keeping track

#253 green wigs and fun runs

I think gratitude journals were all the rage 15-20 years ago.
Oprah probably started it.
My mom had one I think, she kept it in her desk top drawer. Just a few things jotted down each day that you were grateful for. I skimmed it a few times. Probably looking for my name or trying to understand the point. Thinking it sounded boring. And besides who needed to write down things that made you happy. It was easy enough at 16 to remember.
A good song on the radio turned up loud.
New jeans.
And pretty much anything related to a cute boy.

I used to read a lot of blogs. And a few years ago everyone was talking about the same one. Anne Voskamp. Because she kept track every Monday. Her own online little gratitude journal and you could link up and add your own.
And even though some of my friends did, I never played along.
And her book came out and I was eager to read it. And it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. 1000 gifts, and the point was to write down 1000 things you were thankful for.
I soaked in her words and admired her story.
But I still never started my own list.

For some reason. Back in October I did.
And I have to tell you October really sucked.
I had just spent almost a week in the hospital and was still feeling run over.
I cried almost every day on my way to work.
My husband was traveling a lot. And I am not a good long distance wife or single mother.
Several of my friendships were in disarray and the ones that weren’t, I was neglecting.
And a few other things that feel too personal to list here.

Things are much much better.
My wounds have healed. My husband is back in town. Work is more good than bad. And I have learned to value the friends that stuck it out. That showed up with food or coffee or just listened.

“It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet and what is sand.” Madeline L’Engle

I love that quote.
But what I hate is falling on my ass.
And my slowness to get back up.
But there is something beautiful in getting back up.

And so when I think back to October, I don’t remember feeling gratitude for much of anything. I remember feeling knocked down. But apparently this was the time I chose to start keeping track of the good stuff.
And so I can look back and tell you exactly 47 things I was grateful for that month.
The same month I’d rather forget. But I'm so glad I didn't because I might have forgotten about long runs, my daughter’s curls, laughing hard before 8am, those really thin chips at Chueys, giant pumpkins and people I didn't expect looking out for me.

I’m not great at anything that takes consistency.
I don’t write down stuff everyday.
Sometimes I lose my list. Sometimes I forget to hit save.
But I’ve made it to #256.
Which was purple sunsets in case you were wondering.
(and #255 was fig goat cheese and chicken soup – thanks Tina).

Tonight I skimmed the list I’ve been keeping. I’m not sure I have ever read over it and I noticed a few things. First I am a little too thankful for good food. Not quite balanced out by my not quite as often good runs.
More importantly, many of the days I sat down and wrote things I was thankful or grateful for, were probably the days I was least likely to feel it.

Tonight for example, I was on my way home from WalMart (which is depressing enough as it is), wishing I was out somewhere drinking myself silly on green beers with all those people out there posting about it on facebook, rather than heading back home to hang laundry (ok, my husband actually hung the laundry #254) and hoping I can make it past 9:30 pm before crawling into bed. And suddenly I noticed that sky was purple.
Shockingly beautifully purple.
And I wanted to write it down.

Madeline L’Engle didn’t mention how to get back up.
But I’m pretty sure writing it down had something to do with it.


samskat said...

we're having a month like that i'd like to forget someday...except aside from the big bad stuff that's happening in our lives (no one's dying or anything, just some new scary things happening), it's not that bad. it's weirdly wonderful. :)

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