Anne Sexton Poem: Welcome Morning

Written by Anne Sexton, Poet on April 30, 2012

WELCOME MORNING

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry “hello there, Anne”

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,

dies young.

~ Anne Sexton ~

More stories from: Featured Poem,Featured Story

Inspiring Moment: Statues and Reflecting Pool

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Brad Rex Tells Us How to Be Thankful!

Written by Brad Rex on April 26, 2012

Here is the second offering from our new guest columnist, Brad Rex. Not only is Brad my beloved brother, but he’s head of The Brad Rex Group, a consultant, noted public speaker, husband for 30 years, and father of three.

I’m proud to report that Brad’s new book, “The Surpassing! Life,” will be published next month. And I’m honored to be among the first to excerpt parts of “Surpassing!” in the coming months.

Here’s his chapter entitled, “Thanks,” which shows us how to be thankful for everything we have in life, very much part of the zeitgeist of Five More Minutes With. At the end, he even includes Action Points and the Payoff if you follow his recommendations.

Thanks for your wisdom, as always, Brad.

Here is his essay entitled, Thanks!

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.–Cicero

 

 I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.–G.K. Chesterton

 

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good: his love endures forever.–Bible, 1 Chronicles 16: 34

 

Have you ever been with people who have very little, but seem very happy and satisfied? The lack of material things may make them appear to be unsuccessful by our culture’s definition, yet most millionaires would envy their happiness. They have achieved surpassing success through gratitude.

Our culture teaches us to regret the things we don’t have, rather than be thankful for the things we do. This is a marketing strategy to drive demand. “You’ll be sorry if you don’t buy these shoes.” “You’ll regret not getting the girl if you don’t drink this beer.” “You will miss out on life if you don’t have this car.” The constant barrage of remorseful messages creates fear and anxiety that drains the energy from life, since there will always be things we don’t have.

A thankful person reverses this thinking. She looks at what she has, rather than what she lacks. She actually realizes that she has many things to be thankful for, and the more things she lists, the more than come to mind.

The unthankful person often makes comparisons. “He has more money or a bigger house.” “She is prettier or thinner than I am.” The unthankful person forgets that life is a package deal. The person who is rich may have destroyed his family. The woman who is thin may have an eating disorder or multiple food allergies. The person who is famous has no privacy.

After reading that Bill Gates’ children required bodyguards to go to school, my children told me, “We’re glad you’re a nobody, Dad.” I’m not sure exactly how to take that, but I accepted it as a compliment. No one “has it all”—there are always negatives with positives. As you look at someone and say, “I wish I had their life,” remember what you would have to give up, and the negatives that come with the positives. You will decide that your life is just fine, and be thankful for what you have.

With the adverse pressures of our culture, fostering an “attitude of gratitude” requires effort. Several practices can help. The first is a simple list of the things that you are thankful for. You can start with various headings, such as health, family, food, shelter, and then build on each topic (e.g., for health—life, the ability to walk, sight, taste, etc.; family—spouse, children, parents, siblings).

You can build up a lengthy list quickly, and realize just how fortunate you are. Pull out the list every day, and give thanks for a few things. If you get disappointed in an area, like losing a promotion or ending a relationship, look at the list and realize how good things are going in other areas of your life.

Robert A. Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, and Michael E. McCullough at the University of Miami conducted research showing that listing five things for which you are grateful with a sentence for each once a week had a profound effect within two months. Versus a control group, the “gratitude group” were more optimistic and happy, spent more time exercising and had fewer physical problems. They also fell asleep faster, had a longer sleep and reported waking up feeling more refreshed. Instead of a sleeping pill, try a gratitude journal!

You can also create a personal marker chronology. This shows how the events that have happened to you or the decisions that you made have positively benefited your life. You should start with your birthplace and upbringing. You might have had an idyllic early life that gave you many benefits and a positive outlook.

Or, your early years could have been a struggle that taught you resilience and street smarts. Your choice of college, military or a job after high school sent your life in a particular direction. The places you lived, down to the specific neighborhoods, determined your friends and activities. If you had children, you can see the timing, and how that fit into the rest of your life.

A personal marker chronology provides perspective. When you broke up with your high school or college sweetheart that you thought was “the one,” you were probably devastated. Your chronology, though, will show that the break-up resulted in meeting your future spouse and a much better life. Similarly, the lost job at one point resulted in a much better job or location later. When the next “bad” thing happens to you, you can look at your chronology and be thankful, realizing that what initially looks bad often leads to a future positive outcome.

Success without gratitude is a hollow victory, and often short-lived. With the next challenge or disappointment, the successful ingrate quickly folds, finding that the previous success provides little assurance or comfort. On the other hand, the thankful person enjoys their current success, while recognizing that the situation can change, and has the resilience to give thanks in all circumstances.

Action Points

• Be thankful for what you have, not regretful for what you lack.

• Don’t make comparisons or, if you do, remember the other person’s life is a “package deal”—you have to take their bad with the good.

• Develop an attitude of gratitude.

• Make a list of the things you are thankful for and review it often.

• Gain perspective from a personal marker chronology.

 Payoff

A much happier life, positive outlook and resilience in challenging times.

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Our First Memory of Mom (MoM) Contest Entry

Written by Ann on April 23, 2012

Many thanks to Ann, who submitted the first Memory of Mom (Mom) entry this year! 

Here’s what she had to say about “Gumby,” that special woman in her life.

If I had five more minutes with my Mom, I would remind her of all the great times we had over the years and would thank her for everything she did for me growing up.

And I would tell her how much I love her and will miss her.

She passed away nearly two years ago. I have so many good memories, and we had so much fun giggling together. Only good memories.

Love you, Mom!

Inspiring Moment: Billowy Clouds

Written by Braiden

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Poem: Just Before the Equinox

Written by Kenneth Weene on April 19, 2012

 

I first became acquainted with Kenneth Weene, author of “Tales From the Dew Drop Inne,” while reading Facebook posts from The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, which is located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The colony was founded by Crescent Dragonwagon, a prolific cookbook author, fiction, and children’s book author (among many other talents) from whom I took a Deep Feast writers’ workshop in Seattle last month that resulted in the following story, My Orchid.

I love Kenneth’s poem because it fits so perfectly into the Five More Minutes With zeitgeist of spending time with the ones we love, and telling them how much they mean to us, while they are still here.

So I reached out to Kenneth and he was nice enough to share his words.

Here is his poem. . .Just Before the Equinox.

Just before the equinox

when trees dress in furry green

and birds shop sites for nests,

we blaze some dry pecan logs

and set steaks on the red-hot coals.

 

To the snap and smell of grilling meat

we recall expeditions and adventures from our youth–

gems of tales encrusted by the embellishment of time.

 

Do you remember when Jake hooked that pike

and nearly ended in the lake?

When Sam went down the sliding rock

and split his britches at the seams?

When Tom told us it was real love

and we knew that we were growing up?

 

Inside, the women are busy with salads, plates, and cutlery.

The children run around.

“Tag.”

“You’re it.”

“You can’t get me.”

 

Sam flips the marbled meat and coughs.

Yellow jets of flame and smoke dance to meet the dripping fat.

As one, we lift our beers to toast our lives.

For a moment the earth is perfectly aligned.

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Inspiring Moment: Seatown Bathroom Art

Written by Braiden on April 18, 2012

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Inspiring Moment: New City Target

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