Grateful for so much

standard November 26, 2009 1 response
Even before I took on the Tiny Prints Gratitude Challenge I was already very focused on appreciating the good things in my life rather than lamenting the things I didn’t have. I haven’t stopped. (And not just because that ended so fortuitously.)

I love how pausing and thinking about the things I’m grateful for can turn a bad moment or even a bad day around. Even on a good day it doesn’t hurt to ‘Take note and give thanks.’

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. In honor of it and the upcoming holiday season I challenge you to take the 21 day Gratitude Challenge. (Or the 7 day one if you just don’t think you can maintain that level of positive thinking.) It might not result in you snagging the coolest job evah, but it might change your outlook on your day to day life. And frankly that’s nothing to sneeze at.

We’re heading to Tahoe to spend the weekend with part of M’s family and you can bet that I’m going to make them all share a few things they’re grateful for. It’s good for the soul and it sparks awesome conversations. Before I go I’m leaving you with a few of the things I’m grateful for and an inspiring video to get you started on your quest.

I’m grateful for…
– My husband, who is the most understanding and supportive man I could ever have hoped to snag.
– My kids, who, even when they are sick or grumpy, are loving, funny, and sweet.
– My sisters. I don’t see them often enough, but I feel their love despite the distance.
– My parents, also too far to hug, but never too far to appreciate!
– My friends, virtual, real, far, near. Love them all, need them all.
– My life. It’s not what I would have imagined for myself, but nothing I had dreamed of touches a candle to it.

I wish you all a fabulous, loving, and fun Thanksgiving. (Yes, even if you aren’t in the US.)

Gratitude doesn’t stop here, it goes where you take it

standard September 23, 2009 3 responses

Today was World Gratitude Day. And in honor, and to show you that the Gratitude Challenge didn’t end when the 21 days were up, I’m going to share with you the email I received from the Tiny Prints Founder & CEO, Ed Han. (And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that I wish I could go work for him. Though I would be terribly grateful if that were ever to happen. Ahem…)

I’m very excited both with how the challenge went for me and for the group and for how it’s now turning into something bigger and better than any of us ever dared hope. Gratitude is contagious. And it makes lives better. Go on, I challenge you to read the following and to take the challenge. Oh, and watch the video. It’s awesome. Pretty please?

Dear Jessica,

Since today is World Gratitude Day, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to participate in The Gratitude Challenge.

Not only did you complete every step of The Challenge with style and grace, but your stories of heroism, hope and harmony have inspired countless readers to do the same.

We started this project as a internal movement focused on helping our colleagues to achieve one simple goal—to counter everyday stress and negativity with daily affirmations of gratitude. As The Gratitude Challenge grew to include bloggers outside of our company, however, we learned just how much gratitude can change a person’s life.

From tornadoes to car accidents, fires and family drama, The Gratitude Challenge saw our bloggers through meaningful, life-changing events. We learned so much from this experience that we made a short video about how gratitude can revitalize your perspective. You can watch it below:

We hope this experience has meant as much to you as it has to us, and we hope that you and your readers will to continue to follow our progress as we invite the world to join the movement at gratitudechallenge.com.

Best wishes,

Ed Han

Tiny Prints Founder & CEO

Life is Like a Bowl of Stone Soup

Catching up on Gratitude

standard September 2, 2009 2 responses

I haven’t been slacking on the Gratitude Challenge. Honest.

OK. Maybe that’s a bit of a lie.

I’ve been grateful. I’ve made a point of taking time to stop and notice the good things in my life. I’ve even done my best to be grateful when things aren’t going as well as they could, the kids are cranky, or when I’m feeling less than chipper about everything.

But I haven’t been the best about following the 21 day Gratitude Challenge calendar that we were given.

It wasn’t my intent. I wanted to follow day by day. It’s just that between the back and forth from West Coast to East Coast and back I think I lost a couple of days. I definitely lost a lot of sleep. In any case I got confused about what day we were on… and then I completely lost track.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t…

Sent thank you notes to 5 people who deserve some recognition.
Well… the notes are in my bag. And I have them worded out in my head. I just need to actually write and send them. It’s in the works. (Also, my Tiny Prints thank you notes are gorgeous. And classy. And I love them. Maybe that’s why I haven’t sent them yet…)

Enjoyed the people around me.
In fact, I said to my husband today, while he sat at the kitchen table with me “working” from home, that I was grateful to have him home with me. Despite the fact that he was snarfing my snacks and humming show tunes. He’s my best friend. We don’t get to spend that kind of quality time together nearly often enough. Yes. Even though he ate my Reeses Pieces.

Tried to see the the world through the eyes of a child.
I live with two children. Both who share their vision of the world with me daily. It’s a beautiful world, full of marvel and surprises. I love being reminded that a visit from the neighbor’s cat is awe inspiring. Or that a morning spent playing with Play-Doh is the best thing on earth.

Took time to focus on me! Me! Me!
I’m a hero. I’m a good person, a great friend, a good mom, and a supportive wife. Every day I appreciate myself more and more. And yes, I still get caught in the “I’m a terrible person” spiral some days, but I’m proud to say that those days are fewer and father apart.

Stood in front of the mirror and focused on five things I love about me.
I once attended a Weight Watchers meeting where someone was handing out a “No Disparagement Zone” door knob hangers. I might not have actually put it on the door to my bathroom, but it’s there… virtually. So for years my bathroom navel gazing has had a positive spin. I love my hair, my legs don’t look half bad, I love my lightly made-up face, and if I’m honest the bare face is lovely too. My red toes always make me smile. And yes, my belly pouches a bit, but that’s because it lovingly carried the two ruffians who beat down that bathroom door every morning.

Not so bad all in all! I’m only behind on four of the Challenges. I’ll catch up. Or stay after. I’m not too worried. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to stop working on staying grateful for all the little things when the official Gratitude Challenge ends. Right?

Gratitude in the midst of travel angst

standard August 23, 2009 4 responses

To start with C was checked in as an adult. Because there weren’t any seats together any more. That turned out to be a non issue. A few taps on the steward’s computer, a little shifting around, and the three of us were sitting together again.

***********

The plane was delayed. 3o minutes. Nothing bad. Nothing bad if you don’t take into account the rather short, 45 minute layover we had in Phoenix, AZ. A few more taps of the keyboard and the steward assured me that we’d be fine. The two planes were located two gates away from each other. We’d have plenty of time to deplane and board again.

***********

20 minutes before boarding was scheduled to start I dragged the girls and all our carry-on luggage for a last minute pit stop. When we came back all the lovely people who had been hanging around the gate waiting for the delayed plane had vanished. Poof. Gone. Gate deserted. Gate change! Terminal change! From C-9 to D-26.

***********

Bags bouncing on my back, toddler on my hip, preschooler running at my side, erratic stroller leading the way, we mowed down countless travelers in our haste to reach the distant gate in time.

Sweat pouring down my face and my back, Little L screeching indignantly from her awkward perch on top of the carry-on loaded on the stroller, we arrived just as the loudspeaker blared an update.

**********

“I don’t think we’re going to be home tonight,” I swallowed a ball of tears. “There’s a storm. They can’t let people get the plane ready because of the lightning.”

The clock ticked on, each minute making it less and less likely that we’d make our connecting flight in Phoenix. Scheduled to arrive at 7:30. Scheduled to depart at 7:31. No flights leaving Phoenix after ours. Visions of hotel beds danced in my head. Not my own soft cozy bed in a room with no children. Another night in a strange bed with two little girls in my arms.

**********

The storm raged on. C and Little L curled up on either side of me and put their heads on my thighs. I rubbed their tired backs and watched the other passengers mill around, calling family, friends, to tell them they’d be late or might not make it that night.

“At least we got to have a great vacation,” I thought. “At least we’re together. At least it was well worth it.” Tired. Hungry. A bit worried about what I’d do for the night. But still able to see some good in the fiasco. Thanks to the Gratitude Challenge for helping me see the positive even in a crappy situation.

***********

“On 1st plane. Keep fingers crossed.” I texted M as we settled into our seats.

“In Phoenix. Pray for us.” I texted when we landed in Phoenix.

“Head to the airport in an hour. We’ll see you at 9:30.” I texted five minutes later blinking back tears as we settled into our seats.

***********

The United staff on our first plane asked the other passengers to let us off the plane first. The staff on the second plane held the doors open as the 8 or so passengers from our flight ran from one gate to the next. Moments after we rushed on and sat down the doors we slammed shut and the safety video was playing.

Little L and C’s mad dash induced giggles slowed and finally stopped as they settled down, C in her seat, Little L on my lap. They fell asleep as the plane took off, taking us home despite all odds.