The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine      November 21, 2003    PAGE SIX      
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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


Almond Flour

Sugarfree TWIST

     Gratitude Starts on the Inside by Lora Ruffner

                    "One is taught by experience to put a premium on those few people
                                who can appreciate you for what you are."
                                                                      Gail Godwin


We all know that Thanksgiving, by its very name and nature, is about giving thanks; about recognizing the things and people in our lives that give it meaning and bring us joy.

Every year since I began this site, I've taken the opportunity to make such a list. (It follows on the next page.) But this year, I've noticed more and more people who don't take the time to recognize their own strengths. They credit all the positive steps in their lives to others, and sell themselves short. I see it in the emails I receive; I see it in posts in our forums; I see it in those around me on a day-to-day basis.

So before you compile your list of those you're grateful for, I want each of you to consider an exercise. I want you to take some quiet time alone and look yourself over. Then sit down and answer a couple of questions for me. They're questions I myself was asked recently, and made me stop and evaluate myself in a way I'd never done before. It can prove cathartic, but more importantly, it can allow you the luxury of introspection. Perhaps you'll see you should include yourself in your list of gratitude.

The Questions:

1. "What makes you unique?"

Take a few paragraphs to discuss how you see yourself. Take a philosophical stance, or a more hardedge practical one — whichever feels right to you. The point is to center this small study on yourself, rather than those around you.

2. "What are you attracted to in life?"

Allow yourself to really explore what draws you in — in your relationships, your career, or any other facet of your world you'd like to look at. I find that to see what fascinates us is to see who and what we are. Be as honest and open as possible. No one need see what you write unless you choose to share it with someone.

Each of us is gifted in some way, each of us unique. I hope that by taking the time for a little self-exploration, you'll come to value and pinpoint those gifts in yourself. If, in the end, you decide you'd like to share what you've written (with a loved one, a friend, or even with me in an email), feel free to do so. But if it feels private, that's okay too. This exercise is not just about you; it's for you.

I'll share with you my own answers to these two questions, with a small disclaimer attached: I wrote them from the heart and they are personal in nature. Along with my strengths, I included some of my weaknesses, for each of us are whole people, comprised of both.

What makes me unique?

I believe we are each the sum total of our experiences — both good and bad — plus that extra spark brought to the mix by our "inner us"... our souls. In that regard, I find that I am grateful for all elemental experiences — even those that caused hurt, anguish, and backward movement in my life. Without those challenges, I would not be who I am at this moment. I would not have attained depth. I would not be "me."

Someone recently asked me why I feel that so many obstacles are put in our way as we struggle to learn, and grow, and strive for our goals. We are tested; we are challenged; the obstacles are life. No one ever learned a thing from those times in life that came easily. It is our hardships, and how we deal with them, that are our true teachers.

One of my favorite observances is that obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something... or if we just think we do.

I am, in a word, extreme. I do very few things in a small way. When I commit, it is with my all. When I love, I love always. I am a loyal friend who cares deeply.

My highs are very high and conversely, my lows are very low. I would not change this facet of my being. I do not wish to live an ordinary life. I need to fly. Flight requires risk. Flight requires the conquering of fear.

I am my own harshest critic and it's not unusual for me to so batter my own self-esteem that I do myself a little damage. So I realize I am a work in progress.

What attracts me in my life?

To take a serious look at what pulls at me; what draws me in and holds my interest — is to see the very dichotomy that is my personality. I am attracted to both that which is so very like me, and to that which is completely different from me.

Why do I feel drawn to people similar to myself? It is human nature to drift toward that, which feels familiar. In people that remind us of ourselves, we feel a natural bonding; a sense of finding a kindred spirit.

But there's a more fascinating reason to pair oneself with one so like us — to study ourselves — our own motivations, our own flaws, our own beauty. It's a chance to take yourself down "off the shelf" and give your being a good once-over.

How many times have you seen someone very much like yourself make a decision, or go in a direction that you yourself have gone? When you see it from a distance, a new perspective opens up. You say, "Oh my God... now I see it. Now I see why I did that!"

Then there are those that are quite different from us. They attract me even more. They are our "what ifs." In them, we see what we could be — either for the good, or the bad.

In spending time with those people who are very different from ourselves, we see firsthand "the road not taken." And with some, an element of danger, risk, and excitement is present. It is here that passion can take flight. And this excitement is most definitely my passion. I find the rush to be intoxicating at times, and while I'm a sensible person who knows to take such experiences in small and measured doses, I would not wish a life that did not contain them.

In the end, I am drawn to diversity — a life rich in friends and experiences culled from many different pools. My friends are Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. They are Atheist, Christian and Jew.

In causes and lifestyles, I am drawn to truth. My dedication to a low carbohydrate lifestyle did not come from a book, a recommendation, or a need to follow a "fad." It became my reality because of my own research; my own analytical data, and my own anecdotal evidence.

My dedications to other causes are similarly based on my own observations. My core philosophies are far too important to me to be based on society's (or the media's) opinions. I follow my heart and my head to determine my own personal beliefs — about spiritual matters; about political matters; about lifestyle choices.

I try to remain open to new ideas, and to change. My beliefs may have been borne of time and research, but I am not above changing those beliefs if evidence to the contrary warrants it.

As to what attracts me in a man — well, that's another question that defies an easy answer. I have friends who always know exactly what they look for in the opposite sex. They look for a certain "type." I'm different; I am attracted to males who stand out from the crowd... who are a departure from the "cute guy" type that seem to be stamped out by the thousands at some grand manufacturing plant. I've often wondered if they'd have a bar code stamped on their butts, were I to check. But there are a few things that I find usually "get" to me...

There are those few men who have made a rich and lasting impression on me... who remain on my mind after seeing them, hearing them, or being reminded of them. They can make you laugh one moment and give you shivers the next. They have that rare mix of humor and sensuality.

Then there are those that are an enigma... that puzzle that sits high atop the shelf, daring you to take it down and begin to try to make the pieces fit. They are almost dark, almost sweet.

I am very attracted to intelligence. In fact, I struggle with near-bigotry where stupidity is concerned. For someone to be an integral part of my world, they must be bright, engaging, and aware. I have little use for anyone unwilling to try in life, and I sometimes struggle to remain courteous around such people. My patience can be worn quickly.

In looking at why I was attracted to my career, I have to say that it allows me freedom and expression. It lets me create something new; to give life to what was merely a concept only a short time before. I get to do what I love in my life, and to help other people become more. I get the chance to make a difference; to change people's lives. And in the end, that's what it's all about.

I hope you'll find some illumination in answering these questions for yourself. Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.

Copyright © November 2003  Lora Ruffner and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003  Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury

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