This is a guest post, the fourth in the Gratitude Practice series. Every week, I’m posting a submitted article about the powerful practice of gratitude. You are invited! More details here.
Today I welcome Vanessa King, and you can read her Mother, Speaker, Singer, Goddess blog right here.
When I was growing up my dad had a mantra. Every time I felt down about something he would say “I used to feel bad because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.” He was trying to tell me that there is always someone worse off than you so be grateful for what you have. Unfortunately I felt this lesson meant that my worries didn’t matter, so while I appreciated that my life could be a lot worse I still felt keenly the things I didn’t have.
Things came to a head last year when I developed quite serious depression and in the times I wasn’t swimming in a black pool of despair I decided that things really had to change. I needed a whole new mind set if I was going to get through the hard times and move into good times. I needed to be completely, truly grateful for things, both big and small and trust that I have the capabilities needed to get to where I want to be.
I started to write about my journey in my blog and I started to read what other people were writing about their journeys. I started reading and thinking. A lot of the thoughts were along the lines of ‘well, that’s alright for her to say, but it will never work for me.’ I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot, from your own voices too! I still hear that voice, but I’m also keeping my mind focussed on the goal. I concentrate on the things I can do, one thing at a time, baby steps.
I came across one idea that I love.
There’s a web site you can subscribe to that will send e-cards to nominated people. I loved the idea but didn’t have the money to subscribe. Rather than put the idea into the “I can’t do that” box, I decided to make the cards myself. I spent an afternoon in the gorgeous English sun (yes, we have some sometimes!) making a few dozen cards and writing short messages to people I appreciate. The cards were very simple. I bought some cute stickers and I already had some paper cutting tools and nice pens to write with and set to work.
The process was lovely. I found myself thinking with focus about one particular person and writing a short sentence about why I cared about them relaxed me and made me realize how fortunate I am to have so many fantastic people in my life.
When I first gave the cards I felt a bit nervous about how they would be received. Think about how often someone has said to your face how much they appreciate you being in their life. What would you say if they did? Would you be grateful yourself? Would you feel embarrassed? Proud? Happy? The first card I gave was to my music director (I sing in a ladies barbershop chorus). I told him I was grateful for his encouragement and that he makes me feel good about myself. Sounds like a pick-up line, but he was really pleased to get it. It made him feel like he makes a difference. What better gift can you give someone?
I gave a card to a man I really admire; he mentors me in leadership and public speaking. He’s a humble man, not good at taking compliments. So I told him how much I appreciated him. He blushed, but he was very pleased. And the story is repeated with lots of people I care about, my daughter, my partner, people who help me, are generous with their time, whose presence enriches my life.
Why wait to tell someone how you feel about them?
Make a little card and tell them right now. The process will bring you joy which is multiplied in the people you give them to.
Vanessa King is a teacher, mother, singer, speaker and goddess-in-development. She is currently growing her business in teaching speech, language and communication skills to preschool children and training teachers and nursery staff. Her heart’s focus this year has been to allow herself to be everything she can be and she has been guided on her journey by the inspiration of many wonderful heart-centered women like Sue Kearney. She lives in Surrey with her three children and partner. You can read her Mother, Speaker, Singer, Goddess blog here.