Me

As more of Scotland’s people rally to the new king, England’s Prince of Wales closes in. King Edward I dies en route to battle the usurper. His son, whom many see as a weaker man, assumes leadership of the troops.

Robert I uses ingenious tactics to overthrow the superior military force that approaches. He arms hundreds of men with 20-foot-long spears that they hold, straight out in front of them. And he takes advantage of the boggy, marshy land that will become the battlefield. The Bruce deliberately chooses an area where the strength of the English troops can’t be brought into play. The English are knights in armor on horses, and the Scots are men on foot. They lead the unsuspecting English into the mire of the marshes where they become trapped.

Robert’s first victory as king comes in that place, on May 1307, at what is known as the Battle of Loudoun Hill.

Movie Review Outlaw King

My Thoughts on Outlaw King

I appreciate the attention to detail and the authenticity in this gritty action packed film. Fact checking is one of the things I do with historical movies and this one is extremely accurate in the telling of Bruce’s story.

I watched the unfolding of Outlaw King with teary eyes. This was a difficult time in Scotland’s history. Robert the Bruce sacrificed much to keep his country independent. The Scottish people suffered. As the English searched for the fugitive king, they ransacked and burned villages as they went, killing the men, sending the women and children to England.

Bruce’s wife and daughter were taken captive as well and sent out of the country. Fortunately they were recovered, unharmed, later. The King and Queen of Scotland raised a family together. Their descendant, James VI, later became king over both Scotland and England.

Movie Review Outlaw KingThe actor portraying James Douglas, who would become known as Black Douglas.

My Gratitudes

It’s easy to come up with five gratitudes, in connection with Outlaw King.

I’m grateful for this movie, which is in my favorite genre, historical drama. I especially appreciate its accuracy. My Scottish blood thrills to the fierceness of the people, and their desire to live in freedom. My own fierce independence is surely a result of my Scottish ancestry. And finally, seeing the mountains and rivers and lochs of Scotland pierces my heart and creates such a desire to “go home”.

Outlaw King drew from me hearty cheers for battles won, and a sigh of longing for Scotland. I’ll be there again soon. And when I next stand on Scottish soil I will pause to express gratitude for Robert the Bruce, who did so much to unite this beautiful country.

Movie Review Outlaw King

The Art of Snuggling

This cold day, with hints of winter’s impending arrival, encouraged me greatly to stay indoors. Not only did I spend the majority of my time in my creative studio, I practiced the art of coziness, the fine art of snuggling. What I love about practicing gratitude is that I can be aware of what I am thankful for, no matter where I am and what I am doing.

The Art of Snuggling

Snuggling Myself

Although snuggling would seem to imply it is not a solitary experience, I see it as a form of self care. The word can mean “cuddle up”, however, its primary definition is “to settle or move into a warm, comfortable position, protected from the cold.” Originally, the word was a nautical term used for preparing for bad weather. Even though I spent the entire day in my studio, except for a brief excursion into the garden, I did indeed practice snuggling and protecting myself from the cold.

Star Trek Short – Calypso

While I alternated back and forth today, between real estate work and blogging tasks, I paused and snuggled in to watch a Star Trek related short on my computer. I am a life time Trekkie, and I appreciate all things connected to this franchise. The new Star Trek Discovery series, streaming on CBS All Access, is marvelously good. Since the new season doesn’t begin until January 2019, the writers and creators are keeping us in anticipation by offering a monthly Short Trek. With a run time of about 20 minutes, they are easy to watch and oh…so…good.

The second short released last night. Titled Calypso, the story is set 1000 years into the future. An injured man, who calls himself Craft, is picked up in his damaged ship and transported aboard the Discovery. He wakes up in sickbay, alone on the ship. The crew left a millennia ago and never returned. Eager to find his way home, after fighting in a war for a decade, Craft nonetheless gets to know the ship’s AI, Zora.

Stay With Me

She is nothing like other artificial intelligences, that evolve and become a menace. Left alone for so many years, she has become self aware, humorous, kind and eager to please. She has also discovered what it means to be lonely. Zora is delighted to have a companion on board Discovery. She charms her guest with foods such as waffles, and a Taco Tuesday meal, even though Craft doesn’t know what a taco or a Tuesday is.

Zora shares her favorite thing in all the universe with her new friend…a 1957 film Funny Face, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Craft and Zora discover they can share a dance together…and perhaps even share feelings.

In Greek mythology, Calypso lived on the island of Ogygia, and kept Odysseus there for seven years, to ease her loneliness. There are definitely Calypso elements in this short. Overall, it surprised with its depth of emotion, from lighthearted and funny to sweet and poignant. Calypso represents why I am so grateful for this boundary breaking sci-fi show.  I can’t wait for the next two shorts…and the return of Discovery.

The Art of Snuggling

Heading Off a Cold

There is more than one way to ward of the cold. I awoke this morning feeling a bit sniffly, a bit congested in the chest. When I don’t feel my best, I’ve learned exactly what to do. I shift into the deepest of self care modes.

My first line of defense, against a sniffle or an out and out cold, is to up my supplements. I added an extra dose of elderberry sugar free syrup, took a big spoonful of raw organic honey and added more ester C, a powerful form of the vitamin. Read about how these supplements support the immune system HERE. I’m grateful that I am aware of how my body works, and how to best support it when I need a little extra care.

Art of Snuggling

A Pot of Tea

My next line of defense against a cold is to brew not a cup of tea, but a pot of herbal goodness. I added two teaspoons of fennel seed, two teaspoons of lemon balm and two teaspoons of nettle to a large mesh tea ball, and steeped the tea for 15 minutes.

My tea cup was never empty, as it sat within reach on my writing table. That combination of herbs is particularly potent in dealing with allergies or the onset of a cold. Nettle is my go to remedy for the sniffles or a scratchy throat and it works every time. After a day of sipping on hot tea, I feel so much better. The sniffles are gone and so is the congestion in my chest. I’m thankful for nature’s bounty and its healing properties. I feel snuggled and cared for.

Art of Snuggling

Bringing the Outdoors In

With temperatures dipping into the teens tonight, I am not the only one in need of snuggling. I stopped working long enough, during the warmest part of the day, to bring in several plants that would not survive the night’s frosty bite.

Most of my annuals will show the effects of the cold tomorrow, signaling the end of the growing season. However, I moved a leggy houseplant in from the front porch, relocating it to the living room. My cat Rilynn sat and studied it for a long time, working out I suppose why I brought this plant inside. Also moving in from the front deck is a jasmine plant in a large ceramic container.

In the backyard garden, I deconstructed my Fairy Garden, with a bit of sadness, moving the resin pieces indoors and transplanting the miniature spruce tree into a container. The little tree, the jasmine plant and a copper pitcher housing an oregano plant all now occupy my creative studio. I’ve turned to look at the little arrangement several times, lured by the faint scent of oregano and spruce. I have to admit, I’ve smiled every time I look at those plants. My fairy garden pieces are grouped in a new way with these growing living reminders of summer. That corner of my studio feels very cozy and inviting. I will be extremely thankful for these lovely additions in the deep of winter.

Art of Snuggling

Snuggling Buddy

To remind me of the advantages of snuggling together, two of my three cats joined me in the studio, taking turns curling up on my lap. Cats are famous for seeking out the warmest place in a home, and making it their napping spot.

The cold today has kept the felines indoors as well. They snuggled on beds and draped themselves over heater vents and found brief patches of sunshine streaming in this afternoon. Although they make it more difficult to type…insisting on having their ears scratched while I work…their unconditional love and snuggles are welcomed.

I am finally about to leave my studio, after hours and hours creating and working and learning within it. There is a Netflix movie tonight, about Scotland’s Robert the Bruce calling my name. It’s time to take snuggling up a notch and cuddle up in bed with a cat or two…and immerse myself in Scotland’s colorful history.

Art of Snuggling

Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

I’m taking a slight departure from the 5 Daily Gratitudes. Today I’m at last sharing the movie review for Bohemian Rhapsody, the musical biopic of Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury. I’ll combine all five of today’s gratitudes with appreciation for this film.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

This film stars Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Tom Hollander and Mike Myers. Directed by Byran Singer initially and later by Dexter Fletcher, Bohemian Rhapsody carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes and language. It has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

From Smile to Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody is based on the true story of the rise of the legendary musical group Queen. Initially called Smile, the band has just lost its lead vocalist when a young unknown singer, with the self-given name of Freddie Mercury (Malek), boldly asks to step in as the replacement. The other band members, Brian May (Lee), Roger Taylor (Hardy) and John Deacon (Mazzello), reluctantly agree to let Freddie join the group.

It’s a good decision. Freddie’s gifted voice, high energy dance moves on stage and unwavering sense of self, launches the band onto the road of success. Freddie’s girlfriend at the time, Mary Austin (Boynton), encourages him to find his own sense of style, which he does, outlandishly.

“I love the way you move on stage. The whole room belongs to you. Don’t you see what you can be?” Mary Austin

As they rise in popularity, the band changes their name to Queen, at Freddie’s insistence. They acquire a team of managers, a label deal overseen by Ray Foster (Myers) and a legal advisor, Jim Beach (Hollander), who later assumes the role of sole manager.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

Meteoric Rise

Freddie shatters stereotypes as the band gains an extraordinary following. With his showmanship and ability to connect with audiences, and the group’s unconventional and revolutionary sound and lyrics, Queen garners recognition and incredible success. Feeling the need to continually create fresh songs and sounds, the band presents the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” to Foster, eager to release it as a single from their newest album, A Night at the Opera. The six minute long song, with its mix of hard rock, ballad and opera, is deemed too strange and too long by Foster.

The band decides to go out on their own and promote their song…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Live Aid Concert

At the height of their rise to stardom, influenced by people with darker motives,  Freddie strikes out on his own for a time. But in trying to launch a solo career, he suffers greatly.  Cut off from the band members he considers family, and from Mary, whom he declares is the love of his life, Freddie flounders. He becomes caught in a cycle of drugs, alcohol and outrageous parties that last for days. Ultimately, Freddie returns to Queen and to the friendship with Mary, who has been his anchor throughout his adult life.

The band reunites in time to perform at the Live Aid Concert in July of 1985. Even though he has just received an AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads Queen onto the stage and through one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.

Movie Review Bohemian RhapsodyRami Malek as Freddie on the left, and Freddie at the real Live Aid Concert, on the right.

My Thoughts on Bohemian Rhapsody

I’ve appreciated the band Queen since my late teens. I have not really understood why, other than I loved their quirky lyrics on some of their songs. They performed a wide range of music, however, from songs with operatic overtones to classic rock to ballads. I’ve turned to their songs over and over again, during my life, and thrilled to movie soundtracks that included “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. When I learned there would be a movie depicting Freddie Mercury and Queen, I was excited.

And I was not disappointed. It’s fun to see how the band came together and hear the beginnings of songs that later inspired the whole world. Those “behind the curtain” type of scenes made me smile.

One of the taglines of the film, however, is what drew me.

“The only thing more extraordinary then their music, is his story. The music you know, the story you don’t.”

Learning about Freddie’s story, I finally discovered why I have always been drawn to Queen.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

A Bohemian’s Story

I was inspired by Freddie’s story. Yes, there are dark bits, and sad parts, and his crazy, over the top antics….and there is brilliance, and that powerful sense of self, and his desire to make people, especially people who live on the edges, feel connected. Freddie defied labels. If he called himself anything, it was a misfit. And he wanted other misfits to feel that they belonged to him, to Queen. He had a marvelous way of bringing people together and creating a family.

Becoming Freddie

Rami Malek brings Freddie back to life in amazing ways. He wore a mouth piece, to duplicate Freddie’s endearing overbite. And his singing voice, through the power of technology, was merged with Freddie’s and Canadian singer Marc Martel, whose voice is very similar to Mercury’s. Rami had a movement coach who helped him to duplicate every nuance of Freddie’s mannerisms. All that work shows. Rami becomes Freddie.

The man who shows us who Freddie was, has a wonderful quote that sums up what inspires me about the Queen lead singer.

“Freddie was a revolutionary. He was a defiant human being who refused to be segregated and marginalized in any way. You couldn’t put a label on him and what he wanted to do is live his most authentic self. And I think that’s what he preached with his music, and his relationship with his audience…to be exactly what you want to be. I hope people can sing as loudly as Freddie did and own every truth of theirs, and not feel like they have to hide anything…and to enjoy exactly who they were meant to be.”  Rami Malek

Yes, those words, that’s it. He shone brightly, Freddie Mercury did, and for too brief of a time. I wished I’d known more about him while he lived.

And so my gratitudes today are these: I am grateful for movies like Bohemian Rhapsody that give me a deeper glimpse into an extraordinary life. My appreciation for Freddie Mercury has expanded. I’m thankful for his music, for his life and most of all, for his desire to be who he knew he was created to be. He offered himself to the world through his music. And my bohemian spirit connects with this man, this self proclaimed misfit, and joins his rhapsody, his enthusiastic, ecstatic expression of being.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody




The Colors of Autumn

This was a perfect fall day, cool without being cold, breezy with a promise of rain cloyingly in the air. And everywhere, the colors of autumn awakened the senses.

It’s easy, on such a glorious day, to find much to be grateful for.

The Colors of Autumn

Anthony William Live

I just happened to be on Facebook when my health mentor popped up with a brief live video. Anthony spoke, with enthusiasm, about several foods that are extremely beneficial for liver health. Among those was dragon fruit, also known as pitaya.

My interest was piqued because I’ve felt drawn to purchase dragon fruit and try it for the first time. Now I know why! I noticed the fruit in the produce section at Walmart recently. I’m looking forward to trying it by creating a dragon fruit smoothie. The fruit’s deep magenta color certainly fits in with the colors of autumn.

The Colors of Autumn

Restoring What Was Broken

I have a mug that I use often for brewing tea. A mesh infusion basket holds loose dried or fresh herbs and fits within the mug. The ceramic lid caps the mug so the tea can steep properly.

Back in May I tried unsuccessfully to find the same mug for my mom. The kitchen store I purchased mine from had closed. I could not locate a similar mug anywhere, at that time, and bought a different type for Mom.

Every time I use the mug I mutter that I hope I never break it, as it seems irreplaceable. The inevitable happened. I dropped the lid and it broke into two pieces.

Rather than tossing the broken lid, Greg glued it back together for me, using a non-super glue type of Gorilla brand adhesive. I’m so grateful! And beyond that, he found a similar mug online, when I could not last spring. I’ll be ordering a “just in case” replacement!

The Colors of Autumn

Bloggers Helping Bloggers

I’m very thankful for a new Facebook group I joined. Founded by Sasha Cristina, her intention is to encourage other bloggers who self host on WordPress.

If you have a blog, or you are thinking of starting one, check out Sasha’s FREE 30 Day Hustler’s WordPress Challenge, on Eat, Travel, Hustle. I’m on Day 3 and even though I’ve been blogging for five years, this info is helping me take my blogs to a higher level.

The Colors of Autumn

All the Colors of Autumn

After spending several hours on the computer this afternoon, I surrendered myself to the outdoors. The grey clouds piling up provided a neutral backdrop for the brilliant foliage and tall, waving grasses.

Greg accompanied me. We chose to walk in the neighborhood. Recently work was completed in this area, after months of labor, resulting in new sidewalks and curbs, and the resurfacing of the streets. Finally, the neighborhood is looking finished, after the tornado of 2011. It won’t ever look the same…that old neighborhood is gone. However, it looks inviting with blocks of new houses, young trees and signs of life and activity.

I’m grateful that the twigs planted seven years ago are maturing into trees and that children laughed and played in yards today. And I appreciate that I can walk the neighborhood again without concern about stumbling over broken, uneven sidewalks.

The Colors of Autumn

Wearing the Colors of Autumn

The cooler weather invited me to don a hoodie. I love the colors of autumn and I love jeans and boots, hoodies and layering on clothes. Fashion wise, this is my favorite season. Perhaps because of my hygge tendencies, being cozy is so centering to me.

Today, in honor of the season, I wore an orange hoodie that my friend Cate gave me a couple of years ago. She gifted it to me because Journey was my word for that year.

Wearing the hoodie brought back memories of my dear friend, who has since moved away, and appreciation for how far I have journeyed in the last two years. I am deeply grateful for Cate and my progress.

As the rain moves in, I am snuggled beneath a blanket. The wind is scattering the colors of autumn as the leaves let go of branches and dance wildly.

“Autumn paints in colors that summer has never seen.”

The Colors of Autumn

Counting My Blessings: 5 Daily Gratitudes

Working in my creative studio today, appreciating the sunlight streaming in and my little gratitude pumpkin, I realized I was counting my blessings, literally. November brings with it Thanksgiving, a holiday grounded in being grateful. I’m inspired this month to practice intentional gratitude, in a new way.

In the past I’ve kept a blessing journal, writing down five or ten things daily that I’m grateful for. If you’re never kept a gratitude journal, it’s harder than you think to come up with new lists of blessings each day.

This year I choose to use the blog to chronicle five blessings a day, five things I am thankful for, and capture them by way of photos and a few words.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

5 Daily Gratitudes

This exercise raises my awareness of the many blessings in my life. When I keep a journal, I may write down things I’m thankful for that are unconnected to the day I just experienced. Mountains may go on the list, or Scotland, or walking in nature.

The difference this year is that I’m taking a photo of each person, thing, place or experience that I’m thankful for. These will be real time blessings, encountered throughout my day. Such a game keeps me mindful, engaged, in the flow and open to receive, since I can’t plan every blessing in advance.

Today’s blessings:

1. Appreciation for My Creative Studio

I recently cleared this room of clutter, again, and added inspiring items to keep me motivated and moving forward toward my dreams. I’m dearly loving this space, and spending a great deal of time in this pretty little room. In the afternoon sunlight filters in through the six windows, enchanting me and reminding me to take a break and have tea time.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

2. Hibiscus Lemonade

I made this healthy, easy to prepare drink this afternoon instead of hot tea. The recipe comes from Anthony William, and it’s included in his new release Liver Rescue. I’m grateful for the delicious tart flavor and the healing benefits of this lemonade.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons dried hibiscus or 2 hibiscus tea bags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes at least. Strain tea into a mug and place in fridge to chill.

In a small pitcher whisk together 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 4 tablespoons raw organic honey, until honey is dissolved. When hibiscus tea is cooled, stir into lemonade. Enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

Read about the health benefits of hibiscus.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

3. Liver Rescue

I just received this new book on Tuesday. The fourth by author Anthony William, this book focuses on healing the liver, which in turn heals a host of health issues including aging problems, brain fog, cancer, eczema, psoriasis, gallbladder disease, gut problems, hormonal disorders, inflammation, insomnia, mystery hunger and many more.

I’ve learned so much about my body and what’s going on within it through Anthony’s books. I’m grateful for the incredible healing I’ve experienced as well. The information within Liver Rescue will take my health to a new level. I’m taking notes as I read.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

4. Sweet Potatoes from My Garden

As cooler weather arrives, my garden is slowing down. Last week I dug up the sweet potatoes in the raised bed veggie garden. What a treat it has been to prepare baked sweet potatoes. Tonight I felt such a sense of accomplishment as I washed up a batch of these little blessings, in preparation for trying a new recipe featuring sweet potatoes. I grew this food!

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

5. Chili Sweet Potato Fries

I checked out a plant based cookbook from the library. The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook, created by Melissa Costello, offers planet-friendly fare that is easy to make and so delicious, while boosting health as well.

Chili Sweet Potato Fries

2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick lengthwise fries.

2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons chili seasoning

Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cut potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle fries with with chili seasoning and salt. Toss potatoes to cost evenly. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until fries are browned on outside and tender inside. Let cool 5 minutes.

I served the sweet potato fries with:

Lemon Dill Aioli Sauce

In a blender (I used the smaller attachment) blend 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, 1/4 cup vegan mayo, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 garlic clove, finely minced. Makes a little more 1/4 cup of sauce.

The sweet potato fries and aioli were so good! The chili seasoning adds just a touch of spiciness that pairs well with the sweetness of the potato. And the lemon dill aioli…yum!

I buy Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise, from Natural Grocers. It’s made from aquafaba, the water off of cooked chickpeas, and it is vegan, non-GMO, and egg, soy, gluten and sugar free. And I promise, it tastes like mayo! I use it as a base for several sauces.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

Let’s Play a Game of Blessings

The idea for the 5 Daily Gratitudes came to me this afternoon, as I paused to appreciate the sunlight streaming in and expressed my gratitude aloud. The Dream Giver whispered to me, “Do you want to play a new game?”

I always do. I’m always ready to play games that teach me new truths as I learn and grow and have fun.

Play along with me, during Thanksgiving month. Find one thing, or five, or ten, to be grateful for each day. Write them down in a journal, make lists, draw pictures, take photos…keep some kind of record of the things you are thankful for. Count your blessings, one by one. And I’d love it if you shared some of them with me.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

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