As promised, this is the follow-up to the gratitude project started last week. Every day for 7 days we were to write down 3 things to be grateful for, or 3 blessings, paired with the question, “Why did this happen?”
First, a confession. Over the weekend, while in Orlando at a dance convention with Ellie, there were a couple of days where I didn’t write them down at night before bed, but did the next morning. Not sure if that had any effect on the result, but my desire to complete the exercise didn’t have me skip an entry.
For those of you who did, or are still doing, this exercise, I would really like to hear how it went/how it’s going for you.
This is what I found in the process.
It was challenging to be specific in the beginning, and to answer the question Why? The first couple of days I noticed the tendency to do the thing because I said I would do the thing, and the content was a little lazy. But I also realized this was quite possibly my perfectionism wanting to take control of the situation and tell me I wasn’t doing my own exercise “right.” So, I excused her from the process and kept going. Remembering there was no “right” and however I was doing it and in the way I was doing it . . . was the way.
Honestly, most days of it, felt kind of flat for me. I was surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I thought it would feel more -- electric.
And then, something did spark. Not necessarily a huge revelation of cartwheeling infinite joy that will never leave my being. A subtle, quiet, realization that was more of whisper. Like a firefly glowing every so often, in a different place in the yard each time, seemingly wanting to be followed, “Over here! No, over here. Come this way! Now look here.”
At the end of the experiment, it wasn’t about the content of what I was writing, or the exercise itself. Although I meant every word, and was deliberate it my thoughts around what I was grateful for each day, that’s not where the magic was.
It was in between. The tiny, precious noticing.
What I see now (or what has always been and my humanness forgets…) is that gratitude is a coming from, not a place to get or a thing to do.
It’s a way of being.
If I am walking through the world coming from I am gratitude, my awareness of the preciousness of life is illuminated beyond previous recognition.
And to be clear, there’s a human being over here who gets frustrated and agitated and can have a sharp tone in her voice with her own family when she thinks she has a lot to do, or things aren't going according to plan.
Remembering gratitude shrinks frustration. And agitation. And stress. And overwhelm. And any other thing the lizard brain wants to throw in to keep me small and “safe.”
Here are a few things that came to me from gratitude, not when I was doing the exercise, but the spaces between. It’s in the wee moments of realization, when you’re most likely looking the other way, where magic is happening. It’s awareness. There are way too many of these to list. I could find 100 things in and around my desk.
When gratitude becomes a way of seeing the world, everything becomes a miracle.
- I am grateful that in the face of 1 darkened mind, 59 deaths and hundreds of terrified, injured people, there are so many more of us humans that will open to their highest capacity for love, assistance, and humanity, instead of shrinking into fear and hate.
- I am grateful for my daughter saying she’s glad she hasn’t outgrown wanting me to be with her. I am grateful for her dancing. So, so blessed by her having this in her life.
- I am grateful for the man my son is becoming.
- I am grateful for the way my house smells. And great candles.
- I am grateful that when I make a mistake, it’s just a mistake
- I am grateful for every minute with my children. Literally every minute. They are getting older . . . every. minute.
- I am grateful for the relationship Scott and I have created through hard work, love, patience, more patience, and more love. Who he is for me is my greatest gift. Everything in our lives, stems from who we are together.
- I am grateful for independence and freedom. Both in my relationship, and the great fortune to be born where I was born.
- I am grateful for flowers. And bees. And birds. And ladybugs. And horses. And my dog. And fresh air. Nature is my greatest teacher, healer, and provider. Her intense beauty and consistency are my daily companions.
- I am grateful for the many meaningful conversations and connections in my life. Sometimes in the most unlikely of places, like sitting on the floor of a ballroom in an Orlando hotel with hip hop music blaring in the background.
I am grateful every time I look into my daughter’s eyes. And my son’s eyes. And my husband’s eyes.
They are the windows to my soul.
With gratitude and love,