Thirty Days of Thanks (but not the end)

Little did I know how much this project would change me.

Like so many of you who have visited here and shared your remarks, I, too, have had a gratitude journal in the past…at a time when I was in a really different place in my life. And the results of being intentionally grateful each and every day did lift me up and help me through some dark days.  Making this my daily practice at this stage of my life has been surprisingly different.

First of all, going “public” with this, sharing my idea with all of you and making a commitment publicly was very powerful. Whether you know it or not, you were all holding me accountable, at least in my mind.  Secondly, creating an art journal to go along with this process, forcing me to create some art each day, has opened my heart and let that little sassy blue bird out of the cage. I think she is here to stay.

And there is a third thing. All the beautiful comments, the sharing of your thoughts and experiences here has really inspired me. Some of you have shared your own journey through blogging, and I have read as many of them as possible. We all lift each other up when we share what really matters, what speaks to our heart, what we are most grateful for in any given moment on any given day. Thank you to all of you who have shared in this with me, either silently or publicly.

Here are images from my art journal entries in the past week.

11-23 thirty days
Wednesday the 23rd I was out with my camera (imagine that). I gave thanks that day for that camera, for being able to see so much beauty everywhere. I believe the photography has helped me in more ways that I realize.
11-24 thirty days Thanksgiving Day. At my parent’s home. Having some of that “porch time” in front of their fireplace. That is what found it’s way to the journal that evening.
11-25 thirty days Friday, November 25th, here is what I wrote: “For all the prayers I have heard from my father’s lips. Heartfelt, sincere, full of gratitude, full of reverence for our Creator. For joining hands in prayer before a meal, for the tears that often fall during these special moments….”
11-26 thirty days Saturday, the 26th. I read on Creative Spiritual Women a wonderful article encouraging us to think about what we love. Start thinking about what you love and see how it changes your heart. Even in yucky situations, shift your focus to what you LOVE about that place and time.  This can change your life.
11-27 thirty days Sunday. After seeing a video of my grandson walking, I had to write this. All you grandparents out there know what I’m talking about.
11-28 thirty days Monday, the 28th. “I am grateful for the “his”-story and the “her”-story of all my ancestors who have gone before. for the legacy they have left for us, For what I have learned from them.”  This came to me after spending an evening going through boxes of vintage cameras that have landed in my nest.
11-29 thirty days Tuesday. It snowed here.
I’m grateful for those warm coats, gloves, hand warmers, boots….all that clothing that keeps me warm.
11-30 thirty days And today, the last day of November, Little Miss Sassy Blue Bird has finally come to terms with those things that sag, with all that she is, and she is smiling. I wrote, “I am so thankful that Everything Is As It Should Be. How blessed I am to know this and to trust that it is so.”

Thanks for sharing this month with me! Now I hope that all of you will have a peaceful and blessed December.

Porch Time

On the front porch of my parents home there are places to sit and a bench to rest on so you can just enjoy the fresh air, sit and pet the dog or the neighbor’s cat, or just watch life go by on their quiet street. This rocking chair pictured here always gets my attention because of the craftsmanship, the aged wood, the simple design. The quilt thrown over the back is one made by my mom, using scraps of fabrics on hand just as her mother before her once did. 

Together this rocking chair and quilt bring to my mind how important it is to spend time with each other, with our loved ones, with our friends. It invites us to invest in one another a little bit of ourselves, to listen without interrupting, to accept and love unconditionally.

Our world is not a front porch world. We don’t often make the habit of resting a while, let alone sitting on a friend’s porch and visiting. What would we miss if we did that? I’ll let you answer that on your own.

As we were preparing to return home last Saturday, my husband remarked that we had enjoyed our time with Mom and Dad, and he expressed his appreciation of the stories we had heard. We had spent our “porch time” inside in front of a warm fire in the fireplace, letting the dog sleep on the couch beside us, and just drinking it all in. Precious moments indeed.

There are many things I have thought of this month as I have daily written in my journal about gratitude, yet I have only touched the tip of this Mountain of blessings.  This rocker will some day rot away. The quilt will fade and eventually tear apart. But in my heart I will always carry the warmth, love, and comfort of this time that we shared. For this I will be forever grateful.

Thirty Days of Thanks – Week 4

It has been so encouraging to me to read the words of gratitude this month. 
And it is heart warming to know that so many have made it a goal to do this regularly. 
I have a few of my journal pages to share with you from earlier in the week. 

Friday I wrote that my cup really overflows.  Not just my coffee cup, although that is what I drew. I was enjoying a good cup of tea, thinking of how many times I have enjoyed tea with friends, coffee with my Dad and others.  I imagined the words “thank you” rising up with the steam.
My blog is officially a year old as of this week! Plus we helped a dear friend celebrate 91 years of living on Saturday evening, so milestones and celebrations were on my mind.  As you can see, that little blue bird is back, and she is questioning why my cupcakes aren’t sitting on anything. But as my friend Julia said, this journal is not about “good”, it’s about listening to my heart and creating what comes.  Little birdie is just going to have to get over it!
Sunday. I listened to a young mom tell a story that happened a long time ago in her life, and I was mindful that sometimes we have to put those stories behind us.  It’s time to turn a new page and look at this moment, celebrating the good rather than dwelling on past hurts. I became very aware of my own stories that I have perpetuated. How grateful I am that in this moment, a new story has begun.
That theme of abundance comes up a lot this month. When others have so little, or have lost all that they have, how can we Not share from the surplus we all hold on to? I’m very thankful that we have been blessed with everything we need, and that we can share it.  Little blue birdie is telling me that her nest is crowded….
One day this week it was pouring down rain as I drove to work. At a stop light I noticed a city worker trying to unclog a storm drain, and the passing traffic splashed him with so much rain water he had to back way up and wait a while.  What a thankless job, I thought. That image stayed with me all day long, which is why my journal talks about people who work in different ways to provide our food, to keep us safe, to keep our streets clean and keep rain water from over flowing every street corner.  Where would we be without that garbage man?
I trust that you all have had (or maybe are still having) a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have been able to celebrate the holiday with my parents, which is something we always treasure. 
Enjoy your weekend!

Thirty Days of Thanks – Week 3

This has been a powerful week. I don’t know how else I would describe it. Here are images from my art journal, and some comments and links that help tell the story.
Last week Mark celebrated a birthday, and his parents came all the way from Missouri to visit for a couple of days. They took us out for a very nice meal and just hung out with us. We were honored to have them here.  So, on Friday, Veterans Day, I expressed my gratitude for their visit, for their excellent health that enabled them to make the trip out here.  
For all the Veterans in my family I give thanks. And I was very moved by this blog post by LeAnne as she wrote of the Marines in her life. 
Do you see a pattern here in my art journal? There’s this little blue bird that keeps appearing every day now, as though she has been set free.
Saturday, the 12th, was a day of rest, a Sabbath indeed. There was even a nap in the afternoon.     ……..I heart naps.

Sunday, a day of worship, but also a busy day. We host Family Promise at our church and we were busy helping folks settle in for the week. I shared this art journal page on Monday, saying that “something clicked”. Spirituality can never be boxed up or confined, and extends far deeper and wider than we can grasp. 
That was the moment the little bird came out of her cage, I think.
Fast forward to Wednesday. That is the day I have yoga class in the evening, which I love.  From that practice I am learning to love this body that my soul currently resides in. But the art that came to the journal page shows little miss blue bird having a pout because “why does it all have to sag?”  Followed by the little cloud of words saying “get over it”.  Can you relate?

On Thursday my daughter called for some motherly advice. How grateful I am for the beautiful relationship we have! And though my journal entry is all about being thankful for my children and  for the gift of being their Mom…this gratitude is not limited to just one day. It is every day. I thought of the two quotes from my kids that mean the most to me, and they are written on the journal pages.   Two other online friends have also written about the joys of motherhood. My friend Dawn, who loves to scrapbook, writes of her gratitude and her family here. And Julia wrote a fabulous poem about what she “sees” in her little girl, which you can read here.
What was powerful about these last few days?
I found that once again on a Tuesday I was struggling to live from a place of gratitude.
A pattern emerged. Same thing had happened the week before, but why? All I know is that I need to get out of that pattern. My solution? Get out with my camera and look at the trees again, let the focus be on something new and different rather than the same old same old. It worked.
Thank you to all of you who share your thoughts and comments here, by email, and in person. I am truly grateful for each and every one of you.