I didn't get the 'memo' but it looks like people are doing a 22 days of gratitude type of deal in lieu of the Thanksgiving holiday. Despite it being a little cliche, there's never a really good reason to not jump on board a gratitude wagon. Aside from that, I was also inspired by the lesson in one of my church meetings yesterday, that was simply on kindness, to re-commit to a few very important goals.
1. I am grateful for all four of mine, his, and our children. Parenting and step-parenting has proven to be one of the greatest ongoing challenges of my life. Not one of my kids is like the other. They all have unique stuggles, quirks and personalities that make me want to sometimes either squeeze them like crazy with happiness or frustration. ;) They are constantly reminding me (unverbally) of what my priorities should be and they are constantly teaching me patience. If I can keep calm and carry on (thanks Mr. Churchill), I think I might actually be okay at this parenting thing. From patience and calm is born consistency and greater capacity for unconditional love. Kepping calm and exercising patience is what I am re-committing to.
2. I'm grateful for gratitude. It sounds pretty obvious, but it is so important to remember to feel and express gratitude often. When you do this, it shifts your focus and I think it opens your eyes to more of the beautiful in daily life and helps you avoid the snare of ingratitude which breeds contention and frustration and hopelessness. I am re-committing to expressing gratitude from the big to the small everyday and to find something to be grateful for in those tough moments. When Preston hits a rough patch, I remember how grateful I am for what he is teaching me and the opportunity to help him.
3. I'm grateful for my faith. My faith in a loving Heavenly Father that knows me by name, my faith in Jesus Christ that has experienced everything I have and made it possible for me to make mistakes and be forgiven for them. My knowledge of right and wrong has directed the path my life has taken and continues to influence the decisions I make and the course of my future. Someone mentioned yesterday that God is always pushing us in the right direction. What a comfort - I just have to follow that guidance. I also know that everything in life happens for a reason and there is always something to learn that is for my benefit. Fear and faith cannot exist at the same time; I re-commit to having faith and trusting in the Lord and the path he has outlined for me.
4. I'm grateful for the goodness in others. I love that people will give of their time to help others who are in need. I love that when I was having a rough day, somebody noticed and brought by a delicous loaf of banana bread (I still don't know who did that). I love that when the new girl at school was sad and crying at lunch, Preston went and sat down with her and tried to help cheer her up. I love that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there are people working tirelessly to help those who have lost homes or loved ones. Someone once said that "There is inherent goodness in everyone if you but just look for it." I am re-commiting to be less critical and look for the goodness that is in everyone.
5. I'm grateful for simple pleasures! I love my dark chocolate! I love artichoke dip!(I'm eating some right now which is what inpsired this one - it is delicious!) I love sitting on a furnace vent with a blanket in the winter! I love dancing to Michael Jackson on the Wii! I love playing board games with my family! I love sleeping in clean sheets! I love fresh bread from the oven with butter and honey! I love it when Preston says something clever and witty! I'm re-committing to really enjoying the moment and finding joy in the simplest of pleasures.
Moving forward, for family night tonight I'm going to take the kids to Barnes and Noble and have them pick out a notebook or journal. Each night I will have them write just one thing they are grateful for that day. In that journal, I am also going to have them record one simple act of service they did that day (it can be helping someone pick up their books, or giving someone a compliment or helping someone elderly in the neighborhood - big or small). My hope is to keep this going beyond Thanksgiving and to hopefully start thinking more about what they can do for others. Happy Monday all!