Years ago, I began keeping a daily “journal”. Frankly that’s just a pop culture word for “diary”. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t use that journal to rant about what needs ranting about and listing all the small miracles – aka blessings – that are imbedded in each day.
At first, I bought expensive leather-bound blank books in which to record my observations, and the things I wrote were designed to make me sound like a cross between Martha Stewart and Ann Landers.
Side note: I have a friend (Putt, are you listening?) who has sworn, upon hearing of my demise, to get to my house pronto and get those “journals” to the landfill. I cringe to think someone would read the tedious maniacal diatribes – as if they could begin to read my chicken scratch where no “t” is crossed nor “i” dotted. (Thank heavens the computer does it for you.)
I love it when the new month rolls around and I can begin a fresh new book. The first day of every month escorts in hopeful and lofty resolutions equal to New Year’s. I typically select a theme for that month. For example – January always accompanies a new healthy diet with plans to lose that pesky ten pounds by Easter. To date, it’s never happened.
February I vow to bury all hateful attitudes, and be the demure loving person I was meant to be. That lasts about 45 minutes.
March ushers in a fresh new season and I begin my spring cleaning with the promise of purging my life of three unwanted items each day. By the end of the month, I just open a box of toothpicks and toss three away. Well. You get the idea.
November is ALWAYS the month of gratitude. We should be forever grateful to the dear soul who came up with Thanksgiving – the greatest concept ever devised. It promotes family, food and an abiding faith in something other than ourselves. Cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, pumpkin pie and the family gathered around the dining room table are the things memories are made of. (And we gain back all ten pounds we’ve been working to get off since January.)
Incidentally Abraham Lincoln is the soul most often credited with establishing the thanksgiving holiday and he lost eight elections, failed twice in business and suffered a nervous breakdown before being elected president. Certainly we ordinary citizens should be able to muster up a little gratitude.
But back to the journal. I highly recommend the practice of unloading all feelings – especially the grateful ones – into a little book rather than boring your friends with the stuff. Even minor disasters have a way of working themselves out when you bring them into sharper focus in your journal, your secret confessor.
As they say, confession is good for the soul and my soul is white as the driven snow until it gets peed on from time to time.
Imagine what would happen if you made gratitude your focus for the whole year. It’s not easy to offer thanks for the rough spots in life but when you come out the other side, even they don’t look so bad. If you can’t be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.
As one 17th century British prime minister is said to have exclaimed “I feel a very unusual sensation – if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.”