I am writing about appreciation.  Our lives are enhanced when we can appreciate who and what is in our lives.  As we practice, it becomes an unconscious competence.  We feel joy, peace, love and gratitude more often when we can live in appreciation.

 Sometimes feeling grateful is difficult when you live with children who have experienced trauma and who have attachment issues.  Summer is meant to be joyful, refreshing and a time to create good memories. Hopefully some of my suggestions will help so you can feel appreciation for your life and your children this summer.     

Appreciation Versus Gratitude  

I have been hearing about Appreciation Journals.  I have found Gratitude Journals helpful.  Feeling grateful helps us to notice the good things in our lives.  I find that appreciating things is even better.  If we are feeling down or life seems too hard, it is sometimes a stretch to feel grateful.  It is a smaller stretch to feel appreciative about things.  If I say or think, I am grateful for the sunshine today, my head might say why; I am not grateful for anything today or I don't feel like feeling grateful right now.  If I say, I appreciate the sunshine today, it seems like it takes less to appreciate the sunshine than it does to be all out grateful for it - especially if I am feeling sick, have just had a tough client or I am feeling disheartened in some way.

Try it and feel the difference.  If I was to say to a clerk in the grocery store, I appreciate your kindness versus I am grateful for your kindness... grateful sounds like more about me and less about the other person. Appreciate seems to resonate at a deeper place. Grateful seems like it requires a response from the other person.  I appreciate your kindness is a compliment.  If I say, I appreciate that you picked up your toys Johnny it feels like that goes directly from me to Johnny in a sincere, wholehearted two way communication that doesn't require a response except maybe you're welcome Mommy.  If I say, I am grateful that you picked up your toys today Johnny, it seems like it is more about me and less about Johnny.  Grateful has an expectation. Appreciation seems free of expectation. Maybe we can appreciate and then be grateful.
This notion of appreciation has come to the forefront of my thinking these days because I bought a perpetual flip calendar by Esther and Jerry Hicks called Ask and It is Given.  I love it.  It gently introduces new thoughts and ideas.  August 1st reads:  

Once you become oriented toward looking for things to appreciate, you will find that your day will be filled with such things. Your thoughts and feelings of appreciation will flow from you naturally.  And, often, while in the midst of a genuine feeling of appreciation for someone or something, you will feel ripples of thrill bumps - those sensations are confirming your alliance with your Source.

Books to read:
Ban Breathnach (1995) Simple Abundance
Brach, Tara (2003) Radical Acceptance Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha
Brach, Tara (2004) Radical Acceptance
When we feel held by a caring presence, by something larger than our small frightened self, we begin to find room in our own heart for the fragments of our life, and for the lives of others.  Pg. 209
Judith, Anodea (2004) Wheels of Life
Hay, Louise (1990) Love Yourself Heal Your Life Workbook
Hay, Louise (1999) You Can Heal Your Life
Hughes, Daniel A. (2013,)  8 Keys to Building Your Best Relationships
Johnson, Spencer (2002) Who Moved My Cheese
Louden, Jennifer (2000) The Comfort Queen’s Guide to Life
Louden, Jennifer (1997) The Women’s Retreat Book – A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering and Reawakening Your True Self in a Moment, an Hour, a Day, or a Weekend
Marston, Canfield & Hansen (2004) Life Lessons for Women (Chicken Soup)
Chödron, Pema (1993) Comfortable with Uncertainty
Chödron, Pema (2001) The Places that Scare You – A guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times 
Redfield, James (1993) The Celestine Prophecy
Richardson, Cheryl (2000) Life Makeovers