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Living Today


Since the beginning of the year, every morning, whether I feel like it or not, I have been writing down three things that I am grateful for. When I say whether I feel like it or not, I mean when I start, not necessarily a few minutes later when I have written something that I am thankful that I have.

It’s easy to complain. It is easy to find what is wrong in this world, but it is important that we go beyond the rain and look for the rainbow. Gratitude is a special kind of mindfulness that we have toward those things that have already happened. It is actually a tool we can use to help us deal with negative emotions. Everyone has bad days, but your day doesn’t have to stay bad. You can overcome your misery today by expressing gratitude.

Physical Benefits of Gratitude

According to a scientific study, , grateful people feel fewer body aches than others.They also report feling healthier than other people on average. In addition, people who feel gratitude are more likely to take care of their health by exercising more and having regular checkups.

People who express gratitude sleep better at night.

 

Emotional Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude is an instant mood elevator. I find that when I write down something that I am grateful for, I believe it makes my day go better. I think that focusing on all of the good things in my life will improve my mood like nothing else.

Gratitude defuses toxic feelings including envy, resentment, frustration, regret and shame. Multiple studies have been done and gratitude is proven to increase happiness and reduce depression.

Expressing gratitude helps prevent retaliation when someone treats them wrong. People who express gratitude try to walk in the other person’s shoes and don’t seek revenge.

Gratitude fosters resilience. A person who is grateful does not stay down, but keeps on going even in adversity.

Grateful people have improved self esteem. They are gracious and applaud the accomplishments of others.

 

Social Benefits of Gratitude

Because people who are grateful say “thank you” a lot more than other people, being grateful helps you win new friends. When you meet someone and appreciate them for who they are, they are more likely to seek a continued relationship with you. So, smile at and hold a door for strangers, send a thank-you note to a collegue who helped you wiht a project and all this can lead to new opportunities.

Spiritual Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude can help in almost any situation even the loss of a loved one. Gratitude helped me focus several years back when I lost my father, brother and sister within a short period. I realized how blessed I was that I had them in my life at all.

In addition, gratitude helped me focus on the fact that the Creator offers eternal life to anyone who believes that “he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” Death to me is notgood-bye forever, because I believe that I will see my loved ones again in eternity.

Gratitude Helps Me See the Possiblities Instead of the Problems

Gratitute helps me think about the world around me with a different mindset. It helps me see what I can do to change the world around me.

What are you grateful for today? Name three right now.

In my upcoming book, Living Today, The Power of Now, I delve deeper into this virtue of gratitude. I wrote this book primarily to help myself make better use of every day that God has giving me. The book will be launched on Kindle, on September 8, 2017. Be of the first copies by following this link to pre-order now.

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Because today is my birthday, I am putting out a special post

When I was born on July 22, 1959, there had not yet been an American in outer space. That didn’t happen until almost two years later on May 5, 1961 with Alan Shepard. This occurred only after my first brother was born and my mother was already pregnant with my sister. However, two days before I turned ten years old on July 20, 1969, I watched in amazement on our black and white television as Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and heard Armstrong’s famous words for the first time, “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”

 

How can we go so far in such a short time?

We came so far in the space age because the United States was willing to focus on getting to the moon. A few days after Shepard’s historic event, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech  on May 25, 1961 before a joint session of Congress called, “Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs,” In this speech, JFK stated that the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade. With focused attention to get to the moon within a decade was shortened by almost two years.

 

Focused Attention Creates Exponential Growth

 

This trip down memory lane helped me realize that it was focused attention to detail that helped the United States space program not only grow superior to the Soviet space program but do something that the other country never did and that was land several men on the moon. Those first two years, nothing seemed to occur on the surface. The technicians at NASA were working on details. With today’s modern computers, it would have been much easier, but these technicians didn’t have access to them. They had to use their imaginations and skills in science and mathematics to make the moon landing fact. Rockets had to be designed to carry human beings. Heat shields had to be designed that could take the heat of re-entry, Food that could be eaten in zero gravity had to be created. Calculations had to be made to propel the space crafts out of earth’s orbit. Like the foundation of a building, numerous other aspects of the program had to be handled before they could get a human being in a rocket off the ground.

 

Imperfection Does Not Mean We Should Quit

 

The Apollo program changed forever on Jan. 27, 1967, when a flash fire swept through the Apollo 1 command module during a launch rehearsal test. The three men inside perished despite the best efforts of the ground crew. Eighteen months would pass and there would be extensive redesigns, before NASA sent more men into space, but the problems that they faced did not stop them from reaching their goals.

 

How to Use Focused Attention?

 

  1. Make a decision
  2. Create specific goals
  3. Attention to Detail
  4. Setbacks don’t have to be permanent and should be anticipated.
  5. Celebrate the accomplishment

I am imagining what focus can do for me during the next year. I wonder what things can be live one year from now when I add another candle to my next birthday cake. How about you? What could you do with undivided attention?

 

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The Title is:

Living Today, The Power of Now

This is the Description of this book:

What if you only had one day to live? The truth is, you only have one day to live and that day is today.

Today, and only today, you have the power of now, and it is strongest when you know that you are on the right path.

From Living Today, the Power of Now, discover how to:

  • To Focus awareness on the present moment.
  • Tips for obtaining fire starting focus
  • How to change bad habits to good habits
  • Create a Time and a Place to dream
  • Take Worry Out of Your Life
  • Learn How to Build on Past Experiences
  • How to Overcome Fear
  • How to Let Go of Regret
  • The value of forgiving yourself and others
  • And much more

Now Please Help Pick Out the Right Cover!

Cover A

 

Cover B

Cover C

Cover D

Cover E

Cover F

Would You Like to Win An Autographed Copy?

If I can get more than ten people to vote, I wil put the names of the voters into a hat and choose one to receive an autographed copy! Will you be that person?

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Exceeded My Share of Failure

Over the past three years, negativity has decreased dramatically for me. So have the excuses. This is mostly because I have learned that failure isn’t really a bad thing. Failure helps me grow as a person. I want to really live my dreams, not just imagine what a better life might be like so I have learned that I have to go through failure in order to get to the place where I can live my dreams. I discovered that one of the best ways to get this process started is by embracing rather than running away from my failures.

I have failed a lot in the past three years. I failed a lot before that. I failed as a wife. I failed as a pastor of a church. I couldn’t get anyone to come to the church on a regular basis. I spent many weeks as the only person in attendance.  I was fired from several jobs. I am not going into detail about these though, except to say that mostly, I didn’t really do anything wrong either, but I had no one else to blame either.

I remember how I used to feel about myself. I remember a time when I thought that what other people said about me really mattered It really doesn’t. What matters is that I do whatever I do with integrity. I have learned not to be afraid of failure. Failure is better in some ways than success, because it forces me to become stronger. It was not through success, but through failure that I became a stronger person.

Counting Failure as Pure Joy!

The Bible says in James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

When my eldest son was a baby, I was a single mother in the military. I worked in a psychiatric hospital and in my situation I was severely depressed. I felt inadequate as a mother, and I felt guilty for getting myself into such a situation. Therefore, I felt as though I were alone. I remember sitting on one side of my desk listening to one of the patients tell me about her problems and in comparison, mine were far worse! How was it that I was on this side of the desk listening to this girl tell me her problems?

Several months later just before I left the military, a co-worker came to me and told me that she had been watching me. She knew about the problems that I had dealt with over the past several months and she was amazed at how well I coped with my situation. She said that I inspired her. Sometimes the challenges of life inspire others.

As we continue this passage in James 1, Verse 5 says  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” We learn that when we have questions about why things happen, we can ask God to tell us why things happen. Often he will tell us.

Though there are times like the situation I just described shows how things that don’t make sense can inspire others, sometimes our situations inspire us. Things are not always as they seem and it often helps to ask God why things are the way they are.  I remember a number of years ago when I worked as a nurse’s aide at a nursing home. I was caring for an old woman who could do nothing for herself. She couldn’t feed herself. She couldn’t communicate in any way. She was incontinent. She couldn’t even turn over in bed on her own. She was doing little more than simply breathing. As I was caring for her, I was wondering about her purpose. Had she outlived it? As I was caring for her and wondering this, the knowledge of her purpose came to me. She was still alive for me. Because she and people like her were in the nursing home, I had a job, but that wasn’t the only reason. Because she was unable to do anything, it taught me compassion, unconditional love. I was given the privilege to care for this woman because it would improve my character.

Let Go of Negative Reaction to Failure

I have learned to stretch myself over the past three years. I learned that “I can’t” has no place in my vocabulary, but I can sometimes say “This isn’t working” and then let go without beating myself up.

Through failure, I learned that I don’t have to be afraid of it. Failure gets me to where I want to be faster than success does because it stretches me beyond my comfort zone. It’s like running until you can’t run any further. It may take a while to recover, but when I do, I can do more than I could before I stretched my abilities.

Failure allows me to stretch my imagination. It helps me look beyond the obvious. It keeps me from becoming bored with life.

Failure is not really a bad thing. It can produce the purest joy. Therefore I am learning to embrace it.

Author Cygnet Brown has published several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

 

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag–and most recently–Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond. She is also working on another nonficiton book: Living Today, The Power of Now.

 

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com

 

 

 

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The Problem with Someday

 

How many times have you heard yourself saying–someday I would like to … go on a trip, write a one-time gift to my favorite charity, get into shape, start a business, lose ten pounds, finish sewing that quilt, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I talked to people who said that someday they would write a book. The next words out of their mouth were why they couldn’t do it now. By the end of our conversation, I realized that that person probably never would write that book. Someday became the enemy of today for them. Someday is like yesterday and tomorrow. Someday never really comes.

 

Value Your Dream, Make it a Goal

 

The first thing you have to do is determine what your dreams are and if you’re willing to do what it takes right now to get those dreams accomplished. Are there things that you would rather be spending your time doing? My husband for instance, is perfecting happy driving a semi-truck all week and spending his free time watching Netflix, listening to music, kayaking on the river, and shooting pictures and videos that he puts on Flickr and YouTube. He had written a blog for a while decided that was not how he wanted to spend his time. He lives in the moment and is perfectly happy with his results.

 

What’s your dream? What is the one thing that you want to accomplish that you feel you don’t have time to do? Write it down. A dream doesn’t really become a goal until you write it down. Look at that goal every day. When can you start working on it? If the answer is not today, figure out what you can do to make today that day. Start by writing down the details of this dream. Get your senses involved. What does it look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, and feel like? Get as detailed as possible. Reach the point where the dream is as real as being there. If you cannot finish this part of your dream today because of prior time commitments, don’t let it stress you out. However, do look at what you do with your time and other resources. See if there is something that you can do to take a baby step toward that dream.

 

Make your dream one of your priorities. Laura McHugh, author of Weight of Blood, a novel about slave trafficking here in the Ozarks, took a year off from working and stayed home with her two preschool children to write the book. Yes, she had children and yes she had household responsibilities, but in between taking care of the children and cleaning house, she wrote her successful novel. She didn’t waste her day watching soap operas. She stayed to task and by the year’s end she had a winning product that agents and publishers were fighting over.

 

Value Your Time and Other Resources

 

Fight to protect the time and resources you want to devote to your dream. At first you may have to steal those moments and those resources, but do what you can today.

 

However, like exercise, don’t overdo it in the beginning. Ease into it so that your subconscious doesn’t rebel. Start new habits related to this dream by taking tiny baby steps. For instance, if your goal is a thinner, healthier body, rather than starting a diet today to help lose weight, begin to change your eating habits. One habit at a time, spend the next several weeks getting into the habits of eating breakfast, taking a kelp or vitamin tablet or capsule after that meal, drinking a glass of water before eating any meal and eat your protein and fat before your salad or carbs and take no less than twenty minutes to eat. Even if you never change the kinds of food you eat, you’ll still find you have better control of your weight. However, if you do decide to switch out unhealthy foods for healthy foods, you’ll be better able to continue the path to a healthier lifestyle.

 

If your day is filled with a job, taking kids to after-school activities, running errands, and doing housework, but your dream is to be a professional writer, you will no doubt have to get creative if you want to make that dream a reality. This goes for any ongoing dream that you have, you will have to carve out the time and resources that you need if you will ever make this dream a reality.

 

You could simply wait until your children are grown and out of the house, but why wait? Can you find fifteen minutes every morning to work on your first book? Do you realize that if you type 40 words per minute you can write an entire book in a year? If you have a smart phone, you can work even when you’re nowhere near your computer. Get the app Evernote on your phone and computer and when you’re out doing errands, waiting for your children at their school or after school activity, whenever you think of something to add to your book, add a note, a voice recorded note, or even photo that of a person who you could use to help describe a character. Even if you’re nowhere near your phone you can still work on your book in your mind. After your fifteen minutes at the computer is over, decide which aspect of the book you will focus your attention. Then whenever you are working around the house, driving on the freeway, or showering take a few minutes to think about what you will write about next. Authors like Thoreau and Twain have been doing this same thing for hundreds of years. Smart phones and computers make it easier today than ever before.

Whatever your dream, whether it is to lose those excess pounds, write a book, save for retirement or whatever, don’t wait for someday. Today is your day!

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Yesterday Thinking

On our last post, we discussed the idea that worry is a negative form of “Tomorrow Thinking”. “Past Thinking” also exists. Some past thinking is healthy. For instance, having pleasant memories are a form of ‘past thinking” that is appropriate. Pleasant memories can create good emotions that energize an otherwise depressing day.

Regret and Shame are negative “Past Thinking”. Regret is a negative emotion about something that we did in the past. Shame is an emotion that causes us to feel bad about who we are.

I had a dream several times that related to this idea of shame. I dreamed that I was in a restaurant with a number of my friends. The mood of the room was fun. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Then a guy came in and he seemed nice at first. He and I struck up a pleasant conversation. The next thing I knew, all of my friends left the room and I was alone with this person. He suddenly started telling me how I wasn’t any good, and that I would never amount to anything. He told me that God couldn’t and wouldn’t use me because of all thing bad things that I had done in my life.

I told him that I rejected what he was saying and I told him to leave. With that, I awoke from my dream. I was pleased with myself for my stand.

No Regrets, No Shame

We all make mistakes. There isn’t a person on this earth who didn’t make a mistake and never has been, except one, and they crucified him for it!

Asking God for forgiveness is the first step, but we have to go beyond that.

We have to forgive ourselves, make appropriate restitutions, and move on. Better than that, we can discover what we learned from that experience. For instance, if we went to jail because we stole a car, we paid the owner for any damage to the vehicle and we learned that crime doesn’t pay. We don’t have to beat ourselves up over the past. Being a car thief is no longer what we are. That is in the past. If I learned from my mistake, I no longer have to feel shame for my mistake either because I am no longer that person. I have grown from the experience.

Sometimes we feel regret and shame for things that happen to us that are not our faults. I have known a couple people who were convicted of crimes they did not commit. They plea-bargained because they could only afford a public defender who was not interested in defending an innocent person in court. One convicted person rather than regretting the situation showed gratitude for the situation. He said that he had time to reflect on his life and to pursue hobbies in jail that he would not have been able to do if he were not in prison. He sees the experience as a positive rather than a negative.

Gratitude, A Positive Form of Yesterday Thinking

Gratitude is a positive form of past thinking and today thinking. When we feel gratitude, we are remembering and feeling something good about a past event. Feeling this gratitude creates positive energy within us.  For best results, it is important that we express that gratitude. We can express it by telling someone, by recording our voice expressing this gratitude, or by writing it down in a journal. For best results, we need to feel gratitude at the same time that we express it. If you’re feeling low on energy, expressing gratitude can increase your energy as much as a Red Bull does but without the jittery after effects.

Not everything that happens in our lives is necessarily good. My friend who went to prison for a crime he did not commit could have left him bitter and full of regrets. Rather than this bad experience cause him to live in regret and shame, he chose to create a positive experience from it. The experience itself wasn’t positive, but what was positive was how he decided to spin his experience. Gratitude, like regret and shame is a choice. Which one do you choose?

Gratitude, like regret and shame, is a choice. Which would you rather choose?

 

Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

Now Available in Paperback with 40% discount!  Click here to buy now. Taking Preorders for Kindle Edition until May 6! Order now!

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond by Cygnet Brown

In Book V of the Locket Saga, fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?

In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

A vigilante group seeks to avoid the imposed whiskey sales tax. The group goes to extremes; they steal the US mail and tar and feathering U.S. government officials who attempt to collect those taxes.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

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Why Do We Fear?

In our last post, we observed that worrying is a form of negative “future thinking”. Fear can also be a form of negative “future thinking”. Fear has a purpose. It is a defense mechanism that we use to protect ourselves from the unknown. Some fears are realistic. Some are not.

 

We start learning fear the moment we are born. At birth we fear the empty feeling in our bellies or the dampness on our bottoms. We become afraid that our mother won’t come when we need her. We fear abandonment so we cry to get attention. As children, we learn to be afraid of touching a hot stove. We fear pain. We fall when we are learning to walk and we become afraid of distance from the ground. Our best friend in the fourth grade rejects us for another friend. We fear rejection. We try something new and we fail. Others who do what we couldn’t do ridicule us for our inabilities. We fear failure. The fear of rejection, the fear of high places, and the fear of failure are the most common fears that everyone feels.

 

We instantly know fear when we sense it. Our breathing and pulse quicken. The muscles in our chest tighten.. Our palms start to sweat. We want to run away from the situation. That is what is called “the flight or fight” response and for most of us, flight is the mode of choice.

 

Fear can be legitimate. Fear is a defensive protection mechanism.  For instance, when we fell when we climbed up on something high, we felt pain and we associated that pain with high places. Fear of high places kept us from going up on high places and therefore avoiding the pain associated with high places. However, this fear can prevent us from doing what we really would like to do. Because fear was designed to prevent pain, fear convinces us that if we go up on a high place, we will feel pain.

 

Fear is connected to our animal instincts. Our animal instincts are like those of animals. Like the deer, we can run from what we fear, or like a bear we can fight what pushes us into a corner. Fear was designed to protect us from what could hurt us. However, we live in a civilized society and fear’s defense mechanism is often misplaced.

Discerning Realistic Fear From Unrealistic Fear

 

Unrealistic fear can paralyze us from doing what we really want to do. Fear of rejection easily reaches the point where in order to avoid rejection, we never try anything new. We become afraid of what people think and we never do anything that we are truly passionate about. We avoid taking chances. We avoid doing anything that others don’t first approve. We procrastinate because we are afraid that we will make a mistake.

 

A couple of years ago I looked up how “fear” was used in the Bible. I discovered the Bible has basically two different words for fear. The Bible uses one fear when associated with fearing God and his divine purpose for your life. (This divine purpose is your passion.) The other word is associated with other people and is always accompanied by “not”. “Fear not others when”. . . the Bible says.

 

More of us are afraid of the rejection of other people than we are of the rejection of our creator, but the Bible says we should do the opposite.

 

 

Fear as a Cause of Procrastination

 

Fear is often a cause of procrastination. We put things off because we are afraid. We are afraid because we fear what people will say, we are afraid that we will fail, or if what we fear is related to jumping out of airplanes, the fear of high places could also come into play.

 

Therefore, if you find yourself procrastinating, you should determine if fear is part of the reason for your procrastination.

 

First you have to ask yourself: Am I procrastinating because I am afraid or is there some other reason?

 

If you have determined that fear is the culprit, then you need to ask: what am I afraid of?

 

Next ask yourself: Is this fear realistic? You’re not asking if the fear is real, because fear is always real, but what you want to know is this fear based in facts? Is this fear that the average person would be afraid to do? Is this fear that Warren Buffet would have that would keep him from doing what I want to do?

Look at the results of doing what you fear.

 

What are the legitimate positive effects of doing what I am afraid to do? What are the possible positive outcomes?

 

What are the negative effects that could occur from what I am afraid of doing? What are the negative possible outcomes?

 

Now turn it around and think about not doing what you fear

 

What are the positive effects of not doing what I am afraid to do?

What are the negative effects of not doing what I am afraid to do?

Now based on the facts that you have determined, decide whether you will let fear determine whether you will do this or not.

 

Fear is not the only reason for procrastination. Fear is only one of several reasons. Knowing that fear is not the reason for procrastination probably won’t cure the procrastination nor will knowing that fear is at least one of the reasons for the procrastination, but it can give you hints of what you can do to overcome that fear and anxiety.

 

What are you afraid of? What are you going to do about it, if anything?

 

 

Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

Now Available in Paperback with 40% discount!  Click here to buy now. Taking Preorders for Kindle Edition until May 6! Order now!

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond by Cygnet Brown

In Book V of the Locket Saga, fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?

In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

A vigilante group seeks to avoid the imposed whiskey sales tax. The group goes to extremes; they steal the US mail and tar and feathering U.S. government officials who attempt to collect those taxes.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

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