Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Book Review: The Gratitude Diaries

Monday, February 15th, 2016

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your LifeThe Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simply put, I enjoyed this book.

I am not much of a self-help reader, but this year, I decided to set aside my pride and try a few that appeal to me. Many of them I don’t even finish, because they all seem to be written by spoiled brats who don’t know how good they really have it. Their life is full of multiple homes, travel, money, fame, and more, but their lives are somehow so miserable, that they despair at missing out on some enlightenment.

I can’t relate to that.

This book is also written by a spoiled woman, except that she realizes that she’s spoiled, and decides to spend a year learning to be grateful. Rather than trying to change the circumstances of her life, she seeks to learn how to express and feel gratitude for what’s right in front of her.

This is an approach I can get behind!

She didn’t need a fully funded trip around the world eating, praying and loving. She didn’t need other people to stroke her ego, guide her onto new spiritual plains, or tell her comforting lies over really great food. She realized that it is her responsibility to find her own joy and happiness within the life she has been given.

She also realizes that gratitude allows you the wisdom to see circumstances that might need to change, and the courage to make those changes herself.

Breath of fresh air.

The best part? She doesn’t claim to hold the keys to happiness. She just shares her research and personal journey. And I believe her year of gratitude was genuine, and it’s going to stick, and she’s really going to be better for it.

I appreciated her approach, her conversational writing style, and her humility.

She comes across kind of big-sistery at times, even though she’s the little sister in her family. But even that made me appreciate her more, because I related so strongly.

I’m glad I read it, and I think I can apply what I learned from it.

View all my reviews

30 Days of Thanksgiving, day 19: YouVersion Bible App

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Click to visit the site.

Click to visit the site.

I am genuinely thankful for the YouVersion Bible App. It took me quite awhile, but I finally downloaded this thing a couple of years ago, not long after Dad died. It’s free, and it’s been my most-used app. Right up there with Facebook and Twitter, which is saying something.

My favorite feature of this app is the plethora of Bible reading plans it offers. Everything from classic devotionals, to Bible-in-a-year variations, to short and sweet 1-2 week series are available. Not only that, but it offers (I’m pretty sure) every English translation of the Bible there is. The Word of God, complete and unabridged. And commentaries! So many classic commentaries. It’s kind of ridiculous how much is in this app.

And it’s all free.

Free, people.

As in no cost. None monies. Zero dollars. Pro bono.

The way the Word of God should be, in an ideal world.

When it’s impractical or impossible to pack my actual, physical, leather-bound Thompson Chain Reference Bible, it doesn’t matter, because I have 8 bajillion versions of the entire Bible that fit in my pocket. In. My. Pocket. This means that I don’t have to skip out on my quiet time in God’s Word, ever.

What about WiFi, you ask? What if I don’t have a connection? Well. Get this. You can download offline versions of the Bible, too, so that you can still access it and search the Bible without a data connection.


Ain’t technology grand?

What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,

30 Days of Gratitude, day 19: Vivian Harmon

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Copy of thankful 2015 day 19Vivan Harmon, Student Midwife extraordinaire! I do not exaggerate when I say that I am most grateful for my fellow student and assistant. The more I get to know Vivian, the more I admire, respect, and love her.

When I first started assisting Desirre, she and Vivian had already worked together as assistants under Merrie MacDowell, the midwife who caught my two youngest babies. They had a rhythm in their work that was like a choreographed ballet. I wondered in my insecurity if I would ever attain that kind of synchronicity.

Thanks to Vivian, I have.

From the beginning, she taught me efficiently and kindly how to do what she does, and brought me up to speed faster than I would have thought possible. She has had nothing but grace and kindness for me during our entire professional relationship, and I feel blessed to now count her among my friends.

Ain't she purty, too?

Ain’t she purty, too?

She has been open to my questions, taught me how to do things before they are asked for, and shown me little tips and tricks that make the work we do so much easier and more efficient. She knows how to cooperate and work together, how to correct mistakes graciously, and how to lead and ask for what she needs. She and I work together so well, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her calm presence.

Vivian is intelligent, honest, loyal, professional, honest, capable, humble, confident, kind, funny, and pretty much just amazing all around. I kinda want to be more like her when I grow up.

As we face separate paths this coming New Year, I couldn’t let this old year pass by without expressing my gratitude for her presence in my life. Thank you, Vivian. I heart you with many hearts.

Who are you thankful for in your life?

Tiffany Miller
Student Midwife and Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Gratitude, day 18: Scrubs.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 18Scrubs. Those ubiquitous uniforms worn by most health care workers. Whether they are hospital issued, color-coded for security, or fun designs to please the kiddos, they are a genius invention.

Today, I am thankful for scrubs.

Many midwives don’t feel quite comfortable wearing them to births, as they feel it brings a too-clinical/medical air to the home birth environment. I get that, in some ways, and can empathize. However, I happen to disagree.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) I have yet to meet a mother who takes issue with scrubs being worn in her home. (That’s not to say there aren’t any, just that it doesn’t seem to be the norm in our area. I’m sure I would accommodate if a request were made. Though, I’d insist on the pants at least…)

2) Our job is, in fact, clinical. It just happens to come from an entirely different worldview and care model. A midwife’s responsibility is still rooted in clinical health and safety, though it goes far beyond that into supporting wellness. It makes sense to wear clinical duds.

3) At a birth, we are often likely to be “baptized” with various bodily fluids, and you can’t beat a good pair of scrubs for drying time. Not even a bathing suit dries faster. I can’t imagine having to finish work at a birth in sopping wet jeans.

4) They are snazzy. We can express ourselves with the wide variety of options available though I have yet to find TARDIS scrubs…help me out?

5) They are easy to clean. Seriously. It’s like they’re incapable of holding stains. So, I can essentially guarantee that I will look professional.

Their only downside? Those elastic waistbands like to migrate downwards. A lot. So, midwife’s crack might be a thing. Totally worth it, though.

What are you thankful for this fine fall day?

Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife

30 Days of Gratitude, days 11-17: Teaching Tools

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Copy of thankful 2015 day 11-17Wow! Has it really been a week since I posted? Thank you all for your patience. Turns out being off-call doesn’t necessarily make me more efficient at getting blog posts up, does it? Ha! Well, now you all know that I’m a real person, and I make mistakes too, and that can’t be a bad thing to know. So many people look at my life and think that I have it all together, but I very  much do not! I am just doing the best I can, with what I have, where I am, and that, by necessity, has to be enough.

That said, I am delighted to share with you some teaching tools that I am so very thankful for in my work. Without good teaching tools, I would just sit in front of a classroom full of people and yap. Not that I couldn’t do that, but how fun would that be? Not much. (I do enough of that anyway…) So, without further ado, my favorite teaching tools:

Most of all, I am thankful for a great classroom space, that I can arrange and rearrange how I see fit, every time. It’s so much fun to anticipate class needs, and to enhance the group dynamic by making the space our own while we are there.

What are you thankful for today?

Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator & Student Midwife

Image links:
Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17.


30 Days of Thanksgiving, Days 12-17: Quotes

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Today, I am thankful for quotes. I love quotes. Snippets of language that encase wisdom in neat little packages. Neat little packages that can hurt, heal, open minds, create debate, and more. I love to unpack them and ponder them, and pass them on. Here follows a few of my recent favorites, that have burrowed there way into my very soul, one for each day I’ve missed posting:

Day 12: A quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce that has been driven home to me quite a bit lately. This is pieced together out of a dialogue in the book, and while there are gaps, I have left the meat of the quote.

“Pity was meant to be a spur that drives joy to help misery. But it can be used the wrong way round. It can be used for a kind of blackmailing. Those who choose misery can hold joy up to ransom, by pity…Did you think that joy was created to live always under that threat? Always defenceless against those who would rather be miserable than have their self-will crossed? … Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites? … That sounds very merciful: but see what lurks behind it. … The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven. … Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it: or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”

Long story short, this quote reinforces the fact that one’s misery does not have the right to quell the joy of another. It is good and right to allow joy to rule one’s heart, even if others are miserable. Pity is what drives joy to reach out a helping hand to draw misery into itself and turn it to joy. Misery does not have the right to drag joy down with it. In other words, it is joy’s responsibility to have pity. It is not misery’s job to coerce joy into something that looks like pity.

Day 13: I cannot find appropriate credit for this quote, so if you know who said it, please enlighten me!

“Wake up early. Drink coffee. Work hard. Be ambitions. Keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It’s time to start living.”

I have started collecting motivational and positive quotes, in an attempt to reverse my negative thought patterns. I’ve incorporated Scripture verses, quotes, and even Pandora stations that all encourage me to keep looking up, but this one hit me because of its simplicity. It’s like a daily to-do list that I can lean on when I feel overwhelmed. What do I do today? Oh yeah! Wake up. Drink coffee. And so on… From there, I can’t really go wrong, even if the day is hard.

click for source

click for source

Day 14: Colossians 3:23. I will never forget the day the Lord gave me this verse. I had had “one of those days” as a new mother. Alone, 87 poopy diapers, 48 loads of laundry, the dirty dishes from the night before still in the sink, and I felt wasted. I felt like I was throwing my life away by wiping behinds, tables, noses, walls, and toilets. Like a flash, this verse paraded itself before my eyes. The Holy Spirit crept close, and whispered into my ear: “It is my diapers you are changing. My tables you are wiping. My meals you are making. None of this is wasted. I see you. I am pleased with you.”

While I continue to have bad days now and then, and even wonder if what I’m doing is really important, I cling to this rock of hope in Colossians 3:23. As long as the Lord is pleased with me, and I am following his calling on my life, what else matters? This is the sunshine in my soul. It’s the silver lining in my clouds. The rainbow of promise to my very heart of hearts. I will never let go. What can man do to me?

Day 15: This quote is one of the quotes residing on a green post-it note on my bathroom mirror. It’s another short, sweet one, and ridiculously practical. I love it.

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” ~Nora Roberts

Well, duh. Right? It just reminds me never to assume anything. To refrain from deciding for others what they can or cannot do for me. I am speaking up and asking more and more, and I am leaping out in faith more than I ever have. And each time I do, I gain strength and confidence in the One who leads me.

Day 16: This next quote is one I came across while browsing Pinterest. And it dawned on me that this is what I have done for years. I’m not doing it anymore. Ever again.

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” ~Raymond Hull

I don’t know who Raymon Hull is, but wow. This quote has been a powerful reminder that the only people worth changing for, ultimately, are Jesus and me. I, after all, am the only one who will stand before God to answer for myself. I answer to no one else, ultimately, but Him. My very Creator and King and Friend. It will benefit everyone around me by default. I am feeling more and more free every day as a result, and who can argue with that?

Day 17: Last, but not least (and boy, did I have a hard time narrowing it down), this is my all-time favorite quote and sums up my very heart. I have come through a darkness in my life, and come out stronger and more myself. I have shed pretense as I stepped once again out into the light. And this sums it up perfectly:

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people know more… though I know that is the noblest ambition… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.” ~Anne Shirley (Anne of Avonlea)

I was christened “Sunshine” the very day of my birth, and I have lived up to it as best I could for most of my life. It wasn’t until I walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with Dad, and caught the gorgeous sunrise at its end that I realized that I am Sunshine. That is my name. My heart. My soul. I know better now, though, that being Sunshine doesn’t always mean that I am forever chipper. It means that I am bright, hot, shining, and I fill the sky with brilliant light and color and warmth. I am not delicate. I am vast and brilliant. (Borrowed from Shinedown)

And I intend to affect the whole world.

What is your favorite quote, and how does it impact you?

Grace & Peace,

30 Days of Thanksgiving, days 10 & 11: Because, stomach virus.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
The day he deployed, saying 'bye to Little Red.

The day he deployed, saying ‘bye to Little Red. Look at those chubby cheeks!

Day 10: I am thankful that the stomach virus that swept nonchalantly through our home was short-lived. Miserable, but short-lived. I am also thankful for good general health among the six of us, so our immune systems could handle the vomit carnage. I’m exaggerating, of course. Durin was the only one who barfed more than twice during his battle with the bug. Still, even he was only down for one day.

So, I will be diffusing Thieves oil, airing out the house in spite of the chill, and cleaning doorknobs with grapefruit seed extract and whatnot to make sure this bug stays dead.

Day 11: Today I am thankful for my veteran husband, Levi, who served eight years in the Air Force, and was deployed once during that time. Without him, and other men and women in uniform, this country might be a sorrier place.

After a tough weekend, I am surprised at how well this week is going, in terms of productivity. I’m one day behind on my midwifery and childbirth education reading and homework, but as long as I get it all done by Friday night, I will have a true-ish weekend! (Levi works nights and weekends, so a real weekend never really happens for us as a family.)

Thank you so much for sticking around and putting up with these weird, disjointed posts. Y’all are so understanding. And in the meantime, won’t you please visit CAPPA’s YouTube channel, and consider subscribing? This is the channel I am running for CAPPA, and would dearly love to get the video messages out to a wider community! Thank you so very much!

What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,

30 Days of Gratitude, day 10: Time Off-Call.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

There is nothing a doula or a midwife looks forward to more than time off-call throughout the year.

Since we have chosen this line of work, you won’t often hear us complaining of being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. Yet, this work is demanding. It stretches our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our relationships. It affects every area of our lives profoundly, and we must make sure we find the balance we need in order to keep ourselves from burning out.

Ideally, we want more than that. We want to thrive in this work, in our personal lives, and in our relationships. So, we schedule time off-call. Here at Preparing for Birth, we choose to set aside two months a year in which we take no clients. We still have prenatal and postpartum appointments, but we will have a glorious 3-4 weeks in which we can turn our phones off sometimes!

We can take time for family vacations, field trips with the kids, or days to just do nothing. We can enjoy more than one margarita if we feel so inclined, and not worry about a late night of karaoke.

For us to be at our best in serving our clients, we must take this time. It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. And we are so grateful that there are enough midwives and doulas in this town to go around, so we are free to take that time off and not worry that any clients will be left without a care provider.

Time off-call. It’s a beautiful thing.

How do you take time off? What are you thankful for today?

Tiffany Miller,
Student Midwife & Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Gratitude, Days 8 & 9: Shared Nerdiness & Geeky Culture

Monday, November 9th, 2015

thankful 2015 days 8-9 aBirth professionals are a unique breed. Nerdiness is a built-in feature of each of us. We tend to be counter-cultural in a lot of ways, and our passions extend beyond the bounds of birth, babies, and breastfeeding in surprising ways. Today, we are all thankful for this ability we have to bond in our shared nerdiness and geeky culture.

We all geek out over things which the rest of the world will just back away from. We have all squealed in delight at the latest and greatest fake boob, because we can use it to demonstrate a pump. We have each sighed longingly over a new model pelvis, because ours is missing its tailbone. Our Amazon wish lists are filled with midwifery texts, cute scrubs, birth books, and tools of the trade. And don’t even get me started on the awesomeness of placentas!

We go all fangirl when we hear that Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin, or Michel Odent has agreed to speak anywhere in our near vicinity. They are the rock stars of the birth world, and we just can’t handle the awesomeness.

And yet…our geekiness doesn’t stop there. Our ridiculous passion for birth extends to a lot of other areas. Did you know Colorado Springs has a stormtrooper midwife? Yet, she is not the only out and proud nerd in town! Our very own Desirre Andrews has quite a large, geeky following on her Dram of Outlander blog, and is writing reviews for a few different SyFy shows. Seriously, we are a geeky bunch, and we were geeks before being a geek was cool! (So, we’re like…hipster geeks. *snort*)

“I’m thankful for nerd girlfriends! Doctor Who, LOTR, Books, Sherlock, all things geeky and nerdy!” -Sabrina Stewart, Pregnancy Fitness & Breastfeeding Educator and CLC

Not only do birth professionals connect over all things birth, we connect over fandoms. Everything from Marvel to Star Trek to Doctor Who, to Outlander to Downton Abbey to Sherlock to Firefly, you can find us geeking out over something.

A geek is a geek is a geek, and while we’re not all the same, we find our common ground in our fandoms!

Today, we are thankful for our sisterhood being built on more than birth and breastfeeding. We are thankful that geek culture is in, and that it’s finally okay to be wildly passionate about anything! Here’s to the comic book nerds, the cosplayers, the bookworms, the gamers, the Marvel fanatics, the BBC fangirls, and all other nerdy passions!

What are you geeking out over today?

Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator and Student Midwife

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Days 5-9: Because Procrastination

Monday, November 9th, 2015
Our very first butterfly kit.

Our very first butterfly kit.

Today, though I am behind, I just want to take this chance to express gratitude for my four children.

Day 5: I am thankful for my firstborn, because it is he who made me a mother for the first time. It is he who has had to endure the first and worst of my parenting mistakes. It is he who will always be the guinea pig of the family. It is he who is teaching me so much, though I feel like I am having trouble learning what I am supposed to learn. On the verge of young manhood, I am perplexed and nervous about the next phase in his life. I have made so many mistakes already, and I fear the worst are to come. So, I thank God for this gift of a firstborn son, who loves me, and who still needs me to be the best mother I can be, and who forgives me so readily when I ask him. I am grateful for his affectionate, loving nature, and I pray I can nurture that part of him over the next few years, and help shape him into a loving and gentle man.

Day 6: I am thankful for my firstborn daughter, who has shown so much self-discipline lately. I am certain (because I asked her) that it stems from the trouble she sees her siblings getting into, and she wants a different path for herself. Still, little does she know that this self-discipline is exactly the quality she will need to achieve whatever God sets before her in life. So, I am thankful for this characteristic in her. She is so much better than I was at her age. I am thankful that she is a bit of a mystery to me, and that I have to work to bring her heart to the surface, where I can know her better. I am thankful that I must open my eyes and ears more purposefully with her, otherwise I would miss who she is.

Day 7: I am thankful for my redheaded third-born. High-strung and sensitive, this one is a great challenge to me as well. It seems that she will not capitulate to anything without first fighting it out in some form or fashion. She is quick to anger, but quick to repentance and grace as well. She has high highs, and her lows plunge her into the “depths of despair,” much like my own personal Anne Shirley. She is a puzzle, longing for more freedom than she is ready for. She is the one teaching me patience and grace. To be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I am thankful for her refining personality, and the strength I can see growing in her, that will allow her to stand firm among giants, in spite of her small stature.

Day 8: I am thankful for my youngest, of the long lashes, brown eyes, and freckled little-boy face. That child has taught me, more than any of them, that not all children are the same. Teaching him to read has been one of my biggest parenting challenges, but I managed it. His brain just works so very differently than any of the others, that I marvel. Sometimes, I wonder if I am really the right mother for him, but he helps me to remember that God chose me specifically for him. There can be no better mother for this child, in spite of appearances. He has taught me to trust that God makes no mistakes in the paths he sets before his children, and that I can, indeed, do “all things” through Christ who strengthens me.

Day 9: I am thankful that the virus going through our house the past few days is very short-lived, so that we can each just move on. I am thankful that Saturday was incredibly productive for me, so that I could take a true day of rest on Sunday, though it meant taking a rain-check on a much-needed outing with one of my dearest friends. Perfect timing, stomach bug. Perfect. (Note: there really should be a sarcasm font…) This illness running through the house is teaching me to be thankful in everything. It also taught me not to let these things derail me quite so much as they used to. To instead just roll with it, and be grateful for strong immune systems.

God is good. All the time.

And I’m thankful today.

Pardon any typos, I don’t have time to proofread this morning, as I do need to get started on our homeschool day, like, two hours ago…but I couldn’t let the morning pass without acknowledging the goodness of God.

What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,