Choosing Gratitude as an Outdoor Mom
One of my superpowers is I see the world through rose colored glasses. I’m not saying I’m happy no matter what and there aren’t some days where I hate everything. I’m just saying when I let gratitude guide my outlook, that adds the rose colored tint to my perspective that makes everything seem better.
Although I challenge myself every day to reflect on what I am grateful for, I always try a little bit harder to refocus and conscientiously choose an attitude of gratitude in November. During this season of giving thanks, let’s cultivate an attitude of gratitude together Mountain Mama Style!
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Taking a mere 15 minutes each day to refocus and reflect on what I am thankful for and why, does wonders for my mindset and health. Like they say in Friday Night Lights, ‘clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” Gaining a clear perspective through rest and reflection helps you to identify what fills your heart. Mountain Mamas that can invest enough time in themselves to reflect and refocus will find themselves cultivating an attitude of gratitude that is more infectious than this pandemic.
It is hard to find time- I GET IT. I also know that it is MY responsibility to find or make the time I need to be able to reflect and refocus. Sometimes it’s hard to see the garden through the weeds, just like it can sometimes be hard to find that silver lining when everything seems to be going sideways. Good thing, just like a bountiful garden, cultivating an attitude of gratitude can be achieved through a little bit of care and attention each day.
Get a Clear Vision
The best way to succeed in growing an attitude of gratitude is to begin with a clear vision. Before you can ever refocus and create that vision, you need to be well rested and have the garden of your mind ready for planting. The big picture will become clearer and the upkeep more manageable the more common this practice becomes.
Check in on YOU
Declutter your mind for a moment- stop worrying about your job, world hunger, your kids, your partner, etc. Just move all those things to the side for a moment and ask yourself, “how am I doing?” You can’t do your best at taking care of anything or anyone else if you don’t take good care of yourself first.
Putting ourselves first is a hard one for all Mountain Mamas to reconcile, and self care will look different for everyone. There is no one size fits all, just like how there is no one mold of a Mountain Mama! Maybe you do yoga in your garden by yourself, go camping with your girlfriends, or squeeze in a hike during your lunch break.
Since I’m with my kids 24/7 these days and solo parenting half of the year, this means waking up earlier or staying up later than them to find some quiet time for me. I also give myself the grace to decide when I just need to rest too so that I can function at my best for myself and for them.
Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, GET OUTSIDE! Fresh, outside air will do wonders for clearing the mind and awakening the senses. Often the motivation to go outside in less than ideal weather can be a barrier to many Mountain Mamas. It’s simply easier to not have to deal with dressing the whole family to go outside. Especially when then you have to deal with the mud, the wet clothes AND the dirty paws when you come back in (thank goodness for mudrooms).
Trust me, it is sooo worth it to just be outside- planning, logistics and all. Once you get outside, chances are you will stay outside for longer than you had planned, so just embrace it and let go of everything else. Be present in just being outside, whether it’s in your own back yard, the neighborhood park, in the desert or on a mountain.
The inside of my house might always appear to be in a perpetual state of chaos, but our home reaches beyond the four walls and we’re pretty content. For everyone to be their best and thrive, our daily routine incorporates lots of outdoor time. The dogs get to stretch their legs out and the kids have room to test their independence and not my patience. Being outside forces me to look around at the big picture both literally and figuratively, and reflect on what I observe and experience.
Get Active and Breathe Deep
Whether it’s stretching, yoga, walking, hiking, running, etc. Physically moving those muscles and getting your blood circulating is good for your health and makes you breathe deeper than you may otherwise. Focus on big, deep breathes that fill your lungs all the way down to your belly and not just your upper chest. Use your nose and your mouth to breathe in, and then slowly let it all back out.
Being active helps release stress and tension, while also forcing me to breathe better. Physical activity and deep breathing followed by deep stretching (and maybe a good muscle rub too) is a surefire recipe for clearing your mind and helping you to refocus your thoughts.
This is a hard one for those of us busy living life. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean kicking our legs up and taking a nap. Rest can be just taking that tactical pause in your day to clear and refocus your mind.
Rest can be sitting outside quietly in your garden taking in the smells and growth. Or walking the 3 blocks from your office to the indie coffee shop to pick up your Joe Coffee order.
Maybe it’s thumbing through your favorite coffee table picture book and dreaming of your next adventure. For some, it might might even be that solo trail run. Whatever it takes to break up the non-stop inputs into the garden of your mind so you can refocus, that’s rest.
To really be able to fully lean into and embrace an attitude of gratitude, it helps to first reflect on and clearly identify what fills your heart, and why.
Recognizing that what you have is enough and not fixating on what you don’t have is the first step in realizing your blessings. Another way to frame this is by asking yourself, “how lucky am I?” How lucky am I that I get to play in the rain today? How lucky am I that I can save money and make my own delicious coffee with my Aeropress?!
Focusing on the abundance in your life leads to gratitude and contentment, not the feelings of inadequacy associated with not having enough or wanting more. More or less, it’s realizing that our fortunes and blessings tend to outweigh our challenges and struggles.
Look at the Big Picture
It is so easy to get sucked into our daily routines and miss what is happening mere inches away. Pause and look around you. Where do you sit in the big picture? Finding the silver lining in the things that just plain stink is hard, but it is so important for both our mental and physical health. Finding the silver lining is a lot easier when we look beyond our own fencelines.
As a former competitive mountain runner, I still crave hikes that lead to stunning vistas or open ridge lines where you can see for miles in all directions. That “big picture” view is integral to filling my heart, so is lifting my head up and seeing what’s going on in the rest of the world. I’ve learned and grown so much by stepping out of my comfort zone and into the big picture.
Relax – You Can’t Lose!
What YOU are grateful for is unique to YOU! It makes you who you are and steers your emotions and decisions. Reflecting on gratitude is the mission here because the bottom line is that cultivating an attitude of gratitude results in a healthier and happier you!
Eisenhower is credited with saying, “…plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” It’s not counting the things you are grateful for that matters, but recognizing and practicing gratitude. Even though it can be hard to come up with something you are grateful for every day, just reflecting on gratitude helps to adjust your attitude and outlook.
Recognizing and practicing gratitude can be done in many ways. Maybe you are the silent type that prefers to go through the mental list in private. If you are a writer, perhaps journaling in your notebook what you are grateful for everyday is more you style. An artist may sketch, paint or snap a photo, both recording and reflecting their gratitude through creativity. A social butterfly might simply tell everyone they meet what they are thankful for and why!
Choosing to share your joys and blessings with others is another way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. You do NOT need to share what you are grateful for with others to validate your thankfulness, but often times, people do love sharing and fostering connections over gratitude.
Maybe it’s volunteering to clean and maintain your favorite forest trail so others can enjoy it too. Perhaps it’s sharing your gratitude for the outdoors and mentors by helping at a youth outdoor camp or becoming a 4-H volunteer in your community. Maybe it’s simply paying for the coffee of the person in line behind you when visiting a drive through coffee shop.
Harvest of Gratitude
An attitude of gratitude is truly contagious. While running in races or even working on the fireline, people would sometimes comment that I was always smiling and wonder why. I never really had a great explanation other than, why not? I was grateful for the opportunity to use my talents the best way I knew how, and those smiles of gratitude sure rubbed off on others.
Whether you are a Mountain Mama that grows plants, animals, children or creativity, I encourage you to invest time in cultivating an attitude of gratitude. From gratefulness grows a garden of hope, joy and love which in turn grows more families and communities of gratefulness. Gratefulness is the only harvest that is guaranteed to feed your body, heart, soul and mind when everything else is going sideways.
When John Conlee wrote the song, “Rose Colored Glasses,” in 1978, he might have been lamenting his rose colored glasses for showing, “only the beauty, ’cause they hide all the truth.” The truth is, gratitude is beauty and the truth all rolled up into one neat package. Viewing the world through the rose colored glasses that an attitude of gratitude cultivates doesn’t diminish the challenges and struggles surrounding us, but encourages us not to dwell in soul sucking negativity and to seek those silver linings that are abundant.
So step out of your comfort zone and into the big picture! Cultivate that attitude of gratitude and share its abundance freely. Let your outlook be tinted by those rose colored glasses instead of whatever circumstances surround you. And remember, everyone looks good in rose colored glasses.
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Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Mountain Mama Style
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