This week marks the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. From the tributes, the on-site reading of names of those who lost their lives on that day (and those who died years later from working at the site), the moments of silence, and each of our own individual remembrances, it reminded me of the days that followed. I live in New York and when I returned to the city after attending my mother’s funeral, landing at a nearly empty JFK airport with only soldiers with machine guns to welcome me home, I was as dazed as many people.
The thought of going about my daily routine seemed odd and somewhat discomforting. What really struck me, though, was the stillness of the city and the small kindnesses and considerations of New Yorkers that I observed on a daily basis. There was no pushing and shoving in the subways, people held doors open for others, and there seemed to be a genuine small town appreciation for every person who crossed our paths. It truly was remarkable and lasted for a few months. This remembrance leads me to my theme for the day.
I’m writing about gratitude. As we roll into the fall/winter season with all of the holiday craziness just “moments” away, I just wanted to take a beat and acknowledge my own gratitude and remind my readers of all that we have to be grateful for today.
In the Science of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles wrote, “The grateful mind expects good things. The grateful mind is constantly fixed on the best, therefore it tends to become the best, it takes the form of the best, and will receive the best.”
Gratitude has been proven by over 40 research studies to have long-lasting and wide-reaching impact on all aspects of life. Gratitude is strongly associated with improving mental health, but it improves our physical and relational health as well. Being grateful also impacts our overall experience of happiness and contentedness — outcomes that tend to be enduring.
A few of the benefits of being grateful are:
• Increased optimism and contentedness
• Decreased negativity, stress, and depression
• Improved connections with others
• Heightened self-confidence
• Increased energy and positivity
• Strengthened immune system and other health benefits
• Enhanced ability to forgive others
When someone is not grateful for something coming into their life (thinking to themselves, “It’s about time,” or “I can’t accept that dinner, or gift, or generosity”), they are living in a space of constriction and very contracted energy that ultimately comes from a lack of deserving. Gratitude is the vibrational flow and expansion that increases our sense of deserving.
In the Power of Gratitude, Kevin Eikenberry wrote, “Gratitude is an attitude. Gratitude is a choice. And gratitude is a habit. When we consciously practice being grateful for the people, situations, and resources around us we begin to attract better relationships and results. The habit will be strengthened as you make the choice each day.”
This is the 27th post on Persephone Rising — half the year down and ready to take on the second half! This blog was one of the big goals that I accomplished this year. It has definitely been a challenge. But more importantly, it’s been an amazing learning experience. It’s taught me discipline, it’s helped me focus and dig deeper into my thoughts and life philosophies, it’s expanded my skills as a writer, and it’s allowed me to express myself in a completely new and different way. And for that, I am truly grateful.
My hope is that this attempt to bring a different perspective of life through Persephone Rising has been and will continue to be beneficial for you — or at the very least, interesting enough to keep you reading. For me, though, it has made me even more thoughtful and aware of my own self, of the life that I’m leading, and of the life that I want to lead in the future.
Let me leave you with one small action step to get you into the vibrational flow of gratitude. Just before you go to bed tonight, write down two or three things that occurred today. It might be something as small as a receiving a compliment from a stranger or as big as landing that terrific job. (Congrats, Michelle!) Whatever it is, be grateful.
Each and every day is a gift, filled with discovery and surprise. By expressing our gratitude for all of the beauty, wonder, and good fortune every day offers, we invite happiness, joy, peace, kindness, and fulfillment into our lives. Now, who wouldn’t want that?
TIME TO DINE: Cooking for Joan
Today’s recipe is a classic dish my mother used to make for us every once in a while. If I was given a choice between meat and potatoes or a one pot saucy dinner, I would always choose the latter. (Not that my mother ever gave us options!). But when I was attending college in Lake Forest, I had free rein. The cafeteria usually offered up two options — some form of meat and starch or a mystery pot of who knows what. I always went for the one pot wonder. My friends always ribbed me for being the “slop” eater in the group. But, on occasion, the “slop” was the best choice. In any event, this chili is far from “slop!” It’s simplicity of ingredients lends to a delightful meal — warm, homey, and totally satisfying. I’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe (onion and garlic powder, good Lord!). Enjoy!
Mom’s Chili with Beans
Prep Time: 30 min | Cook Time: 1 hour 30 min | Makes: 6 to 8 | Difficulty: Easy
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
- 2 cups onions; chopped - cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 cup bell pepper; chopped (red, yellow or green) - cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons garlic; minced (or pressed through garlic press)
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds ground beef, pork, veal
- 2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans; - drained and rinsed
- 1 (28 ounce) can (fire roasted) diced tomatoes - with juice
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce salt pepper
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne. (Dry seasonings are added at the beginning with the onions so the spices release their oils and the vegetables have enough time to absorb all the flavors.)
Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high, add the meat and lightly season with about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, roughly 4 to 5 minutes.
Add beans, tomatoes and their juices, tomato puree, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove lid and continue to simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender and chili is slightly thickened (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer). Taste and, if necessary, adjust seasoning with salt.
Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day. To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with your favorite condiments.
If you're a fan of spicy food, try using a little more of the crushed red pepper flakes and/or cayenne — or maybe add a couple seeded and diced jalapeno peppers. The flavor of the chili improves with age. So, if possible, make it one to three days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.
**Image by PhotoJohn830