Encouraging women to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.

We Gather Together With Gratitude 


 Kendra Brown

Recently, the Episcopal priest at my church spoke about “gratitude” and how being grateful affects one’s overall sense of happiness.   He cited research from two psychologists exploring the relationship between gratitude and a sense of well-being in daily life. What a timely topic – just in time for Thanksgiving!
Dr. Emmons (U.C./Davis) and Dr. McCullough (University of Miami) separated their participants into three groups. During the weeks of the study, one group was instructed to think back over each day and list up to five hassles they experienced.  A second group was asked to record any events from their day.  The third group was asked to reflect on the week just past and record up to five things for which they were grateful.  So, they had one group asked to focus on negative events; one asked to focus on positive events; and the third group (the control group) asked to record any events.  
My graduate training was in research, so I checked their study carefully. It seemed well controlled and statistically accurate.  They found remarkably positive (and statistically strong) results for the gratitude group.  The gratitude group reported sleeping more and improved quality of sleep.  Their family members even commented on changes they noticed. Group members also reported fewer negative physical symptoms and more motivation to exercise and engage in pleasurable activities.  Quite a pay-off for just taking time to list five things for which they were grateful once a week! 
My friend, and Eavesdropper “Page,” Edie Donohue, will not be amazed by this study.  I recall her telling me several years ago that one of her daily rituals is to record in a journal, each night, positive events for which she’s grateful. 
For many decades, psychologists have been researching and writing about the strong  relationship between positive thinking and overall well-being.  Dr. Aaron Beck and Dr. David Burns, in particular, stress the importance of changing negative thoughts to positive ones in their treatment of depression. 
To put it simply:  we are (for the most part unconsciously) listening to our own internal “tapes” all of the time.  They appear – unbidden – and off we go:  “I wonder why Sue is angry with me?  Her face looked almost red when she was talking.”  And with our “mind’s eye” we see Sue’s face as she grimaces.  It’s as if we are in the theater business – running our movies all day long, every day.  I gently confront my clients that their movies frequently sound as if they are horror shows!
What many people don’t realize is that these internal dramas actually stimulate our brains to activate “flight or fight responses” and so, we literally stress ourselves out and get stuck in negative scenarios. 
The take-home message from these researchers is that we can actually change both our internal and external “realities” by something as simple as recording (and thus, focusing on) positive events – noticing with GRATITUDE.   So, HAPPY THANKSGIVING (and keep it up all year long!)
Quote for the month:
Talking about positive thinking, I was reminded of the work of Norman Vincent Peale, the Protestant minister and author of The Power of Positive Thinking.  
This is one of his quotes:
  “Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.”
Personally and professionally, I am sad when I see people unhappy with their lives, and wishing something would change.  But they are inactive - sitting back watching life “happen” for others (on the other side of the fence, so to speak), and wishing it would “happen” for them.  Their wishes are often followed by, “But, I don’t know how to do that…” or “But that wouldn’t work for me…” or “But someone wouldn’t like it if I... ” 
It seems their “buts” are keeping them anchored to unsatisfying lives.  So, I guess the moral of this story is:
You can’t throw your heart over the fence if your “but” is holding you back.

From the Bookshelf:

My special recommendation this month is:

Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup

By: Maggie Stuckey
Maggie Stuckey is my husband’s cousin. She has written numerous books on gardening and cooking, two of which were already on my kitchen bookshelf:  The Bountiful Container and The Complete Herb Book.
I love to cook (and collect recipes and cookbooks!), but the primary focus of Maggie’s newest book is about how those soup recipes can be used to help build communities.  The concept behind soup nights is to connect neighbors who might not otherwise have a natural point of contact.  “Through the simple act of sitting down to a meal together on a regular basis, even people who have very little in common build a genuine relationship.”  (page 8)
She cites many results possibly gained by these community soup nights.  Here are a few:   (page 8):
  • A strong sense of community replaces social isolation.
  • People no longer feel like strangers.
  • Children thrive in a safe environment, watched over by many loving adults.
  • Seniors and people living alone have a new sense of security and belonging.

Tea for Two and Two for Tea

Presented by Wilmington Trust
Debi Ownes, Kendra Brown & Kate Andrew


November 7th at
B. Merry’s 23 Osceola Street Stuart, FL

Chicago Area  Events:

Our Chicago book event at the Gail Borden Library was November 14.  I arrived in Chicago to the sunny smile of Terry Gray, the website editor, and to SNOW.  While in the Chicago area, Terry and I went to several nearby towns and small cities.  I chuckled as I realized that I was profiting from my own advice (last month’s newsletter) that travel expands us and energizes.  OK, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting it.  I visited Chicago in the years my son was a student at the University of Chicago.  I already knew that I like the city itself and the Art Institute.  What I learned on this visit:  Illinois – outside of Chicago – is filled with small towns and cities with interesting architecture, small town squares, interesting shops, rolling prairie landscapes, lots and lots of woods and very friendly people! 

We meet Arlene Lynes  in Woodstock, IL at her store Read Between the Lynes.

Woodstock is the town where the movie Ground Hog Day (Bill Murray) was filmed.  It has a lovely town square with a brick paved street around the square and lots of little shops.  We had too much fun (except for the wind and cold). Arlene was generous with her time and shared lots of information regarding small independent booksellers. We gave her a signed copy of Eavesdropping.

We also went to The Town House in St. Charles where we had lunch at the lovely café connected with the bookshop. 

Gail Borden Library 

Authors on the Fox Series

Kendra Brown, Terry Gray & Holly Stoddard
At the Gail Borden Library event we had 15 attendees/staff.  While we were short on quantity, we made up for it The discussion was lively, informative, and the conversation around the large table flowed smoothly.  It was enjoyed at all.  One of those attending will be starting her own group and we look forward to hearing about her quality! 
Thanks to those really interesting folks I met in Elgin, Woodstock, and St. Charles.  And THANKS to the Gail Borden Library for hosting our event.
Visit the website for details about future events:  
We’d love for you to attend. Events Page
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Gail Borden Library: Walking Book Club

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