The simplest thing can heighten gratitude and bring such a sense of well-being with it. It’s 2020 and I’ve got the plane in the air with a fantastic view of all the runaways. 2020 is going to be my year to land the plane. Isn’t it great to be over 50 and finally know what you want to do when you grow up? Gratitude has led me here.
People have told me for many years that I should write a book, and I love to write. I write floods of words; journals, letters, short-stories…but they have been floating in a sea of possibilities without clear direction about where in the world I would even begin. For years I’ve been pondering starting a blog. I was first taken by the beauty of Ann Voskamp’s photo and journal blog and have been pondering ever since.
I’ve been journaling and taking photographs since high school. I had the privilege of growing up with a dad that had a darkroom in our home and I spent endless hours, completely lost in time, developing film and prints. My dad and my grandpa had been doing photography for many years and I had caught the bug. Before we had kids, my husband built a darkroom for me in our home, and again, I spent endless hours in there, and so did he. Of course, after children, there was no time for doors that can’t be opened when the red light is on, but I quickly turned my love into a freelance photography business and specialized in maternity and mother/child photography, and offering hand-tinted black and white photos as well. Now, many years later, empty-nest and single, I am returning to some of my long-time loves that I now have the time and attention to nurture. I’m so very, very grateful for this season.
Heightened focus on gratitude during those many heartache days; days that led to years of the hardest kind of days…the days that have to be taken one moment to the next to know you can get to the end of it, only to wake up to another like that, well, those tiny, forced seeds of gratefulness practice have now grown into a deep-rooted, fortress of a tree. This is what I feel now, sitting here, writing this to you in hopes that you will feel encouraged by the possibility of the same. The possibility of knowing you will feel okay again, one day.
I sat down to write to you, which is what prompted the subject of tiny seeds of gratefulness, because, really, this deep sense of gratitude, happiness and fulfillment I have right in this very moment is due to my heightened awareness of my thankful attitude of small things that have grown in my heart to be huge like this small table I’m sitting at in my kitchen, looking out to a blue, California sky, on a quiet Saturday morning.
I rent an apartment (recently divorced, remember…the heartache days) and I’m unable to buy a home at this time, but I can’t tell you how deeply grateful and happy I am that I live where I do! Shifting my thankfulness to what I do have, rather than focusing on what I don’t (there was much loss) is what has brought me to this fulfilled, joyful, happy place in my spirit. To be this happy for a tiny table, in my rented kitchen of a small apartment, brings such freedom to my mind, emotions, and spirit.
I live in an older apartment building, with what I’m sure is the original 1960’s kitchen cabinets that aren’t pretty, and don’t work so well, but, this is affordable for me, and, I live one block from the beach where I can walk my paddle board into the water and spend a couple hours stand up paddling which clears my head and feeds my soul like nothing else can. Of course, there are still things that try to sneak into my head space and bother me, but this is why it’s called gratefulness practice. Y’all! I can hear my neighbor snoring when I’m in bed watching a movie on my laptop or trying to go to sleep. That could really get to me because I value peace and quiet so much, but I choose not to focus on it. Rather, I focus on how amazing it is that I live in this beautiful beachy neighborhood where the warm sunshine has been a catalyst for my healing.
I’ve been here almost 5 years now, and I’ll be real with you. The gratitude practice was grueling at times because it is only in recent months that I have truly broken free. It can take years, and is a process of tenacity, but you will notice little glimmers of hope like sparkling gems in the sun when you embrace this concept. I applaud you for not giving up. Be the bulldog with the bone. I promise, there will come a time when you are smiling again so big that the bone will fall right out of your mouth. Start recognizing if you go to the negative first and stop yourself from speaking negative out loud. Just stop. Not only do others around you not want to hear it, but most of all, it is keeping you in chains. You can’t move forward to gratitude when you speak the negative. Speak your gratitude things out loud instead, and be sure to write down three things, each day, that you are thankful for. It’s a life changing habit.