Lifespan – Abilities Illuminated

Seriously? Gratitude is that Powerful?

A few important words from Amy Ford, LIFESPAN Program Director for Special Instruction & Community Based Rehabilitation Services: Spring has sprung!  It is officially spring; the daffodils are poking their heads out, the cherry trees are in blossom, the grass is greening and the birds are singing verbosely. Spring gives me a profound sense of gratitude.  But, I’ve learned some important things about GRATITUDE. Some of you know that this past year has been really rough for me, personally.   Surprisingly, I have been able to stay positive and I owe a lot of that to being able to focus on the things for which I am grateful. Even in the midst of the “hard” stuff, there are things for which we can be grateful. I have always been told that focusing on the things you are thankful for helps counteract the negative things happening all around.  That’s true and since I’m an elementary school teacher, I’ve found some interesting scientific evidence to back it up. Gratitude can: (physically) give us stronger immune systems cause us to be typically less bothered with aches & pains lower our blood pressure Gratitude can: (psychologically) give us higher levels of positive emotions make us feel more alert, alive and awake help us be more optimistic & happy Gratitude can: (socially) make us more outgoing make us more forgiving make us feel less lonely & isolated Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions and it can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression. Grateful people are more stress resistant.  Studies have shown that grateful people recover more quickly from serious trauma, adversity & suffering. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth. I am inspired by this quote from self-help author, Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity.  Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  I encourage all of us to fill our lives with gratitude.  It’s better for us than a multi-vitamin. (As part of our weekly “circle-up” at LIFESPAN Shopton, Amy created a garden display and had all of us to write our “gratefuls” on a butterfly and add it to the garden.) **Why Gratitude is Good by Robert Emmons / Nov 16 2010 / greatergood.berkley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good

LEAVE YOUR MARK

From LIFESPAN Ambassador, Toni Huneycutt Let me start by saying to the ladies, “You are awesome.  And everyday you should be celebrated!”    March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Additionally, the entire month of March is celebrated as Women’s Month.  Why do need an International Women’s Day and why do we need a Women’s Month?    It gives the world an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of women throughout history;  it calls attention to the many obstacles women have overcome in their long struggle to be recognized and valued as fully human and independent;  it also gives cause to celebrate the important roles women fill daily in culture and society.  Did you know that Kevlar ( a synthetic fiber used to make bullet-proof vests) was invented by a woman?  Are you aware that it was a woman who invented electric hot water heaters, fire escapes, life rafts, medical syringes, dishwashers, windshield wipers and probably most importantly, chocolate chip cookies?  Even an organization like LIFESPAN owes a debt of gratitude to a woman.  LIFESPAN might never have existed if it had not been for Dorothea Dix.  Ms. Dix was one of the first people in the world to recognize the importance of care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.  She created the first facility in the nation specifically devoted to the care of those individuals.  In an era when no one was talking about the needs of individuals with mental health and developmental disabilities, Dorothea Dix brought it to the forefront.    International Women’s Day was adopted by the United Nations in 1975; however, it has been celebrated ’round the world since 1911.    The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Balance for Better.  (#balanceforbetter).  This theme was chosen because we are now entering an exciting period in history when the world desperately needs and is searching for balance.  We need balance.   We notice its absence and we celebrate its presence.  How can we help create balance?   All of us can work together to engage in conversations about women and women’s issues; we can bring attention to the women in our lives; we can celebrate their successes and notice the small and many ways the women in our lives strive to make the world a better place every single day.  Be willing to engage in tough conversations on subjects like gender inequality and the salary gap.  Be ready and willing to listen to the stories of the women in your life; share your story and most importantly, mentor the young ladies in you life.  I challenge each of you to help build a much more gender-balanced world.  Balance is not just a woman’s issue, it’s a human issue.   (Editor’s note:  When Toni presented this to the team of ambassadors at LIFESPAN, she distributed purple pens and ask all the ladies in the group to “leave their mark.”  Purple is significant because it represents justice and dignity for women throughout the world.  As Toni said, “no women should every be discouraged to leave her mark!”)