I am taking a very interesting class and one of the recent assignments is to write in a ‘gratitude journal’.
Now I have made it a practice over the years, to keep various journals. I have several travel journals that bring back memories of wonderful trips with my sisters and those with my best friend; in another journal I have recorded thoughts and feelings of a difficult marriage and divorce – a time when I questioned myself and my parenting; there are the journal records of my younger sister’s final days before cancer took her from us; and the one that documents the pain of losing my dear father.
One journal dedicated to gratitude – that is something I had not created. As I read through my various journals, I do see that I have been very thankful and appreciative of the blessings I have been given. I was not sure the benefit of creating a journal solely dedicated to gratitude. Nevertheless, being the good student and curious about what might be discovered, I found an empty spiral notebook and began the mission of creating a gratitude journal.
The assignment is that every evening before closing my eyes, I am to record three things for which I am grateful for today. I was to date each entry and write the words: “Today I am grateful for…“ Sounds simple enough!
The first thing I wanted to do was to be clear about the word: gratitude. It means ‘appreciative of benefits received’. Okay – I am ready to begin. Day one – I have the date, the heading and – – – nothing! Well, not really, but if I have to write something down and it can only be three things, what do I choose? How do I write it so it doesn’t seem shallow or like an assignment for a class? You know, it took me over 20 minutes to write eight lines – not sentences – eight lines of three things for which I was grateful – of benefits received. This might be harder than I thought!
I am now several weeks into my gratitude journal and I have made a very interesting discovery. This gratitude thing has become a very conscious part of my day. As I move through my day, I am awake to notice the benefits and the people who surround me. It is as though I am making a mental note of gratitude – that perhaps this will be one of my three recordings for the day. I no longer have any difficulty bringing to mind my appreciation tribute. Yes, tribute! Writing, in more detail, my gratitude for the day is something I look forward to. I often go back a few pages and review the blessings I have been given and the people in my life who play such an important part in my joy.
The assignment is no longer that – not a task or chore or requirement for a class. Now, my gratitude journal is a beautiful tribute to those who cross my path each day and bestow upon me blessings to make my journey one of joy and peace and grace. Begin a gratitude journal…it may become one of your most prized possessions.
Last December, on my 60th birthday, I declared 2014 ‘my’ year. I wasn’t exactly certain what that meant – and frankly, I can say I am still not sure; however, I do know this is my year! I feel it in my bones. One could say that things are falling into place for me and that I am finding joy in doing and being 60. My dad always said ‘the decades are the best’ – he should know as he lived past 9 decades! I suppose I have always looked forward to these birthdays because I recall his words. Is it possible that because I am looking forward to these decade years that I tend to enjoy them more? Or, is it possible that because I am looking forward I see more clearly – see what could be – see what I can still achieve? Hmmm…interesting thought. I think I have come to that place in my life where I am more free to say ‘yes’ to the things I really want to experience. The voice of fear is quieter now – at least the voice that once held me in check and interrupted forward movement.
There is a quote that I have come to love – that really speaks to me as I delight in the decade of 60: “For everything that has been I say, ‘Thank you.’ To all that is yet to be, I say, ‘Yes!’” – Dag Hammarskjold, Second Secretary-General of the UN.
I don’t have a crystal ball or any special powers. What I do have is the capacity to say ‘yes’ and to take a step toward the future. It is a very exciting place, the unknown! There is nothing certain about it. It is unfamiliar and stimulating; interesting and inciting. How grateful I am for new experiences. What is right in front of me is something I have not yet come through. It is all new and exciting.
The only thing asked of me – at this moment – is to keep my eyes open, to keep moving forward, to say ‘yes’ to whatever and whomever crosses the path on which I walk.
What could be better than that?