November is the official, Hallmark-approved, month of thankfulness, right?
We bake pies, decorate our houses with faux fall foliage, load our beverages with pumpkin spice, and make laundry lists of everything we have to be grateful for.
I totally get it; I used to do the exact same thing. And just like most other people, I packed up the gratitude and basically put it in the attic when the time came to pull down the snowflakes, elves and ornaments. Actually, if I am going to be completely honest, I didn’t think, much about gratitude AT ALL until November 2009. Up until then I was too busy planning my next career achievement, award or milestone. Gratefulness would come later, after I reached my next goal.
November 2009 marked the end of the hardest year of my life. A year of court battles, restraining orders, and two criminal convictions against my now ex-husband left me mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.
I didn’t think I could handle more; really, how much is one human being expected take?
And as I asked that question, life changed completely. Right at the rock bottom of my own pity party, my three-year-old daughter – the ONLY light I could clearly see in my life – was diagnosed with stage-four, high-risk, you-need-to-prepare-yourself-your-child’s-probably-going-to-die cancer.
It was two days before Thanksgiving.
I remember feeling like I was literally levitating outside of my body for a good two weeks. How could I go on? What would I do? How could I live my own life like a normal person, much less provide the love, support and life force my daughter needed?
Gratitude. That was my answer. It was my only answer, the only one I could see through the tornado swirling around me. Years of personal development training taught me that it mattered; now I needed to figure out how and why within the realities of my own life. Up until that moment, I’d focused on what was holding me back and keeping me down. Essentially, I had made decisions based on what I was ungrateful for.
I needed to shift my focus completely.
One night as my daughter lay sleeping next to me, hooked up to countless monitors and tubes sticking out from her tiny body, I pulled out my laptop, opened up my Facebook page, and started writing down what I was grateful for. First on my list was my mom. Second was my cousin (she was an oncology nurse, I figured a good thing to be grateful for given my circumstance). It was a public accountability that I would force myself to post every night what I was grateful for. That first night I listed 18 things, the next 19 things. A month later 36 things; a month after that I was sharing how, “Life was good” with anyone and everyone in my world willing to read it. My daughter still had cancer; she was still facing months of treatments including radiation and a bone marrow transplant, and yet I was somehow proclaiming life was good.
And it was. In so many miraculous ways, it was.
To say gratitude changed my life is an understatement.
8 years have passed since those first lists were written. 8 years since my divorce. 8 years since our diagnosis. In those 8 years, I’ve filled every nook and cranny of my life with gratitude. I find I appreciate things I never even would have noticed before.
I suppose right now I should tell you my daughter SURVIVED. Actually, let me be more specific-she THRIVED. She is my miracle kid, and my gratitude list absolutely always includes her birthdays, the sunny days we spend at the park, and the sound of her voice in the morning, singing away in the bathroom. So simple, right? Not for me. The powerful force of gratitude in those moments literally takes my breath away.
I rarely get angry these days; there’s just barely any space for anger with all this gratitude filling me up. I’m slower to judge others and quicker to say thanks. I have patience and I am more present. I slow down long enough to notice the beauty of the world around me. And there is SO much to stop, see and be grateful for.
So how do you create a life grounded in gratitude? Start with these four steps:
Get a Journal: It doesn’t need to be fancy (although a beautiful journal can inspire us to write more!)
Decide ahead of time when you will create your list each day. Having a set time (first thing in the morning or last thing at night) will help create consistency and you are less likely to forget)
Find a minimum of five things each day to be grateful for and list them. The secret is not to list the same five things each night. It’s easy to list your kids, health, or spouse over and over. The key is to find new things every day to be grateful for
Commit to 21 days or more. It’s commonly known it takes 21 days to create a habit. Set that goal and don’t stop. Gratitude is worth it, I promise.
Need some more encouragement?
I invite you to join me in a month of gratitude.
Last spring I held my first Grateful Connection class, an online webinar centered on everything I learned about gratefulness and how to incorporate it into your life. I had participants fill out before and after surveys.
The results were astounding even to me. I knew I was onto something.
This November I’m offering another Grateful Connection Class. It’s a chance to practice gratitude with the support of a gratitude coach (me!) and a community of like minded individuals.
Plus as a member of the NJ Yoga Collective you receive a discounted registration using link PayPal.Me/gratefulconnection/25. To find out more and to register go to www.facebook.com/tarasvoice and click on Events or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara has spent her career in the direct sales industry promoting herself to the Top 1% of her company and has taught thousands of women through weekly live workshops, training calls, & webinars. In 2009 when her only daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer Tara utilized her theater and personal development training, to rise above her circumstances, face cancer with fun and found gratitude in the process. She made sure her daughter never stopped fighting with a “Jersey Girl” survivor spirit. Now she teaches others this same powerful process all while raising her Miracle Kid and personally practicing gratitude. [Facebook] [Instagram] [Making Cancer Fun][/box]
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