Monday, December 31, 2012

All We Need is: LOVE

The Beatles had it right. 

For the past several months, I've been in my own struggle. Yes, this gratitude warrior struggled with discouragement and falling into the cynic mindset. Those closest to me could feel it and could see it. I knew it was there and was frustrated that I would allow it to stay for so long. I've engrained an attitude of gratitude into my life, my words, my thoughts, my being. Lately, though, I've struggled with that, also. 

Feelings of abandonment have never been far from my mind. I feel privileged to be loved enough to have been adopted and, yet, at the same time there are natural feelings of abandonment. The fear of it can easily take over my thoughts and in my younger days it did just that. It has affected almost every relationship I've been in, as well as friendships. 
I've enlarged my ability to feel the fear and press on. As I've matured, I've grown to a place where I can feel those feelings and yet remember they are not true.  However, it is still a constant struggle and during times when I don't feel loved, it's an even bigger challenge. 

So, during this two month struggle, I kept coming to the same conclusion. It wasn't new to the world or to me, but it was an aha! moment. It explained my struggle. It explained the struggles that caused my struggle.

Every issue, Every issue stems from someone not feeling loved, not feeling accepted, not feeling like enough. 

I'm not a counselor or an expert by any means, but I have lived enough life and made enough mistakes on my own to see the common thread. 

We can say we love someone everyday, but saying it is not enough. We must be intentional about it. We have to be intentional every day, with every word, with every action. 

I have people close to me that I've watched for many years struggle with loving themselves. I've listened to their words, carefully, and learned that they also have never been completely loved, unconditionally loved, or experienced love in it's truest form. 

I've watched people I know (including myself) go through one divorce or more. I've spent time with people who are struggling to create loving environments as a now blended family. I know how difficult it is to teach children the true meaning of love when you haven't experienced it or you doubt it's power. 

I've listened as people have confessed that their marriage/relationship is not what they want it to be and that the distance is too much for it to "work" anymore or that the stresses of daily life is just too much and they cannot find time to connect with their spouse or significant other. 

I say what the Beatles have been saying all along. I've been saying it to my husband for months as I've been trying to explain why my love was rejected by someone close to me. I just could not explain it and rather than find a gratitude or lesson within the situation, I just grew angry and frustrated. 

So, as 2012 was about to exit and I was still contemplating being a cynic or buying into the "love" thing, my friend Deb sent me a Facebook message. 

So I have this crazy idea. I'm sure it's been done before, but who cares? I'd like to create a private group for wives called 40 days of love. Starting on the first or maybe the second given the short notice, we aim to do something every day for a minimum of 40 days to show our hubbies we love them. What do you think?

You may not believe in God Winks (my friend SQuire Rushnell does), but I sure as heck do! I've experienced them pretty much all my life. So, Deb's crazy idea really was a divine validation of what I've been saying for 2 months (and had been ignoring). 

Now you and I both know that this idea isn't off the wall. It's been done many times. There are tons of articles out there and books like The Love Dare that challenge us to stretch beyond our comforts and love no matter what has happened.  

But what a better way to incorporate 40 Days of Thankfulness, my birthday Random Acts of Kindness and On the Wings of Gratitude into the threads of our own personal relationships that are right in front of us? 

You may be thinking: "Some days it's going to be hard to come up with loving things to say or do about/for my ___________ (insert your loved one here)." 

And you're right! But we are called to LOVE! 

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

We are not instructed to love when it's convenient for us. We are not instructed to love when others love us first. We are not instructed to stop loving if we are wronged. We are not instructed to love only when others meet our unrealistic expectations.

We are called to LOVE. If we can give more of it, we will receive more of it. You can choose anger, cynicism, bitterness, and defeat, or you can choose to start your 2013 off right and join our 40 Days of Love Challenge. 

Beginning January 6, 2013, the 40 Days of Love event will launch. We are asking you to join us. We are asking you to love. Love those mothers and fathers in your life who've hurt you, love those husbands and wives who you once couldn't live without, love those children who are your life no matter what they do, love those friends who are in your life for a reason. 

Once a day we will challenge you to do something for that person. We will ask you to share your ideas with others on Facebook or twitter. We will ask you to post pictures on Instagram of your love challenge or your loved one. 

What do I need to do? Join the FB event, share/invite others, choose the person you are going to LOVE during this challenge and wait for the challenges to come in each day! We will remind you, don't worry! :) 
Does it have to be a husband or a wife? NO! It doesn't matter who you are LOVING in the 40 Days as long as you are doing something IN LOVE for them. 
Can you choose to keep it a secret? Sure, but you don't have to! Totally up to you! 
Can you choose to do your own 40 day challenges? Sure! We will just post as guidance for those that are less creative (like us) :) 
Is this just for women?  NO! We NEED the men of our lives to join in the most! You are husbands, sons, are SO important! 

By February 14th, we should all have more love in our lives and THAT will be cause to celebrate a day of love (and not that corporate holiday that just sucks money from our lives) .

#40DaysofLove (hashtag aka "keyword" to use on FB, Twitter, and Instagram) 

Wishing all of you a new year full of love, gratitude, blessings, and joy! 

Still your gratitude warrior,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Less You, More God

Today I’m sounding off. I’ve been pretty silent in the last week. Life has been busy. December is always busy. Birthday parties to plan and throw, gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, gifts to give teachers, class parties to attend, work luncheons to contribute to and then there’s sleeping and eating, too. :) 

For me, December 14 has always been a special day. 12 years ago on that day I was sitting in the hospital during one of the biggest ice storms in the area. I spent most of my day gazing at my very first, sweet baby girl after several long hours of pain and finding out exactly what I was made of (strength). 

This year was a big year for her: middle school, school dances, a friend who’s a boy (*wink*), and her biggest sleepover in a while. It was big enough for me to take the day off from work, so I could prep the house, run to the store, and get things all set up for 6 tweens to take over. 

Mid-day, I happened to turn on the news and saw the reports out of Connecticut. At that moment I made a very set decision. I turned off the television and continued on about my day. 

“I can’t.” I said to myself. 

I could not spend the day listening to the reports,  details, and repetitive way reporters described it all. I had to be in the moment and present for my girl and her friends who would come through the door giggling and asking me to do their hair for the dance that night. “I couldn’t” because seeing those sweet precious faces only brought back my own memories of losing the special 6 year old boy in my life.

After the whirlwind of the tween party, we re-centered ourselves to go take our yearly family photos. I did not turn on the radio stations nor did I turn on the television. I stayed in the moment while we laughed and enjoyed our time together. I stayed in the moment as we had lunch together and as we all snuggled up for a nap which we all so desperately needed. 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. He love endures forever.” ~Psalm 136: 1-26

The next day we were up early to go see Santa and have another meal together. I was present and grateful and full of thanks for each moment I’d been allowed to experience. I ran down the sidewalk with the kids, took them to the shops they pulled me into, and remembered that each moment, whether it’s what I expect or want is a gift. 

“Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life - and place it as an offering.” ~Romans 12:1-2

Sunday afternoon, when I finally had some time to sit I decided to scroll through Facebook and Twitter. 


People all over were voicing their opinions, their political stances, their fear, their doubt, their questions, reposting pictures, poems and articles. 

Maybe it’s just because I know tragedy. Maybe it’s because I saw my parents go through the painful process of losing their own child. Maybe it’s because of my own experience that I was so angry at how everyone the last week seemed to make the tragedy about them.

Everywhere I looked someone was talking about it, discussing it, debating it, or detailing the events. I guess that is human nature.  I guess it helps them cope. 

But ... I just ..... couldn’t. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve prayed for those families, that situation, and every single person affected by the event. I, purposefully, read the names of each sweet child & educator and prayed, specifically, for their families by name. 

 “Pray without ceasing.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:17

But I refuse to buy into everything the media throws out at me. I refuse to keep the television/radio on. I refuse to discuss it with my 7 year old just because everyone else might be and am thankful that her school didn’t decide to have discussion about it on Monday. If she asks, I always answer honestly with the least amount of details given. If she doesn’t, then who am I to take away her innocence and sense of security away? There’s enough of that going on in this world. 

I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to debate politics and gun control. I refuse to dwell on tragedy, or obsess over every article or story out there. I refuse to allow myself to be on “auto pilot”  and not take control of what I see or hear. Just because it is on or in front of me doesn’t mean my ears or eyes need to see it. 

“Be very careful, then how you live...” ~Ephesians 5:15

I’m not afraid to send my kids to school each day. I know down to my core that every single person caring for them would do everything humanly possible to keep them safe. I know that there is a hedge of protection around each of them and that no matter what happens, my God is in control, not me. 

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

I, personally, know about living in fear. I, personally, know about questioning and doubting. I, also, personally know that it gets us nowhere

“I have told you these things so that in my you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

If we want the world to be a better place, it’s up to US to make it that sort of place. You job is to bless: 

Love more, hate less. 
Encourage more, criticize less. 
Give more, take less.
Do more, watch less. 
Pray more, complain less. 
Less YOU. More GOD. 

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” ~ 1 Peter 3:8


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift of Giving. The Birthday Present to Myself.

Most people that I talk to about getting a year older form that wretched look on their face and tell me something like, "I'm not celebrating this year." Or they go into detail about how old they are and how this birthday is "not that exciting."

Well, you know me. In typical Tisha fashion, I decided to change the way I see birthdays so that I am not fifty years old one day focusing on the fact that I'm not twenty-something. 

Here I am. Today, I turned 36. Instead of focusing on my age or how my body doesn't work like it did at 16, I decided to focus on something different. For years, birthdays were all about me and what I wanted for that day. Birthdays were about gifts for me and expectations about what others would do for me. 

But today I decided to change all of that and to change my way of thinking about birthdays. In my previous post, I challenged my friends, co-workers, and family to join me in doing one big or small Random Act of Kindness on this day, December 5, in my honor. I asked that at least 36 people do one act today and did they ever follow through! :) 

First, I'll share with you all of the RAK's I did throughout the entire day and then I'll share their photos with you. (this post will be picture heavy to say the least, so be warned.)
December 4
6:00 PM: Free pizza for my birthday from my favorite pizza joint. Prompted me to pay it forward early.
7:00 PM: Purchase 3 $5 gift cards from target. 
7:05 PM: Wait for unsuspecting person to walk through the door. There he IS! :) 
December 5
7:00 AM: Breakfast with my favorite 2 year old and 12 year old :) No one was behind me or even close, so I couldn't pay for a meal. Yet.
7:30 AM: 7-11 to get lotto tickets, money, a water, a couple of slices of tape AND to surprise the worker with a Target gift card. He was in shock that I was offering this. Can you tell? 
8:00 AM: Stopped at Dollar Store for tape, sharpie, and notepad. Handed a lotto card to the cashier. Look at that SMILE! 
8:05 AM: Had to pick up a package from the Post Office. Before I left, I handed her some cookies and thanked her for her service and hard work! More smiles! 
8:10 AM: Taped 2 lotto tickets and a note to our local gas station's gas pumps. FUN! Wish I could've captured their reactions! 
8:15 AM: Held the door open for a student just leaving her car. It was her birthday, too! I shared my birthday idea with her. 
10:00 AM: Taped change and a note to 2 different vending machines. Drink was on ME! 
11:30 AM: Girl who shares my bday brought a cupcake to me. I paid it forward to the office aides in the front. 
1:00 PM: Needed a quick lunch. Stopped at Sonic. As I ordered, an elderly man drove up right across from me and so I requested his order be added to mine. 
1:07 PM: Car hop brought my food, so I surprised him with a lotto ticket! 
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM: I was sent random texts, tweets, videos, and photos of what YOU ALL did to contribute to this day! 
7:00 PM: Dollar Tree run for wrapping paper. I taped a note and $2 to two separate places in the toy section! 
7:30 PM: Back at Target for the last gift card giveaway. This last RAK was the BEST reaction so I blew it up! Look at her face!!!!! :) :) :) 

My friends did many various things, also, throughout the day. 
Robyn in NY: Helped some tourists get around the subway. 
Jaime in GA: Paid for the meal behind her at Chick Fil A
Corbi donated money for Christmas to children in need.
Lib: Picked up and cared for a stray dog 
Adam: Took resources to a teacher in need.
Becca: Bought a candy bar and left it for a teacher with a "happy day" note.
Danielle: In honor of your special day, and birthday request, I left money with the tollbooth worker at my exit and asked that he use it for people who didn't have toll money. Hope your day was wonderful!! Happy 36th! :)
Kasie:Check your email, Tisha. My random act of kindness for you today was to spend 36$ on random classrooms in your honor. Because of your birthday request, students in Arizona will have the books they need and students in Ohio will have pencils and a pencil sharpener.
Happy 36th! 
Cher: So, this totally awesome lady that I met when I was pg with Kate, Tisha Poncio, had a birthday today and decided that in honor of her birthday she wanted to challenge all of her friends to do a Random Act of Kindness today. How brilliant is that? :) Great idea, Tisha! I hope my RAK made a family smile today!!
Tasha: I am filling out Christmas cards to be sent randomly to Wounded Warriors, and deployed soldiers. Christmas goodies to follow.....
MelissaI bought someone coffee behind me in the drive thru yesterday. 
Rebecca: She offered a free fitness class tonight to anyone that showed up! 
Maria: Brought coffee to a coworker today. :). Happy birthday!
Stephanie: Bought coffee via Facebook for a friend!
Jennifer: Bought a poinsettia for her co-worker. 
Jennifer's Co-Worker: Left money at the coke machine for a random person
Leanna: Made cookies for the fire department and other treats for a neighbor
Naomi: Paid for a car wash for the car behind her
Martha: Found my money for a diet coke and passed on a chocolate bar to another lucky stranger
Tiffany: She had her students volunteer time AND she sent her aunt's money with a sweet note of love
Rebecca: Donated $36 to feed hungry families 
Anonymous Friend: She went all out and got her kids involved. She wanted to stay unnamed, but she did the following: 
Bought 6 drinks at Sonic & gave to the construction guys, Sonic gift card 8 - $5 each (1 carwash attendee, 2 - post office workers, 1 to UPS driver at gas station, Last 4 -(had to get my girls involved) we went secretly to the parking lots at grocery store, middle school, veterinarian, and dollar store
"It's been a long time since I have done this with my girls - it felt AWESOME - thanks for the INSPIRATION - Happy Happy Birthday! Lots of good karma sent out in your name today."

I'm not sure why I never thought to do this before. Giving to others made my birthday more special, more full, more exciting, and more inspiring than any other birthday I've ever had. 

Birthdays shouldn't be about US. Birthdays should be about remembering what our purpose is, what we are bringing to others, what we are giving to those around us, and how taking the "ME" out of the day can really change a birthday's perspective. Taking the ME out of everything will allow us to change the world around us!

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone that participated in my birthday celebration (#RAK, #RandomActsofKindness, #tishasbirthdaycelebration). You guys are the real rock stars! Without you, I wouldn't have been able to multiply so many acts of giving and paying it forward! :)

I'm pretty certain we met our goal of 36 Random Acts today. What do you think? :) 


Monday, December 3, 2012

Birthday of Hope!

One of our favorite traditions during the month of Decrmber is "Random Acts of Kindness."
There are a bazillion versions and ideas out there. I love teaching my kids how kindness can change a person's demeanor in a split second even if that person doesn't seem to "deserve" it. 

We've done various things each year: pay for the person behind us in the grocery store, pick up newspapers in front of the school, hold the door open for an extra 5 minutes, surprise someone with their favorite drink during the work day, bake cookies and share them for no reason.........

We ran across this one on Pinterest. It's a little more involved, but a great read: 

Last year for my birthday, I asked many of you to give in the name of adoption. 
I was amazed at your generosity! Instead of taking time to fill up my Facebook wall with alerts (which I do love), you decided to GIVE! For a month, I received postcards or emails from the organizations to which you donated. It was AWESOME! 

This year I'm asking you to GIVE again. However, this year I'd like you go GIVE the gift HOPE in whatever form that may take. $20 to a single-working mom, paying something forward, donating toys or clothes, putting up lights for someone who can't, holding the door open longer than normal or just taking time to call someone you haven't called lately to remind them of your love. 

Your GIVING isn't measured by the AMOUNT you give, but by the love and hope behind your GIFT. 

There are people we pass daily who have lost hope. There are those who feel like their world has lost hope and as a result they have lost hope in their future. There are those that feel unloved, lost or unimportant. 

Yesterday in church, I sat behind a family visiting for the first time, I'm sure. I immediately began praying for them and for God to work around them and in them. I could feel their walls up and their skepticism from my seat or as we greeted one another. I caught glimpses of them exchanging glances when different topics were brought up in the message "The Sound of Hope." 

I continued to pray and by the end of the service when time for the invitation, 3 of the 5 of them went up after praying a prayer of salvation. THAT was HOPE for me! I watched God work a situation that seemed impossible at the beginning into a message of hope for me and for THEM. 

Nothing is impossible! If you have the means to inspire people and give them hope, why are you not? You don't have to rich, you don't have to be in the limelight, you don't have to do anything extravagant. Hope can take a simple act and turn it into a different life. 

Wednesday is my birthday. I'll be 36. I'm asking for 36 of you to agree to take time to give hope to someone on this day. I'm asking that instead of texts, tweets, or FB messages of birthday wishes, that you'll instead share with me your gift of hope! Share with me how the person on the other end responded and how giving hope made your day better or inspired YOU! 

So, please don't say Happy Birthday. :) #HOPE


Monday, November 19, 2012

A Message from Tisha......

My first video blog in honor of all of you that participated in the 2012 #40DaysofThankfulness Challenge. 

I would say this is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but several people have asked that I try do video blogs. The jury is still out on that. Do you like video blogs better? I do have a lot to say lately. ;) 

Just this morning I was telling some students and teachers about my latest obsession with coconut oil and all of it's uses. A student chimed in: "You should do your own video blog on youtube." 

Anyway, I just want to say THANK YOU to the 2500+ that joined us in being thankful. Remember that being thankful isn't just for the month of November. Keep incorporating your #gratitude into each part of your day! 

Biggest love,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Be Grateful, My Children

I've said before "Gratitude is engrained in me." I think gratitude is an important lesson for our kids, as well. I stumbled across this pin entitled "How to Raise Grateful Children" and it prompted me to write the following:  

To My Children
There are a few things you need to know now before I don't have the chance to say them.

You probably won't be blown away by these words right now. Your little ears, your little eyes, your teen mind - they aren't ready for these words. But one day, they will be.

Forever, I will LOVE every gift you ever give me. Above anything I ever receive your love will be the most cherished gift I'll ever receive.

Homemade picture frames, hand-printed cards, funny hats with duct tape, poems straight from your little heart- they will always be a treasure for me. They will always remind me of the time I spent with you.

There are also some things that you give me that are priceless compared to any material gift you'll ever give.

HONOR: Honoring me will teach you how to honor yourself and your GOD. Honor will freeze your ego dead in its tracks and will remind you that it's not always about you.

GRATITUDE: Gratitude for each item you've ever possessed will teach you that it's not about the STUFF but more about the  way you handled or treated the stuff. Gratitude no matter what you possess or are going thru teaches you to perservere through ALL things.

LOVE: I want to teach you to love. I want you to love yourself, love your parents, love your neighbor, your friends, your teachers, your peers, your mentors, your work and your GOD.

HUMILITY: Life, trials, struggles, change- its not always about YOU. Be mindful that ALL of your actions will affect someone else and you'll be responsible  no matter the outcome.  By teaching you humility you learn to be humble in everything you do and in turn you will be able to see everyone's perspective rather than just your own. GOD is with you through all and that should be the most humbling lesson of all.

GRACE: As your parent, I want to teach you the same grace that I've been shown throughout my life. Everyone deserves a second chance to prove themselves. Every day that you wake up, remember that GOD'S GRACE has given you another day to get it right and pass on that grace to others.

FAITH: I hope to teach you that faith is something you should cling to in ALL circumstances. "Faith like a mustard seed.." is stepping out when no one else does or stepping up when no one else will. Faith means trust and trust cannot be seen it heard. You have to KNOW. Faith in GOD no matter where or what you are can pull you out of a valley and set you atop the  highest of mountains in matter of moments. Faith in yourself and your dreams is a must and I hope that I've taught you to never waiver in your doubts. Faith is KNOWING GOD WILL always do what's best got you. Always.

It is my legacy to leave you with these lessons and hope they are reciprocated to me and every face you meet for the rest of your life.

Your mama

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Choose Him

Let's say you were to choose. Would you choose Him every time? 

We were smack in the middle of our 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge when I got a phone call that challenged me to my core.  I was posed with one of the most difficult situations of my life. Most years I find that I'm most challenged between days 15-25 and this year shook my world. 

This situation involved love, bitterness, forgiveness, anger, apology, animosity, miracles, fear, prayer, and rejection. I know that if you're reading this, you've been faced with all of those emotions or experiences at some point in your life. Like me, you may have experienced them all at the exact same time. 

There is a person in my life that has hurt and disappointed me over and over and over. Not many know about the details and those that do have never actually witnessed the challenges of this behavior firsthand. 

The situation I found myself in involved many people with many different emotions. They came from different places, but all were tied to this person who needed as much support and love as possible. For most of my life, I've had to create a distance with this person in order to grow, learn, and heal. 

Many things over the years have been left unsaid and unmentioned, but this situation called for walls to be broken down. So, I went. I went in love, prayer, forgiveness, and humble apology. We went. What we found was a heartbreaking situation. We prayed over the situation and saw God work amazing things in front of us. We continued to pray and offer love and help. I used phrases like:  "I love you. I forgive you. I'm sorry. The past has passed." 

As the situation evolved and became amazingly workable even though everyone said it wouldn't, we watched in absolute awe of God's amazing grace and love. His power cannot be denied. 

Unfortunately, as we watched a miracle happen we also watched our person go back to being angry and bitter. We listened as our person listed every way we wronged them. We listened as our person said they did not need to help. We listened as our person made their choice. We listened as our person said negative things about each of us. We listened as our person questioned why we did what we did. 

"Did you do it because of your love for God/church or did you do it because you love me?" 

Talk about a moment of rejection. 

Here's what I say to that question: 

The love I give is the same love that I have for God and my family of choice. The love is from God. I praise Him even when I'm rejected. I love YOU even when you reject me, say negative things about me to others, or talk to me in anger. I am not perfect because I love God/church, but His love is perfect and since I'm abundantly filled with it, I'm going to pass it on. That's what I choose. I choose Him, His love, and to pass that on to YOU. 

Satan is real and when he sees an opportunity to pull us away from God he will. He will use other's weak spirit to try to make us doubt God's love for us. He will use other's words to have us believe lies. He will use difficult relationships to tear us down. He will try to make us drown in our feelings of rejection and abandonment. He will use others to stir drama and try to get us off track and forget the truth. 

I'm not going to hold on to your anger, resentment, bitterness, animosity, or rejection. I've given it to God so I have free hands to grab on to God's love and promises. He fills my every need. He has never abandoned me. He loves me SO. He has shown up time and time again, especially in the desparate moments I've been on my knees begging for his presence to surround me. His favor shines down on me and I'm planted in Him. He has a plan and purpose for every breath and I know that my story is His story. 

My job is not to fix you or to put you in your place. My job is not to vindicate myself. My job is to love you even in your wrath. My job is to pray for you even if you don't fully believe in it's power. My job is to choose Him with every breath I take. 


Monday, October 15, 2012

Gratitude in Small Packages

This year during our 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge, we will be showcasing one gratitude warriors' testimony each week. We feel that it's important for you to see that we all struggle with being thankful. During week 2, you may find that you days are just not meeting the expectations you had for them. 

We seem to struggle each year during our own 40 Day Challenge. We want you to know: this is normal. At a certain point you begin to feel uncomfortable with being grateful when things aren't going your way, when you are sick, during the loss of a loved one, during a conflict within a special relationship, or when you just feel alone on the island. 

We want you to see that through our friend, Maria's story, she's continued to press on even when she struggled doing her thankful posts. This struggle, this uncomfortableness is WHERE THE CHANGE IN YOU HAPPENS. 

Here's Maria's story: 

In the beginning I used to sit and think of something to write.  Seriously.  Sometimes I felt like my day had been so "bad" that I didn't have anything to showcase.  I wanted every post to be a huge deal.  Something big and bold and wonderful that I was grateful for.

I've learned it doesn't matter how big or little the gratitude is, but rather just the fact that I remember to be positive.  As I posted more and more about my daily gratitudes, most reactions were positive, and many people asked me about them.  Some even joined in for a while.  I must admit, I felt a bit of pride that some had joined, but I also learned that it wasn't necessary.  My gratitudes are for me.  I need to focus on the positive aspects of my life among the chaos and confusion that come from a busy family and professional life.

So, this begs the question, why make them public if they are for personal use.  Well, I struggled over this a bit.  Not just with my days of gratitude, but also amongst questions regarding my Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.  I think I may even still be struggling with it.  Here is what I came up with...why not?  Is there a reason to NOT share happiness with others?  Is there a reason to keep my positive attitude to myself?  Can positivity truly offend people?  And the more important question:  should I continue to make my positive thoughts public if all reactions are not supportive?

The change for me over the past two years has been slow, but steady.  When I now sit to type a gratitude, I find it difficult to highlight just one.  Is that a change for me?  You bet.  No more pity parties.  Even on my worst day, I have a home full of healthy children, a loving husband, a satisfying job, and everything I need in life, and even some things I don't need.  Sure, I may have gotten stuck in traffic, spilled my coffee,  forgotten my purse, forgot to sign a permission slip, and snapped at my hubbie on the way out the door.  Yes, over the past few years I have forgotten to put the laundry in the dryer, ran out of dog food, had a disagreement (or hundreds) with family and friends, copied the wrong page of homework, missed a deadline, and cleaned up countless messes from dogs, students, children, and yes, even a potty training two year old.  I mean, I am human afterall.  But, are these the things that I want to define the person that I am?

I have come to a greater understanding that I need to focus on the important parts of life, and if typing one sentence on Facebook each day helps me to remember that, then I will continue.

PRESS ON! At the end of the 40 Days, you'll be so glad you did! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grab Gratitude

The day was busy. I was driving to my second work location of the day. As I drove, I reflected on all those people around me and the words they said that resonated with me day in and day out. I, silently, thanked God for the few in my circle of trust. 

Why was everyone so negative? Did they not realize how often they complained or how their words affected others? Were they not conscious of their thoughts that became words and in turn became their being? 

I was at the end of a divorce. My soul was broken. I had enough negativity in my life to last a lifetime and I wasn't even well into my thirties. 

I drove into the parking space I'd parked my car into for the last few months. Instead of jumping out, I sat. Silence. Then, a butterfly fluttered by my window. How is that butterflies seem to come out of nowhere anytime I'm struggling or feeling like giving up? It had occurred more times since 1988 than I could count. Butterflies are my sign of hope, my sign of restoration, my sign that there is always something to be grateful for each and every day. 

So, I declared that I was going to be grateful no matter what. I was going to be grateful no matter how many negative people were around me. I was going to be grateful no matter what my life circumstances were. I was going to be grateful for my girls. 

In an split second, I made a decision without knowing how big of an impact it would have. I took out my phone, I opened Facebook (where there were many messages of negativity), I posted "40 Days of Thankfulness Day 1:"

I didn't make a big announcement about it, I didn't feel the need to explain my post, nor did I ask anyone to do it with me. I, honestly, don't remember what my very first gratitude was on that day.  I just needed to remind myself that in the midst of struggle I could find something to be happy about, smile about, and thank God for the opportunity. 

Ironically, my first 40 Days ended the week of Thanksgiving. (For the record, I don't believe in coincidences.) 

The next day, I kept going..."40 Days Day 2:" By the end of the first week, people started asking me what I was doing. I shared my journey with them and kept being consistent. I discovered a lot about myself during those first 40 days and before the next summer, I was longing for another 40. 

In 2009, I decided to recruit some gratitude warriors. We didn't have thousands but the gratitude was changing all of us from the inside out. Just a few of my friends and a few of their friends joined in the challenge. I knew the 40 Days concept wasn't new. It was easy to search Google or Facebook to see how many people had thought of the same idea. 

2010 was a year of restoration and renewal and the 40 Day Challenge that year added hundreds more to our October event. I began hearing from friends and friends of friends about how their gratitude was helping them through difficult situations in their lives. See, gratitude doesn't keep struggles away, but it does remind you of all the GOOD in your life in order for you to get through  the BAD. 

Last year, I was astounded to see we had over 2,000 people join. 2,000 to some is not that many, but for a thirty-something working mom and wife in a small Texas town, it was amazing! 

I had no idea how big my vision would be and definitely did not think where we are now would come to pass. It has encouraged me to share my story, share my love, serve others, restore my own relationships, and remind those around me of this: 

"It's not that life has been easy, perfect, or as I expected. It's just that I choose to be HAPPY & GRATEFUL, no matter how it all turns out."  ~tisha p. 

We are so excited if this is your first time to join us! We are honored if you've made the choice to join us again after seeing the transformation in your own life.

Remember, it doesn't matter where you're stating your gratitude, as long as you are making time each day to be in the moment of gratitude and declaring it as yours! Twitter, Facebook, emailing yourself, journaling, texting, taping them to a door, writing them on a chalkboard or whiteboard, voice recording them.....
Your options are unlimited. 

Our gratitudes will not be the same as others and our journey will be just as different, but we will all find ourselves renewed as long as we are consistent and committed to the challenge.

Each week we will spotlight a "Gratitude Testimony" and we will give you a specific Gratitude Challenge to elevate your experience. 

Remember that our event page is not just a place for you to post your gratitude, but also for you to come to as support during your most difficult days. The 40 days will test your commitment and some days may cause you to think you should quit. Remember that feeling. Just as you think you want to quit, your transformation really will be just around that corner of greatest discomfort. 



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

40 is all you need

As the sun sets and I see less and less of it peeking at me through my window, I hear a little voice calling, "Mama......" Music plays from my phone and "I just wanna say thank you" drowns out the noise of the fan. My plan was not to write. My plan was to get to bed early and try to relax before another long day, but all that was in my head needed a release. 

The new school year has brought about later nights, more homework, more take out, tired and crabby kids and a mom and dad who seem to meet each other coming and going. If you have any kids in school and after-school activities, you are probably living a very similar life. 

Even if you aren't living with kids who are busy, you probably have a lot going on yourself. Work, friends, family, spouse or significant other, church, and other commitments. 

I only thought I was busy before. This is a new kind of busy and I admit that I'm having to restructure my days, nights, and thoughts. 

And let's not kid ourselves. In just 111 days Christmas will be upon us which means that in the next few weeks you'll be running around like crazy buying Halloween items, contributing for various parties, decorating your house better than your friends' Pinterest boards, planning big Thanksgiving menus, checking off gifts from your many lists, trying to come up with creative ways to place your Elf on the Shelf and in the middle of it all trying to take it all in and breathe in your thankfulness for every second of the chaos. 

You don't have to pretend with me. I know.  

Today, I encountered a student at the school I teach. I noticed him last week. He was in the office dressed up. I just thought he had a special occasion and went on my way. But today I passed him in the hall. He was dressed up again and carrying boxes. I, casually, asked if he had another special gig and he said, "No." 

That conversation left me wondering about his story. I mean, after all, not many HS kids take school seriously, so why would they dress for the occasion? As God would have it, I ran into him a third time and this time I decided to sit and chat with him around the conference room table. I sat down and said, "Tell me what brought you to this moment. Why dress up everyday?" 

He told me, "I was tired of being how I was before, so one day I woke up and decided to change one thing. I decided instead of spending lots of money on t-shirts and jeans, I'd spend money on a few really good shirts, ties, and suit jackets." 

I asked "So, are people responding to you differently?" 

Him: "Yes! People were giving me high fives. Teachers take more notice of me. I feel more confident and important." 

I continued to chat with him telling him that our meeting wasn't a coincidence. I told him that my "thing" was gratitude. I asked him to update me throughout the year on if people respond differently after the initial change. He told me I reminded him of Will Smith. (yeah, I'm still a little confused about that one myself.) I think it had to do with my passion. ;)  

What I didn't tell him (yet) was that, typically, when you choose to stand out, be different, or elevate yourself past the norm, people will begin to challenge you, criticize you, or mock you. 

Over the past 5 years, I've had plenty of "friends" choose to stay out of my life because of my grateful attitude. I've had family challenge my belief that it is one of the best acts you can practice. I've been mocked by friends I thought were close friends as recently as this summer. 

This week posted on our Twitter/FB accounts: 

"So many people today are blindly living, blindly speaking, and blindly acting. #Gratitude on purpose will help you SEE." 

What will it help you see? 

Being thankful will help you see that not everything is destroyed. It will teach you to have hope in people you didn't believe in before. It will show you that your plan, though good, maybe not be best. It can remind you that your riches have nothing to do with your bank account, car, home, or clothes. It can help you forgive those you couldn't forgive before. It might mend a relationship that you thought was lost forever. You will begin to see a light within yourself shining brighter than ever. People will begin to wonder "What is she/he doing differently? How can I have that, too?" 

If you want to change the world and YOUR world, you have to stop allowing your issues to determine your attitude. 

It was in the midst of one of my lowest points in life that the 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge was born. I could not surround myself with all of the negative people and their words. It was in that single moment I decided to change. Just as the boy I write about. It only takes a single moment, a single act to change your life. 

I'm challenging you to act. Go to our 40 Days of Thankfulness FB page and "like" it. 

Think of people in your life that might benefit from a thankful attitude, as well. 
Be on the lookout for our 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge Event. (coming soon!)
Do take time to get your mind right and heart open. 

I've seen several lives changed because I simply asked them to join me in 40 Days of Thankfulness. I got to see their transformation, firsthand. They thank me for the challenge, but, truly, they should be thanking themselves for being open enough to begin their one change. 

"The change that makes us greatly uncomfortable is the change that holds the biggest transformation." ~tisha poncio