“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” ~Alfred Painter
After my PE in 2013, I began to start each day with reflection and then follow up by jotting down three or four notes of gratitude on tiny slips of paper. The slips of paper would then be folded over once and placed into a 24-oz wide-mouth Mason jar.
Over that first year, I continued to pack slips of paper into the jar until there wasn’t any space left. I started the second jar, then the third jar. Now five jars sit high up on a shelf in my home office.
On occasion, I pull a jar down and randomly pull out a slip of paper and read it. Many of the slips say “I am grateful for my family” or “I am grateful for my Mom” or “I am grateful for my life.” Reading these are gentle reminders of what I have, and what I used to have.
As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, I decided to pull down two of the jars and spend some time reading through them. A few of them tugged on my heartstrings:
February 16, 2016: “I am grateful for faith”
April 4, 2016: “I am grateful Mom made it to Paul’s surprise party”
January 22, 2017: “I am grateful for catching up with Michael”
June 7, 2017: “I am grateful for Paul’s reassurance and kind words”
April 17, 2017: “I am grateful I get to be me!”
June 9, 2018: “I am grateful for a text from Shaun”
August 17, 2018: “I am grateful for the kind compliments about my kids from a friend”
August 18, 2018: “I am grateful for a phone call with my Dad”
November 1, 2018: “I am grateful I am at peace”
As I reread these notes of gratitude, I can clearly see how full my life is.
Though I no longer attend church services, I find a spiritual connection in my daily gratitude and reflection routine.
I remember delaying my husband’s January birthday party because I felt overwhelmed with the holidays and taking my Mom to chemotherapy and radiation. She was very ill at the time of the party yet she attended the party and had looked forward to seeing family, as well as extended family and friends. That party was her last social event.
My brothers, Shaun and Michael, and I had gone our separate ways for college and then started our adult lives. Time together was limited to holidays and family get-togethers. My Mom’s illness brought us together and conversing on a regular basis. After her death, we continue to call and text each other more frequently and have conversations that are more reflective and meaningful.
My husband and boys are the foundation of my life as a Mom and regardless of my crazy ideas and nagging, they continue to love and support me.
My Dad has become a part of my daily routine: phone calls, visits, meals and walks together as we share and learn more about our lives and each other
Most importantly, I continue to take care of myself physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Life is not always perfect, but beginning each day with gratitude makes it a bit more in my little world.