Expressions of Gratitude

As this year ends, I realize just how much has happened and how much I’ve grown as a person. The turmoil actually began when my wife became ill over six years ago, but intensified when she died in April. Since that time I’ve had to answer a lot of questions about my life and how it would change without Rebecca in it. Some answers are coming, some are still unknown, and a few have been satisfied. The most important question I had is whether my friends would be there to support me during this trying time and they’ve been more than up to the challenge. It’s good to have people you can rely upon to help keep the blog posts written, the books and articles in process, and the new fields of endeavor in progress. It would be impossible for me to name everything my friends have done for me and I wouldn’t even try. All I can do is express my extreme gratitude for them and hope they know how much they mean to me.

I’ve talked many times about how self-sufficiency is more about trying to do things on your own in as much as possible, but then realizing that no one can make it completely alone. Self-sufficiency can and does go wrong when people think that it means living like a hermit away from all human contact. Yes, I’m self-sufficient in many ways, but I’m also smart enough to know that I depend on others for help when needed. Getting that help is one thing—ensuring they know how much their help means is quite another. Expressing gratitude, even for the seemingly simple things, is an essential part of the self-sufficiency experience. It’s not possible to go wrong when you’re grateful for the help you receive.

As this year ends, I hope that you’re truly grateful for all of the small ways in which people have helped you this last year and every year to come. More importantly, I hope that you’ll actually take the time to thank your helpers in person, through a phone call, or by sending them a card (or possibly all three). The people you can count on, those few true friends in your life, are more important than anything else here on earth.

With this in mind, I also want to take time in this post to thank all my readers.  Every purchase you’ve made has helped keep me in business so that I can continue helping others. Every question you’ve asked has helped me produce better materials. The gracious contributions of my beta readers have been appreciated most of all. Goodbye to the old year; happy new year one and all!



the fire
that keeps everyone thirsting for more.

We buy
and pile
our stuff in ever greater hoards.

To spend
without end
seems rude in a world starving by inches.

Our lust
gets stuff
to pile so high, there is no end.

Some homes
so filled
with things no one will ever use.

Such waste
a stain
as the world looks on in tears.

Your heart
can sense
the needs of those around you.

Your eyes
see pain
our consumer society sows and reaps.

We can
the solution to economic woes.

Learn how
the less
you need, the more you get.

Our life
is not
about goods we have, but the good we do.

Copyright 2012, John Paul Mueller


The Sublime Art of Thankfulness

As we prepare for another Thanksgiving with the usual turkey, parades, and sports, it’s time to consider the sublime art of thankfulness. For many people, please and thank you, when offered at all, are quickly proffered sentiments, rushed out at a moment’s notice. However, on this particular day, something a little more noble is required, in keeping with the holiday. After all, the very act of breathing is reason for praise for someone with emphysema. Why not for the rest of us?

It’s a privilege to discover the source and emanation of true thanksgiving at times when life has handed you something less than ideal gifts in the minds of those around you. Seeing the foot of a loved one move when the doctors have said that she’ll never walk again is a wonderment beyond measure. A joyous occasion evoking streams of tears at something so small and commonly accepted as normal. The delight of a sunrise, flowers in fall, family togetherness, and more all provide reasons for thankfulness because they can be so easily taken away, never to return.

Thankfulness is a process of the heart, not of the mind. The mind doesn’t understand it, but heart feels it to the bottom of the soul. An overflowing cup rarely consists of the material, but rather those things that can’t be purchased with any amount of money nor with any labor, no matter how monumental. So on this day of Thanksgiving, take time to consider thankfulness, the divine moment of gratitude for all that we have and not the rash expression of any lack. It’s my sincere wish that you have an amazing Thanksgiving filled with the delights of laughter and the closeness of those you love most.

Rebecca and I will be taking Thanksgiving weekend off. For this reason, you won’t see any posts from me either Thursday or Friday. We’ll continue working through the GrabAPicture program next week. Thank you for your continued support of me and the materials I write. I’m truly grateful that you’ve given me the opportunity to serve your needs.