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The daily practice of gratitude

Grateful for courage, compassion, connection; health and happiness
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?” — William A. Ward

I’ve started this gratitude blog at least three times this past week/weekend and have suffered a serious case of  writer’s block each time. Today, it gets published no matter how eloquent. The truth is, I get emotional when I think about the magnitude of all that I am grateful for these days.

The season of gratitude is upon us and I have always believed it is important to step back, take stock, and express my gratitude for the gifts and the people in my life. This year, however, one of the greatest gifts is the daily practice of expressing gratitude.

The gift of daily gratitude…
“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William A. Ward.

While it is fairly easy to reflect on those things for which we are most grateful during the holiday season, it is far tougher to live your life from a  place of gratitude every day. I have embarked on this practice during the past two years and it has changed my outlook and life experience. I feel truly blessed that along with my physical transformation, I have experienced an internal transformation that has allowed me to see and appreciate the abundance in my life on a daily basis. In doing so, I have developed a culture of daily gratitude, and my life is far richer for it.

I am grateful for the abundance that is present in my life, including my new-found health, the love and support of family and friends, the opportunity to do amazing work with very special people, the daily joys of nature that surround me, and all of the personal pursuits that bring me pleasure. When I live from a place of daily gratitude, even more abundance comes. Instead of feeling deprived or disappointed for what doesn’t happen, I am able to see the silver lining and to appreciate that which I have even more. I feel grateful, fortunate, and blessed in a way that I never did before.

That said, it seems only fitting to share some of what I am grateful for – big and small – in a more public forum on this Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving is a time to take stock and reflect on the abundance in our lives, and for me, how far I have come in two short years. So instead of Thanksgiving being THE day of the year we give thanks, I am making it my public declaration of the gratitude for my progress.

Grateful for courage, compassion and connection…
“Love and belonging are irreducible needs of all. We’re hard wired for connection–it’s what gives us purpose and meaning in our lives.” -Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Many of you who read this blog know of my new-found love for author and researcher Brene Brown and her work. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene coined the term “wholeheartedly living.” Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. Truly believing we are worthy. Cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think — I am enough.

This is exactly what happened to me during the past two years. As I transformed my body on the outside, the inside transformed too – perhaps in an even more powerful way. I am so incredibly grateful to Brene Brown for giving me the words to describe and better understand this internal transformation.

For the very first time in my life, I now believe in the deepest part of my gut — that I am worthy. I am enough. I am awesome. Perfectly imperfect just the way I am. 🙂 And the power in that belief is life changing. It is the greatest gift for which I am eternally grateful. Grateful to God, the Universe, to the skilled transformation team that helped me get here, and to all of the friends, family, colleagues and others who loved and supported me both when I didn’t love myself enough, and throughout the transformation journey to find myself.

Pause. Tears of joy and thanks are flowing. I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude and love for each of you who lifted me up so I could stand on mountains…so I could learn to love myself again. What a gift.

As a result, I now cultivate courage, compassion and connection in new and powerful ways. I enter each new day with the courage to be vulnerable, authentic and real. To try almost anything and everything and not let fear stop me. To give to both myself, as well as to others. And to be, well, less than perfect – publicly! The compassion that shows up in my life for others is deeper, richer and more profound. The connections I experience with others are meaningful beyond anything I had experienced before.

So, of all of the gifts for which I am grateful, finally learning to love and accept myself despite – or rather, because of my imperfections – is the greatest of all! It has opened me up a new way of being via courage, compassion and connection. It is almost indescribable how great it is until you live it. And I want it for each and every person that I love and for those that I coach along this crazy, windy journey.

Grateful for my health…
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  – Albert Einstein

There is no question that I am thankful for the incredible gift of my physical transformation. In particular, for my new healthy and fit body. For good health as a result of getting 200 pounds of excess weight off. For my 14.5 body fat percentage. For the new lease on life this affords. For the joys and struggles of the transformation process itself and the opportunity to learn and grow. For the opportunity to move my body in news ways, experiencing new forms of exercise and movement. For strength – getting stronger and building muscle. For the mountains I have climbed and those yet to conquer. For the trails that lie behind me…and those that lie ahead. For the incredible natural beauty I have experienced along the way. And, for the opportunity to pay it forward and share these gifts with others – including the gift of providing hope, inspiration and motivation to tackle your biggest dreams your toughest challenges.

I can’t find the words to describe how in love with my new physical body I am! 🙂

Do I have issues and challenges – things I could choose to not like about my new physical self ? Yep. Have I complained about them to my friends and family along the way? Sure have. Am I fearful of what comes next – for example needing to have my excess skin evaluated and exploring surgical options for removal? Absolutely.

But does any of this change how incredibly awesome or beautiful I am on the inside or outside? Nope. It just makes me human. And I can live with that. In fact, I love that! Those imperfections are my battle scars, evidence of my journey, and proof of my progress. So without them, it would not be real. And I am all about real. Real, makes me smile. And I can tell you, I am smiling. Grinning actually! 🙂

Grateful for the love and support of others…
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

There is no question, we don’t go it alone in this world. We all need to feel loved, connected and have a sense of belonging. Because of my personality type (ENFJ), one might argue that I need that connection more than some others. So believe me when I say from the bottom of my heart: I am fortunate beyond belief. And I am grateful beyond comprehension…to have so many wonderful people in my life with whom I have shared this journey.

My team of experts, friends, family, colleagues – and yes, even strangers – have loved and supported me through this process. Many of you, unconditionally. No matter how scared, stubborn, or controlling I got – you loved me in spite of it. When I stood before my group of 50+ closest family and friends and celebrated my success, I felt more loved and embraced as a human being than I ever have. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Here in this blog, I must start by expressing my gratitude to those who loved me and believed in me before my transformation. Despite my weight; despite my imperfections; despite my inability at the time to find a way out – you loved me, supported me and worried about me and my health. You stood by my side even when I made it difficult. Each of you knows who are are, and how very, very much I love you. I am grateful for your steadfast love and belief in me when I didn’t believe in myself. There is perhaps no greater gift.

Then there are those incredibly special and amazingly talented people who led the excavation team – Leif, O’Neal, Sandra, Denise – and all of those in the trenches loving and supporting me throughout the two-year transformation journey. They include my Fitness North family especially Leif, O’Neal, Shari, Sue, Carrie, Jay, Sheryl and all from FN 2; my close friends Jimbo, Jean, Cindy, Betsy and all of my sorority sisters, Dennis and Jolita, Elaine, Christine, Sally and so many more; my Marketing that Matters family, namely Jodi, Theressa, Kristin and Bethany; my amazing role models and coaches Anne and Marcia; and my incredibly family in Minnesota and across the country.

Finally, there are those amazing beings who I have had the opportunity to meet, inspire and coach along their own transformation journeys. Each of you has given me something special for which I am eternally grateful. It is a cherished gift to share my story with you and to hear and appreciate yours in return. I thank you for entrusting me with the gift of your story. For pushing past the fear to be authentic and real in the endeavor. We dare greatly together and I look forward to seeing the external and internal transformations each of you will experience along the way. I feel blessed every day to share this path with you.

Grateful for eternal happiness
“Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude.” — Joseph Wood Krutch

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

O’Neal Hampton, my hope and inspiration in this transformation journey, said that what he was most excited for me to experience was eternal happiness. The eternal happiness that comes from the inside when a transformation of this magnitude occurs.

Well, O’Neal was right. Living life from the center of my equation, from a place of self love and worthiness, springs forth eternal happiness. And that, my friends, is a gift I want for each and every person that I love. For each and every person God created.

I am all about spreading the love and the happiness, even if at times I appear annoyingly happy. Ha! The thing is, eternal happiness is a process and a practice. It starts with believing you are worthy. It includes wholehearted living as described by Brene Brown, but to me it is a foundation on which to build.

Living with eternal happiness doesn’t mean that every moment and every day are constantly and consistently happy. That you have no struggle or fear. To me, it means that you come from a foundational place of happiness. A foundation on which to learn, and grow and build. It is how you enter and engage with your world. And, this eternal happiness, this core foundation of happiness is the final big gift for which I am eternally grateful.

What are you grateful for in your life?

Have you taken inventory of late? What if you developed a daily practice of gratitude and noted things big and small in your life for which you were most grateful? And what if that list started with the wonderful things about YOU for which you are most grateful?

What might show up in your life? I encourage you to try it and note what happens, and I would love for you to share here if you are already experiencing the daily practice of gratitude.

Finally, to each and every one of you in my life. To those of you reading this blog and loving and engaging me on a daily basis. I am grateful for you…grateful beyond words. Thank you for being a true gift in my life.



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11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lori Martin #

    I’m grateful for having met you! You’re a great leader, inspiration and friend! How fortunate for anyone and everyone that ever has the opportunity to read your blog, hear you speak, or to get to meet you and spend time with you.

    For anyone who may be struggling with any aspect of life, or be a little lost, there is ALWAYS a tool or an answer to be found in your words.

    Thank you for being my Lion!!

    November 25, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Lori, you are a doll and you enrich my life more than you know. I feel so incredibly blessed to share your journey. We’re in phase two now – and you will ROCK IT! 🙂 Thanks for the love and support, my friend.

      November 25, 2012

    Wow….thank you for your time, as well.

    November 25, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Thanks Kathy. I hope you saw yourself in my blog among the list of things for which I am grateful. Excited to see you tomorrow and talk more about the next phase of your journey!

      November 25, 2012
  3. Absolutely beautiful Lori! You have so much to be thankful for–thanks so much for sharing!

    November 25, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Thank you Beth. I count you among my many blessings. Thanks for your friendship and support.

      November 25, 2012
  4. Jean #

    It is wonderful to read some of the very eloquent things you write. I also am grateful in this season of thankfulness! I am thankful for the many blessings in my life and you are a huge blessing! Thanks for being a great friend to me! Thanks for writing how you feel.

    November 25, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Right back at ya sweets. I can’t even begin to thank you for all you have done to support me in this endeavor and in every aspect of my life. Adore you. Grateful for you, 🙂

      November 25, 2012
  5. Sandra Swami #

    I love this post, Lori. I completely agree that happiness is the foundation of a healthy life, and vice versa. I have always felt so blessed to have discovered the happiness that comes with being healthy and strong and loving the physicality of my body at such a young age. Then to get to share that gift with so many others is something I am very grateful for. I am indeed grateful to continue to be a part of your journey and share in your happiness and you, in mine. I am loving getting to know you as a friend too and look forward to more happy times and more success – yours and mine – as we progress with our journeys with ourselves in the equation!

    Congratulations and bon vie!

    November 25, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Sandra, your post means so much as does your ongoing expertise, coaching, training and friendship. You are such a good teacher in the studio and in life. I am so very grateful our paths have crossed and we’re becoming friends. You’re right that there will be more happy times and success. Grateful to you, and celebrating you. Thanks for everything. 🙂

      November 25, 2012

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