Rise and Thrive




Photo by Johannah Reimer

Photo by Johannah Reimer

If you've been reading my blogs, you know I tend to attract tragedy, kinda like an after-school special. There have been various disasters from breaking my back to contracting Lyme disease to losing our apartment and everything in it this winter. (We have since remediated, rebuilt and are back in our cozy beloved home). I mention this because believe it or not, these disasters, which, btw, I'm totally done with, have increased my level of gratitude a million fold.

Every migraine has made me insanely appreciative of the days without. Every night of insomnia has me leaping for joy on the mornings I wake up and realize I've slept! When we became homeless, we had numerous offers of couches and guest rooms and ended up in the perfect situation. When I broke my back, my fridge was filled with food. Gratitude has brought me to tears, it's brought me closer to my vulnerability, community, family, and reality. Every time I drive into town, the view of the mountains fills my heart and stops my mind. It's too easy to feel gratitude living where we do. It's too good.

I do remember parts of my earlier life where I lived more in expectation. So when something good happened, it was more like, 'is this the way I want it? And, of course, this should happen or be given to me, that's what I would do'....and it was a hard way to be. And I wonder if I was perceived as ungracious. It sends a shudder through me. When I relive those memories, it's hard not to feel shame. And I certainly didn't feel happy at the time. Expectation vs. gratitude, easy choice.

 And what's cool, is that it's not just good for us, for our health, well-being, longevity, and heart, turns out it is good for the whole world. According to scientist Christina N. Armenta-

"Gratitude triggers self-improvement

Gratitude also inspires us to perform kind acts for others.

Feeling grateful compels us to reflect on our relationships and leads us to feel closer and more connected to others. Importantly, this increased closeness helps motivate and sustain our efforts at self-improvement.

'Elevation' is scientists’ name for the uplifting feeling we get when we see people performing great acts of kindness; it is associated with a warmth in one’s chest and feeling moved to be a better person. Importantly, feeling elevated inspires people to be more generous, perhaps to emulate the moral acts of others.

Gratitude spurs us to become more humble because expressing gratitude takes the focus off of ourselves and forces us to recognize that our successes are due, at least in part, to the actions of other people."

Seems like he who must not be named in the oval office could use some freaking gratitude, eh?

Here's a how grateful are you quiz- it's fun and interesting   

Another point Dacher Keltner, my hero, makes is that gratitude comes from the feeling we have been given something. From ourselves, from someone else, from the universe, from a spiritual being, etc... but the being given something is key. So of course, we danced gratitude for our bodies, ourselves, each other, the dance, the music and the gift of giving ourselves this time to be at home in our bodies. Major freaking gratitude for all my Awaken the Dancers. I swear every part of my life has gotten better since teaching dance- my self-confidence, my trust, my joy, my health, my self-love, my love for others, my acceptance of my body and everybody, etc...I could go on. But that's another mailing. For now, examine the role of gratitude in your life. It's a win-win.

Here's what the dancers had to say:
"I'm grateful that 7 weeks after my surgery I can dance barefoot without pain!"

"I am grateful for all of you."

"I am grateful for all the space I have in my life, even though it's painful, so new things can come."

"I am grateful for so much, I'm having a hard time saying one thing- just so so much. Thank you all for dancing this with me."

"You're never too old to have a happy childhood. This just came really alive for me. Thank you for the dance of gratitude."

"I am so grateful for dance and how it's changed my life."

"I'm very thankful for all the new opportunities that are coming into my life."

"I'm grateful for the pause to slow down, take some space, and dance."

"I'm grateful to be learning how to be grateful. It wasn't a big word in my life, but here in this room, it's beginning to appear in me. And I'm grateful to your dancing today, Luca."

"I'm grateful for breakdancing all my teachers who have taught me breakdancing." 

"I'm mostly grateful for my son Luca, of course, and I'm going to say something I never thought I'd say- I'm grateful for Lyme because it's giving me an appreciation of my body and for when I feel good!"

Dance Invitation: Explore the dance of gratitude, when your heart is the attitude of gratitude, how does it change the way you move? What's it like to dance when you're not there? Is there a time or way of moving, that helps you be in gratitude?