Wednesday, January 07, 2009

sometimes, it almost seems like magic

I just finished a book last week entitled Thank You Power by Deborah Norville. Now I'm reading Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir. The latter was a Christmas gift from Eric, the former is a book I learned about by reading Reader's Digest.

Now, at the risk of sounding "new agey" (which is something that I've been accused of before, even though I consider myself to be really down-to-earth, never mind the fact that I have a prism hanging from the rear-view mirror of our car, and write about my experiences with Dream Books just about every chance I get), I must admit that I learned a few things from this book, and that I've put some of the principles taught there into practice, with good results.

Ms. Norville starts out by sharing an experience, a time when she was stuck in an airport, trying to get home in the middle of a storm when her flight had been cancelled, along with the flights of pretty much everyone else in the airport. To make a long story short, she found a way to be grateful for the situation, and almost immediately she was offered two different seats on two different flights home. I was impressed with her story, and I shared it with Eric.

(Eric took one look at the cover of the book, which features a picture of Deborah Norville looking particularly blonde and svelte and told me that her getting offered those seats had much more to do with a couple of businessmen wanting to sit next to a nice looking woman than the fact that she found a way to be grateful in her hardship. I just think he's being cynical, don't you?)

Anyway, oddly enough, I read this particular account at the end of a pretty difficult day. Things had been stressful at work, the house was cluttered and messy, the laundry wasn't done, there were dishes in the sink, I was annoyed with Eric just on general principle, etc, etc. You know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you? I was lying in bed, feeling foolish for my actions and attitude (which only made me more angry) when Heather started to fuss in her crib. Groan. Didn't she know that it was time for her to sleep? I had no patience for her fussing, and I was getting madder and madder at her, at Eric, at my situation, and at my life. Grrr.

Long story shorter, we were able to get Heather settled down, but I was still in a horrifically bad mood. Eric picked up on the mood (it was hard to miss after all), and gave me plenty of space, so as not to find himself in the line of my fire. This made me even more upset, because I felt like he was avoiding me (which he was, which I don't blame him). I lay there in bed, reading this book, getting more and more angry, setting myself up for a long hard night of restless, frustrated sleep.

And then a light inside of me turned on. I realized that I was reading this story about the power of gratitude, while at the same time, being completely ungrateful for anything in my life. I decided to try my own version of a little gratitude experiment. As I listened to Heather whimpering in the next room, I scanned my mind for something in this situation that was worthy of my gratitude.

It didn't take long. The previous day, a neighbor of mine told me of one of her nieces. She was born in July, and as a complication of her birth, her esophagus was damaged, and she was unable to make any sounds for several months. However, to everyone's joy, this little baby had just cried her first cry the week before, at six months of age. As I remembered this story, I said a little prayer of gratitude, thanking Heavenly Father for giving me a daughter who has been able (and more than willing) to cry since the day she was born.

Oddly enough, and you aren't going to believe this but it's the absolute truth, within 10 minutes Eric and I were in complete harmony with each other once again. He wasn't trying to avoid me anymore, and I wasn't frustrated with him (or anything else) either. Within 30 minutes after that, I was sleeping peacefully, and I stayed asleep for several hours (until Heather woke up for her middle-of-the-night milk run).

With an experience like that, I couldn't just stop there. So, for the past little while, when I find myself feeling edgy or stressed or frustrated or anxious, sometimes (when I remember), I'll stop and find something to be grateful for in the situation. At times I really have to stretch, but so far I've always been able to find at least one thing. The results have not always been as dramatic as the night I thanked the Lord for Heather's ability to cry, but the fact is, my situation has always improved a least a little bit after I've taken the time to say a little thank you.

Nice, huh? I think so.

* * *

In other news, there really isn't much to say. I went visiting teaching tonight, and enjoyed it. Eric started back to school on Monday, and so far, things seem to be going well. As for Heather, she's starting to adjust to being back in our little quiet home after spending Christmas vacation surrounded by loud and loving cousins, uncles, grandparents, and aunts. Things are good. We're a lucky threesome.

These posts have been a bit long lately, haven't they? We're probably due for a short one soon, right? I'll see what I can do.


Jeri said...

Don't shoot me, but it sure is nice to hear that you get annoyed with Eric and your life. (just like me, with the exception that I don't really spend my time being annoyed with Eric;) I'm always hearing about your gratitude journal, and all the cheesy "still-mostly-newlywed-new parent-bliss" stories, and I think, "what is wrong with me? Why am I not enjoying life like that??"
I've decided that I am normal, and so are you - you are just better at expressing (and blogging) gratitude than I am. BUT I have learned from you, I am now trying to jot down both a daily gratitude and a Tim gratitude every day. THANK YOU for the inspiration.

PS - the book Stolen Lives is a good one. I really enjoyed it, as much as I can "enjoy" that type of story. I am just amazed at how they survived that ordeal! happy reading; you normal-grateful-girl you!

Bamamoma said...

As you know, I'm a big fan of GRATITUDE and really believe what President Monson always says about gratitude determining your attitude. I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting in the chemo clinic feeling pretty sorry for myself until I start to count my blessings. That hymn really sums it up, I think. Maybe Ms Norville read the hymn? :)

So, why is it that I can't ALWAYS remember to be grateful? Silly me...

Thanks for sharing. I agree with Jeri, you are very good at blogging about your life.

Charlotte said...

Jeri--as soon as I clicked the "publish" button on this post, I had second thoughts about it, wondering if it was disloyal of me to tell the world that I sometimes (more often than you would ever guess by what you read here) get annoyed with Eric and my life. I decided to leave it up, knowing that everyone feels that way at times, and assuming (hoping) that people would understand.

But, it never EVER occured to me that you--you who lived with me and experienced first hand how moody and particular and inflexible I can be-- would ever think that I had changed so much that I now spend all my days being as happy and cheesy as the picture I tend to portray here would indicate!

Not a chance! I have bad days--lots and lots of them, and generally I have WAY more post-Heather than I used to have pre-Heather (ask Eric--ask my mom--you could ask my dad, but with this cancer thing, I'm trying to give him a bit of a break). I don't really purposely leave the hard stuff out when I post here--it's just that on the bad days, I'm too busy crying, gorging myself on chocolate, and feeling sorry for myself to want to do any writing. By the time I do feel like writing, I'm in a better mood, and there's more good to write about.

So, I won't shoot you. Thanks for easing my fears about this post. Disloyal or not, I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

Heidi--I feel a bit dismayed to realize that what you learned by listening to a Prophet of the Lord, I had to learn by reading the words of the Anchor of "Inside Edition"! What have I been doing during General Conference, anyway? Sigh. Oh well. Onward and upward, right?

Jake said...

I sure do enjoy the comments that get credited to Eric on this blog.

While today's Eric insert pales in comparison to my alltime favorite ("Besides, the people who read your blog? They love this kind of crap!") it was nonetheless enjoyable for me.

I'm "grateful" you include these tidbits in your posting.

Charlotte said...

Just doin' what I can to keep my three male readers comin' back for more.

Bamamoma said...

Oh Charlotte, keeper of gratitude journals and she who makes people smile with her words and music, I think you allowed Ms. Inside Edition to give you some practical examples as a reminder of what you already learned from a Prophet of the Lord and from your own wonderful life!

Carol said...

Charlotte -
I was having my usual busy day trying to 'herd the cats' at work while others want my time and attention. I had turned to the internet to look up one more piece of information I needed for another grant submission and something enticed me to click on the bookmark to your blog. How grateful I am that I did.

While I am not married, I do have many of the frustrations everyone else does. Today it is work and the people here. Now that I've stuffed enough chocolate for an elephant and have the upset stomach to go with it, I find that I could have had a "G 8" instead! (Instead of a V8 - I'm calling time to take a break G8 - G for grateful - 8 for the minimum number of minutes I'll look for great things in my situation).

So, here's my summary. I have a good job (and another one in Denver starting in February). I get to look at the mountains outside my office window whenever I want. I get to look at students sludging through the snow when I don't have to. My employment allows me to do all kinds of fun things like travel, spoil my nephews and niece, shop til I drop, etc. I have a great friend in Charlotte who shares her life with all of us and reminds us to do more with our lives. Thanks and hopefully next time I am stressed, I'll have a G8 and avoid the juck of too much chocolate!

Laura said...

Oh...I so believe in the power of thank you and the rewards of gratitude.
I am pleasantly SHOCKED that Deborah Norville wrote this book.
Her reputation didn't used to be very impressive. (As far as being "nice" goes.)

Kami Anderson said...

Charlotte you always make me see things in a better light. I look forward to your blog updates to see what new thing I can learn from you. By the way what is Dream Books and why haven't you ever told me about it? Love ya!

Charlotte said...


A dream book is a book that you put together with pictures of the desires of your heart. Long story short, I found an account of one in "Chicken Soup for the Soul", eventually put together my own, and starting seeing miracles happen. Long story long--go to these two links: (click on "read an excerpt)

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