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Deliberate Gratitude

The world is a messy place. Our lives are messy too. In the middle of chaos, confusion, heartbreak, sickness, terrorist attacks, and political turmoil, gratitude can so easily feel too far out of reach. Many of us have seasons in our life, maybe even right now, where “(Blank) is all wrong” leaves our lips much more frequently than “I’m thankful for (blank).”

But what if we looked at gratitude not as a reaction when everything is great, but as a necessary response under all circumstances - the good, bad, ugly, sad, and beautiful?

Melody Beattie, author and expert on codependency, writes, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” She’s not denying the chaos, confusion, lack, smallness, or even fear. She’s simply suggesting that we change our perspective.

Gratitude, then, becomes a choice rather than only a feeling, an outlook on life rather than a momentary whim. Sure, sometimes things are simply marvelous and we deeply feel thankful in that moment. But those other times, when life feels ugly and terrifying, we do not naturally feel like giving thanks. We naturally feel miserable. But this is when must choose gratitude anyway and make it the lens through which we see everything.

Making the decision to give thanks often requires that we step outside of ourselves and outside of the fog to thank the universe for things that may not have crossed our minds before: the warm sun on a cold day, toenails to paint, lungs that breathe even while we’re sleeping, options at a grocery store, or mail that has our name on it proving we have an identity.

This deliberate gratitude translates into a better attitude. We begin to flip the script on our lives. Instead of “I have to,” we can feel thankful that we “get to.” Instead of looking in the world in fear of everything that can go wrong, we can look around us at everything going right. Even if all you can think of is a beautiful sunset or your favorite sweater.

You see, when we choose gratitude, we are actually practicing self-care. We remind ourselves again and again that we are worthy of a good life, so we refuse to be taken down by the mess. We are combatting fear and surrounding our lives with good vibes.

To be clear, this isn’t denial. Thankfulness isn’t about pretending life is not hard sometimes (or a lot of the time.) The poet Jack Gilbert wrote these beautiful words: “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” He knew life is hard and didn’t deny that fact, but he knew we must be stubborn enough to choose gladness, a form of gratitude, anyway. 

In a few days, maybe some of us will sit down with family at a Thanksgiving table, maybe some of us won’t. Maybe Thanksgiving brings the happiest memories, or maybe it’s a ticking bomb of bad memories. No matter the circumstance, we can use this holiday as a reminder: we deserve to live a life that is not bogged down by the mess, but a life that chooses a perspective of deliberate gratitude.

                     

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Skin Health - When is it Time to See Your Doctor

We want our skin to look good, right? Really good. Having vibrant, youthful, radiant skin is a valid goal for men and women alike, and it is worth the energy, time, and money spent to capture it. The confidence we receive from beautiful skin is priceless. But, with the pun entirely intended, this outlook on skin is only “skin deep.”

As the largest organ in our bodies, our skin actually tells us what’s going on. It is our job to pay attention. When our skin starts showing signs of possible problems, we should act fast and go see a doctor.

In a world where we do just about anything to make our skin beautiful, we should also do anything to make sure our skin stays healthy. Our lives literally depend on it. Here are a few steps to take:

Check Yourself

Do a self-check of your skin with a mirror every month; get a little personal with yourself! Look from head to toe to see if anything looks different or suspicious. Don’t forget to check your scalp; it is an area that’s often forgotten, but shouldn’t be.

Know Your Spots

When you have an idea what all the spots on your skin look like, you will be able to know if they have changed or if new ones have popped up. Here is a list of things to look for in your moles will warrant a visit to the dermatologist including asymmetry, multiple colors, and large diameter.

Look For Other Signs

Though moles should always be on our radar, they are not the only sign of a skin problem. Keep an eye out for bumps that do not go away or bleed, growths, open sores that do not heal, or any skin changes that seem unusual.

Use Physical Sunblock

While a little bit of sunshine can be great for our bodies, we all know by now that too much sun exposure can wreak havoc on our skin. Physical sunblock is always a good way to go. This includes wearing hats, choosing loose clothing that covers more of your skin, finding shade, and utilizing sunscreens with zinc oxide. And yes even in the darker autumn months, this is still important.

See Your Doctor…NOW!

If you have a suspicious sunspot, mole, or anything that makes you even slightly uncomfortable, a visit to the doctor will be a better investment than any you spend on creams or lotions.  Please don’t wait to see your dermatologist right away. If it ends up being nothing, at least the visit gave you peace of mind. You can also take some time to ask them about your beauty routine to make sure you are using non-irritating healthy ingredients for your skin.

Natural rejuvenating ingredients for skin health

 

                     

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Is a Sense of Play the Best Anti-Ager?

What if each of us slowed down a second and started thinking about anti-aging in a new way. What if the choices we make with our attitudes and hearts had more to do with anti-aging than any cream or serum ever could?

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane (farther stroll for some than others) and go back to a time when the fear of aging was the farthest thing from our minds. We were kids. Kids are often only thinking about one thing – “Can I play now?” Maybe that right there is the key to keeping us young.

Play.

Kids play because that is what they are designed to do. Kids want to laugh, build things, run around, dress up, and play make-believe. They are innocent, imaginative, and full of wonder. They see the world as a big, beautiful place full of possibilities.

This is because they haven’t realized yet that the world is ALSO a big, scary place full of heartaches and dangers. And all those vast possibilities? Some of them are flat out terrifying. We know this now because we’ve lived long enough. Time is the ultimate teacher. Once we realize that the world is hard, we so often lose our sense of play and trade it in for responsibility, safety, a guarded heart, practicality, seriousness, hardness, bitterness, and even cynicism.

Naturally, those aren’t the qualities of youth; those are the qualities of an old person. This is what ages us. We try to diligently fix the lines our faces, but what if we changed the lines on our hearts and minds first?

The trouble is we cannot undo what has been done. We cannot erase the difficulties, the pain, the terrible experiences, and loss.   As the Milton wrote, “Innocence, Once Lost, Can Never Be Regained. Darkness, Once Gazed Upon, Can Never Be Lost.”

 So what are we to do?

We must demand our sense of play back. Our imagination. Our laughter and wonder. If the world will offer us negative experiences, we cannot also allow it to take our sense of play. The poet Jack Gilbert wrote, “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”   Instead of becoming serious and cynical because the world is hard, we can become playful for the same reason – because the world is hard enough already!

We play with make-up

But at the same time, the world is also deliciously good, and it still offers positive, wonderful possibilities. We can adjust our outlooks and attitudes to reflect that truth. It does not mean we forget reality, throw out wisdom, or toss all our responsibilities to the wind. But we change our response to all that the universe hands us: with the good, we celebrate, and with the bad, we choose that stubborn gladness and play anyway.

Maybe the best anti-aging serum does not come in a bottle. Maybe the best anti-ager is play – doing fun things simply because you enjoy them, not because they serve a higher purpose. Laughing because something was funny. Goofing off because it is amusing to do so. Throwing parties with those you love. Dancing. Singing. Making sand castles (or maybe just relaxing in the sand watching kids build sand castles!).

We can bring back our youthful sense of play without losing our experienced sense of wisdom. We can stay soft and sweet while still recognizing that there are very real things in this world that are anything but playful. Maybe our greatest act of rebellion against an often-harsh world is playing anyway.

So, yes, go ahead and buy your cosmetic tonic for youth, and some of our oils are wonderful for this. With frequent use, you will find your skin firming and the appearance of your wrinkles decreasing. But also reach back and find what made you youthful from the very beginning - what made your inner child or inner teen be filled with wonder and excitement. Then do that thing. Play a bit.

                     

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