Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks Every Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful word, isn't it? One of my favorites. And one I think of year round, not just in late November. But perhaps more often I think of it as "gratitude."

I recently found my gratitude journals -- or at least a couple of them. I started writing the daily "Five things for which you are grateful" in a journal decades ago and while I no longer write them down, every night before I go to sleep, I think of at least five things to acknowledge.

Some are big ones, like being grateful that when my across-the-street neighbor and I simultaneously backed our cars out of the driveway at the same time, no damage was done to person or car. Some are small, like getting a great parking spot on a crummy day.

And many repeat, over and over. Being grateful for a special time with Rick, a phone call from one of the kids, Lizzie's purr.

It's been fun reviewing the journals because they remind me of some very special times -- and some significant ones.

For example, in 2001 I made this notation: "I am grateful that amid terror and death, strangers speak and hug each other, people pull together to help others, strangers remember those they never knew with flowers and teddy bears and photographs; that my family and friends are safe and that we are more aware than ever of how life can be cut short. (September 12, 2001)

Funny. That is as fitting this month as it was those many years ago.

Not all my gratitude notes have such a world view. For example, on Thanksgiving weekend in 1998 I wrote: I am grateful for delightful times with Rick and the kids, for not so delightful times with the whiners, and for being able to love them despite the whining. (I wish I could remember what they were whining about!) That week, among other things I wrote that I was grateful for Jane Austen and "Pride and Prejudice," weather so warm I barely need a jacket and for being able to relax.

And a few days later: "I'm grateful the lump on my breast seems to have disappeared or "gone under" and I don't need surgery for the holidays.

There were times when I was grateful for a "deep sleep" and that my friend Patricia was hanging in there healthwise. (December 1997). Patricia has since passed but I remain grateful that she was my friend.

I look back and see things that meant a lot to me. "I'm grateful that Kevin told me I could come to the Pinewood Derby." (January 1997, about a year after I was part of their lives.)

And then there were the routine things -- the smell of baking cookies, an afternoon off, that the tulips are popping up and for stars, the microwave and frozen margarita mix.

Looking back at these journals of simple gratitude tell me, in a way, what was happening in my life then, almost like a diary without the details. The funky mammogram, 9/11, becoming part of a family, warm autumns and early springs.

But most of all, I see the simple beauty and meaning of real life. The things that appear over and over are Rick and the boys, the cats, health and comfort. Chocolate chip cookies, back rubs, stew on a cold winter night, a whole day to do art.

To be grateful that a stressful day is over seems more healthy and nurturing than to keep reliving that stressful day. To recognize with thanks that you and no one else was hurt in a fender bender (even if the car was totaled) is so much more freeing than being angry at the accident, the other driver or yourself.

In fact, in a news story reported on NPR on Monday, November 23, scientific research has indicated that gratitude is good for your heart health -- and additional studies proved writing it down helped even more! (Maybe I should start doing that again!) It's a short story and an interesting one -- check out the link!

The New York Times also reported on this research. Choose to be grateful -- it will make you happier, the article encourages, linking to the various research studies. Both are stories well worth following!

I have a reputation for being a pretty half-full kind of person. And I can't tell you how much this annoys people! It's not that I never get down. I do. But even then I try to remember how easily it could be so much worse. And I'd rather try to find the one little bit of good in a whole heap of bad to hang onto. It's not that one can ignore the bad. I can't. But I can try to find a tiny bit of gratitude somewhere in the mix.

The incidents in Paris this month have drawn me in with their sadness and I see the fear that is sweeping not only Europe but our own country. I see political arguments and statements that make no sense to me, that seems outrageously xenophobic. I see a future where the rules of the game have been changed and we scramble for a way to bring safety to the world. And can we? No one knows.

But I also see the crowds of people that Peter showed in his Paris posts, returning to the Bataclan and leaving flowers at makeshift Parisian memorials, dining in cafes and standing firm. I see the governor of Washington in his New York Times OpEd piece defend the need to place refugees. I see friends continuing to make their travel plans to Europe. And each and every one of these things fills me with gratitude.

The list on this day is a bit more complex than being grateful for finding my earring plug and being able to sleep in.

And perhaps that is what it's all about. Growing in gratitude, facing the difficult head on and looking for the shiny bit to hold onto, even when it seems very hard.

We all need that shiny bit.

So, if you are lucky enough to get the wishbone in your turkey dinner, pull hard and make a wish. But make it a wish that counts.

And be grateful that we are able to wish and dream and hope. And, grateful to find true happiness, no matter what that might mean for you.


Lynne said...

Beautiful post on gratitude, thankfulness . . .
Being around a grateful heart is most refreshing . . .
Happy Thanksgiving Jeanie . . . for you and yours . . .

Joyful said...

Yes a beautiful post. Despite the difficulties and challenges in the world and in private lives, there is always much for which to be grateful. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Bella Rum said...

Gratitude is definitely good for heart health. I believe it. It makes you so much happier. This was a beautiful post, Jeanie. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I need orange said...

Very nice.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Thank you. Merci. Gracias. Tak. sounds so beautiful in so many languages, and is even more beautiful when expressed in action. Let's keep on living with a grateful heart and life. BLESSINGS to you, Jeanie!

Victoria Zigler said...

I try to be like you, but don't always do a very good job of it. Some days I don't even need to nudge my mind to remind myself to be grateful for the small things, while other days I struggle to find even one reason to be grateful.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Wonderful post filled with such love and gratitude. Wishing, dreaming and hoping are such blessings in our young old age! Happy Thanksgiving to you, Rick and the family!

Tracy said...

Ahhh... this is just sooo, sooo BEAUTIFUL, Jeanie! Gratitude every day. Giving thanks every day. LOVE every day. Love is the only balm I know that can heal this broken world... Wishing you all a lovely Thanksgiving weekend there ((HUGS))

Becca said...

Jeanie, this is probably my favorite post ever. It is SO quintessentially you, and expresses a womderful philosophy. I will be looking now and always for the "shiny bits" and will think of you when I find them!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

As usual this is a beautiful post full of so much insight and wisdom! I think it is great that you a "half-full" person. The world needs more people like you!! It must be so fun to look back on the lists of things you were thankful for in the past - I love the one about the whiners. ;) When I was in Charlotte, a friend sent me a 'sentence a day' journal and challenged me to find one positive thing to write down each day. I kind of fell off the wagon but on January 1st of this year I re-committed to writing something down each day. It's been so fun to see what I wrote down in the past. 2 years ago now I was in Paris so reading sentences about each day of that trip is sort of bittersweet, knowing the tragedy that city is recovering from.

I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday!

Arti said...

A beautiful post, Jeanie. I really appreciate the warm pics of people, food, nature, and candid sharing. Yes, lots to be thankful for, and I just added one more. When you have time, head to my pond. :)

Little Wandering Wren said...

I have always felt the rest of the world missing out by not having Thanksgiving! I'm like you, look for the joy and be grateful for all you have, as life changes in a heartbeat. It is always fun to look back on what was written years ago and one of these days if the technology is there, we can do the same with our blogs. I have enjoyed reading your posts Jeanie
Have a happy week.
Wren x

Tammie Lee said...

lovely thoughts and memories Janie, new and old.
gratitude is a lovely experience/feeling, for the one feeling and the one receiving. Wishing you a beautiful weekend.

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Your well written post, tender shares of feeling, thoughts and moments give me chills. They remind us all to embrace these glorious, fleeting moments that are both complex and simple. It is a wonderful life, isn't it! I just know you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Marilyn Miller said...

Your post is just perfection. I will continue looking for the "shiny bits". I love seeing the photos of Paris and knowing that I will travel there next year.

Geraldine said...

I agree, a lovely, heartfelt post. And yes, we all need to count our blessings, every day. It's actually the way I start every day now, with a gratitude list I recite to myself, before I get out of bed. It is a good way to start the day.

You have a great smile! Thanks for sharing all these happy photos too. :-)

shoreacres said...

I'm grateful to be home safely from my travels, and to find such a lovely collection of thankful thoughts and photos here. Even though this is a post specifically about gratitude, one of the realities of your blog entries is that they always convey that sense of gratitude, and remind me how important it is. For that, I give thanks, too!

The Artful Diva said...

Lovely post, as always. Happiness to you!

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dearest Jeanie,
I am sorry that I was not here earlier to read this post... You have captured my feelings.. And yes, I did get the wishbone, and made my wish.. Peace. A little 5 letter word that could change the world, if all would take it to heart.
Bless you dear friend, for your friendship and kind heart.
Thank you so much for traveling along with Bebe. I am so happy you enjoyed.
Sending you a warm hug

Sally Wessely said...

Loved this. Peace and love. We all could use a lot of each.

psychelyn said...

Another inspiring post filled with warm thoughts and beautiful words.

I'm that type who looks at the glass half full too. I always say thanks everyday beforeI go to bed. I don't specify what they are but maybe I should...and should write them too.

Thanks for sharing the article. I'm gonna send it to my friend who has problems with being grateful. :)

Popular Posts