Happy November! While gratitude is important year-round, I love this focused opportunity to reflect on mindfully having an attitude of gratitude and all the many good things worth recognizing in every different life, despite our diverse challenges. And I really, really love reading people’s words.
The first entry in this year’s Thanks A Lot series comes from my friend Charly – who was an angel to me my freshman year in my physical science class, which would have otherwise been a monotonous, lonely nightmare. She brought so much humor and joy to that class and to that period of my life! She is now a kick-butt wife and mama, a published author, and as always, all-around wonderful person. I love her words (and her, obviously). Enjoy!
“Gratitude is one of those things that we all know is so important, but in the moment, it can be really hard to remember to apply it. I find myself looking at my life in awe, wondering why I forget how blessed I am sometimes. And yet, I forget. I get grouchy. I feel picked on and make a big deal out of small disappointments.
At the new year, I watched Kristina Kuzmic‘s video on keeping a gratitude journal. I saw it on Facebook and wanted to share it here, but I can’t find it. In the video, she told the story of how she started writing down something she was grateful for at the end of each day. This wasn’t a generic gratitude journal, like I’m grateful for the sun or my family. She thought of something specific to each day to write down.
She then told of the day that she had a miscarriage. She was in pain, physical and emotional. She was exhausted and had just lost a child. As she lay in bed, she remembered she needed to write down something to be grateful for. She almost didn’t do it, because what in the world did she have to be grateful for on a day like that? Then she remembered her husband who had tucked her into bed and she felt a rush of gratitude for that. And, she says, instead of going to bed miserable that day, she fell asleep full of love and gratitude.
That story to me was so sweet and touching. I immediately knew I wanted to do it. I started in January and am still doing it. Some days, I write two lines. Some days I write more than a page. Always, though, it is a reminder to me of the many blessings in my life. I need that. I have many blessings in my life, but I don’t always remember it.
I remember one time in particular. I wasn’t going through a particularly hard challenge, but I was feeling the strain of daily life. At the time I had two young kids (one was two and the other had just turned one). My husband runs his own business, which at times is a huge blessing, but at this time, he was launching a product and work was taking a lot of his time and attention. On top of that, he was gone helping family and our church most nights at this time. This left me to care for the two kids myself and with little time to spend with my husband.
That evening, I went up to bed. As part of my routine, I pulled out my gratitude journal. I was tempted to just write down a sentence or two and go to bed, but I felt strongly that I needed to look deeper. As I began to write, my heart was softened and the words flowed. I went on for pages, gratitude swelling in my heart as I recognized all the ways God was blessing me at the particular (and hard) time in my life.
Not only was I able, like Kristina, to go to bed with gratitude rather than self pity in my heart that night, but the remembrance of my blessings gave me the strength I needed to get through that time in my life and to remain a blessing to my family (rather than a grouch). This is only one example of the way this gratitude journal has blessed my life.”