Pages - Menu

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A different kind of journal.

About two years ago, I stumbled across Jenny Firth's journal work while wasting time on Pinterest.  I was totally captivated by her artwork (she makes it look so easy!) and felt like I found a kindred spirit in someone who loved to doodle in their planner.  A long-time fan of the planner, I often find myself writing encouraging words or making small, simple doodles, but never anything as intricate as Jenny does.  Maybe someday...

While poking around on her website, I found her gratitude journal work.  I'm not sure when I first heard about a gratitude journal, but the concept is pretty simple: you devote your pages and entries to things you are grateful for in life.  Her pages are beautiful, intricate illustrations of the things she is grateful for - you can see a recent one here - but it can be something as simple as making a list.  I was intrigued by this idea, and started to do some research on it to see what the general guidelines would be, and the most common suggestion is to do set aside time each day (usually at the beginning or the end) and write five things you are grateful for that day.  It can be something as simple as the cup of tea you just had, or more elaborate like overcoming an obstacle or achieving something, or even just that the sun was out.

Ultimately, the idea is to encourage an environment of gratitude each day, regardless of how good or bad things can be.  One school of thought is that if you do this, if you spend each day writing five things you're grateful for, after a certain amount of time you will be a generally happier person than when you started, and you will automatically become accustomed to recognizing the things you are grateful for, whatever they may be.

I strongly doubted this, not because I'm a non-believer, but mostly because there wasn't concrete evidence to confirm it.  Regardless, I jumped on board, because hey, who couldn't stand to practice being more grateful?  As of today, I've been doing this consistently for a little over two weeks.  Like any other Tuesday, I got up this morning, a little tired but otherwise fine, and settled into getting to work.  I jumped on the phone with a friend for a good 45 minutes, just playing catch up, and afterwards, the craziest thing happened.

I was hit with a ton of gratitude bricks.

That is the only way I can accurately describe it.  It was like a cloud was lifted, and I was suddenly re-energized, emotional, thankful - all of these emotions all at once - and deep down, totally grateful.  Grateful for a healthy life, for amazing family and friends, for a gloomy cool Tuesday morning, for everything.  I started putting together a meal in the crockpot and found myself thinking, 'I am so grateful I bought chicken a few weeks ago and froze the extra so I could make soup today.'  I mean, I literally thought it.  Insane.

I'm not saying that I am going to wake up every day feeling this way, because I think that's unrealistic this early on in this journey.  But the feeling I had this morning, that came totally out of left field, was so wonderful, I wanted to bottle it up and ship it to all of my friends.  I'm pretty convinced its come just from focusing on the good, rather than the bad, even if its only five things a day.  I'm looking forward to seeing how else it manifests in my life, as I'm sure this won't be the last time I'll feel like a ball of gracious energy.

If you have considered starting a gratitude journal, I highly encourage it.  I picked out a simple leather journal from Target, and set aside time at the end of each day (right before I get ready for bed and usually while I have a cup of tea) to write.  Sometimes they're long sentences, sometimes its just a list.  Often I have to sit and really think through my day and reflect, but even then, I always find something, even if its literally being grateful for being able to actually write.  I find myself looking forward to it and picking up on things throughout the day that probably would have passed me by before.  Its a wonderful tool and I'm really grateful (see?!) that I started working on it.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Challenge: Pile on the Miles (and hopefully not the pounds)

Last week, Jillian mentioned she was joining the Pile on the Miles challenge, and the concept totally intrigued me - pick a total goal of miles (or minutes) you want to walk/run in the month of November, set your goal, and return to the blog to keep yourself accountable.  Since I do far better with goal setting and challenge than I do with arbitrarily going for a run or doing pushups, this seems like its feasible.  Bonus: its not even competitive, its just focusing on yourself and your goals.  I picked a goal of 31 miles, one for each day, plus a bonus for good luck, very well knowing that I most likely won't get out and do a mile each day, and I'll certainly have miles built in when we head to San Francisco for Thanksgiving, but it will give me something to work towards.  It'll be nice to watch those numbers creep up throughout the month!

Speaking of numbers, we spent Saturday at the Breeders Cup.  We went to Santa Anita earlier this year, on a much cooler and less busy day, and had a great time, so when the Breeders Cup rolled around, we jumped right on the bandwagon.  I've always wanted to go to Saratoga or to the Kentucky Derby, put on a pretty dress, wear a big crazy hat and drink mint juleps.  (I should mention here that I hate whiskey and have never actually had a mint julep, so the likelihood of me enjoying one is pretty slim, but when in Rome, right?)  Since we're only about half an hour from Santa Anita, the Breeders Cup felt like a surefire way to curb my imaginary, Southern-comfort itch.

We had a great time, despite my severe wardrobe malfunction right before we left.  (Note to self: try on dress to make sure it fits still before trying to force yourself into it and busting the zipper.)  It was hot, it was crowded, and I picked a pair of shoes that I've only worn once, and only for about twenty minutes, and there is a reason for that.  (Thank goodness for a life-saving girlfriend with spare flipflops in her clutch, and the foresight to pack a pair of flats 'just in case.')  I also had some not-so-wonderful run ins with belligerent "gentlemen" and witnessed far too many revelers being carried out by their friends.  However, despite all of those things, spending the day with great friends was wonderful, and my $2 bet on the winning horse on the last race netted me a whopping $8 which I prompted spent on a cup of tea for the ride home.  Perspective, people.

I fully intended to get out to yoga yesterday morning, but I woke up with my feet barely functioning, thanks to the aforementioned poor shoe choice, so I took it as a sign for a rest day.  Even though I was enjoying laying around on the couch, I did notice that I felt a slight twinge of disappointment that I couldn't even get out for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood.  (The shoes also left me with the largest blister I've ever had... ever.  I'd donate these bad boys but I would hate for someone else to get just as much pain out of them!)  I don't know if I've ever felt bad for not getting in a workout, so perhaps the winds are finally changing and I'm becoming a little more fitness inclined?  We shall see.  With the time change, it should be easier to get out of bed this week to finally get back to T/W/Th early morning yoga classes, and I may boogie my way back to belly dancing Thursday night.  Does an hour of belly dancing count as a mile of walking or running?