Focus On the Good…And Watch It Multiply

Last week we talked about how to avoid negative people. Today, let’s talk about what we can do to not become one of them. I’m a big believer in having an attitude of gratitude, which most of you know. Gratitude can take you places skill never will. A wonderful side effect of gratitude is that you’ll begin to automatically focus on the good. When that happens, the good in your life will grow (or at least your awareness of it), thereby giving you more to be grateful for. It’s a beautiful cycle of cause and effect.

We become what we think we are. Whatever our heart is full of, whatever we focus our thoughts and attention on, becomes bigger in our lives, because it becomes bigger in our perspective. The bible advises us to think on whatever is good, whatever is holy, whatever is of good report. That admonishment is not just about getting the feel goods. It’s about a simple premise: what we focus on changes who we are, and who we are is built upon what we believe in. In other words, focusing on the good increases our faith.

I’m not saying we should walk around with our heads in the clouds, totally unaware of what’s going on in the world around us. I’m saying that we should be mindful of how much negativity we take in on the daily. The world won’t end if we turn off the news, put down our phone, disconnect from social media. In my personal experience, I’ve found that it keeps right on turning. The difference is that I’m a better person for guarding my heart, mind and spirit from negativity and opening up to the good around me. I think you will be, too.

I can feel some of you thinking, “But what if my life isn’t full of a lot of good right now?” I hear you. I totally understand that feeling, especially when your gratitude muscles aren’t that strong. So I’ve got a little story for you.

When I was a young girl, I used to sit in testimony service at church. Inevitably, various members of the congregation would rise to their feet and proclaim, “I thank God for waking me up this morning and clothing me in my right mind. I thank Him for the activity of my limbs.” And so on, and so forth.

This is the part where I would roll my eyes. Because how can a mind be clothed? And what, exactly, are limb activities? I’m older now, and just a little bit wiser. You see, I now understand those turns of phrase for the traditions they are. I come from a long line of Southern born African-Americans. I don’t need to go over the history of what that means for my historical lineage. Suffice it to say that we were no strangers to lack, and fear and injustice. And so it makes sense that in a world where many did not wake up in sanity, nor with the full movement of their limbs, that my ancestors’ version of focusing on the good was to call out the basic human rights that many take for granted.

So, if they found a way to focus on the good, what’s our excuse?

Choosing to focus on the good has less to do with your circumstances and more to do with the way you view them. There is always some good to be found. Train yourself to see it, cling to it and watch it spread. What would happen if you spent a little time every day listing three things you’re grateful for? No matter how big or how small? You’ve got nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain.

What are you most grateful for today?

 

 

 

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Tiffany
My Beautiful Sister Tiffany

This weekend will make it one year since my sister Tiffany had a series of strokes that left her unable to walk, talk or eat without a feeding tube. Now she’s blogging about her experience! If that doesn’t show the faithfulness of God, I don’t know what does.

I am so humbled and grateful that she is still here with us. She definitely cheated death and I thank God all the time for that. I also thank each of you for your prayers and monetary donations during our time of need.

Enjoy Tiffany’s life affirming advice below, and excuse the occasional curse word. She struggles with aphasia, which is a side effect of the strokes that causes language disturbances. Reading her blog is just like talking to her and I LOVE it!!!

Tiffany D Gross

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I’m so thankful to be alive! Yes! Yes! Yes! Now it’s time to live it up!
It’s coming close to the 1 year date of the strokes. March 13, 2015 it was a Friday. I’m glad I never was a very superstitious person because that fact alone would have really messed me up. I wanted to write something profound. Something really deep to share from my year of recovery. So here we go @#?! happens.

If you want to know how insignificant you are just get sick. If you want to know how smart you are get sick. You want to know what and who is important to you get sick. If you want to know who and what deems you important get sick. The only thing positive about any bout with any illness is the crystal clear clarity it gives to what is important to you. Plus knowing you have…

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I’m “Going Dark” for the Holidays!

Joy

I’m ‘going dark’ for the holidays. That sounds cryptic, however it’s anything but. I’m taking time to slow down as much as possible, and that means scaling back my blogging. And by scaling back, I mean I’m not posting so much as picture of my big toe.

Instead, I’m going to take time to actually enjoy the holidays and all that they entail. I’m planning to take time to breathe. To be fully present at every gathering rather than mentally running down my to-do list and anxiously wondering how soon I can leave without being rude.

I want to bake lots of desserts that I shouldn’t be eating (even as I type this I’ve got cinnamon rolls baking in the oven). I want to slow down when I see spectacular Christmas lights and watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. I want to laugh often and loudly.

I want to daydream and star gaze.  I want to take time to be quiet. To be still and present, celebrating all that I have to be grateful for. I want to write without limits, which is my truest form of meditation.

I’m doing all of this and more because if 2015 has taught me anything it’s that time is not promised. Loved ones who are here this Christmas, may not be present physically next Christmas. I encourage you to celebrate them while you can, and savor every moment. One day the memory of them will be the thing that keeps you going.

Count your blessings. Embrace your traditions. Celebrate the here and now.

May your holidays be filled with much joy, peace and love!

XoXo,

Faith

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Confessions of Faith: Beauty for Ashes

beautyThe month of June is usually full of melancholy for me. At least it has been for the past few years. The explanation for my feelings of melancholy and sadness I’ll save for another day. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that gratitude lifts depression. So my confessions today are expressions of gratitude for some of the blessings I’ve received over the last couple of weeks. These occurrences reminded me that I am loved, appreciated and valuable. For all these things and more, I’m grateful.

My Uncle came to paint our house…well technically it’s his house, since we’re renting from him. But that’s besides the point. While he’s been there working over the last week, he put my new license plates on my car (I was riding dirty with my Texas tags for years!), promised to replace my brake pads, fussed at me for remembering to set the house alarm but forgetting to actually lock the door, and gave me pointers on improving my sweet potato pie recipe. It’s a blessing to have family near by, and our conversations about everything from the Rachel Dolezal media circus to the progress I’m making on my new book warmed my heart.

I was feeling a little discouraged about the progress I’m making in building a writer platform, and briefly entertained the thought of giving up. I wondered if I should put all the time and energy I’m currently giving to writing and publishing into something else. That same week I got an email from The Knowledge Maven stating how much she’s enjoying reading my book! It validated me that a fellow writer thought enough of my writing to make sure she told me that I’m good at it and to keep going with it. I also received a shout out from a fan on Facebook who said that she can’t wait to read my next book. Those expressions of recognition lifted my spirits and reminded me that I have to keep going. There are people all over the world who could one day be blessed by the work of my hands. That can’t happen if I give up.

Gratitude

What I’ve said so far are the major things that come to mind, but there are so many little things that make me pause and say ‘thank you’. Laughing at Melissa McCarthy in the movie Spy on a beautiful sunny day while feeling ultra feminine in a cute polka dot sundress. Discovering the Thai chicken salad at Panera Bread (try it, you’ll thank me later). Finally taking time to get the air conditioning in my car repaired; If you’ve ever experienced a Southern summer, you’ll know what a big deal that is! Seeing two men pray in the parking lot of Chick-fil-a. Visiting the library for the first time in over a year; I was almost dizzy with the hypnotic smell of books and knowledge. Rediscovering my love of cooking since my mama hit the road for the last few months. A text message from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. Getting a perfect eye brow wax. Finding a discount code for a business expense. Singing at the top of my lungs while washing dishes.

When it’s all said and done, all of my good outweighs the bad. There are so many random things that I’m grateful for, and when I begin to count my blessings, I give myself permission to live in the here and now rather than in the ache of the past. Does the sadness still creep up on me when I least expect it? Yes, and that’s ok. Because I’ve learned to sit with it for a moment, then let it fly away on the wings of gratitude.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 KJV

XoXo,

Faith

Have you ever felt like giving up on your passion? What keeps you going? What are you grateful for today? 

 

Photo credit: Nick Kenrick.. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: jmtimages / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

It’s My Blog-a-versary!!!

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Woo-hoo! I can’t believe its been one year since I decided that my thoughts and opinions were worthy of needing a public outlet. The time has flown by. My only regret is that I didn’t start blogging sooner. I’m extremely grateful for all of my delightful followers (yes, I’m talking about YOU). I’ve ‘met’ so many wonderful people in the blogging community and I’m looking forward to meeting many more over the next year.

Being that this is a milestone, I took the time to really think about the direction I want this blog to take. I’ve enjoyed posting about writing tips and publishing, as well as books and authors. I’ve been overwhelmed at the positive feedback for my poetry and fiction. I’ll continue to post on those subjects, but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that it’s gotten a lot more personal over the last couple of months. I’ve been experimenting with blogging in the style of its original intention, which is as a sort of public diary. Hence, my Confessions of Faith category was born. Over the next year, you can expect lots more of my personal shenanigans. I look forward to letting y’all all up in my business. Close family, friends and random co-workers, you’ve been warned!

I was blessed to officially become a published author this year! Please wait a second while I literally pat myself on the back…ok, I’m done. I’m so proud of my contributions to the BEST ANTHOLOGY EVER! I’m also looking forward to dropping my first solo project this December. Yeah, I kind of like to randomly speak in the rhetoric of an independent music producer. If you’ve read this post, then you totally understand. Anyway, my book, When the Real Thing Comes Along is my debut novel, and since a writer is only as good as their last published book, I’ve got to get started on novel number two asap.

All that means for you is that a) you’ve got an awesome book to look forward to reading and b) I plan to pretty much limit my posts this year to once per week. There’s only so much time in a day and a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Thank you for devoting a few minutes of your time each week to reading my random thoughts and mostly unsolicited advice. I hope you’ve found some inspiration and encouragement here along the way.

XOXO,

Faith

BTW, what do you think of my new theme? What would you like to read more about here? Holla at your girl!

This is what I’m singing all day in celebration of one full year of blogging. Giving myself a round of applause!!!

Bravo-Ledisi

 

Photo credit: ADoseofShipBoy / Foter / CC BY