(This is hanging on the wall in our living room this month. I am grateful to the internet for providing things to hang on my wall.)
First off all, can I please get some props for coming through with the posts I promised? Not all of them yet, yes I know, but give me time, I’m on track! I even have another one ready to roll after this one! Why, thank you! I appreciate your unsolicited encouragement and praise!
Anyway as mentioned, I read this article, I’m going to refrain from saying “this whiny article” because that’s unkind and judgmental and it’s possible I misinterpreted it, but when someone is complaining that we “Broke Thanksgiving” by virtue of making and sharing lists of things we are grateful for, because they feel that Thanksgiving really should be about the beauty of dysfunction (and they weren’t even being ironic!) I feel that it might warrant the dreaded “W” adjective. But that’s just me and what do I know. (Actually when it comes to whining, a LOT. So basically I am a pro, and I deem it so). Moving along.
I have made daily gratitude lists in November on my blog for several years now. I got the idea from my fabulous friend Julie (you should be reading her blog), back before it became A Thing, (but I’m not going to whine about it becoming A Thing because I think it’s a wonderful Thing to catch on.) And I’m fairly sure that it is no coincidence that since I started this practice, I have felt a lot happier and more content with my life, for at least the month of November. It’s scientifically proven that expressing your blessings makes you happier (you should watch that by the way, when you are done here), and the more miserable you are, the more it helps. I would wholeheartedly testify to that.
This year November started out hectic, and chaotic and crazy (in the literal sense. Meaning, I was crazy. In the literal sense). And I seriously considered blowing off the tradition because I was not feeling like I could possibly take on one more thing and I was also feeling particularly ungrateful (on account of the craziness). And then in a moment of lucidity I realized that this was precisely why I had to make a special point of doing this, (and that was before I saw that there was Science to back up that realization!) Even though I scaled back by moving the practice to Instagram, and paring it down to just one grateful thing a day, it was better than nothing. And that is what I have done.
Truly, I have felt progressively better for each day that I did it. I think you can actually sense that when you read the captions as the picture progress. (You can access my instagram account and see the last few photos on my feed if you look in my sidebar over there———-> )But I really wanted to have it on my blog too. Because I’m like that. As you know. So now that I have a moment to spare, I thought I’d bring the gratitude posts home. Hopefully I can update daily with gratitude posts from now until the end of the month. Apologies, I took a lot of screen shots so I wouldn’t have to wade around trying to find the photos again, so forgive that the colours are weird. They are all much prettier in instagram. You should go there.
Day 1: Grateful more than I can say that my children have a dad whom they trust and adore with all their hearts. He is their safe place.
Day 2: For the sweet tenderness I observe between my children. Not always but very often. They love and like each other and have each other’s backs.
Day 3: For this sweet, smart, delightful, happy boy. I love him so! We went on a beautiful long walk together today and I loved every moment of his cheerful company. We gathered quite an impressive leaf collection too.
Day 4: For beautiful parks and woods in my town. Just a couple minutes from home can put me in a place where I can feel the magic, peace and restorative sense of being one with nature.
Day 5: For this beautiful boy, inside and out, my angel Gabriel-aptly named.
Day 6: (Gracie and Ella meeting Robin Press Glasser illustrator of the Fancy Nancy series (and illustrator of the year, 2013! at our local library). We are so thankful to have such an amazing public library in our town!
Day 7:For this cool, hardworking, driven, smart, low maintenance, funny, handsome, good kid. I’m so glad he is mine.
Day 7: For the resilience, joy, love and forgiveness of kids, even when their mom is a disaster.
Day 8: For constant reminders of a higher power.
Day 9: For unexpected blessings on bleak days.
Day 10: For beautiful people who stand strong and supportive when I fall apart.
Day 11: For the beauty, interest, variety and education I have gained from the diverse experiences, people and places I have been blessed to have known.
Day 12: For friends with impeccable timing bringing care packages which can feel like lifelines to a drowning student.
Day 13: For my sisters and brothers and my parents. My greatest sadness is that I live so far away from my family and we are not in as regular contact as I would like. But when I am in crisis, they are there for me with unconditional love and support. They know me better than I know myself and are some of the wisest, kindest, most generous, good, intelligent, interesting, sincere and funny people I know! Thanks mom and dad, Shona, Seth, Thalia and Luke! I love you!
Day 14: For the fact that when we run out of food, getting more is just a matter of going to the nearest grocery store. Shopping may seem like a drag, but there was a time when we did not have that luxury, and many don’t. I try not to let it ever become something that I take for granted. Oh and I’m extra grateful for Goodwill where you can pick up miniature shopping carts for a buck and for cute little bums in tights.
Day 15: For my awesome surrogate mom Joan who came by today with decadent baked goods, her legendary chex mix (perfect study food) and a listening ear.
Day 16: For wool socks. Preferably ski socks. Do not let the unsexy deter you. Do not attempt winter without them. Wear at all times. They are life-changing.
Day 17: For days which feel and smell like Spring in November. For friends to shelter and feed us in a storm, for not being sucked up in a tornado, for people who support me in my studies and for finally submitting that final assignment, the first final assignment of my grad school career, at 1:30am.
Day 18: For a warm and cozy little house, filled with warm and cozy little people.
Day 19: For naptime. Not just because I get a break from being a mommy slave for a bit. But because when I lie down next to her to help her to go to sleep, I have the chance to breathe and pray and meditate in the middle of the day. I relax as I feel her warm little body becoming heavy and limp next to mine. My heart rate slows down and my breathing becomes even and deep as I listen to her breathing becoming slow and breathy. Then I get to gaze at her serene, angelic face as she dreams her sweet little dreams. It is a sublime experience in the middle of an ordinary afternoon and I cherish it every time.
Day 20: To have survived my first quarter of graduate school (and to all the people who made it possible).
Day 21: This was a throwback Thursday picture of Caroline at her 6th (ballerina) birthday party. So cute! I am grateful for this beautiful, kind, funny, smart, talented daughter of mine. She is a wonderful young lady and I am so proud of her!
Day 22 (on instagram this is a video of us raucously caroling on a carriage ride but I couldn’t get it to transfer over here so please enjoy this picture of Ella’s wandering awe as the town tree was lit) The caption that went with the video was: For friends to carry out ridiculous traditions with. Like our yearly raucous caroling on the carriage ride at the down town tree lighting (much to the chagrin/bewilderment/amusement) of our fellow passengers. Traditions are awesome. Even when they are ridiculous and freezing and half of the kids are hating on them. #wewillmakehappymemoriesdammit
Day 23: For the charms of small mid-western towns. With traditions like tree lightings and holiday parades. The holiday parade was actually our first experience in this community, on this very day, November 23, 2003. We were so impressed and our 4 little ones were so delighted with the huge candy haul. Today, we attended our 10th consecutive BG Holiday Parade, marking a very quick decade of living in this small Midwestern town. Our little ones are bigger now. They march in the parade. But we got a second shot at the magic and awe (something else I am grateful for!) Our little Ella really “got” it this year and was just as delighted by the candy piled high on her stroller tray (and even a teddy bear!) I complain bitterly about the winters here and whine that it is not the most exciting place to live, but we have been very blessed to have raised our children in what is as close to a Norman Rockwellesque community as it gets these days. This is a great little town and if we ever do leave (as I swore we would that first winter-before the next one!) , I will miss these perfect small town moments very much indeed.
Day 24: For my faith and an infinitely kind, loving and patient Father in Heaven who sends me so many opportunities to allow it to grow. I often rebelliously refuse those gifts, but He never gives up on me. I have no words to adequately express my gratitude for that.
Day 25: For dear friends, like Muss Cindi here, and so many other angels who have loved my children and provided them (and Aaron and I) with the sense of having extended family close by. Such a great blessing and comfort to me.