(#417) Gratitude


Simple acts of gratitude offered, received, and witnessed.

Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the 9th year of this weekly blog. Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.  I am grateful.

Gratitude can manifest in any number of ways. While some may be over-the-top offerings, most come our way in simple acts of heartfelt appreciation, kindness, and thankfulness.

I start my morning meditations with gratitude for people and other beings, opportunities, health, and experiences.  This daily exercise provides gentle reminders.

How do you show gratitude? What acts of kindness have you observed or committed? Perhaps you can build upon the following ideas.

  • Send a handwritten note.
  • Send a text message saying, “I appreciate you!” Bonus: Say why!
  • Leave a voicemail.
  • Volunteer
  • Put down the digital device, turn off the TV, and have a real conversation. Look into the other person’s eyes.
  • Pull in the neighbor’s garbage can.
  • Say, “Thank you.”
  • Round up the tip for the server.
  • Put out the coffee cups and spoons the night before.
  • Set the table. Clear the table.
  • Say, “Thanks for your service” to the custodial staff at the gym, on campus, at work.
  • Respond to an opposing viewpoint with grace—and seek to understand.
  • Place a “Love Bucket” on your desk/in the break room/at the copy machine/by the coffee stand for people to drop in notes of encouragement and thanks. (Note: I did this for a number of years in my classroom. And in my office.)
  • Buy the person behind you a cup of coffee.
  • Join online groups like “Random Acts of Kindness.”

On Facebook, I posed the question, “What are some simple acts of gratitude you have shown or have been a recipient of recently or witnessed?”  Some of the responses included:

  • Wrote a thank you note to a parent volunteer.
  • Was in the hospital and got handmade get well cards from over 200 students…made my day.
  • A friend took me aside at a large event to tell me she had the best afternoon reflecting on my family photos I had posted over the years on Facebook. I was so touched by her care for me.
  • Hubby stopped and said thank you the other night, to a doctor that stayed late and helped out with testing.
  • My ex-husband passed and friends did a fundraiser for my kids.
  • Perfect strangers stepping up to walk my dogs and bring me food while seriously ill in the hospital.
  • When we were homeless, a student who knew of my situation gave me the money to pay for my hotel room for one night.
  • “Good Wishes” jar from my students at a recent course.
  • Sweetest Mother’s Day card ever from a son who obviously “gets it” and appreciates it!
  • A handwritten mother’s day letter from her 11-year old son that incorporated his English class skills!
  • Received a handmade mother’s day card from a girl I baby sit.
  • In the hospital, in a lot of pain and pretty scared … was wheeled back to my room and saw two precious therapy dogs and their copilots! Made my day.
  • Gave a shout out to my network to recommend a colleague for their excellent service.
  • “Oh no, I got this…Happy Mother’s Day!…With that…he covered the difference [I owed at the cash register]. I stammered, through weepy eyes, “Thank you…can I give you a hug?” We did.
  • Took in some elderly people’s garbage cans for them.
  • We helped somebody dock [a boat] while it was raining. They gave us about 5 bags of groceries.
  • When my dad died …three of my [former] students offered to clean up so I could be with my mom and siblings. When I came home, there were fresh flowers and a cooked meal for us!

Gratitude.


 Video recommendation for the week.

Can gratitude improve our wellbeing?  Watch this video.


Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in Appreciation, Balance, Community, Gratitude, kindness, resilience, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#416) A Safe Place to Land


I kept hearing about the connections between
congregants and neighborhood, congregants and congregants,
as well as congregants and their own souls.

Consider this. It’s 1993. You are an exuberant minister with a young and growing family.  You walk into a church in a high crime-high poverty part of a Southern city. The congregation has dwindled to about twenty-five souls, most hovering around 80 years of age. The church cannot afford to pay you a full salary.

Answer me this: What do you do?

Well, if you were the Reverend Billy Hester, you step into the sanctuary and lead the resurrection of a dying and still proud church.

Today, twenty-five years later, Billy (as he is fondly and commonly known in the area) and that same church boast a vibrant congregation of 650 diverse, committed, supportive souls. On Sundays you will find a packed sanctuary.

I wanted to know what made the difference between shuttering Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church and growing it. What fueled the resilience?  On a recent beautiful spring afternoon Billy and his Lay Leader, Preston Hodges, Jr. sat with me in a church conference room in Savannah, Georgia.  They helped me understand how Asbury came to be such a caring and vibrant community.  While the importance of a focused and transformational leader cannot be overstated, I kept hearing about the connections between congregants and neighborhood, congregants and congregants, as well as congregants and their own souls.

This spiritual community thrives because of its foundational values.  I heard about:

  • Acceptance and Authenticity.
    • When you walk in the door, you do not have to pretend to be what you are not. You do not have to hide who you are. Billy explained the concept of koininia: fellowship, participation, sharing, and contribution.  One parishioner, according to Preston, said she found “A loving, open and accepting Church that includes all of us — as Jesus would — with love, without judgment.…You’re always welcome!”    Or, simply, community.
  • Listening and Reflection.
    • The words “I don’t know” play an important part at Asbury. The congregants remain free to explore (are encouraged to explore) their own paths.  Rather than a church that remains stagnant, dogmatic, and unquestioning, the members find encouragement to question and admit when they do not know something. And then search for the answers. To communicate we must first listen—truly listen—to one another. Then we connect and appreciate. Community.
  • Vulnerability and Growth.
    • When we let go of the need to be “right” at all costs and the obsession to cling to unaccepting dogma, we open up to vulnerability—and growth opportunities. There will be times when people disappoint us. And when that happens, the congregation has made the commitment to hang in there “until grace happens.” But, someone may draw within and withdraw from the church. If someone “goes missing,” church members notice and reach out to make sure all is OK. They refer to “Calling the Missing.” Caring, open, accepting and authentic (see above). Not intrusive. Community.

Video recommendation for the week.

Listen to Reverend Billy Hester’s sermon from May 6, 2018.  Using humor, stories, and conviction, he connects the power of vulnerability to our ability to grow.


  • Relevance and Resilience.
    • Billy’s sermons have to pass a two-part litmus test. (1) Does the message connect with people by helping them identify with the message? (2) What is the positive impact on the listeners’ lives? Again, it’s not about showing how much the preacher knows about content. Rather, how does the content help people accept, live, and grow together?  Community.

Our conversation had many takeaways*. On one level, don’t leave with the idea this is a loosey-goosey operation.  These good people are intensely intentional about community. Very. They appreciate that from our diversity we grow. One author states, “Community is an engine for peace, it is fuel for justice.” That is what I feel at Asbury.

I will leave you with a powerful observation a congregant shared with Preston and Billy. The Asbury community, she said, has become a “safe place to land” for her and so many others. Acceptance. Authenticity. Listening. Reflection. Vulnerability. Growth. Relevance. Resilience.

Community.

(*And I will share more about the Asbury story in my forthcoming book about developing and sustaining community.)

 Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in acceptance, assumptions, authenticity, Being REMARKABLE, Choice, Civility, collaboration, Communication, core values, vulnerability, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#415) Does the Disturbance Disturb You?


We limit our own growth and spiritual development.

“I’ll be really happy if Negative Neil doesn’t come to the party.”  I go to the party. Sure enough, Negative Neil attends. I grouse, complain, and shuffle off to a corner to pout.  Neil has a great time.

“I was so looking forward to the event in the community center this weekend. But some so-and-so sat in ‘my seat.’ How dare him! He ruined the event for me.”

Each of the above examples demonstrates how we can (and do) limit our own happiness. Not the toxic person at the other end of the room or the person sitting in “my” seat—who probably does not even know me or that I have staked out squatter’s rights in my mind.

In these situations we might do well to ask if it is the disturbance that disturbs me or something inside of me.

Inner Disturbance

Upon recommendation from a mindful friend and neighbor, I read Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul: The Journey beyond Yourself.

Singer examines the connections between thoughts, emotions, and actions. Using the metaphor of a thorn, he speaks of inner disturbances that rob us of peace.

Consider a thorn that is embedded in your skin. It hurts. A lot.  But, rather than remove it we protect the thing which stunts our development.  We leave it be and allow it to bother, irritate, and hinder our growth. We orchestrate our lives to avoid “dealing” with it as that would be, in our minds, just too tiresome and painful.  So we continue with the pain the rest of our lives.  We torture ourselves and limit our growth.

The same happens between neighbors, city leaders, or racial, ethnic, and religious groups. Rather than deal with the disturbance (the root cause), we avoid it. The pain and fear fester.


Video recommendation for the week.

How can you identify and then remove your inner thorn?


The thorn and our avoidance will impact wellbeing for ourselves and those near to us.  Of course, Singer suggests, we hinder our own happiness.

“Your happiness of course is under your control.
It’s just that you don’t really mean it when you say you’re willing to stay happy.
You want to qualify it. You want to say that as long as this doesn’t happen, or as long as that does happen, then you’re willing to be happy….any condition you create will limit your
happiness.”

“I’d be happy if that negative guy were not here!”  “I was ready to be happy tonight but that moron took my seat!”

We grumble. We make ourselves unhappy. Blame others. Protect the thorn.  And stew in our misery.

And as Singer says, we are “not helping anyone by being miserable.”

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in accountability, Anxiety, Appropriate Behavior, assumptions, awareness, blame, change, emotional intelligence, Excuses, Life lessons, meditation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#414) Come Together: Food, Friends, and Family


The food might have brought us together; the bonding kept us coming back.

The word hygge or coziness comes to us from the Danes and it describes the feeling associated with “good drinks, good friends, and conversation” says Dan Buettner. Conjure up the vision, if you will, of a warm candlelit room with civil and convivial interactions.

One study examined “the association between eating together and team performance.” In particular, the researchers investigated “field research within firehouses in a large city” They found “eating and talking intertwined as long as the neighboring eaters are familiar with each other.”

NOTE: I arrived at the same findings some 60+ years ago sitting around the table in my Aunt Philomena’s kitchen.  Maybe not the same research rigor—but definitely similar findings. And better meatballs, I’m sure.

Another study found a “50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships.” In other words, according to these findings, if we can move beyond weak social ties to more meaningful and authentic connections our chances for longer life expand.

Harvard has been tracking adult male development since 1938 and has found that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

When I look back at my Aunt Philomena’s weekly gatherings I do not remember much about the food. Sure, I remember it was delicious, plentiful, homemade, and spicy.  But I would be hard pressed to name a specific dish or to say her meatballs or lasagna were better than my mother’s.

What I remember (in pretty good detail) about those meals focuses on conversation (often times loud conversation), bocce (bocci)  in the backyard, and laughter. The food might have brought us together; the bonding kept us coming back.


Video recommendation for the week.

Make no mistake, “coming together” brings with it a myriad of challenges.  Click here for John Lennon performing Coming Together. And click here for one interpretation of the give-and-take-and-give-and-take-and-give-and-take of collaboration.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in authenticity, collaboration, collegiality, Communication, Community, community development, conversation, core values, family, Friendship, social ties | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#413) Don’t Figure It Out


Leave room…develop the concept…be free…listen.

My current improv instructor reminded the class last week to “get out our heads” and embrace the present. No script. Enhance your partner’s offer. Sense what exists in front of yourself in any given scene.

In a recent Master Class photography lesson, Annie Leibovitz urged photographers to “not totally figure it out” when it comes to a shoot with a subject.  You still have to do research—know your subject and topic—and you need to be free with the direction you will take.  Leave room, she says, to develop the concept.

Let the subject speak to you. Listen. Respect what is in front of you.

Perhaps when we figure it out ahead of time, we shortchange ourselves and those with whom we collaborate, live, and love. Be free and true to the moment.

 


Video recommendation for the week:

Rather than trap ourselves in the “thought forms of the future,” understand that our “life consists entirely of the present moment.”  Listen to Eckhart and Oprah.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in Appreciation, assumptions, awareness, collaboration, curiosity, listening, Mindfulness, Reflection, self-awareness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(#412) Choices: Where Do You Choose To Be?


Once we choose who we want to be, people grow
“to the way in which they have been exercised.”
– William James –

One of my yoga practices this past week, inspired this blog.  As the instructor coached us into various stretches she encouraged us to “soften” into the pose rather than “resist” it.  Be “firm” but “not rigid.”  She reminded us that we need to remain mindful about our choices.

Dichotomies can be simplistic.  This-That. Black-White. Pro-Con. They can reduce important points to confusing and off-putting polarities. And they can lead to what is known as a “Black and White Fallacy” or a “False Dichotomy.” (See recommended video link below for more.)

They, also, help frame a conversation or thought to present apparent bookends for further examination.

Dichotomies can help us understand how we have exercised ourselves to be who we have become on the way to becoming who we will become. Where do our beliefs and habits fall? Closer to “this” or “that.” And what does that (or this) say about us? How do we feel about that message?  We need, though, to understand the nuances.

On the cover of a journal my wife gave me are the words: “When you reduce life to black and white you miss the rainbows.”

I offer the following list as conversation starters for ourselves and our communities; reminders for us to remain mindful about the choices we make each day that affect ourselves and our relationships.

I know you can add more to the list.

  • Accept-Reject
  • Ahh-Ugh
  • Calm-Storm
  • Clench-Release
  • Close-Open
  • Collaborate-Dictate
  • Collective Monologue-Conversation
  • Commit-Vacillate
  • Companion-Stranger
  • Control-Flow
  • Fear-Confidence
  • Free-Shackled
  • Friend-Traitor
  • Give-Take
  • Grow-Stagnate
  • Gullible-Informed
  • Habit-Disorder
  • Help-Hinder
  • Hope-Loss
  • I exist-You exist
  • Inhale-Exhale
  • Love-Manipulate
  • Passion-Apathy
  • Responsible-Hurtful
  • Solace-Angst
  • Talk-Listen
  • Truth-Lie
  • Yell-Discuss
  • Yes-No
  • Yummy-Yucky
  • ! – .

Who and where do you choose to be?


Video recommendation for the week:

Click here for a brief video describing Black and White Fallacy.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in assumptions, awareness, Choice, collaboration, collegiality, decision making, empathy, Excuses, Gratitude, Haters, Life lessons, Mindfulness, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#411) Perhaps, A Human Good Citizenship Test?


If only we treated our fellow human beings (citizens of the world)
with the same dignity as the CGC expects of its participants.

This past week Roxie and I passed the “final exam” for the Canine Good Citizen certification (AKC).  Our ultimate goal includes being a volunteer pet therapy team that makes a difference in the lives of fellow human beings in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care, memory centers, elementary school reading circles, and DeStress days for high school or college students.

With the help of an expert training team, Roxie and I learned more about each other and became more attuned to being good citizens to and for those around us.

Looking at the ten step program/test items reminded me that we can learn so much from our canine companions.  If only we treated our fellow human beings (citizens of the world) with the same dignity as the CGC expects of its participants.  For instance:

  • I had to sign a pledge to take care of Roxie’s “health needs, safety, exercise, training and quality of life.”
  • Test item #1 requires the dog remain calm and polite when approached by a “friendly stranger.” The dog is not to jump or growl at the person.
  • Test item #3 looks for a dog that is of healthy weight, properly groomed, and alert. The handler is reminded to provide praise and encouragement for the dog. Tone of voice is important.
  • Test item #5 has the team walk through a “crowd” to test the dog’s ability to remain focused and not to show resentment for those around her.
  • Test item #9 tests the dog’s ability to handle distractions. Can the dog remain focused in the midst of environmental noise?
  • Test item #10 demonstrates that the dog can quietly and calmly endure a separation from its person. During the separation (the person and the dog cannot see each other for three minutes) the dog “will maintain training and good manners.”

Wow.  Caring for health needs and quality of life. Remaining calm, not jumping on, or showing resentment toward another person. Practicing and applying strategies to remain focused on the present and not be distracted by environmental noise.

Perhaps we should have a Human Good Citizen test.

Roxie says, “Woof!”


Video recommendation for the week:

Here is the impact of one pet therapy team. While programs may have different rules guiding therapy teams, the bottom line remains to make a positive difference in lives of others who wish to interact and engage. Hope. Determination. Comfort. Peace. Calm. Balance.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in acceptance, accountability, Appreciation, Appropriate Behavior, Choice, Civility, confidence, empathy, focus, growth, Making a Difference, Mindfulness, Purpose, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment