2017 is winding down quickly, and recently I have the feeling that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I have family and close friends, both near and far, who fulfill me in so many ways. I’ve met and am dating a man who seems to be everything I could have hoped for. I work for an organization where I see our impact and where people care. My faith has grown exponentially and I see and feel God at work in my life everyday. I am truly blessed.
This final month of 2017 is about to be a whirlwind. December brings with it such joy and excitement. The coming weeks will be filled with holiday parties, shopping for presents, new and old traditions, Advent wreaths and Christmas ornaments – a wonderful way to close out a wonderful year. It will also come with worrying about money, a jam-packed schedule, safety in the snow and inevitable darkness both on the way to and from work.
It can be so easy to lose sight of what matters and the importance of this season and let it pass you by. In fact, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important most days. The daily grind can often overshadow the small, often hidden daily blessings.
This year, I’ve made a conscious effort not to let those blessings pass me by. Last year, I was given a Christmas gift by my aunt and godmother that has helped me pause and give thanks for the beautiful, often insignificant moments each day that are true blessings.
“The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude” is a daily gratitude journal that is now a collection of moments from my life throughout 2017. I made a point to write in it every night before bed, allowing myself to relax, unwind and reflect on my day. Some days were better than others, but there has always been something to be thankful for.
I love being able to look back on 2017 and see the moments that brought me to where I am today. On the first day of each month, here are things I was thankful for:
January 1: My mom’s influence and her egg casserole recipe
February 1: Strength, flexibility and respect of the body during yoga
March 1: The bond and friendship of cousins and sharing a birthday dinner
April 1: My hands and the things that make me different
May 1: Real, heavy tears that show how much you care
June 1: Walking in warm sunshine
July 1: Dancing, cleaning and feeling happy
August 1: The good feeling of doing something for someone else
September 1: Sleeping in while it rains outside
October 1: The last long run of training for the Chicago Marathon
November 1: Feeling empowered and proud of my work
December 1: Sharing this journal and the importance of gratitude with others
Over the weekend I brought copies of this journal to a holiday party to share with the other women. I told them how the practice of being grateful and finding the blessings and special moments of each day has made such a difference in my year and in my life. I truly think being able to share that sense of gratitude with others is one of the best gifts I can give this holiday season.
I refer to Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors, a lot, but her quote about gratitude seems so applicable.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”