The perfect Valentine’s Day gift

Would you like to make someone you care about happy this Valentine’s Day?

Would you like to become happier in the process?

If so, write a gratitude letter to someone special in your life.

Your letter can leave you and the recipient feeling happier for months. 

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Gratitude Letters

A few years ago I wrote and shared my first gratitude letter; I wrote my first to my Dad. I was a bit shy about doing it, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience for both of us, and since my Dad passed away a few years after I wrote his letter, the experience holds a special place in my heart.

I’ve been writing thank you notes for decades. I sent cards not just for gifts, but for experiences, past and present. I’ve written dozens of notes and cards to my aunts and to friends of my parents for their special acts of kindness to me as a child. One of my younger brother’s godmothers always had extra treats for us when she brought him a gift. Another of my aunts hosted weekly gatherings at her and my uncle’s farm each Sunday in the summer allowing my eight siblings and me to swim, dive, jump, ride, row, fish, and enjoy all sorts of other summer fun because they were willing to put-up with an ongoing stream of guests – our family and many others. Those Sundays were magic to me as a kid, and I wanted them to know.

Those letters and the memories they evoked are wonderful, but a gratitude letter is an even richer, more touching way to say thank you. Here’s why:

  • It’s longer – approximately 300 words.
  • It’s read in-person to its intended recipient, making it more of a gratitude visit with the letter as a hostess gift of sorts. The true magic of the visit comes from sharing your letter out loud and face-to-face with its recipient. (If you can’t meet in person, Skype or a phone call will work, but if at all possible go the in-person route.)
  • Dr. Martin P. Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology and one of the first and strongest proponents of gratitude visits notes the ritual is powerful, ”Everyone cries when you do a gratitude visit,” he says. ”It’s very moving for both people.”

Tips for making it work:

  • Write to someone, who holds a special place in your heart or who did something nice or kind for you, but you’ve never thanked, or thanked as much as you would have liked to.
  • Be detailed. Write the particulars of what you are thankful for. Let them know how their actions affected you. Include the whats, the whens, the hows, and the whys.
  • Let your recipient know you are up to something good! A funny thing happened when I read my letter to my Dad. When I finished, he made a joke about how I must have the wrong “Dad”, and then he told me he thought I was going to share something about what he’d done wrong – not right. (I was nervous about sharing my letter, and he interpreted that as seriousness or sadness. When I began reading from a sheet of paper he was sure there was bad news ahead.) We laughed about that, but to prevent any confusion, letting your host or hostess know the visit is well-intentioned is probably a good idea.
  • Leave a copy of your letter with your recipient. Don’t worry about making it too fancy, but using special paper can’t hurt. Laminating or a frame might be appreciated, or to others, seem a bit too much – go with your guts. Just don’t make the visit too much about what happens next with the letter; leave that up to your receiver.

The Ripple Effect

Another interesting facet of this simple and effective gesture is that it tends to grow and reproduce on its own. Recipients often end-up writing and sharing letters with folks they want to thank, and writers tend to write more letters to share with others.

Positive psychology studies show the good feelings can last for weeks, even months. I know firsthand that years later I’m still happy I shared a gratitude letter with my father. It is a sweet and happy memory, and one I can relive any time I want. Gratitude letters pack a huge dose of positive power!

Increased happiness for someone you care about is just a few pen strokes. Don’t let this free,  foolproof opportunity for joy pass you by – send a gratitude letter to someone special this Valentines Day!

PS This is my annual Valentine’s Day post . . . hope it inspires you to start writing to a special person in your life.

Whispers from our hearts

One of the sweetest reviews I ever received . . .

“patrice is awesome…she can ask a question that you think you have no answer for and all of a sudden she has changed your world by making you find the truth in yourself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

You have the answers, getting still helps you hear what your heart is trying to tell you.  Stillness and heartfelt inquiry will help you reveal your truths.  Don’t be afraid of finding the answers, if you are asking or responding you are ready. 

WTW Dandelion

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New Year Meaningful Musings

I hope 2018 is particularly meaningful for you. I am presenting on the topic today so it is close to my heart and always on my mind.

Frankl Quote Photo

 

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Words and stories that create magic

It is funny how words and stories come into our life. What is even more interesting to me is what makes them stick in our minds and become part of our memories.

I recently attended a Christmas concert at a nearby church and one of the readings included the following excerpt from Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

“I do know what I want someone to give me for Christmas. I’ve known since I was forty years old. Wind-up mechanical toys that make noises and go round and round and do funny things. No batteries. Toys that need me to help them out from time to time. The old fashioned painted tin ones I had when I was a child. That’s what I want. Nobody believes me. It’s what I want I tell you.

Well, okay, that’s close, but not quite exactly it. Its delight and simplicity that I want. Foolishness and fantasy and noise. Angels and miracles and wonder and innocence and magic. That’s closer to what I really want.

Its harder talk about, but what I really, really, really want for Christmas is just this:

I want to be 5 years old again for an hour. I want to laugh a lot and cry a lot. I want to be picked or rocked to sleep in someone’s arms, and carried up to bed just one more time. I know what I really want for Christmas: I want my childhood back.

Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn’t make sense, but when is Christmas about sense, anyway? Its about a child, of long ago and far away, and it is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of our hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded, and terribly vulnerable to joy. A child who does not need or want or understand the gifts of socks or pot holders.”

― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

magical-1090663__340The passage was shared by the mayor of the town in which the church was situated. He was a youngish looking man in his early 60’s. Mid-reading, his voice cracked. He tried to continue, but as he stumbled verbally toward the sentence “I want to be picked up or rocked to sleep in someone’s arms, and be carried up to bed just one more time,” tears formed and rolled down his cheeks. He paused, looked out at the crowd of hundreds, and in this ultra-vulnerable moment, realized the crowd was with him. He smiled slightly, shrugged his shoulders and continued. I think he realized this was a safe environment for flowing tears, memories and moments of tenderness.  

I’m sure many in the audience teared-up, as well. I did – for him, for myself, for all of us, and for dreams unrealized and yet to come. In that moment, I believe that most of us became children again, and yearned, or at least understood the yearning for the magic of Christmas.

Fulghum’s words, the mayor’s tears and vulnerability and the feelings they elicited, have stuck with me and are now part of my stories and memories. I share them with you now, as a reminder that Christmas is a time of magic. Magic we can create for the children inside ourselves and for the children around us – young and old.

Reach inside and outside of yourself this holiday season to touch the hearts of those around you. You will fill yourself with joy and you may create lifelong memories for others. And, after all, isn’t that the true magic of Christmas?

 

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Note to self

Service to others

Re-sharing a post I wrote in 2010 on this special day.

Today is Veteran’s Day, which originally began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918.

Did you know that on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day in 1918 a temporary armistice was signed bringing an end to the hostilities of World War I?

President Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day”, which led Congress in 1938 to pass legislation to declare it a national holiday, and in 1954 for President Eisenhower to change the name to Veteran’s Day.

Oddly enough, my first reflections on the sacrifice and service of veteran’s developed when I was 12 or 13 years old and read the book “All Quiet on the Western Front”, which was written by a German soldier about his experiences in WWI.

I had tears running down my cheeks as I read Erich Maria Remarque’s words, and it hit home that if a German soldier could feel this way, most likely any soldier could.  It was  the first time I really understood that war was not just about conflicts and countries, but about people and courage. Remarque became an American naturalized citizen in 1947.

I remember wanting to ask my Dad, my uncles and every other man their age, who served in WWII, what it was like.  But, that was something people didn’t seem to talk about then, so I didn’t either.

When I turned 16 in 1969, and was confronted daily with news of Vietnam. I forgot about the perspective of Veteran’s and focused more on how I felt about war.

It took me years to sort-out my feelings about service in the military.

No matter where you stand on our involvement in conflicts and wars then and now, today is a good day to pause and reflect on how others feel.  In particular, those who – for whatever reason – find themselves in situations that test every facet of their being in the service to others.

I truly think service to others is worth honoring, and I am glad that we have set aside a day to do just that.

There were almost 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in May of this year.  There are more than two million men and women enlisted in the armed forces and reserves. Most of us know someone or the family members of someone, who is currently serving or served in the past.

Find a way to let them know you are thinking of them today.

Wise words on following your heart

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“Your heart is a compass in a chaotic world. Follow it. Resist anything that looks reeeally good, but feels reeeally bad. Be brave enough to turn away from shiny objects, and toward the light that makes them shine.”  Martha Beck 

Spend quiet time finding out who you are and then follow the paths that delight you!

I promise you, you will never regret it!

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