Recently, a friend asked me how often I write on the blog and who reads it. At the zenith, I wrote almost every day. It was an exercise, a practice, an intentional effort to find the good and acknowledge those things in my day that gave me inspiration, joy or affirmation. It was the inoculation from pessimism and anxiety. And it afforded me tremendous protection from the darkness. As I have fallen away from writing, I recognize I have lost much of my immunity.

Honestly, I have no idea who reads. There may be metrics and features, add-ons and plug-ins, that capture such data, but I don’t write for the reader. I write for my heart and my soul, to lift my head upwards and to find the gratitude.

For Thanksgiving, we asked the many guests joining our table to anonymously write three things of small cards: for what were they grateful, thankful and blessed. And we shuffled all the cards up and then read them aloud. We read each others offerings of thanksgiving. It was a mindful effort to step into another person’s gratitude. Empathy is more than feeling another persons pain or suffering. It is also being capable of graciously and enthusiastically feeling their joy and good fortune (even when our own place may not be so wonderful). Yes! We can feel happy for others even if we are discontent. The abundant heart opens up to other people’s bliss even if our own bliss feels distant and difficult. Fight the miserly, stingy heart. It robs you of being present with others.

I went to a family physician conference this weekend and one of the lectures was about physician burn-out and how to combat it. The great metaphor was that the very luxurious and sumptuous Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island lost is power two consecutive nights. When the generator came on, the hotel fought repetitive brown-outs and black-outs for hours. Florida doesn’t do high wind, winter storms coming for the northwest. We are usually bracing for the hurricanes coming from the southeast.

Burn-out dissolves when you do what you love and stay focused on it. You can hold onto joy in your day if your heart is focused on being present. Are you still called to that which you have set your life’s work? If not…CHANGE IT. And if their are people in your realm that steal your thunder, squelch your voice, suction away the energy or cause joy to evaporate – get rid of them. And….do not grieve them when they leave. Because they do leave. They run. They flee. They slink away. Because they are stingy and miserly and hard-hearted. They demand and insist on being the center and cannot see anyone or anything but themselves. Let them go. And let go of the sadness you feel over their small-heartedness. They CAN change. Realize YOU cannot make them (or anyone) change.

Be yourself. Be true. Be honest. See the things that are cool and lovely and silly. Be silly. And say thank you. I came across these things recently and they made me very happen. Check out the Rifle Paper Company, an indie business started and run in Winter Park, Florida. Check out Mercantile + Co from Garden & Gun Magazine (and check out G&G magazine if you haven’t already – buy a subscription for yourself for Christmas. Trust me, it’s worth it!) Watch this commencement speech. I love it. And watch the combined Army & Navy choirs sing our National Anthem. If you like murder mysteries, check out Louise Penny. I listen to the books through Audible, which I also love.

And when someone has her very first baby, even when she is a doctor and “knows the medical part” of pregnancy, labor and infants pause for a moment and recall your own first days with your newborn. Remember the awe and grandiosity and sublime love that blossomed forth from a font inside you that you had never known. And look at the baby picture, so fresh from heaven, you can still see the remnants of purity and perfection. And be filled with thanks. And revel in her joy.