Ep. 22: Gratitude
ON THIS EPISODE:
Today we’re talking about gratitude—where we’re lacking it and how to choose more of it. We’ll also talk about Napa, tortue rooms, creating family rules, dog blogs, and Goosebumps. Oh, and got another voice message from Linda the Unicorn!
Official Instagram: @HansowFamily
Personal Instagram: @MorganHansow and @DaveHansow
Timeline: 30 minutes total
I’m Morgan Hansow and this is my husband, Dave - we’ve spent the last 20 years on a wild adventure that’s taken us to Africa, the Oprah show, and Hollywood.
Welcome to Chasing Unicorns… a podcast about giving ourselves permission to chase our dreams, explore our faith, and figure out who we are, all while trying to keep our crap together!
As Creatives, Humanitarians, and Parents, we’re learning (sometimes the hard way) that the hustle and pursuit of the elusive unicorn will never satisfy.
Each week we explore what it looks like to live authentic, passionate, and connected lives while being a part of a movement that’s trying to transform the world through story + grace.
Overview of today’s show -
Welcome to Chasing Unicorns! Today we’re talking about gratitude—where we’re lacking it and how to choose more of it. We’ll also talk about Napa, tortue rooms, creating family rules, dog blogs, and Goosebumps. Oh, and got another voice message from Linda the Unicorn!
So happy to be back with you! If you’re a regular listener, you will have noticed that we did not release an episode last week (AND we’re releasing this episode this week early). The reason being? Travel! We’ve had some travel that were in the plans for awhile - tomorrow Dave leaves for a marketplace retreat in Colorado for 6 days and last week we drove down to Napa for a quick trip. It was our first time visiting Napa Valley and I guess you could say it was a belated Anniversary trip of sorts…
Sure, I guess, yes, we got to see Napa and the winery estates which were breathtaking and totally insane, but the real reason we went was for a concert. We’ve been fans of Mat Kearney for over a decade and on his latest tour, the closest he was playing was Napa. Morgan had been making comments about going to see him for months and I finally pulled the trigger and purchased the tickets because I knew that if left to rationale, we’d just let it pass, which we’ll talk more about in a later segment.
Sure! But going back to wineries and wine-making...we only had a limited time to explore but it was pretty magical. It’s the perfect time of year and it’s harvest season so there’s lots of activity. We ended up at Castello di Amorosa - it’s in the Napa Valley but it’s in the town of Calistoga. And I was just surprised, I don’t know what I expected by the Napa Valley is one of the smallest wine regions in the world - it’s only 30 miles long and 5 miles wide at the widest part, but it’s also home to 500 wineries!
Yeah, what’d they say? That there’s something like 16 different microclimates within the valley that all are offer unique growing conditions for grapes?
I think so.
Well I was blown away by all the multi-million dollar winery estates we passed - they were all luxurious and uniquely designed/themed. You’d pass one that looked like a southern plantation and then the next would have a tuscany feel and then you’d have one that had modern aesthetics. But the castle we visited, that was crazytalk. It’s a legit 13th century Italian castle that’s 7 years old but feels like it’s hundreds of years old - it took 30 years to build (15 years of planning and 15 years of construction) and they imported something like 200 containers of authentic Italian decor and stones for building, I think they said the materials alone cost 40 million (without labor)
And 8 floors, 4 of which are underground, and something crazy like 130,000 sq feet. The wine-tasting was good and they do have some good wine, but probably more fascinating for me was the tour because I’m a history junkie. The fireplace in the banquet hall is from the 1300 or 1400s, there’s a church and a courtyard and an underground armory room and torture room.
Sorry to interrupt, but I can I say now jacked up humans are! In the underground torture room they had replicas of 13th century torture devices and they were just demonic in nature. Stretching machines that snapped people in half, the birdcage where people were left in the sun to dehydrate and be eaten by birds, and the only authentic original piece they had was what was called the ‘iron maiden’ - where’d they enclose a person in a an iron ‘mummy-like’ sarcophagus with spikes on the inside. They’d start a fire around the outside to heat up the iron and then drop rats into the opening at the top and shut it and the rats would be go crazy to escape the heat and gnaw at the person and make it so they’d continually bump into the spikes. I mean, I saw all these torture devices and leaned over and told Morgan, “wow, we’ve come a long way as humans!”
That’s true… And because it was harvest season we got to see some of that process. So yes, Napa is intriguing and breathtaking and yummy (lots of wine and top-notch food) and I can’t wait to go back, being that it’s only a 2.5 hour drive. Oh and if any of you want to meet us there some time for a little get-together, let’s do it! We’ll drive down and meet you!
Totally, and in other news, Morgan has been super busy these last couple weeks writing a blog about dogs! It’s pretty funny because if you know us, you know we’re not really pet people, although we have become pretty smitten with the hamster we got last Christmas. Buddy is a now a beloved little part of our family!
Oh my gosh, this is so random, and comical that I’m writing about dogs! I’m doing a little research and using common sense but has been interesting. Essentially Dave does some graphic design for a company that makes this natural dog shampoo and they were looking to boost their SEO with some blogs on their site so Dave volunteered my skills.
I suggested you because you’re a great writer and just to clarify, it’s not volunteer, you are getting paid a little bit, probably not what you’re worth, but they are really happy with your work. So if you want to check out morgan’s dog blogs (ghost written under the name of the company owner, Rick), you can check out Petology.net - or if you need some good natural dog cleaning products they apparently have some great products that tons of vets highly recommend!
Haha! Yeah, if you want to learn about dog dandruff, how to choose a doggy daycare or going natural with your dog care, I got you covered!
It’s time for “Be Kind/Please Rewind” - a segment in which we connect with our inner child and give ourselves permission to drop the Adult BS to talk about and try things that add beauty, joy, wonder back to life
So back to the Mat Kearney Concert in Napa. In the last podcast we talked about how the stories of our youth shape us, whether it’s the books we read or movies or shows we watched. But it’s also true that the music of our youth shapes us. There’s something about the simple act of putting on music that can transport a moment. Music soothes us, encourages us, energizes us, and choice of music is so deeply personal to each person. In the last couple years, both of our kids have entered a new season in which they are constantly listening to music. For years they’ve been listening to worship music all night long while they sleep, but now, they each have their own style and preferences and whenever they are home and in their rooms, their music is on. I think we’ve said that Asher is a ‘70s and ‘80s fan - he has his record player and listens to all his oldies along with some currents like Macklemore, Chance the Rapper, Andy Mineo, 21 Pilots and some other artists that have some good drop beats for dancing. Jadyn is all over the place, she loves singing along to Adele, Panic! At the Disco, Macklemore, and top 40.
All of us can think back to the music of our youth and speak to how it influenced us. We can recall how we danced to it, lamented to it, or used it to counsel us through hard times. And I bet we can all remember our first concert… Do you remember yours?
Yep, totally, Vince Gill, Sawyer Brown and The Judds. Awesome huh? If I remember correctly, I think we won tickets on the radio. The music of my youth was a lot of country music.
For me it’d be the same, but only because of my parents. We ended up going to a lot of music festivals around the mountains of Colorado growing up because that was what my parents were into so several of my first concerts were country artists - Willie Nelson, Suzy Bogguss, and some guy that we saw several times but I don’t remember his name. But the first concerts I remember choosing were in high school - I went to see Switchfoot because they came through and did a concert at a big church in our town (which is funny b/c now we sort of know the band and have spent time with Jon Foreman). And the Dixie Chicks was the first REALLY big concert I went to - I drove over to Denver with friends to go to the concert and we dressed up in cheetah-print cowboy hats!
I’d actually say the same is true for me, I did enjoy country as kid but the first concerts I remember going to do that I personally drove for or sought out were when I was in college and they were all Christian concerts. Caedmon’s Call, Jars of Clay, and the rapper John Rubin (who we had ironically had drinks with on our last trip to Nashville in March)! Small World!
Indeed but there’s something about concerts that’s childlike - a bunch of people gathered around letting loose, fanboying, dancing, singing. Essentially releasing their inner child. And as we get older, I think the tendency is to right that off as a waste - waste of time or money. I know even in this Mat Kearney concert last week, that was the easy thing to do. A tuesday night concert in Napa. A 2.5 hour drive. Someone to watch the kids - pick them up from school and bring them the next morning. A hotel. Time away from work or the to-dos. I had quite the list of ‘cons’ going in my head and then you, unbeknownst to me, just bought the tickets and then we had to make everything else happen and all the things that seemed like a big deal weren’t. We figured it out and we had a great time and have this great experience to add to our memories. And if you think of all the concerts we’ve gone to in the last several years—NeedtoBreathe, Taylor Swift, Macklemore, Justin Bieber (we unashamedly love us some Beebs!) and Steffany Gretzinger— they’re all these incredible memories that are etched into our minds!
And we pretty much ruined our kids because their first concert ended up being NeedtoBreathe at Red Rocks - the best venue on earth! But we also took them see Beiber - which was on the trip when we decided to move here. So our charge to you is to not give up concert-going! Connect with your inner child at a concert of an artist or band you love!
Home Office Huddle here we come… this is segment in which we Talk about what’s surfacing in our current pursuits—both personally and professionally—as a Husband/Wife duo.
This week we’ve been talking about (and trying to practice) Gratitude and we thought we’d let you in on that. And because I think this will be a natural lead in, Morgan, how about a check up on your online class? I know you love learning and I’ve walked by several times in the last couple weeks while you’re watching your course videos online and taking notes, not because you have to, but because you just love it!
Haha, Yeah sure. I really am loving it, which is so geeky of me! I just like learning which is probably why I loved school so much! But yes, like I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, I’m taking the free online Yale class called, The Science of Well-Being through Coursera and these last couple weeks we’ve been exploring the science behind the annoying ways our mind works - last podcast I shared how we’re wired to not look at things in terms of absolutes, but instead of reference points we construct. And these last week the focus was on this concept called hedonic adaptation - which sounds weird, but it’s a term that essentially means that we’re hardwired to get used to things (both negatively and positively) but in this class we’re specifically looking at the things we perceive will bring us happiness. It works like this - like you get the thing you’ve been wanting or dreaming of or saving for, and within a short amount of time you become accustomed to it. It becomes the new normal and stops bringing the happiness you expect AND it also resets your reference point for the future. Which we all know far too well - I mean just this last week I was eagerly anticipating a package from greece - there’s this natural mascara I like that’s made from volcanic rock and it’s not even that pricey, something like $15 but it’s only made by this company from Greece. I was needing a new one and it was free shipping so I also added an eyebrow pencil because although I’ve never used one I’m realizing that part of aging is having thinning eyebrows that need filled in and so I placed an order and eagerly awaited the shipment. It came through the postal service a week and half later and I was excited to open it and there was a momentary happiness/delight and I was excited to use it for the first time and then you know, now everyday it’s just like, cool, where’s my mascara? That’s something small, but you get it. And Dave, you hate shopping and are still working on getting hobbies, but I know you’ve done the same with golf clubs.
Yep, and I know I’ve even it done it with my phone when I’m up for an upgrade. And at a big level, we humans we do it with things like cars, toys, and homes. So what are you learning we can do to combat these tendencies? Have you got there yet?
Yes, we’ve started to - last week it was all about the things we can do to thwart that hedonic adaptation. One of the things is to invest in experiences instead of things/stuff. Research shows people experience greater levels of lasting happiness when they invest in experiences like travel, concerts/events, and even meals over stuff.
Another reason to go go see a concert!
Totally! And science also shows that the only thing to really combat that tendency to grow accustomed to things is to practice gratitude, which of course we all know but don’t practice like we should. Gratitude really is the antidote to a lot of the toxicity, entitlement, and depression/anxiety we’re seeing in society. For example, the professor shared a study where couples who were prone to divorce because of bad communication could actually save their marriage with the simple act of practicing gratitude. The gratitude actually nullifies the effects of poor communication like demandingness or withdrawnness. Simple expressions of being grateful for the other person - “Thanks for doing such and such” or “I really appreciate you” really matter!
Wow, that’s really powerful. And here’s the segway into gratitude. This just seems to be a season in which the term Gratitude seems to popping up for us all over. Like God is trying to get a message into the core of our being!
It’s true and as I’m listening to the videos and learning about all the scientific ways to combat the ways our mind and our world tries to trick us with false promises of happiness, I’m realizing that all the tools the professor is proposing we use are essentially just different forms or expressions of gratitude. For example, she talked about the power of visualization - remembering what it was like before we got something or before our circumstances changed helps us refocus our reference point and perception and practice gratitude for what we do have or where we’re at now.
Yeah… It reminds of years ago when our marriage was in trouble, due to some really bad choices I had made. By the way...I’m sure we’ll get into that story on an episode sometime. But anyway...I remember having just come through this season, where I really could have and probably should have lost everything. And as much as I wanted to feel shame and guilt, the overwhelming feeling I had was gratefulness. I was literally grateful for everything. I remember sitting around our table and feeling grateful for a simple moment like that. We would be driving along in the car and I would have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness. And although that gratefulness would hit me harder early on, the truth is, gratefulness has since been something that just comes naturally. When you begin to view life as a gift, rather than a curse of some sort, gratitude is the natural byproduct.
And as awful of a season that was, I remember that gratitude was a lifeline we held onto that helped bring us out of that season and into healing more quickly. It was this tangible choice I remember making and I think it might be easier to make those choices when things are hard or you’re going through rough seasons. Don’t you think?
Yeah, I think it easier to be grateful when you’re going through tough things, and then as soon as life levels out, and things are better, we can so easily fall right back into taking things for granted. I remember when our daughter, who is adopted, was really young. She was a tough little cookie and not easy by any stretch of the imagination to raise. She was very hard headed, extremely strong-willed, and honestly just rubbed you in particular the wrong way. In other words, she knew how to get under your skin. So I remember reading everything we could get a hold of and even meeting with counselors who could possible help us understand how to raise her in a loving, yet firm way. Let me just say… although we loved her like crazy, she was not easy most days.
And so now, years have gone by and we have this incredible 12 year old that has come incredibly far. Not only is she fun to be around, but she’s been able to keep her fiery, justice-minded self, and yet still have this beautiful soft side to her. She’s a pleasure to have in class, as we’ve been told by her teachers and she’s just this fantastic young girl.
But…. do we focus daily on how grateful we are that she has come so far? No…. most days we forget how far she’s come and instead focus on the areas we need to improve, and need to work on. And personally not only does it not help her, but also… that lack of gratitude on our part begins to rub off and I know she can feel that.
The thing I notice specifically with you hun, is that you don’t like to acknowledge how far we’ve come in any area of life, because inherently we still have a ways to go. Or another way to put it is that I think you believe that if you admit things are good, you are somehow disregarding the things that aren’t good. For instance… if someone asks me to how my life is going, I will almost always say it is going well. And I mean it. I don’t just say “things are going good” if they aren’t. In fact, I think I’m unusual simply because I will stop a conversation and correct myself if I’ve given a BS answer. But….you on the other hand tend to believe that you are lying if you say things are good, when something in your life isn’t perfect. Why is that?
Morgan - honestly talks about the struggle/tendency to acknowledge gratitude and how I think that’s betraying the honesty of any current struggle we have or how we’re not ‘fully there yet’ with something. I think about this friend I have in Florida - we’ve never met in person but for the last 5 years or so we’ve texted back and forth as we’ve bonded over being adoptive moms and sharing in our struggles with that. I recently got a text from her and she was saying how things with her daughter have gotten so much better and how she’s no longer having outbursts but now that she’s adopted another child, there’s a whole new set of struggles, and she said something like, she needs to get her eyes off the hard things and keep them on the blessings! It’s so true, I mean, there’s always going to be struggles and hard things and if we can’t, if I can’t get my mind off the hard things and see the good things, then I’m in trouble - my mind, our home, our family is going to be a mess because I’ll always be focusing on the arrival or the breakthrough or the attainment of whatever it is to celebrate and that sounds like a pretty lousy way to live (or I should say it has been a lousy way to live). Even going back to the character strength test we talked about in Episode 20, you and the kids have gratitude as one of your top character strengths...it is not one of mine. It’s a strength of mine that needs some extra strengthening and I really want to be intentional.
And I think you’re in a good place, even acknowledging that because it is a choice - we have to actively be choosing the posture of gratitude. I mean we heard our pastor talk about gratitude this past Sunday as the innoculation against entitlement, pride, and discontentment. And I think you have to remember not to beat yourself up. I think about the practices we’re implementing or trying to implement in our own life are good. At the dinner table each night we used to highs/lows with the kids where’d we go around and do a high/low and recently we decided that we’d drop the low - what we had found was it was easier for us to come up with the low— the hard thing or disappointing thing—as opposed to the high. And a lot of the times our kids would say, ‘I don’t know.’ So know we’re focusing on the ‘high’ of the day and telling those stories and practicing gratefulness for those situations or people or circumstances.
I really loved doing the gratitude journal - there was such intentionality in that and for the week that it was required homework for my course I really saw the benefits of taking the time each night to reflect over the day in gratitude and write down the 5 things that I was thankful for. And Babe, I know you have a practice of going outside each night while you’re brushing your teeth or right before you go to bed - we have a door that opens up into our backyard from our bedroom...until recently I never really knew what you were doing, I wasn’t sure if you peeing in the yard or something, but recently you told me that it’s actually a gratitude practice, so tell us about that…
So there you have it. That is what we’re talking about in the Hansow home as of late. We’d like to hear from you - what do you find challenging? And how do you intentionally practice gratitude?- send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alright...Dave, take us into the depths with your a Deep Dive…
Jordan Peterson - Kids!
On the Screen - in which we visit and review what we’re watching this week
We made it to the movies!!!!!!! We’ve been struggling with the restrictions of the MoviePass but we finally made it the movies this last weekend and the only option on Saturday was Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween - so we did it! It’s not a movie we were dying to see and there were several others we would have preferred to see, but it was one the entire family could go to and I was an avid RL Stine reader in my youth, so you know…
It’s not going to win any awards and it’s actually hard to review and rate this because for it was supposed to be, it was good but compared to the elements that a movie a good film, it’s totally going to flop or come up short. It was a family movie about a group of high-school kids and some Halloween magic and mischief. Compared to other films I would say it was 5 horns but for what it was supposed to be, an entertaining tween movie, I’d say it was 8 or 9 horns, so I think we can just meet in the middle and say it was 7.
I think that’s fair, but for the reason that it clearly ended with a set-up for a third movie, I’m going to say I’d give it more like a 6 - endings matter and I just don’t think this is the kind of movie that needs to be a trilogy. You gotta know when to end and quit while you’re ahead.
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Brought to you By
“Today’s show has been brought to you by the word ‘’GRATITUDE” - Life comes at us hard and the way we’re wired to take in and perceive information is often times to our disadvantage. The findings in science are mirroring what we know to be true in the spiritual...Gratitude changes everything! It’s the inoculation and the antidote! Gratitude is the only doorway to get into the party where joy and happiness flow like wine! We have a choice —we can actively take part in choosing to shift our perspective and override our default operating system. May we become intentional with our gratitude practices. Whatever it takes! Look back and reflect where you’ve come from. Start a gratitude journal (and keep up with it)! Invest in experiences and bring others along with you...take that vacation, visit that restaurant, get tickets to that concert! Talk about the good things in life with others (and realize that acknowledging what’s good doesn’t mitigate the ‘not-yet’ areas we’re still working towards)! May heaviness, comparison, pride, entitlement, depression, anxiety, and jealousy fall away as you open yourself up and blanket your heart and home with gratitude. It’s time to get your gratitude on!
“Until next week...keep embracing the mystery, asking questions, and giving yourself permission to enjoy the process. And watch out for those freakin’ unicorns...they’re glitzy and shimmery and full of crap!” ;)
Oh shoot, We forgot to talk about the nature of unicorns - I guess we’ll have to leave that until next week!
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