Thanksgiving. Giving Thanks. Beyond the traditional holiday, before and after, part of my journaling each day is to add to the 1,000 Gifts List (based on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts).
Most days I already know what to write down. Scenes that caught my eye. Events that sparked gratitude. Words that spoke encouragement. Connections, relationships that are full and fulfilling. And, also, the challenges, emotions and events I need to face head-on and tackle with courage.
Some days, though, I sit there, needing an attitude check. A gratefulness generator. When I have to dig for something to write down, first, my heart needs to refocus. There is never a shortage of people/events/things/scenes/life to be grateful for. But there can be a dire shortage in my ability to see and understand and acknowledge those items.
That is where the 1,000 Gifts List comes in. It inspires me, in a gentle, quiet way, to pay attention, to see ( to learn to look) and to be aware of all there is around me. Far too easily, I zero in on the uncomfortable, the bad news, the harsh word, the shortage. All that causes me to miss out on the abundance abounding around me. Sometimes I can almost hear Ann's voice saying, "Wake up to the moments...figure out a way to stay fully awake...these fleeting moments, this is all we have...".(from her trailer for the book on the website)
I step back, take a breath, and write my list. Things I wouldn't have noticed, events that would have eluded attention, scenes I really didn't stop to admire and appreciate; they become part of my list, part of the record, the journal of my process. There are still days of foggy understanding, days of tears and frustration, days of discontent and chaos. Many, too many.
Another reason for the list is as a review tool. To thumb back through the filled in, scribbled on, quickly jotted pages [I keep a handwritten copy, then type it onto the computer, again, as a review] brings a smile and relief, filled with memories, hope and love. The foggy, frustrated, discontent, chaotic days become colored with hope, framed with love. In spite of me and my bad attitude days. Don't think this means I'm always happy and smiling and thrilled with life. Those are the days I really need this list and the effort it takes.
Writing down the list turns my attitude inside out, spilling peace and content and calm and order, not because of me, but instead of me. Instead of my grumbles and frowns, a calm breath and quiet. Opening my line of vision beyond my narrow little world, opening my sights to greater things, to light beyond anything I could imagine or think. Beautiful. It is a process. Progress.