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This Phoenix Speaks

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Thirty Days of Gratitude: Reflection

When I first began the Thirty Days of Gratitude experiment, I had an idea that it might help me; however, I could not have anticipated the breadth and depth of the positivity I would encounter as a result of following through with it.

I have to admit that some days were easier to write than others. About a week into it, I thought to myself What the heck were you thinking? Blog EVERY day with mid-terms and final projects and divorce issues and holidays coming up??? I must want to go nuts. But then, I wrote the post and realized how much I have to gain by stepping outside of myself every day.

One of those pay days happened to be yesterday. A twitter pal sent me a music video attached with the simple words:  Because I know you are thankful for dancing, here's a special wish for you today. While he had obviously read my gratitude blog on dancing, he could not know how much the song he sent means to me. Several years ago, a cousin of mine tragically died in a car accident and they had the lyrics to that song on the back of the program at her funeral, so ever since then I think of her when I hear it. Until now. Those few words from a social media friend opened the door to another perspective. I listened to it anew, and all the meaning was transformed in my mind and heart.

I have found my fight song--a theme for what I want for me, for you, for my children, for everyone I can ever touch or hope to touch with these words that I keep spilling onto the page. As I reflect on how consistent gratitude has opened my heart, I give thanks for all the good and bad that have brought me here, to you, that I might share my life adventure of hope, love, and faith.

Thank you for being part of it all. 

related link:

My Battle Cry: Canta y no llores

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Electricity

Sitting here contemplating on all the things I am thankful for, I took a moment to look around and mindfully absorb my environment. There is a computer at my fingertips as we speak; a lamp turned on at the table; the hall light is working to wake up children in a gentle way; porch lights putting off a soft glow to help keep my property well-lit, and therefore, safe; and when I finish writing this, I will be using electricity to prepare breakfast and light my bathroom while I ready my face and hair for the day.

Not everyone has unlimited or even any use of electricity. I cannot imagine that life since I rely so heavily on it, but reflecting on how my life would be different without electricity causes me to recognize the luxury of it. I am thankful to have so many comforts afforded by it.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Makeup

Although it seems like an unimportant thing to be thankful for, I didn't want the month to go by without expressing my gratitude for makeup and the many other cosmetics sorts of things I use and enjoy every day. Since entering my 30's, I have come to appreciate foundation and mascara especially, and who doesn't love a really nice lipstick, right? I'm not the type who has to have her "face" on to feel complete--I go days on end with no makeup sometimes; however, I like how I am able to have a sense of glamour on occasion, not to mention the whole accentuating the positive aspects of it.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: My BYU Education

There are not words sufficient to cover the depth of my gratitude for being able to go to the university of my choice. When I had set the goal, I had no way of knowing the circumstances in which I would be once I could attend. I don't want to set forth a long, drawn-out sob story, but needless to say, I could not be where I am today achieving my goals and reaching those dreams without the absolute generous hearts of the donors and facilitators of the scholarship programs at Brigham Young University. My heart is burgeoning with pure thankfulness and love for these complete strangers. Even on my worst days, I always remember how lucky I am to be there. How very blessed and fortunate I am. When I am struggling to keep going, I remember how they, not even knowing me, have put there confidence in me by making it all possible, and I am encouraged to continue working.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Photography

I am quite the novice, but I adore picture-taking. Really good photography has always been something I have sought after, but another thing that has come about since the inception of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is how much I enjoy seeing the photography of other novices. There really is something captivating about seeing something through other people's lenses. It is exhilarating to visit new to me places, enjoy a meal, and even share in the joy of the mundane with friends, family, and complete strangers all via snapshots of varying levels of quality. I am very grateful for cameras, phones with cameras, and the ability to share the product. 

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Scriptures

I didn't always have an appreciation for the holy scriptures, but over time, I have come to treasure them. The direction and purpose I find as I search their pages blesses me beyond anything I can explain. I certainly do not read them as often or as deeply as I ought, yet I am working on improving in this area. The monthly challenge Seeking to Become has aided me greatly in this goal. With a grateful heart, I look forward to seeking guidance from the words of the ancient and holy prophets of God.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Feelings

While some feelings are undesirable, the ability to feel is a gift regardless. We are better able to recognize the happy times from the bad, as well as comprehend how we are getting on in the world surrounding us. I am quite the passionate soul, so I spend a good deal of time feeling. In fact, I cannot imagine life any other way. I am setting a goal to work on not wasting my feelings on those who cannot or will not appreciate them in order to show gratitude for such an invaluable aspect of this existence.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Artificial Trees

It sounds ridiculous to be grateful for artificial (FAKE) trees, but I am serious. If I didn't have my fake Christmas trees, I would not have my Christmas trees up, decorated, and warming my house with all the cheer entailed in that. Some people might buy their tree this early, but I never have, and this year is just not my year for spending money on anything frivolous. It has been a big blessing to have a couple of these lovely things in my storage to use each year. So maybe I am also grateful for a tight pocketbook for it guided me to see how much abundance I enjoy--even in the fake Christmas tree area.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: YOU

As I was pondering on what I am grateful for on this particular day, all I could think to say was you.

It matters not whether I know you so well you feel compelled to read or you found this on a random search and you're wondering Why did this pop up? or we are social media friends living the life of sharing too much: I am grateful for you. My cup runneth over with heartfelt thanks for each person who reads my writing and comes back for more. You have been part of my healing process this year, and I didn't realize what an integral role you would play (and I'm quite positive you had/have no clue) when I set the goal to heal from my brokenness at the start of 2012, but you truly have made a difference.

On days when life seems to be so not worth it due to the constant barrage of negativity, when I don't think anyone could possibly like me--let alone love and appreciate me for who I am, when the tunnel seems so long that there couldn't possibly be a light at the end, there you are.  To each and every one you, I say thank you.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Balance


Every day seems to have this uncanny balance to it. I get whack news; then, I get fabulous news. And the cycle just keeps going. This pattern has been part of my life for a few years now, and I never cease to be amazed at how the unfairness or injustice or whatever it may be continually ends up being made right in a round about way.  In one light-- my life is craptastic. In another more positive light-- my life is deliciously lovely. When I look at everything all together, all I can think about is how much God must love me. It is undeniable. He cannot take away other people's freedom to do as they will, but he can and does inspire others to reach out with the pure love of Christ to keep life in balance, helping me to keep going.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Food

As I walked through the grocery store, I was thinking about how much food was in the place. There was a shortage of eggs in the refrigerated section, but only because of the Thanksgiving holiday coming up in a couple of days. In my life, I have always had more than enough food to eat even when times were tough for my parents and now for myself. I do not know true want in this respect. For the food I have on my table each day and for the ever-present abundance, I give thanks. How I show my gratitude is in doing my best not to waste food and not be wasteful with my means concerning food. When possible, I also give of my means to others in order to provide some relief.

Let us all stop to think of ways we can help others who might be struggling to keep or get any food on their table that we might make gratitude an action word.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Traditions

Whether it's for a holiday or just a family thing, I am grateful for traditions. Life is more interesting when peppered with them.

One of my favorite traditions of all time is going Christmas caroling. My mother took me when I was growing up, and I keep the tradition going with my children. The music of Christmas, both spiritual and festive, enchants my heart.

I recently read a book The 13th Day of Christmas, by Jason F. Wright (New York Times best-selling author of Christmas Jars), that takes a creative spin on one of my most beloved Christmas songs ever, The Twelve Days of Christmas. I love Jason Wright's book for many more reasons though. I was touched deeply by its message. It addresses real issues such as social status change, cancer, old age, and others, all while drawing the audience in as if we were all around the hearth drinking hot chocolate together and reading this lovely book.

To add to this coziness, I would like to present to you an All Things Purple exclusive author video from Mr. Wright to all of us:

In closing, the story truly warmed my heart and caused me to think more mindfully about the people around me and the traditions I keep. I hope you might give it a read. To learn more about the book's message go to: www.the13thdayofchristmas.com

And for Reader Appreciation, please note the giveaway happening NOW for a copy of Jason Wright's The 13th Day of Christmas.

Disclosure: I was given one copy for myself and one copy to giveaway in exchange for this review.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Compassion

Compassion is a feeling that cannot be forced or feigned; therefore, it is all the more valuable when given or received. In my life, I have been the recipient of great compassion on many occasions. Compassion is so beautiful because it is something we need desperately due to the circumstances which have created the need. My heart is burgeoning with gratitude for every ounce of it given to me by God through his divine grace.

I pray we may all acknowledge the beauty of compassion by reaching out to give it more freely as we go about daily life.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Movies

It might seem trite, but I grew up going to the movies with my family, and so I am thankful for such an enchanting and fun way to spend family time. My parents used to take us to the drive-in quite a lot. Also, we were hardcore junkies for getting in to see movies on opening day. I will never forget standing in line with my family for the opening day of The Empire Strikes Back nor opening day with my mom and brothers for Star Wars: Episode I, plus many others.

Today, I spend time with my children watching movies while folding laundry. We look forward to seeing one at the theater every so often. We enjoy the memories made and all the creativity we are able to acknowledge. I am thankful for every happy memory made.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Goodly Parents

While my parents were not perfect, no one can deny the fact that they worked tirelessly to do their best. They set an example for me that I look to even still and, I imagine, will do so until the day I die. I love them for it. I miss them and wish they could be here with me sometimes, but I would not have it because they finally have the peace they always deserved. (I will admit to wishing I could get a hug from time to time.)

I give thanks to God for blessing me with a mother and father who loved me with all they had to give. No one could ask for more.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Literacy

I can't tell you enough how thankful I am for my ability to read and write. I've known how to read for as long as I can remember (honestly, I don't remember learning--I just did it), and, well, writing simply gives me the wings I need to feel  free.

Pondering on how I can show my gratitude for literacy, I realize I am already doing it. Between school, the blog, and my journal, I write every day.  Also, I am going to be an English teacher so I can help cultivate a love of literacy and learning in others as well.

Related Links:

Introduction to Thirty Days of Gratitude
My Children
Seeking to Become
Fresh Water

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Poetry

Sewing of Sails

If only I could send all the brokenness in the world
Out to sea where the current could whisk it away
Into the vast unknown where no one would have to feel it.
Yet sailing off into sunsets is something from books--
Books with  happy endings that never tell the tale
Of when hearts are wounded nor of parting of ways
That happens from time to time and all too often nowadays.

If only I could mend all the hearts in the world
With a stitch or two of kindness that would last a lifetime through
Making all those I love somehow able to feel the happiness
Weaved between the threads that bind our lives together--
Together in harmony and joy with a foundation in reality
Of another world where justice and mercy meet
That God from whence we came before time could teach.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Friends

I cannot say enough about how grateful I am for friends. Every day of my life is blessed by the presence and mindfulness of friends, so I would live quite a different existence without them. Friends come in many forms: my children when they show appreciation for who I am and love me with eyes wide open; sisters-in-law looking to me for advice and love; perfect strangers talking with me in a waiting room; sweet neighbors helping me to make it through a bad day by stopping over to talk or go for a treat run; an online friend engaging with me when I feel lonely and they don't even realize it; and, so many more. I find that friendship is part of the air I breathe, and I am grateful for its invaluable refreshment.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Veterans

To learn more about participating, click here.

I give thanks for the many sacrifices made by those who serve in my country's military. The first thought is to thank those who have lost life or limb because the cost is so high. My highest respect is given to them now and always. In addition, I would like to stop for a moment to add an offering of gratitude for a few of the less recognized aspects of what our servicemen sacrifice while doing their duty. They miss birthdays, baby's first steps, baptisms, weddings, play time with their children, date nights, family meal time, and the list goes on and on. But I would like to add one more aspect I have personally witnessed as a family member of sailors and soldiers, and it is how they inadvertently sacrifice a certain depth to relationships sometimes. Getting sent to battle sends ripples of lasting change throughout their life, thus making a mark on all who love them. My heart is grieved over the disconnect that has touched my life and I am only on the outskirts of the pond. I cannot imagine the grief and pain that others feel who are in the midst of where this stone's throw lands.

For all that veterans past and present have given, I offer my humble gratitude. 

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Love

I know, I know. Love is a broad topic, but I truly am grateful for it. Being able to feel love for others in its several forms is a gift and privilege. The love I have for my friends is different from that which I feel for my children, and the way I feel toward a suffering stranger differs from my sentimentality toward a neighbor; however, love is the the common theme in all of these relationships. Love is why we experience so much emotional pain when we are having problems with others for whatever reasons. Without love, we wouldn't care enough to give the person another thought. With a full heart, I can say I am thankful for every drop of love I've given because I would not feel alive without love for others. Connectedness to others gives me strength. The only hard part about love it that it often gets taken for granted, so it isn't able to heal or strengthen or enliven. I will acknowledge my thankfulness for love by striving to stop taking the love I receive for granted in any way, thus helping to find connectedness with those around me.

Love ties all of humanity together—if we allow it to do its work.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Dancing

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here
As I embark on my first (and possibly last) dance competition ever, I pause to think about what a blessing it is to have such an opportunity.

My mom put me in gymnastics and the typical ballet/tap classes when I was really young, but none of it stuck. I didn't have enough stick-to-itiveness to go any where with it, yet I have always had a desire to learn how to dance well.

When I needed a bit more credit hours this semester, I decided I ought to schedule some happy time by taking Beginning Social Dance AKA Ballroom. The experience has had its ups and downs, but it has been pure goodness overall. One of my friends is taking it with me; I am making more friends; Dance has been a surprisingly great form of exercise; and I am learning how to dance.

Gratitude for having the chance to learn dance fills me with a smile. Thanks goes to my instructor, Trevor, and the ever-helpful TA, Sara, for making my dancing experience so fabulous.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Fresh Water

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here
As the days go by, I have been reflecting on some of the smaller things that constitute my quality of life. One of those things is fresh water. I would just say water for the sake of simplicity, but water is not always usable. My dishwasher and washing machine for keeping clothes fresh could not work properly if the water going into them wasn't clean. Let us not forget being able to drink the water and cook with it either. There are many areas in the world where this level of quality is not attained and people have to purchase water to drink in order to stay healthy. It is a luxury to have free-flowing, fresh water come from my tap on demand and to always have enough.

This past summer, there were many fires in my area, and so our secondary water for the lawn and garden went low or off several times throughout the season. I hadn't thought about what a great luxury having irrigation water at my beck and call was before then, but I have a great appreciation even for non-potable water now.

Having water for daily use is a blessing and I am thankful for it.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: My Children

Every mother I have ever met or can even dream of loves her children. We wish for every good thing for them. They drive us bonkers on a weekly, if not daily, basis. We see them for who they can become. They love us back in such uniquely touching ways.

All of this said, I am moved as I think of the road my children and I have had to travel the past several years. It has been sad, confusing, strengthening, and heartening--a hot mess of love and tears. Yet, they keep going. They keep on looking to me for love, answers, support. They keep me going. My heart is burgeoning with adoration, respect, and awe as I am merely scratching the surface of recognizing their worth as individuals. I do not know where I would be at this moment if I didn't have them.

I dedicate Home by Phillip Phillips to my precious children.

It is a great privilege to be their mother, and I hope they will always know where to find home.

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Books

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here.
If you couldn't tell, I love books. I love reading them; I want to create them; I enjoy reviewing them; and I've found that I thoroughly enjoy giving them away to you lovely people. Books have always played a big part in my life for which I am grateful.

So, in honor of Reader Appreciation Month (no, it's not a national holiday--I just decided it was so because I am so grateful for all of you), I offer you a review of Pingo and the Playground Bully, a children's picture book, and a giveaway of this fabulous book which ends on the eve of November 14th.

Pingo and the Playground BullyPingo and the Playground Bully by Brandon Mull

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a world where bullying never seems to end, books like Pingo and the Playground Bully can make a difference. The simple message it suggests shows all who read it a solution to the ever-present not-so-imaginary monster lurking in the shadows of our society.

The art, done by Brandon Dorman, is colorful, imaginative, and enticing. The coupling of the great message with uniquely expressive artwork makes for a delightful masterpiece of a children's book.

Pingo and the Playground Bully is a picture book, and, yes, it is directed at primary school-aged children, but I suggest it would make a difference at any age in any educational environment.

I recommend it to readers of all ages.

Disclosure: I was given one copy in exchange for this review, as well as one copy to give away to you!

View all my reviews

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Slicing

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here
Since I began participation in the Slice of Life Story Challenge on Two Writing Teachers, I have become so much more aware of the importance and value of online communities. Not only have I become acquainted with a great deal more writerly sorts of folks, but I have been able to cultivate more sense of community within my own blogosphere, which has always been one of my goals.

I am grateful to Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz for creating something so special. I am also very thankful for each slicer who has taken time to comment and make me feel a part of your community. You are all so encouraging and uplifting, and I thank you with all my heart.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Music

From a young age, even before I can remember, my parents filled my world with music. There are photos of me standing on the brick fireplace with a magazine in hand pretending to lead music. I sang in church and school choirs, and I played piano for a few years and flute for junior high and high school. Add in all the 8-tracks, cassette tapes, records, and CDs that brought popular (and not so popular) music into my universe, and you can see how music-immersed life was for me . I fell in love with Elvis, The Beatles, and The Mamas and The Papas before I knew how I had been sheltered. Then-- enter Tiffany, Depeche Mode, The Pet Shop Boys, and the naughtylicious likes of The Beastie Boys and Sir Mix-a-lot (I think my mom wished she never bought a CD player once some of that stuff came onto the scene.)

I love music so much. My life would not be the same without it. I give thanks to all song writers, composers old and new, and performers of good music.  ABBA's 'Thank You For The Music' expresses my sentiments perfectly.

You make life beautiful by sharing your talents.

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Seeking to Become

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here.
As I reflect on my spirituality, I am humbled to see how far I've come as well as how far I need to go. God grants me daily breath to keep living life, learning how to be, for which I am exceedingly grateful. I think about all the roadblocks I've been able to get through and my heart is encouraged to keep going. I am thankful for the inspiration to create my Seeking To Become series. It helps to provide me with some focus and sense of community with those who contribute to the discussions. I am brought to a remembrance of one of my favorite verses of scripture:

 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
Jeremiah 31:25

I know these words to be true because, although I am suffering a great deal, I am touched by God's love for me. I am replenished.

This month is dedicated to tuning into how much there is to be thankful for, recognizing the Lord's hand in our lives, and allowing Him to fill our souls in order to carry on.

I invite you to join me by leaving a comment with your thoughts.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Cousins

I have a gob of cousins. I'm telling you, it's like close to a hundred if you count my cousins' children that I actually see from time to time. It could even be over a hundred for all I know.

But anyways. I have this one cousin who started a blog and he writes in fragmented, dramatic ways and puts real, raw stuff out there for everyone to read. While reading his blog a few weeks ago, I listened to one of the songs he embedded for a post and it was amazing. Amazingly loud. Amazingly purple. Amazingly gorgeous in a loud purple love sort of way.

It made me think about how enriched my life is because I am acquainted with a great deal of my extended family and, I guess, because there are so many of them. I want to express my love for all of my cousins. Throughout my life, I have had cousins making a difference at every turn. You are all so wonderful.

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here.

Thirty Days of Gratitude: Education

 I have been in school for most of my conscious life.

This could seem like a reason to dislike education, but I must say how grateful I am to be able to do something I love so much. I love learning new things. Getting educated is a privilege and luxury many do not have, so I count myself blessed beyond measure.

I thank every teacher I ever had for shaping me into the student I am today. And I thank every teacher I ever will have for helping me to keep learning despite all the troubles that appear to be roadblocks.

For more information on how to participate in Thirty Days of Gratitude, click here.

Thirty Days of Gratitude

As we begin November, I want to focus each day on one aspect of life for which I have gratitude. I have been living life with a famine perspective lately, but by expressing gratitude every day for a month, I believe I will turn this famine into overflowing abundance before our very eyes. 

To show my gratitude for you who read my words and participate in this purplicious community, I have a bit of an appreciation gift as we head into November. There will be a series of book giveaways (one is happening now) throughout the month and we will also have a guest post from a New York Times best-selling author, so keep coming back so you don't miss out on all the fun.

And in case I didn't spell it out clear enough-- I am grateful for you. I am grateful that I have an audience to write to. I am grateful for what you add to my life by sharing your insights through comments. I am grateful to have connected deeply with so many of you.

Please join me in this Thirty Days of Gratitude venture. You can do so by leaving a comment with a link to your gratitude blog post or by simply writing it in the comments section each day. So come back every day or a few times, but no matter what I would love to enjoy abundance together.

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