Artist, Writer, Woman, Mother, Healer, Teacher, Biohacker, Gardener, Friend, Entrepreneur
Gratitude is often hard for us to find because it gets blocked out by other feelings. This morning shame, frustration, worry and hopelessness outranked gratitude when the brisk knock on my door got me out of bed to reveal the nervous looking woman serving the summons and complaint from a creditor I cannot pay. I could have let those emotions overwhelm me, wreck my day and generally cast a nasty shadow over the rest of my week.
However, I have been practicing gratitude for a while now so I took five breaths, signed the papers, smiled at the woman and thanked her, wishing her safe travels.
She responded with “honey, you are not alone” and wished me a good day. I think she wanted to give me a hug. I was thankful she was kind. I was thankful she didn’t judge outwardly my unwashed hair or inability to handle my finances. I was thankful that she put out a hand to steady me when I stumbled trying to hold the paperwork, my cane and the pen all at once. The gratitude I felt for this stranger delivering me bad news was very strange, but very, very good…and unexpected.
My worry about my future hasn’t gone away. My shame at the state of my financial affairs hasn’t gone away. My frustration with my health that is that cause of it all has not gone away. However, this emotional bomb hasn’t crushed me today and the hopelessness did dissipate with that simple “honey, you are not alone”. It reminded me that I’m not and sometimes you need that reminder because you feel anything but connected.
My conscious daily practice of gratitude over the past year has helped me get to a place where a situation that normally would have left me devastated, or bitterly acting out toward a woman who was simply the messenger, is something I can handle with a small measure of grace and dignity even in pajama’s, with no bra on knowing this mess is not likely to be cleaned up any time soon. While I’m not okay with it, I am accepting of the process and that it is the best I can do in this moment and that I am okay with.
Sometimes the world aligns. It just takes one ripple and things change. Last night I’d decided to start a new GRATITUDE BANK for myself. Here’s how it works:
Every day write down one thing you have to be thankful for on a piece of paper.
Phrase what you write in a positive way, as if someone was talking to you such as “You are beautiful”, or as an affirmation “I walked in the forest today and saw a monarch butterfly.”
On days when shame, frustration, worry, hopeless or any of those other unfulfilling emotions are threatening to take over you world pull a paper from your bank, or two or three or ten if you need them, to remind yourself of all the ways gratitude manifests in your life.
I did this for a year and it was a truly eye opening process. I had so much to be thankful for. Some days I expressed gratitude for breathing, or waking up but other days there was something my child did, or an artistic accomplishment or a work related success. At first it was a struggle to find one thing to write down and then as the practice of gratitude became more ingrained it was difficult to choose just one thing.
I thought I had hit a rough patch where I needed a new gratitude bank. I thought it would be difficult for me to find those things to be thankful for. However, the knock at my door today reminded me that I am stronger and more resilient than I think. I am thankful for that too. However, I long ago learned that when you stop practicing something you can lose that skill so I am still beginning my new gratitude bank today. It just has an unexpected first deposit.
I can bank on one simple fact that remains true and keeps me wealthy no matter what my financial situation: honey, you are not alone.
Things I love:
The little wooden easel you see in the photo is something I love and am thankful for. I have several around my home. They are inexpensive, you can easily art the simple pine wood frames up and they allow me to showcase inspirational and motivational bits and pieces around my house, tucked into tiny spaces. They are perfect for using with 2.5” x 3.5” ATC and ACEO sized artist trading card art.You can pick these small wooden easeles for around a buck each at Amazon.
29 Gifts by Cami Walker (Kindle Edition)
29 Gifts is a book that helped me along my gratefulness journey. In addition to practicing the path in the book I also intentionally sent out 29 hand painted enso designs that I created to a variety of creative makers around the globe to encourage connection, a gift to myself.
I highly recommend reading this book to anyone who struggles with living a life of gratitude and seeing the good around them, especially for those who are dealing with chronic health issues. The beauty and grace that Cami Walker handles herself with are a shining example of what it means to be a living teacher and an excellent human. You can get it as a paperback or a hardcover too.