Gratitude challenge week 51(!)

“Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.” —Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun

What a perfect gratitude quote for Solstice week, for the turning of the wheel, for the return of the light.

I’m feeling a poignant pull as we wrap this sacred year of sharing gratitudes. One more week! It’s been powerful to do this with you. I am grateful for every word of gratitude you’ve sent my way throughout this year.

I have a big wish for you, that you keep connected to this practice.

After over ten years as a writer of gratitude lists, I know in my heart, in my soul, in my cells, just how powerful and life-changing this practice is.

Just like the neuroscientists say, new and more positive habits—ways of thinking and relating to life as it is—don’t happen overnight. The habitual way we relate to our circumstances, our yearnings, our disappointments became habitual over years of repeated use. This is important: There is no judgment here. Many of the habitual responses we have to life started out as protective responses. But what happens is that with repeated use these responses become our defaults, even long after we no longer need their protection.

There are many ways to make positive changes in life, many practices that help remind us that we are not our habits, that we can, every day, in ways big and small, come from our heart, act from love, take emotional risks.

In addition to Gratitude, here are some other practices to add to your toolbag:

  • Meditation

  • Prayer

  • Generosity. Want to take on something crazy powerful? Try the Generosity Year practice. Every day for a year do something for someone else. Can be saying Yes to a favor asked. Can be something unasked. Can be acknowledged. Can be secret. Warning: It’s a high bar. Last time I tried it I didn’t quite make it through the whole year. Oh jeeze, now I’ve inspired myself. Think I’ll take this on again for 2013!

Here’s my promise to you. Making room in your day, every day, for kindness in its many forms is just what you need to start carving new and more positive, more loving pathways, gorgeous!

And now for my gratitudes of the day:

  • I am grateful for the Sacred Decluttering project I began in November. It’s changing the way I look at my surroundings, at my stuff. I’m doing this slowly (seven weeks in and 1/4 of my bedroom and my bathroom is done; yes this might take all year). Slow is allowing me to take my time and handle everything lovingly as I determine whether to keep, donate or toss it. Talk about changed perspective: I found myself cleaning two keyboards and a remote this week, with Q-tips and lens cleaner. This is new behavior!
  • I am grateful for the turning of the wheel, for the Solstice. The light is coming back, and even I can’t see it outside on this blustery day, I know we’re getting more daylight every day and that makes me so happy.
  • I am grateful for my new doctor and for her hope that I can in fact get better. After nearly fourteen months with this ailment, it’s hard for me to hold on to hope most of the time. So I’ll borrow my doctor’s hope and do everything she suggests, even the second stool analysis test I’ve done this year. Seriously: princess diva types like me are not meant for this!
  • I am grateful for the healthy food in my fridge and for my ability to, for the most part, eat nutrient-dense, yummy and good-for-me food.
  • I am grateful for my daughter and the love we have for each other.
  • I am grateful for my new iPhone 5. Okay, so I’m not all that spiritual! I love the shiny new technology so much!
  • I am grateful for the improvements I was able to make to the wifi connections here. So much better.
  • I am grateful for my sister.
  • I am grateful for sappy Christmas movies. I don’t really know why I like them so much, but I do.
  • And I’m grateful for every one of you. Blessings!
Image credit: Creative Commons image from Marcus Obal.

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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