The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine      November 21, 2003    PAGE THREE      
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  Featured Articles
 News & Product of the Month
 Holidays and Holy Days
 The Wonder of Gratitude
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 Grace For The Graceless
 Gratitude Starts on the Inside
 Giving Thanks
 The Power of "Dainty"
 Seeing Beauty
 Thanksgiving Feast!
 Cooking with Jarret Hughes
 Eating Out at Work


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                    The Wonder of Gratitude by Beverly Knauer

Beverly Knauer is better known to those at the Talking Low Carb Forums as Moongoddess, where she shares her insights, empathy, and support with other low carbers every day.


         Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
         It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can
         turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude
         makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
                                                                            Melody Beattie


The beginning of the holiday season brings to mind the classic film, It's a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. The most memorable scene for me was when George returns home after finding out what life would have been like had he never been born. A previously suicidal George now rejoices at his mundane town life, joyously shouting as he runs through the streets:

"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!"

A transformed man, he approaches his home with a new vision and admiration, and says "Oh, look at this wonderful old drafty house!"

George, having taken a trip through turmoil and struggle, emerged on the other side with a newfound appreciation for life. With eyes no longer veiled by discontent, he sees that the routine and ordinary existence he had scorned is now something to be grateful for.

Tragedy has the power to jolt us into a newfound perspective. Perhaps that is its purpose.

I received my jolt after a series of raging wildfires tore through my city. Firestorm 2003 came to San Diego County as a blaze that progressed into an inferno of death and destruction. Precious lives were lost, along with destroyed acres of land and thousands of homes.

The local news told of one woman who woke to the sound of police pounding on her door. She was horrified to find flames raging outside her kitchen window. There was no moment to spare - she grabbed her children and her car keys, and fled. The fires roared without warning and bore down with no mercy. The ferocity of the fire, with its iridescent orange glow, raged throughout a county held hostage by fear.

Another story highlighted a man who rose to find the blaze too close to home. The wind howled as the horrifying flames inched behind his garage, while ash, smoke, and debris swirled above his swimming pool. He hardly had time to grab his dog and a photo album before fleeing. With smoke so black he couldn't see a foot in front of his face, he pressed forward into the unknown.

Life will never be the same for many. Forced to take refuge at an American Red Cross Center, some had only the clothes on their backs. They watched the television, waiting to learn the status of their friends, their loved ones, their homes. Some were miraculously spared. Sadly, others were not. Clothing, furniture, photographs, heirlooms, art work, beloved objects, cars, pets, projects in development, books - all lost in the charred rubble. The devastation is overwhelming.

When I awoke the morning after the fire had first seared through the city, I realized the significance of my blessing. My house was left standing - the fire had spared my loved ones and me. A new sensation filled my heart that morning, and I experienced hikarat hatov, which means, literally, "recognizing the good" in Hebrew. Gratitude.

Gratitude is about affirmation - the practice of appreciating what is already yours. When you allow gratitude to enter your mindset, you see with clarity how much good there is in your life. If you've lost your home, but you still have your family and health, you have something to be grateful for. There is almost always something to be grateful for.

I now have a new way of seeing the things around me. The insignificant trivialities of life, like the peeling linoleum in the kitchen or the barking dog next door, no longer bother me. Gratitude can't coexist with discontent.

It is human nature to put so much emphasis on the deficiencies in our lives that we barely perceive the good. But when our sole focus is on changing things we don't like about our lives or ourselves, we lay the foundation for conflict. The means to achieving gratitude, then, is not to change the things around us, rather to change our corresponding attitude. When we stop finding the imperfections in our experiences, we learn to accept what is. Gratitude lends a softening to our hearts, an opening of our eyes, and a burgeoning curiosity for what we can give back to the universe.

Tragedies are opportunities to take a good look at ourselves. If we are willing to look at the totality of our experiences, we may find that we can focus less on the "holes in our lives" and find the beauty in what is. Acceptance means stepping into the flow and away from the struggle - moving toward a state of grace.

Our world, at times, is going to be filled with anguish and pain. These experiences allow our hearts to cry - they bond us as humans in unity. To know the pureness of jubilation, one must know sorrow.

Gratitude is a component of contentment. Living in a state of yearning and want forces us to live in a void. Feeling appreciation and thanks for what we have fuels a sensation of peace within. When we focus on what we lack, we get distracted from the abundance of blessings we receive on a daily basis. A simple change of focus can lead to profound insight.

As a result of the pain my city has endured, I found the transforming power of gratitude. Today, I am grateful that the sky, which had been blackened with smoke and ash, is blue again, and like George Bailey, I discovered - It's a Wonderful Life.


                                                          

Copyright © November 2003  Beverly Knauer and Low Carb Luxury



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