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Show Your Gratitude: 365 Grateful Project Challenge

kitchen tool with redhair

There are many things one may say about me, but I hope one of the traits that float to the top of that alphabet soup is how thankful I am. In my life I’ve gone without food, medical care, and many other necessities of life that some people never think twice about. The one deficiency that has left an indelible mark on my life is a lack of familial support.

My experiences have made me supportive of efforts others put forth, and if I can lend a hand when someone is in need, I will do everything I can to help them. I am truly thankful for any wisdom, grace, and kindness that is extended my way. I’m not a person easily brought to tears, but a kind word can make me cry in the ugliest of ways.

I know many individuals who have or have had everything their heart desires. This has not made them happy or grateful people. In fact, it has seemingly made them resentful and jealous of another’s success or happiness. I always find this shocking because I don’t understand how someone who has never had to sacrifice one thing for the other could ever have anything but appreciation in their heart. Sadly, I don’t have to understand it, as the actions continue without explanation or logic.

As I hit the “publish” button on my book, I was filled with so many overwhelming emotions, but the one that rose to the top was gratitude. I’m thankful that someone cared enough for me that they taught me to read. This singular act set my entire devotion to words and learning in motion. This gift is repeatedly given to me every day. Everyone who has ever read my short stories, newspaper articles, essays, and papers and offered a word of guidance or support are forever in my heart. So many people have helped me get here—from strangers who posted a helpful link, video, or article on their site, to the inspirational writers who’ve come before me.

As I step forward into 2014, I endeavor to be even more thankful. I’m taking up the 365 Grateful Project challenge and documenting something that I am grateful for each and every day. I can’t wait to see how the year unfolds, and I certainly don’t want to miss a moment of it. I’d love for you to join me in the project! I’ll post my daily photos to Instagram and share them on here in a weekly recap. I hope this activity helps you get to know me. I look forward to see/hear what you are sharing. 2014 – Show your gratitude.


Redheaded Shredder

I love kitchen gadgets. This redheaded shredder was a gift from my husband. She is beyond cute.

Turtle Planter

The frost in Charlotte has taken out the bottom of my little turtle planter, but he will live on. This day was sunny and beautiful.


Vegan Enchiladas

Everything that comes out of my kitchen is vegan. I’m so thankful I know how to cook. That wasn’t always the case. 🙂


Hair Intact

Trying a new hairstylist isn’t easy, but I came out with my hair intact.


TWU Education, Friendship and Love

I’m the first in my family to go to college. I paid for my college education. While at TWU, I worked twenty hours a week and carried a nineteen-hour class load. I was fortunate to find friendship and love at this beautiful campus.


Manual Exposure on a Mug

This sweet keepsake is a wonderful daily reminder of what I’ve accomplished.


Lovely Days

I’m so thankful for the winter days in Charlotte. We’ve had some bitter weather, but it is nothing like what I’ve endured in other places.


Frozen But Thawing

The cold snap hit Charlotte hard. Our kitchen was without hot water for two days. The houses here are just not made for such cold weather. Our little backyard pond was the perfect illustration of the big thaw.


I am Loved

The little things my husband does, like making french toast and coffee, are the greatest tokens of affection. These are the things that you can overlook, but they are the greatest things that you will miss.

 

 

 

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Loving Another Starts With Loving Yourself

Jeannie Bushnell Wakes Up

Jeannie Bushnell Wakes Up

This is me without makeup. I woke up, turned on my computer, and snapped a selfie. Yes, I have a hole in my shirt. I haven’t even had coffee or brushed my hair! I’m sure you could point out 112 things wrong with that photo, and I’m okay with that. You know why? I’ll never be as beautiful as I am in this moment. Every minute it takes me to write this, I’m aging. My body parts are failing, wrinkling, and losing their elasticity. All of this is happening with neither my permission nor my approval.

You will NEVER be as young or as beautiful as you are in this moment. You will get this one day. You will turn back and question, “Why the hell didn’t I see how stunning I was then? Why did I think I was fat, ugly, and disgusting?” You will see that every day you are given the opportunity to love yourself. I don’t care about those people who have rejected you and haven’t loved you. Love yourself. Believe that your thoughts count more than whispered judgments.

If someone hasn’t realized how beautiful you are, thank your lucky stars. You don’t want anyone who doesn’t see how perfect you are. Turn off the negative talk in your head, and maybe you’ll begin to hear the positive voices that are trying to be heard.

We all keep a running list of things we don’t like about ourselves. I’m not going to list all of mine, because I think I’ve done enough sharing in this post (see photo above). So, you have a choice, sit and fume and pout about the crap you can’t change, or get to work on the stuff you can change. No, you aren’t going to drop fifty pounds overnight. Should you stop going out of the house or throw on a tarp? NO! Clothes are accessories, love. You are meant to be the star of the clothes, not the other way around. Wear clothing that accents the positive on your body.

Accent the positive in you, every day! You know the most beautiful thing about anyone’s face? Their smile. A smile can truly make or break a face. Haven’t you met someone who may have have been blessed with a beautiful body, but they didn’t seem very pretty because they looked sour? Everyone wins with a smile; you look better, and you make everyone around you feel better. Well, except for those super people who insist upon waiting to knock you down until you become miserable like them. Yes, those people exist. They are the ones who ask me, “What are you so happy about?” or better yet, “What made you smile so big?”

I’m tired of hearing people lament about how the media, and the fashion, advertising, and entertainment industries are perpetrating unattainable images of women. Yes, those images have always existed, but that is not where the youth of today are learning to hate themselves. They are smart enough to know that images are digitally enhanced, and that it takes hours to accomplish the looks they admire on celebrities. They are picking up self-hate from YOU- their moms, aunts, sisters, cousins, teachers, and close family friends. Yes, YOU.

Your little niece notices when you shy away from the camera stating that you “don’t like your photo taken.” Your daughter absorbs every minute of the self-hate you dole out, repeating the phrases she hears you say about hating your thighs and watching as your cry about your weight. When you starve yourself to lose a pound, your little sister learns what it means to be a woman.

Start owning the power you have, and realize that you are the instrument of change in this battle.

Why does this matter to me? When you choose to be more kind to yourself, you extend that generosity to everyone around you, and a profound circle of love and kindness begins to spread throughout the world. You can all it a cliché, but I just call it truth- loving another starts with loving yourself.

 

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Naysayers Can Bite Me: Encouragement for Writers

Bite Me T-shirt Jeannie M Bushnell

Bite Me T-shirt Jeannie M BushnellI cannot tell you how much I love this shirt. It glows in the dark, too!

 

It isn’t always a lack of motivation that prevents us from accomplishing our goals. I have witnessed too many people give up on a dream because they had no one in their life to offer support and encouragement. Our personal relationships have a profound impact on what we accomplish, as well as what we perceive we can achieve.

Throughout my education, I was fortunate to be surrounded by teachers and friends who supported my efforts and encouraged me to pursue my writing ambitions. Adult friends and acquaintances have been a different experience. Sadly, many people see writing a book as a fanciful task, an unnecessary self-appointed employment. Unfortunately, some of those very same high school friends who were once so supportive are now silent. I’ve found the silence to be the most hurtful.

I should not have been surprised, for as an entrepreneur I’ve encountered the wall of silence before. While business start-ups are no less personal, the endeavor to write is the most personal of all. I wasn’t prepared to hear crickets from friends who I have known and supported throughout different stages in their lives. I believe in being a cheerleader for my friends, and I expect the same in return.

I can only guess why I haven’t heard squeals of joy from the people who have chosen to be silent. I know some people are shocked that my first book is in the romance genre, and since they don’t read that genre, they are at a loss for words. Some people are very indifferent to the success of others, and then there are those who feel they do not need to expend valuable energy on another person.

It is no easy task to write a book. It requires commitment, sacrifice, and persistent effort. Writers who finish a book do so because they are forced to continue; they are driven to scratch the compelling itch. Many people do not feel this passion for their work every day. People go to work and do what is required of them as they count down the minutes until they can return home or resume the activities that give them pleasure. Writers, often feeling as though they are having too much fun, enjoy the work they are passionate about completing.

As creative writers, we must learn to destroy the inner voice of defeat and ignore the critical naysayers that surround us. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not encouraging you to surround yourself with “yes” robots who tell you everything you produce is amazing. Everyone needs helpful critical feedback!  However, we don’t need to listen to the voices that predict failure even before we’ve attempted to succeed. Whether they are scared we’ll be successful and leave them behind, or they are attempting to protect us from failure or criticism, their reasons are their own, and we must learn to ignore them.

I’ve worked in animal rescue my entire adult life. Some people have horrific hobbies that center around abuse, torture, neglect, and death. If someone tells me they are doing anything that doesn’t involve the maiming, torturing, or killing of another living being, I take it as my personal duty to throw a hand on their back in praise and encourage them to go for it. It may sound silly, but it truly can make all the difference in someone’s world. We cannot afford to be stingy with loving support.

It takes nothing to give another person a supportive nod and encourage them toward their dreams. If there is a cost, in the form of a stamp or a phone call, it is minimal, but for most, there is no cost. Shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to do more, be more, and achieve greater things?

If we cannot find the encouragement we need within our circle of family and friends, we must go in search of new people who will be supportive of our creative efforts.  Seek out others who not only share your excitement, but are staunchly standing on your side of the bleachers cheering you on. These like-minded individuals will have a keen understanding of what you are going through, and they are more likely to give you the type of support you need. Cherish these positive people, and surround yourself with them. Pay the kindness forward, as someone else is in need of the encouragement you crave.

“You need so much energy and encouragement to write that if someone says something negative, some of that energy goes.”

-Joyce Carol Oates