Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy, Not Crappy: A List of Blessings

A writer feeds off of inspiration. Every writer should explore, be adventurous, learn, and eventually come to the same conclusion: the world is an incredible place.

One of my dearest friends in the entire world, Ardis Smith, has started doing something amazing on her blog. Everyday, she is going to write one thing she is grateful for. She and her family have been an abundant source of positivity all my life (you might remember her mother's short story "Onions"), especially their family motto: "Happy, Not Crappy." I'm glad she's sharing some of that positivity with the world.

I've asked her to be a Guest Blogger and repost her article "New Year, New Blessings." I'm so excited to have her here, and I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

New Year, New Blessings
by Ardis Kay Smith

I love new beginnings, and the new year is one of my favorite times of new beginnings. It represents new chances, rebirth, an ability to be better, and is a positive time when we are all optimistic, continuing the happiness that exists during the holiday season.

Renewal and starting anew are ideas that I have been pondering recently. There are aspects of my life where I have had a difficult time starting anew and remaining positive. This is mainly physically based, with the almost constant pain that I still have in my arm, shoulder, neck and back. There are some things in life where it's difficult to remain positive, even when you're a positive person, and physical pain is one of those aspects that sometimes overcome my usually cheerful demeanor. However, I recently had an "aha moment" (which I will discuss below) that has driven me to a newly refreshed goal of looking at the positive things in life, counting my blessings, and pondering on all of the AMAZING things that we are all blessed with in this world.

This has inspired me to concentrate on all of the blessings that I have in my life. Every day this year, I will put up a new post discussing one of the blessings in my life that I am grateful for. This section will be called "Count Your Many Blessings". Each day, I will also share something inspiring - stories, images, places, concepts, etc. that renew our faith in humanity and in the beauty of life. This will be under "Life is Beautiful". I believe in both the power of social media to influence and lift one another and in the concept of sending positive ideas out into the universe, and I hope that this project will be a way to celebrate all of the wonderful things that we all have in our lives. And if there are wonderful things about life that you would like to share or discuss, please do so in the comment section!

(I have to give a shout out to my friend Chase,
whose project to post a photo a day for a year inspired me to blog each day).

I, of course, will continue to post about my experiences at Cambridge (one of my biggest blessings right now in my life). I also have to admit that I will probably have days where I don't get a post done (I am a busy graduate student, after all), but I pinky promise that I will always put up make up posts when this occurs :)

Now, let me start off our journey of positivity and make up for the last few days of the new year. Thanks for counting blessings with me :)

1 January -------------

Count Your Many Blessings:

How wonderful is it to celebrate the new year and get to have a new start? I just feel refreshed and renewed and ready to conquer the world and my challenges. The new year reminds me of one of the greatest blessings in my life - the knowledge of Jesus Christ's atonement and his love for us (ALL of us!). I am grateful for Christ's resurrection, the comfort that it brings to me, and the Plan of Salvation.
Life is Beautiful:

I, like many people, love reading the NieNie Dialogues. It is the most inspiring and uplifting blog that I know of, and Stephanie's attitude in the face of her challenges have helped me process my own injuries and feelings. Stephanie and her husband were in a near-fatal plane crash in Arizona, and both sustained severe injuries and burns. I appreciate that Stephanie is both REAL and POSITIVE as she discusses how she lives her life and continues to . She makes the most of her life each day. A recent post of hers is what inspired me to start counting my blessings and focusing on all of the positive things in life. She helped reaffirm my belief in emphasizing all of the wonderful things that we have in this world and all of the things that we can do, despite our limitations! We can do it, and I want to, as Oprah would say, live my best life.

2 January -------------

Count Your Many Blessings:

I am so blessed to have spent the last several weeks with my family for the holidays. My family is one of the most influential blessings in my life. My parents have taught me the power that lies in believing in one's goals when trying to bring them to fruition, and to remain "Happy not crappy" (our family motto) in all situations. My sister is my best friend, example, and snuggle muffin all at the same time. I love love love love love them!
Life is Beautiful:

The beach. Let's all feel the imaginary breeze whip around us and the waves lap over our feet. This is the sunset at Viareggio, Italy. This was one of the days where I felt most alive.

3 January -------------

Count Your Many Blessings:

I'm thinking about education, as my sister (who got a 4.0 last semester) returned to university this day. Sometimes I take education for granted. This may be because for 17 years of my life straight, I was a student. It wasn't until my gap year in between graduating from BYU and starting at Cambridge that I realized how much I missed the educational process (and this was while I was an intern at an amazing place and was learning amazing things). To be able to learn is a great privilege and a great blessing. Education empowers.
Life is Beautiful:

Walmart recently had a Fighting Hunger Together competition, where people could vote for what city they would like to win a million dollars to fight hunger. Salt Lake City won - see the article here. There was a lot of campaigning on Facebook (I noticed it mainly from my Utah-area friends). This contest really highlights the power of social media on the internet - word about the contest spread through sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and it was an opportunity for people to easily make a difference. This is one use of the internet that I strongly support and that I believe will continue to grow - simple methods of supporting charity through online participation.

Another example that I love is this website - You answer vocabulary questions, and for each correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Programme. It's entertainment and charity all rolled into one. According to the site, over 86 billion grains of race have been donated since the site's creation. That's 86 billion grains more for hungry men, women, and children throughout the world because of a creative idea of John Breen.

Let's look for more opportunities to use our time on the internet to the fullest!

4 January -------------

Count Your Many Blessings:

Today (as with many of my days), I worked feverishly on research in the London Times, looking at how segregation and discrimination in the US was discussed in the UK during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as British attitudes towards race in general. That's a lot of material to cover. Luckily, the Times has ALL of its papers online from 1785 to 1985. Fully text-searchable. With PDFs of all articles, where the search term is highlighted for easy identification. Wow. I heart this database so, so, so (with about a million more) much, and it greatly aids in my efficiency and ability to maximize my time with more primary sources.

Life is Beautiful:

Chances are, you have heard about the homeless man featured on a YouTube video who has an amazing talent for voice work. His video has received over 5 million hits and has led to a new job and home for him. (Talk about the internet being used for good). Did you hear also about the woman in Oregon that fights against child exploitation who experienced a "pay it forward" situation when doctors donated their time to perform heart surgery on her? Or about two brothers in Florida who came across a car sinking in a pond and saved a 74-year-old man inside? Well, I hadn't, until I found It's tagline is "Real news. Compelling stories. Always positive." It provides headlines and links to positive news stories throughout the world. Thanks for restoring our faith in humanity, Happy News!

5 January -------------

Count Your Many Blessings:

As I am writing this, I am realizing that even 365 days and 365 blessings will barely scratch the surface of all that I have in my life. Today was a difficult day for me - I had one of my severe neck pain episodes that essentially incapacitates me - and yet there are so many things that I am grateful for today. Time spent with my mom (who has a deep talent for healing through her massaging fingers), playing games with my parents, my sweet dog finding his way into my room this morning and helping comfort me, the process of updating my CV and remembering all the great opportunities I've had in my life. But I think today I am most grateful for something simple: our blue armchair in the front room. When my neck hurts so badly, it is nearly impossible to find a comfortable position sitting or laying down. However, because I can alternate between curling in a fetal position in the chair or laying back in it, it was a dear companion in my time of need. And rather cozy besides.
Life is Beautiful:

This is a photograph of a football (or soccer, as us crazy Americans like to call the sport) field, as viewed from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Is it not exciting to view things that we feel like we really know from a completely new and different perspective? This can be the case with places, people, life experiences, and so forth. Try looking at something today that you feel like you know deeply as if it was the first time seeing it.



  1. Thanks Teralyn, for the kind words and for featuring my blog. You're the best!

  2. Hey, Teralyn. ^^ I just wanted you to know that I've given you a few awards.


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