Monday, January 9, 2012
To Grow with Gratitude
If I were to sum up my resolutions for 2012 in one word it would be to GROW. To extend myself, as a mother, as a crafter and as a human being. To take great leaps into the unknown, to learn new things, to expand my heart. Today is the exact one year anniversary to the day that I started this little blog. It was probably the day I tentatively stretched out my first shoot, that first curling tendril, that first leaf.
Before that I was not in a place where growth was an option.
I have a complicated child, my first child. When you have a complicated child everything is, well, complicated. Every single tiny thing is hard. To just feed your child and leave the house is hard. Spending time with other people and their uncomplicated children is hard. For a long time your complicated child does not let you sing, or take photos, or like to be touched. You start to feel like most of the joy in being a mother has been stolen. Many many many hours are spent learning how to help your complicated child do the things that other children can just do. This does not leave much time for anything else and it can be a very lonely path to travel.
But as you walk along this road, and the weeks turn into months and the months turn into one, two, three years, gradually the fog starts to lift and you can see something in the distance. A little light, in a little room. And a sign on the door that says, YES , you have turned the corner, it is getting easier every day. And people stop noticing your complicated child, he is a little less complicated, and you start to worry a little less.
And many, many people turn up when you need them, to give you advice, or support, or to guide you in the right direction. And then maybe one day you wake up and you are not filled with the anxious dread of how you are going to get through another complicated day. And you remember once, when you were not filled with complicated thoughts, that you loved to make things and be creative. And you want it back, and you think there might actually be a little time now. And so you start a blog. Because one cannot have a blog, without doing something blogworthy.
A year ago I started this blog with the sole purpose of being more creative. Along the way I have found much to inspire me, many new friends, and have surprised myself with what I can achieve around the day to day with two small children. What I was not expecting was that by finding the tiny moments of goodness in what may otherwise be a complicated day or week, I have come to love my complicated child so much more. I have learnt that through adversity comes strength. And with the retreat of adversity, comes joy. Simple joy for tiny things that are hard won. I am slowly learning that gratitude is indeed the best attitude.
A few months ago I cut out a review of this book and it stuck it on my pin board. I remembered to ask for someone to buy it for me for Christmas. And it was more inspiration than I expected. John is a lawyer whose life is not in a great place. At an all time low point he has an epiphany that he needs to express more gratitude and he commits to writing a thank you note every day for a year. The old fashioned way, with a pen, paper and a stamp.
And then while shopping for Christmas presents, I came across this book and bought it for myself. Gretchen is a writer and mother of two small children in New York who realizes while she is not depressed, she is hardly happy as a clam. She does a massive amount of research on happiness and then undertakes a project where over the period of a year she will implement her distilled knowledge of all this happiness research. Given that I would describe her as a neurotic over thinker, we had a lot in common. It heartened me that she with her uncomplicated life and uncomplicated children would need to undertake such a project.
Gratitude is very current, very trendy for want of a better word. I had already been inspired by this grateful project where a young photographer mum took a photo of a moment to be grateful for, every day for a year. But I was not inspired enough to actually do it.
After reading 365 Thankyous, I felt differently. This was daily gratitude, but to me this was bigger. Not only was it taking a moment to be grateful but it was taking the time to write a real thank you and send that gratitude onto someone else and hopefully brighten their day. And this was enough to inspire me.
So my big scary committed project?
Every day for 365 days, I am going to write a thank you to someone who has created a positive moment in my life. And I am going to write it by hand on a card and then post it, snail mail style. I have done eight already and it feels good.
It is scary too. That is a lot of cards, a lot of words, a chunk of time. What if I don't have the right words, what if I run out of people to thank? It will probably involve having to make some of my own cards.
So, if this inspires anyone, I have called mine " Gratefully yours, 365" as this is how I will be signing my cards. At the end of every month I will let you know if I am keeping up. Feel free to join in and bounce that gratitude right around the world. Or just get your hands on these two books, you will inspired.
I am so looking forward to learning, sharing, being inspired, being humbled and walking down this road with all of you. A whole lotta people I really like. 2012, Bring it On. And for anyone with a child, complicated or not, remember as I learnt from Gretchen, The days may be long, but the years are short.