I only do this occasionally now, but for a while on this blog I had a regular feature called What Went Well Wednesday. It was based on a gratitude practice also called Three Blessings, in which one lists three blessings, or three things that went well, and sometimes WHY they went well. The idea is to refocus one’s attention on what is going well in life and how that happened, including one’s own agency.
Tonight is Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving here in the US, so I’m counting my blessings.
- I am so thankful for my husband and three children, who are all happy, nice, healthy people; and I’m thankful that my children get along so well that they are currently out, just them, having a “sibling bonding” dinner and movie together. Because they are good people making good choices, becoming young adults who make us so proud!
- I am thankful for the rest of our extended families: siblings, siblings-in-law, nephews, nieces, and one elderly father-in-law, who is the only surviving parent of the original four parents of myself and my husband. Because they are also good people, doing good things in the world, living their best lives as best they can, living conscientiously in the world.
- I am thankful for the daily blessings of good health, a loving spouse, a pretty home, a garden to enjoy, a temperate climate, an interesting and well-paid job (even with its many challenges), the opportunities to keep learning, and the privilege and safety that come with being an American citizen.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it, and blessings to all of you who don’t. I’m also thankful for all of you who do me the honor of reading this blog and offering your own thoughts here. What makes you thankful?
This week, the New York Times published an article detailing research that suggests lavender really does have the healing power of calming stress and anxiety for which it has been reputed over centuries: Lavender’s Soothing Scent Could Be More Than Just Folk Medicine.
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, [the researcher] and his colleagues found that sniffing linalool, an alcohol component of lavender odor, was kind of like popping a Valium. It worked on the same parts of a mouse’s brain, but without all the dizzying side effects. And it didn’t target parts of the brain directly from the bloodstream, as was thought. Relief from anxiety could be triggered just by inhaling through a healthy nose.
But why stop at lavender? It seems the key substance is linalool, which occurs naturally in many plants and spices, and is listed as an ingredient in fragranced products, as Lush notes:
Linalool is a colourless liquid with a soft, sweet odour. It occurs naturally in many essential oils, such as tangerine, spearmint, rose, cypress, lemon, cinnamon and ylang ylang. It has a soft, sweet scent. Ho wood oil is used in some fragrances, which is linalool in its natural form, for the woody, sweet note it gives. Even when ingredients are naturally occurring fragrance constituents they are included in quantitative ingredients lists, this enables people to decide which product is right for them.
One can even search on the Lush websites (UK and USA) for products by ingredient, so it is possible to identify specific products of theirs that contain linalool, including several of their solid and spray perfumes.
Time for me to break out an essential oil diffuser with a strong dose of lavender! That seems fitting for a blog titled “Serenity Now.” Do you find that lavender has a calming effect on you? How do you use it or other essential oils to create calm in your surroundings?
Featured image from http://www.nytimes.com, by Eric Gaillard for Reuters.
“What Went Well” is a gratitude exercise also known as “Three Blessings.” The idea is that on a regular basis, daily or weekly, one lists three things that went well, and why. (Adding “why” allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well). When I started this blog, while recovering from a broken bone, and during a very stressful period at work, I posted my three blessings weekly, on “What Went Well Wednesday.” I still pause regularly to count my blessings, but I no longer post them. However, a reader recently suggested that I do so again, so here is the year-end wrap-up of “what went well” in 2017! Please feel free to chime in with your own!
- I was able to avert a dreaded change in my workplace, that would have had me report to a colleague who has been undermining me for several years, thereby putting my job at risk. This was possible because a new chief executive arrived before that change was made, who had known me, my good work, and excellent reputation for many years — and because I mustered the courage to speak to him candidly about it, so he reversed the plan of the outgoing leadership. My work life now feels less stressful and insecure than it has for several years.
- In the face of loss, this year’s deaths of my mother and my husband’s, our extended families were drawn together and supported each other better than might have been expected. Because we made the effort to recognize each adult child’s different experience and grief, and responded to each other with gentleness and empathy.
- Our three children continue to delight us with their growth, resilience, gifts, and love. Because all three have faced various challenges endemic to adolescence and young adulthood with grace, humor, kindness, and perseverance.
I don’t normally post much or speak much about faith, because that is such an individual matter for every person: whether or not one has faith, and how one chooses to honor or express it. In the Lord’s house, there are many mansions. I am also frankly horrified at the misuse of religion to justify the unjustifiable, such as cruelty to others and a domineering will to power regardless of others’ beliefs. It often seems that those who are most outspoken about their own religion are most intolerant of others’, and I want no part of that. However, I pause now to note that my own faith (progressive mainstream Protestant Christian) and our family’s worship community, filled as it is with kind, intelligent, thoughtful, decent people, who try to make the world a better and more beautiful, charitable place, have been especially important to me this year. I take comfort in knowing that our mothers’ long illnesses are over, and that they have been restored to their best essence. So I’ll wrap up my year-end three blessings with my favorite prayer, from the end of each Sunday’s service:
Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May we all enjoy a peaceful, happy 2018! What went well for you this year?
by Linda Ryan Now and then there comes a moment when time seems to stop, even for the merest fraction of a second, and in that fraction of a second something becomes so clear that it’s almost heartbreaking. It happened to me the other morning when I went to feed the outside cats. It…
via Speaking to the Soul: The Scent of Gratitude — Episcopal Cafe
I loved this reflection on scents and being thankful for them. As we’ve just passed Easter, I want to add how thankful I am for the abundance of flowers that my fellow parishioners provide every year to celebrate it, and the remarkable skill and love with which they arrange thousands of fragrant lilies, roses, hydrangeas, tulips and flowering branches. To be surrounded by so many gifts is indeed cause for thanks!
What went well this week:
- My son’s football team won their first game of the season! This is a big deal because they are in middle school and did not win a single game last year. They won because they have been working hard, including in some new positions, and did not allow themselves to become discouraged.
- I am making progress in physical therapy. Because I have a terrific physical therapist and I am pushing myself to do the exercises as often and as far as possible.
- I got great advice from one of my oldest friends. Because she is wise, and kind, and she cares deeply about me.
Have a serene week, everyone!