The New Year of 2014 began in much the same way others do. Lots of discussion and notions regarding things we want to do better, more often, etc. and one such project that caught my eye online was one of the “365 Days of Gratitude” projects floating around. (There are a number of them). This particular one focused on the fact that many folks these days carry a camera around with us in the form of our phone and that we might try to utilize this tool to create a greater sense of gratitude in our daily lives. And so, I quietly began to collect an image or so a day and started a saved blog post here that I would, in theory, share at the end of each month, or perhaps the year, filled with images of what makes me grateful. And I came to some interesting conclusions fairly quickly.
The first conclusion is that I already have a gratitude practice. A practice firmly in place in my day to day, and hour to hour life. Waking up to “Thank you for this day. Thank you for my health this day. Thank you for work that brings me joy. Thank you for my family and friends.” is a far better approach to daily life than my now (mostly) long gone inner chatter of negativity. These statements didn’t even have words wrapped around them until I started really paying attention to my inner dialogue and after years of working to re-wire this dialogue, I am grateful to have a different attitude about life overall. This gift has been long and independently fought for over the years. I already HAVE a gratitude practice. So pinpointing things to be grateful for was a piece of cake.
My next conclusion began to make this project a little more daunting. I came to the realization that I actually don’t use my phone as much as I might have thought I did. (actually a good thing) I’d come to the end of a wonderful day, chock full of things that I was not only grateful for, but fully present for as well. I wasn’t taking the pictures to put into my gratitude post!! Which leads me to my final conclusion.
As beautiful as this exercise is, and as enlightening and eye-opening it might be for some folks, for me there was a clear indication that this exercise itself was leading me away from the mountain…..
In Neil Gaiman’s now famous 2012 commencement speech at The University of the Arts, he speaks about checking in now and then with how you are doing things and making one clear determination: Is what you are doing causing you to walk toward the mountain (your goal) or away from it? I adore this metaphor and have Taos Mountain in my mind whenever I check in to see in what direction I might be headed at any given time. While the notion of wide-eyed, well-practiced gratitude is something that leads me TOWARD the mountain, the keeping track of the specifics regarding my most grateful moments quickly became something that would lead me AWAY from the mountain. This was quickly and clearly evident as I would get to the end of the day and fret over not having taken a snap shot that day. Ridiculous, right? And so I’ve decided that in this post, I’ll share with you what I have collected up to now, and then leave the exercise at that. I’ll simply go back to what was already working for me. That said, I will also enjoy and applaud the daily gratitude efforts everyone seems to be into sharing these days. It’s infectious. And beautiful. And I really believe it changes lives. It has for me. I am just not very good at taking pictures all the time!
So here are a few things for which I am truly grateful….. I’d love to hear how you keep track of your blessings.
Friends always willing to gather for a few tunes.
Tony clearing snow off of the cars after a storm.
Healthy feet to carry me on my runs where my best ideas are driven forth.
Mr. John Skelton, who drives over 2 hrs to teach classes at the Riley School of Irish Music each week.
Friend time and Puppy kisses
The courage to make a painting
The power of one small lightbulb to keep the bitter cold at bay
Two healthy dogs
A banner trip to the library
My job and a new friend there
Ceili band practice
a magical warehouse frozen in time
Eggs in spite of the cold and gray. Thank you, girls.
Magical gifts to enhance my letter writing practice
A visit with Lu
A dear friend who is cancer free!
Home made soup
Kids still willing to be kids.
And a few others of note…..
For folks who support and delight in the adventures of Ginger Small, a long awaited day to spend with a dear one who lives just across town (we didn’t take a single phone pic, we just enjoyed each other’s company), my son who swings by every so often to walk the dogs, for my own room in which to work. I could go on and on. And if you follow my twitter/facebook self, you’ll see other things I might take notice of. But I suppose at the end of the day, I lean more luddite than technoholic. This suits me just fine.