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Pass the Gratitude

Thanksgiving time again!  And the race is on!  Who’s going to host?  Where is Uncle Alan go to stay?  Who can pick up Grandpa?  Can you bring over the card table and chairs?  Does this turkey look done?  Did anyone think to pick up cranberry sauce?    With all this noise and internal chatter it is so easy to forget the most important part of Thanksgiving-  the special sauce.  That certain something that makes everything this holiday taste so much sweeter… Gratitude.

“WHOA!  I thought that this was going to be a simple piece about how nutmeg is the secret to an awesome pumpkin pie!” 

I know, this is sorta deep stuff when all you want to be thinking about is how to get this holiday done and everyone fed and happy.  But what I have learned is the surest way to actually being happy and joyful is to practice gratitude.  The truth is that practicing gratitude brings joy into our lives.   What you focus on will expand.  When you allow yourself to feel gratitude, concentrating on what you have, you will begin to have more.

I began my own gratitude practice this year.  Maybe I watched one too many of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday’s or maybe I was just tired of feeling like I was missing something.   I started to live with the idea that it’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful

So I’m presenting a challenge.  This holiday season, maybe for the next 30 days,  try to incorporate a couple of gratitude practices into your life and sit back and watch the internal shift.  What I discovered was a greater compassion and understanding. So instead of being frustrated, you choose appreciation. The more grateful you become, the more you have to be grateful for.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:


  • Can’t be wrong when you write- Gratitude Journal-  Every night list 5 things that you are grateful for.  It can be ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life-  As you look for moments to be thankful for; you will begin to see more and more of them in your daily life.  Any way to journal is fine but I use an ipad app called My Gratitude Journal and it keeps me on task (http://happytapper.com/gratitude-journal)
  • Pray Attention-  Start your day with a grateful affirmation or prayer-  Marianne Williams, a thought leader in spirituality and the author of A Course in Miracles, has developed several short non-denominational prayers.  I enjoy her morning prayer. Check them out on Marianne’s website http://blog.marianne.com/prayer/archives/2004/11/morning_prayer.php
  • Say Grace-  One simple way to get the whole family in line with gratitude is to gather around the table each evening and say what you are grateful for.  If your kids are participating, some responses could be as simple as “I’m grateful we didn’t have broccoli tonight” but other times you might hear something as meaningful as “I’m grateful that I have a mother like you.”  Now that truly is a joy!
  • Still the one-  Try to sit still and meditate.  Thinking about the one you are grateful to have in your life can actually lift your mood-  Try a simple 3 minute guided gratitude mediation http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/04/meditation-on-gratitude_n_3894660.html
  • Good Read-  Reading books on gratitude practice can be enlightening and offer further options on how to incorporate some useful practices.  I enjoyed reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown,  Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Ann Lamott, and The Four Agreements, by don Miguel

Because so many people tend to skip gratitude in their rush to get to living; or to get to the next big thing; or to simply get it all done, there is actually one day in the year set aside just for the purpose to get people to stop, remember all the gifts they do have, and to appreciate their lives.  Take this time to show gratitude and you will be filled with joy.  Not just on this day but for all the days you employ this practice.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!  

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  • The British man who killed four people during a London rampage had made three trips to Saudi Arabia: He taught English there twice on a work visa and returned on a visa usually granted to those going on a religious pilgrimage. More details about attacker Khalid Masood's travels, confirmed by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Britain, emerged Saturday amid a massive British police effort to discover how a homegrown ex-con with a violent streak became radicalized and why he launched a deadly attack Wednesday on Westminster Bridge. The embassy said he taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, with legitimate work visas both times. He then returned to Saudi Arabia for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent and made on an 'Umra' visa, usually granted to those on a religious pilgrimage to the country's Islamic holy sites. The embassy said Saudi security services didn't track Masood and he didn't have a criminal record there. Before taking the name Masood, he was called Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes. Masood drove his rented SUV across London's crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, before being shot dead by police. In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling him a 'solider' who responded to its demands that followers attack countries in the coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. British officials said security at Parliament will be reviewed after new footage emerged that showed the large gates to the complex were left open after Masood rushed onto the grounds. There are concerns that accomplices could have followed him in and killed even more people. The footage from that day shows pedestrians walking by the open gates and even a courier entering Parliament grounds. Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair told the BBC that changes to the 'outer soft ring' of Parliament's security plan are likely in the aftermath of Masood's attack. The new footage follows earlier video that showed slight delays and confusion during the evacuation of Prime Minister Theresa May from Parliament as the attack unfolded. Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record in Britain dating to 1983. In 2000, he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking, according to a newspaper account. Masood's last conviction, in 2003, also involved a knife attack. One victim, Danny Smith, told The Sun newspaper that Masood had stabbed him in the face with a kitchen knife after an argument just three days after they met. Hundreds of British police have been working to determine his motives and are scouring Masood's communications systems, including his possible use of the encrypted WhatsApp device, to help determine if he had any accomplices. Still, police have released many of those they took in for questioning in the case. One 58-year-old man remains in custody for questioning after being arrested Thursday in the central English city of Birmingham, where Masood was living. Authorities haven't charged or identified him. A 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester has been released on bail and faces further inquiries. Police said Saturday that a 27-year-old man arrested Thursday in Birmingham has been released. Eight others arrested in connection with the investigation had been set free earlier, including a 39-year-old woman who had initially been freed on bail but now faces no further police action, police said Saturday. Details about how Masood became radicalized aren't clear, although he may have become exposed to radical views while an inmate in Britain or while working in conservative Saudi Arabia. It's also not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.
  • RADFORD, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina sheriff says a newborn and the baby's 2-year-old sister have been found stabbed to death.Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin tells WRAL (http://bit.ly/2n1S80h) the bodies of 4-day-old Genesis Freeman and 2-year-old Serenity Freeman were found Saturday in the woods near an intersection close to the city of Raeford.Before they were found, their 30-year-old father Tillman Freeman was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and child endangerment. Authorities said the father refused to cooperate with the investigation into the children's whereabouts. TRENDING STORIES: Plane crashes near Cobb County home; 1 killed Company will pay you $10K a month to travel, stay in luxury homes Home Depot accused of unsafe practices; Criminal investigation launched They have not said who they think killed the children, who were reported missing following a domestic dispute. Freeman's wife was in a local hospital when the children disappeared.Details about the domestic dispute were not immediately released. It's not clear whether Freeman has an attorney.
  • Tens of thousands protested Saturday under sunny skies in London against plans for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. The Unite for Europe march, which saw many people carrying bright blue EU flags, came just days before Britain is expected to begin its formal separation from the other 27 nations in the EU. The crowds observed a minute of silence at Parliament Square as a tribute to the four victims killed and dozens wounded in an attack Wednesday on Parliament. Many bowed their heads as Big Ben chimed and placed flowers at Parliament's gate to honor the victims. Police did not provide a crowd estimate. Organizers said more than 25,000 people were present. There was also a smaller anti-Brexit protest march in Edinburgh, Scotland. Organizers considered delaying the long-planned march because of the attack — in part to avoid putting extra strain on British police — but decided to go ahead. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the crowd that 'democracy continues' despite the assault. 'We stand in defiance of that attack,' he said. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday, setting the Brexit process in motion. Negotiations are expected to take at least two years. Britain voted in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU.
  • Landen Lucas buried his head in a towel as time ran out. Devonte' Graham, on the verge of tears, walked off the court with his jersey pulled up over his face. Coach Bill Self fiddled with his tie a bit and stared blankly into the crowd as his players headed toward the locker room. Kansas came up short — again — as a No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks and their faithful never get used to the disappointment of losing in regional finals, but this 74-60 loss to No. 3 Oregon on Saturday night was excruciating. It happened at the Sprint Center, the Jayhawks' home away from home 40 miles from campus. There were 18,643 fans here to see it, almost all of them in blue. The Jayhawks had blown out their first three tournament opponents by an average of 30 points. Two nights after knocking out Purdue 98-66 in the Midwest Regional semifinal, they looked like an unstoppable force. Oregon, however, was irresistible, with Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks combining for 44 points and Jordan Bell just missing a triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight shot blocks. This was the second straight year Kansas has lost in regional finals, and the Jayhawks have dropped five of their last seven in this round since 2004. Four of those losses happened when they were No. 1 seeds. 'They all stick with me, and they'll stick with the players who've been part of it,' Self said. 'I'm disappointed more for them than I am for me. They put us in a situation to play for the highest stakes, and today we came up short. The one thing that did happen, and it's hard to admit, the best team did win today. Today. I didn't think we put our best foot forward like we have all season long.' Frank Mason III, a front-runner for national player of the year, scored 17 points in the first half and single-handedly kept the game from becoming a rout. The dazzling freshman Josh Jackson picked up two quick fouls and wasn't a factor until the second half. Graham, who scored 26 points against Purdue, was 0 for 7 from the field and finished with three points. 'I think we started the game really tight,' Mason said. 'We didn't take good shots to where we should have just moved the ball and draw the ball downhill and create easy shots for each other.' Kansas did pull within 6 with 2:50 left on Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk's 3-pointer. Then the Ducks caught a break. With the shot clock running down, Tyler Dorsey flipped up a desperation 3. The rebound went by two Jayhawks and right to Bell, who passed the ball back to Dorsey. This time Dorsey didn't miss, and the Ducks pulled away. 'That,' Mason said, 'was a critical possession.' Jackson, who had all 10 of his points and 10 of his 12 rebounds in the second half, said it would take him a while to get over this one. Expected to be a one-and-done player and high NBA draft pick, he wasn't ready to say whether this would be his last game at KU. 'I've never been in such a tough position like this and lose such an important game,' he said. 'It really hurts. It hurts more to see guys around me. Just seeing the seniors. We really wanted to send them out the right way. It just hurts that we couldn't do that.' Last year the Jayhawks were the No. 1 overall seed and lost in the regional finals to eventual national champion Villanova in Louisville. As a No. 1 in 2011, the Jayhawks were upset by No. 11 VCU in San Antonio. In 2007, it was a second-seeded UCLA that beat them in San Jose. The Jayhawks missed out on going to the Final Four for the first time since 2012, when they were a No. 2 seed and advanced to the title game, where they lost to Kentucky. 'I can't believe how hard our guys tried,' Self said. 'We just couldn't really get out of our own way today.' ___ For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25