Cultivating Gratitude: Five Favorites

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I love this Five Favorites series so very much. Hallie is a genius (and a wonderful lady!). Once upon a time, many moons ago, I participated in a Living Your Strengths program through my parish. If you’ve never taken the strengths finder and read the book, I highly recommend. So my top strength is context, which basically means I see themes and patterns everywhere. Its true. Take a look at my bookshelf, my grocery list, even my makeup bag. Everything is arranged by theme and “like-ness”.

Themes are my life. So we’re going some five favorite themes to spice things up a bit. I’m going to challenge myself and see how many weeks in a row I can arrange these beauties on a theme.

This week I wanted to talk about things that have helped me cultivate gratitude in my life, in my soul. This has been an epic struggle, since I am naturally a worrier, tend to globalize disaster, and have a hard time letting go of control.

1. The Journal

DSCN0629My pile of journals. An obsession with the written word.

I started keeping a gratitude journal last Lent at the suggestion of a wise priest in the confessional. (Yes, I am a repeat offender.)

I just jot down one or two things I’m grateful for each day. Oh my, how this simple thing has changed my attitude so very much. I just love my journals.

2. The Word

DSCN0635You know, that Word.

It’s incredibly difficult to be a surly, ungrateful mess when I read scripture often. I’d like to say I read it every day. I don’t, but I am a work in progress and every little bit helps.

3. The Cathedral of Nature

DSCI0089I don’t always go to Yellowstone. But when I do, I go with this guy. And cry tears of joy over the beauty I see.

Atticus and I have started a new tradition of going to a park every weekend with the kids. As they get older, we can’t wait to take them on hikes and if we’re really brave, maybe a camping trip or two.

Whenever I spend time outdoors, particularly at a park (though neighborhood walks are nice too), I consistently feel so grateful to God for the gift of this planet we call home. It’s an amazing thing to behold.

4. There is Joy in All

DSCN0634This poem is truly amazing.

I found it in one of my favorite volumes, Good Poems selected by Garrison Keillor, of NPR’s Writers Almanac.

Anne Sexton is a wonderful confessional poet. While many of her poems have a tone of sadness, this one just exudes joy. I printed it out and hung it in a spot where I see it daily, for it reminds me of the joy found in every day.

Welcome Morning
Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

5. 1000 Gifts

DSCN0631

Reading this book, 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, was the impetus in deciding to continue the gratitude journal beyond that first lent when it was assigned to me as penance. Ann Voskamp’s writing is beautiful and haunting. I found myself thinking back on passages days later, challenging me to offer thanks for the right now, even when right now found me battling a cranky toddler and unclogging the sink.

All of these things have helped me begin to cultivate gratitude in my everyday life, rather than pinning my joy onto some day, some event in the future.

For more favs, or to add your own, visit Hallie!

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7 thoughts on “Cultivating Gratitude: Five Favorites

  1. Oh my lowercase g…I’m the same way with journals! My husband says I hoard them, lol! I love Ann Voskamp, she has a great blog to if you don’t already follow it too:)

  2. So many of your suggestions are ways I cultivate gratitude as well. But instead of journaling my daily gratitudes I share 3 of them with my boyfriend and he shares his. It’s been an awesome way for us to keep track of things we may have forgotten to tell each other from our day.

  3. I love your closing sentence. Its a powerful reminder to live in the now and find joy right there.
    “Think happy, be happy”

  4. How wonderful that you have a plan to take the kids to parks. I will tell Grandpa. He would agree that the Cathedral of Nature can nurture the soul.
    Thank you for writing and for reminding me to take time to be grateful.

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