Just Life

Choose | June 2021.

raindrops on daisies from this morning’s walk

Another month has flown by and once again it’s time to check in with my OLW. This month I’m revisiting gratitude.

I’ve written about gratitude before (a LOT!) It was my OLW in 2008 and that year I made a little book and started filling one page a week with short, almost daily entries.

The pages are filled with mostly little things about work, family (Katie was in college, Sara was in high school, and Marc traveled a lot), friends (including family who are friends), and crafting. I traveled a bit, too – mostly for work, and sometimes to see friends. One of those weeks was a simple entry written across the whole page “flew to Portland and spent a lovely long weekend with Francie”.

At some point, that practice became what I do today: closing each morning’s journal entry with a gratitude list of five things. Writing that list – even when it’s silly stuff like “fresh hot coffee” – puts me in the right frame of mind to move forward with my day, no matter what I’ve shared on those journal pages.

Yesterday, Tsh Oxenreider shared a slightly different spin on the daily gratitude list

“This will probably be a lifelong practice for me, remembering every single morning to notice the good. But the practice of doing so by far outweighs the tiny inconvenience of the three minutes (if that) it takes to do so. It changes everything about my day. It’s ridiculously worth it.

On those days when I choose to remember to do this — and it is a choice, every single iota of this practice — here’s what I notice underneath the surface: the sacramental goodness that all of life is a gift. Humans have asked since the exile of Eden why God allows bad stuff to happen to good people, but that’s really the wrong question. The real question is: why is there anything good at all in the first place?”

Why is anything good? I don’t know. I guess it’s because the Creator of all the stuff is good and loves us for some crazy reason.”

I know that Creator bit won’t resonate with everyone, but it does with me. and even if we can’t agree on that, I do think we can agree that there is a fundamental connection among us that creates a vibrant community when we come together from a place of love. That short list of gratitudes put me in that place.

Here’s this morning’s list – penned about an hour before that rainy walk (see above):

  1. this practice [I’d just worked through what I wanted to write here today]
  2. peek of blue sky behind the clouds [which clearly didn’t last very long]
  3. 15 nights in a row [yes, this is a new record for Holly since January!]
  4. plans to play tennis [ha, no! again that rain …]
  5. meeting Deena & Karen for coffee and knitting [this did happen!]

As I wrote last fall, “Gratitude is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory.”

We’re all being faced way more “community” than we’ve seen in over a year … and some folks are struggling (and some are behaving like outright jerks! Pantsuit Politics’ closing segment was about that this morning). Muscle memory is key in stressful situations, and this particular spiritual muscle memory feels especially important right now. I’m grateful to past me for making that choice so many years ago.

I know some of y’all have similar gratitude list practices. If you’re comfortable sharing, what are a few things you’ve listed lately?

Thank you Carolyn for hosting our meet-up and to all of you sharing your stories and being part of mine. xo.

12 Comments

  • Honore´

    I am so grateful to you for sharing these thoughts and memories about gratitude – even when everything seems to be topsy turvey, it’s always good to take time out to be grateful – tho’ we don’t always think that’s so. For some reason, these lyrics from the Supremes’ song – “This is Dedicated to the One I Love” came to mind: … “and the darkest hour is just before dawn.” Not sure where I’m going with that …

    Cheers~

  • Bonny

    Thank you for the reminder that gratitude is a choice. I’ve been renewing a commitment to meditation amogst all my summer busy-ness, but that hasn’t stopped me from railing against injustices, stupidity, and people simply not doing their jobs. I need to renew a commitment to gratitude, too, and make that choice every morning!

  • Kat

    Beautifully said, Mary! When it comes right down to it… everything we do is a choice for good or for not so good. Listening sometimes is the hardest choice ever… but those moments when a very good habit sets our feet on the path is such a very amazing thing! My morning meditations have become that habit for me… it is time I have become very selfish of but the difference in how I feel after being immersed in those minutes is a wonder.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Juliann

    I am saying Hello to this habit as a July practice so thank you for this post.
    This morning I am grateful for the cooler nighttime temperatures, windows open and fans turned off – a sweater in the morning is a very good thing

  • Sarah

    I’m fairly certain that you were my inspiration for including five little things that have brought me joy in my daily journal entry (which I do at the end of the day). They are often small things — time to drink my coffee, a good night’s sleep, spending time with family — but the practice of noticing what is bringing me joy and what I have to be grateful for has been so fulfilling. So thank you for that.

    I am hoping that in tonight’s entry, I’ll be able to be grateful for rain (and a cool front behind it).

  • kym

    What a lovely post, Mary. And you’re so right . . . gratitude IS a choice. (Grateful for you, and the blogging community . . . always.) XO

  • Debbie

    You are so right, the practice of gratitude is a choice that we make every day. I know that for me, I would be overwhelmed with despair if I didn’t take time to pay attention, listen, slow down, and give thanks for all the good that is in this world.

  • Carolyn

    “Gratitude is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory.”
    Yes!!!
    Today, I’m grateful that we are taking down a beautiful, beloved tree BEFORE it falls on our cottage + deck. (Always hard for me to find a positive spin on taking down a tree. But repairing would be a big bummer. So. Gratitude as mind-shift!)
    Beautiful post–and beautiful raindrops on daisies!

  • Carole

    I’ve been writing down 5 things I’m grateful for every morning for almost 2 years now. It’s a practice that means a lot to me, both as a reminder of the good things, but also as a diary of sorts of all the things that have happened. Thanks for sharing your practice with us.

  • Margene

    Grateful for the 5 minutes of rain and the cooler air that moved in with it! Grateful for your beautiful words of insight. Grateful for Smith who is nearby and is as happy as I’ve ever seen him. Grateful for being on the far side of the pandemic (and hopeful it will stay this way). Grateful for the great books I’m able to get from my local libary (everyone should have a great library!). Grateful for my knitting (although I’d like to have your speed). 🙂

  • Lydia

    After being back at work now for a month-I’m grateful for wine and fencing. Did I mention wine??