Yesterday, on New Year’s Day, our family celebrated our 2nd Annual Gift of Gratitude. That is, throughout the year, we wrote down things we were grateful for and collected them in a gift bag. While the kids got drunk on sparkling cider (read: sugar high), we passed the bag around, each pulling out a slip of paper, reading the things we had been thankful for in 2014 and reminiscing on each of the blessings that had come our way this past year. Anything from family activities we had done, having food to eat, to times of peace and quiet, that as a parent, are greatly appreciated. Each one of us had been thankful for the library–the gift of a wealth of books to check out for free, fun summer activities and programs, and their summer reading program, which allowed the kids to earn prizes each week to local restaurants. We were grateful for the members of our community, who helped us pack and move in August, during the week my mom was in the hospital with a blood clot and life threatening infection. Whose generosity toward our family helped give my kids a bright Christmas. There were so many things to be thankful for! Even our black cat, my familiar, Jezebel, was thankful for a warm house, food, water, snuggles, and the occasional tuna as a treat! I am grateful that I am teaching my children the gift of gratitude — the ability to pause, take notice, and give thanks for the abundant blessings in their lives. We look forward to this special New Year’s Day ritual, full of lots of laughter and memories.
I realized when the bag was empty and we were all done, that I should have included the hardships, as well. I feel like they were left out, though intentionally, at the time. But I realized that each of those trials and painful experiences were a gift. They taught me lessons, allowed me to grow, made me a stronger person. My goal for this year is to include those difficulties in our GIFT OF GRATITUDE. Then on New Year’s Day 2016, I can reflect back on how those obstacles benefited me in the end.
Struggling with fibromyalgia and PTSD, I focus on my limitations and my suffering more than I should. I forget to be grateful for my health in other ways. After my car accident that left me in a wheelchair for six months, I realized how much we take the ability to get up and walk around for granted. To be able to use your arms to carry things or shower on your own. When I get sick or have some other temporary issue going on, I’m reminded how much I take for granted the times when I’m not dealing with those problems. So, despite my chronic illnesses, I am going to focus on the health that I do have.
Some of you may have experienced incredible loss in 2014. As you continue to heal, I send you my love, and hope you’re able to recognize the shimmer of light amidst the darkness.
I encourage you to do any variation of our GIFT OF GRATITUDE. Many people do a ‘Gratitude Jar’. Keep a Gratitude journal. Acknowledge what you are thankful for. Focus on your blessings rather than lack. Adopt the attitude of gratitude. Allow the power of gratitude to magically transform your heart and your life; manifesting all that you need and more.
I’d love to hear from you! What are you grateful for?