A few months ago I started looking online for a gratitude journal to purchase. Surprisingly to me, there’s an overwhelming large selection of them. There are gratitude journals to fit everyone’s needs from age, sex, occupation, humor and even how much time you wish to spend writing in them.
Stressed, I gave up. It felt more like buying a swimsuit than any sort of self-help exploration.
I remembered I had a fancy (well some designer name) planner that a friend got for me last Christmas that would do the trick. It was cute, it would entice me to open it, and I thought it would be more suited for a journal rather than planner. Turns out, it was.
All the experts in life from Oprah to Tim Ferriss to local women I know who are crushing their goals, seem to meditate and or keep a gratitude journal. And let's face it, I could write a year’s worth of columns on how I’ve failed at meditation and yoga, so a gratitude journal it is.
I happen to be one of the chosen few who sadly sweats the small stuff. Ugh, it hurts me to type that. Why, why is that me? Why can’t I be a cool kid that’s easy going and goes with the flow? Well, that’s not me.
On the bright side, I like to at least say, hey I can finally admit my issue, one of them.
So I thought this gratitude journal would help me prioritize my "stuff." In other words, I could use this time in my journal to really get ahead of the day focusing on what I was grateful for and remind myself not to sweat the small stuff.
I began like this:
Each day I wrote three things I was thankful for and also three things where I wanted God to move. Then as a few weeks went on I added a goal for the next day and a bible verse.
And so now a month and a half later here we are. I’m still writing in my homemade gratitude journal and yes, I’m still sweating the small stuff. I didn’t really think a transformation would happen overnight, so no worries. But I do find joy just in creating those pages.
That time with that blank page and that pen forces a stillness, slowed mentality and a grateful heart to spring forth. It’s really been something I’ve started looking forward to.
The other day when the Vice President came to town it prompted a conversation between Erin Cox and myself. I don’t remember exactly how it went but we both agreed that in our line of work we’d become too comfortable. Now this isn’t to say we’d become too careless or lazy, but maybe we’d grown accustomed to high profile personalities, officials, power and events of that nature.
We took a minute to really appreciate the scale of what was happening around us, outside our window. The Vice President of the United States of America was coming to a restaurant less than a mile from our newsroom, a restaurant that we’d dinned in often. Our newspapers, our staff, our reporters were covering the events and until that conversation we had been treating it like it was perhaps just some feature photo op.
So we decided to be grateful. We reminded ourselves of what this career afforded us and we chose not to take it lightly.
Going back through my journal I found that on multiple occasions I had named both my jobs under things I was thankful for. Weird, right? Doesn’t everyone hate getting up and going to work. Don’t get me wrong not every day is pretty and some days can be well, gruesome. But most days, if I work hard enough, I meet people who are inspiring and if they trust me enough, they let me tell their story.
This weekend I was at Applebee's where I moonlight on Sundays and a man at one of my tables asked me how long I’d worked there, insisting I was familiar to him. I told him how long. He settled for the restaurant to be where he knew me from. Later in conversation he found out I worked for the newspaper and told me he thought that might be where he knew me from. I told him it might be but I explained I’d worked a few other places in my time and when I mentioned the hospital, he definitely thought that was it. I left him to his food and returned a short time later where he returned to the subject puzzling him.
"You said you worked for the newspaper, did you write a story about addiction?” he said. “Did some people share that?”
I explained to him that yes, and also explained that as a child who grew up in the middle of addiction, researching and writing about it had become a passion. He finally determined that my picture with the story was likely the place of recognition.
He shared with me his own story of addiction about a family member. We talked about stereotypes, tough love and encouragement.
And then once again I was grateful. I thanked him for reading. Often writers, who share their own stories hoping to make an impact are misunderstood, but if it resonates with just one, the work is not in vain.
And I’ll close with one last bit of gratefulness from this week.
It is always you, the readers, that keep me here. Perhaps as a writer I would write if I were the only human in the world, perhaps. But you, my readers, fuel me, you steady me and you give me purpose. You humans, you over-comers with hearts as big oceans inspire me to fill up these pages.
And mostly your vulnerability to share when called upon lifts us all to a higher place and your trust in me, in us to do this work together is bigger than you or I can even imagine.
So for you, your stories, your vulnerability and your trust, I am grateful.