Day 28 of a daily gratitude practice: On hunger

We are hungry.

We are blessed with abundance, yet we hunger.

California winter fishing. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Gratitude for fishing in winter on the West Coast. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

We hunger for peace of mind, and peace in our time.

We are blessed with plenty, yet we want to be empty.

We are so grateful for the people who saved our lives, who risked everything to rescue us, that we are always hungry to do more to help them.

We are especially grateful, every moment, for the people in our circle of love, who kept us — keep us still — from the abyss.  They have withstood such pain, just to protect us with that love.  Our gratitude knows no end for their patience and understanding and remarkable kindness.

We are blessed with good health, yet we are surrounded by so much injury and illness, we want to do more to soothe wounds, whether psychological, physical or spiritual — or, in the case of many wounded warriors, sadly, all three.

Our gratitude is boundless and we are setting out to discover the bounds of our energy.

When you read this today, and think of a daily gratitude practice, know this.

It will transform your life.

You will, as Carl Jung advised, learn to break down your life (ego) rather than building it up.

At the end of this 28-day exercise, we hope you are learning the transformative power of gratitude too.

We are filled with gratitude, and hope you can find your way to that fullness too.

Please spread gratitude today, however empty or full you are feeling.

The world around you hungers for it.

With gratitude, always, to the American men and women in uniform (scrubs too!) who saved our lives on March 4, 2002.  If you share our gratitude, please thank someone in the military today.  And/or donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, or any non-profit that helps military families.

Day 27, gratitude practice: Reaching out in gratitude

Gratitude can begin with a touch, and it can be life-saving.

planet gratitude©

planet gratitude©

We know this because of the hands of then-Major Mike Wright, whose warm touch on a very cold night in Afghanistan helped save our lives.

One touch, one prayer.

Just when we thought Kathleen was dying from a terrorist attack in the desert, Wright reached out and touched her hands.

It was a touch so powerful that it helped save her life, and transformed our lives as much as that would-be terrorist’s homemade bomb.

Mike went on to become a colonel, then retired from the Air Force after an illustrious career.

He recalls that touch with four words he has repeated often in churches and other public forums:  “It was a miracle.”

We took him kayaking in Canada for the first time, to show our thanks.  Our family showed its gratitude by adopting Mike and his family, and his extended family has become our military family.

Mike’s prayer out loud in the middle of the Afghanistan desert — amid the rumbling of a dying plane — is memorable still because of his first touch.

Research shows touch is one of the most powerful ways we can show compassion to a stranger and bond with others — from babies to basketball players.

We’ve worked with people whose depression or PTS (post-traumatic stress) was so severe, they couldn’t bear to be touched, because it seemed to sharpen their agony.

Yet a single touch can be the difference between tragedy and coming back from the brink.

Just ask the Colonel.

With gratitude and love, always, to Mike Wright and his — OUR — extended military family.  We owe you nothing less than our lives.

Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein at Indiana’s DePauw University is considered the foremost authority on the power of touch.  Search his academic writing and popular books to learn more, at the Touch and Emotion Lab.

Day 26, gratitude practice: Listen, listen in gratitude

We love sound.

Washington's South Puget Sound. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Grateful for the sound of gentle waves purring against South Puget Sound sands. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

We love the sound of the ocean when it’s still, lapping at the edges of land as gently as a kitten’s purr.

We love the sound of the ocean when it’s roaring, when the wind is whipping up the waves and sending the sand in little tornado-twists around our ankles.

We love the sound of the Pacific when surfers are screaming through curls, when a humpback whale breaches, when dolphins crest the waves over and over again near us.

A radio producer freelancing for NPR recently shared her love of sound with us, when we asked the new graduate why she picked radio, perceived by many as a dying medium.

Sound, she said.  I love sound.

She loves sound so much she gathers with other sound-loving freelancers to produce their own radio channel.  We celebrate their passion.

We hear a baby’s gurgling and fall in love.  We hear a baby cooing and giggling and we’re in love.

Today, walking among the pines, we heard two — two! — woodpeckers knocking away at the trunk, seemingly as exhilarated by the sudden Pacific Northwest sunshine as we were.

Best sound today?

The sound of a beloved one, caught on a cellphone message, releasing joy bottled up too long.

War stilled that laughter for awhile.  Peace has released it.

We are grateful, ever-grateful for that sound of joy.

TOMORROW:  The importance of touch

Day 25, gratitude practice: Staying the course among the ungrateful

Gratitude is a state of mind, a state of peace.

Redwoods, CA. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Grateful for California redwoods, during the rainy season. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Peace of mind.

So, we’re not surprised when encountering people so negative about their world that they can’t see any reason to be grateful — or express it.

We’re always grateful, finding something to appreciate even in the worst of times.  Gratitude in the best of times is easy; staying the course among the ungrateful is more difficult.

Yet gratitude is in us, around us, and lifts us.  There is nothing so bad we can’t find good in it (most of the time), or, perhaps, in spite of it.

Ah, love and joy.

May your life be full of both today.

Gratitude practice, day 24: Quiet, so very quiet

There are days when you expect to be grateful to the skies because of a long-anticipated, larger-than-life event.

Reflections, Point Ruston, WA. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Grateful to be on the water at Point Ruston, WA. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Real life intrudes.

So gratitude shrinks to being ever-so-quiet.

Gratitude rules, no matter what you throw at it.

NEXT:  How to stay grateful among the ungrateful.

Day 23 of a gratitude practice: Overcome by gratitude

One of the best elements of a gratitude practice is being open to more gratitude.

It’s listening to your heart, and feeling it grow.

Street sign, University Place, WA. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

Service to one’s country isn’t always recognized, but our gratitude grows. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

Believe this.

There may be times when we think our sorrow can’t be any deeper, or when the hurt can’t be more painful.

We seize on a reason, then, to be thankful.

We divert our self-absorption, our whining, our self-pity into something beyond ourselves.

We’re reminded of this today because of public service, of good work done for our country without recognition or praise.

We are overcome by gratitude, and our hearts grow.

With gratitude to all those who serve — especially those whose good work is not known or appreciated by many.

Day 22 of a gratitude practice: Babies and more babies

We are waiting for a special baby, yet we are surrounded by babies.

Blogging our Blessings©

planet gratitude©

Work on a military base, live in a military community, and you’ll meet more babies — from Africa to Asia to America — than you ever have before.

We greet new parents (they’re conspicuous by boundless joy) on our daily walks, at the office, and in the neighborhood.

Most parents are happy to let you coo — we don’t try to touch.  We ask if the little one is their first, and s/he almost always is.  Again, with the conspicuous joy.

We always thank new parents, and they get it.  This stranger is the future of our community, our country, our planet.

We’re sending a silent message that we appreciate loving parents taking care to keep their babies healthy and safe.  We always thank the parents for sharing their joy with us, strangers delighted by families.

There are so many babies in our military community that people joke there must be something in the water.  It seems to us that the parents grow younger …

We’re waiting for a special baby in our family, the first great-grandchild in the three continents where our relatives live.

We’re grateful for this sweet anticipation.

TOMORROW:  Public service and being overcome by gratitude