The sun rises on Thanksgiving 2017 — Day 100 of my #GraciousGratitude practice

Gracious Gratitude: Day #100

  • Sitting around a table with wonderful people, enjoying remarkable food and thoughtful conversation
  • That I inherited my Mom-Mom Frieda’s baking skills and have the opportunity to create things and share them with friends
  • Dancing around my house to holiday music, feeling utterly joyous
  • How, when I am playing fetch with Inigo he does this little excited dance and makes this noise that sounds remarkably like an Ewok
  • Walking back into my home after a few hours out and walking into the scent of fresh baked pumpkin banana bread still hanging in the air
  • Having a home that I love

On August 14, 2017 I made a decision. Well, the truth is that I made the decision quite a few months before, but kept dropping the ball. Being ever-the-marketing gal, I picked the hashtag #GraciousGratitude … mostly because, admittedly, I have a fondness for alliterative titles.

I say I “dropped the ball” because I started the daily practice, oh, I think back in April or May. I’d be good with it for a bit, and then I’d miss a day. No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get past 30 days or so. So I’d start the clock over. For whatever reason, the re-set on August 14 stuck. When I realized day #100 was going to fall on Thanksgiving, I smiled.

It’s always amusing when the Universe sends a clear message.

Today being a rather substantial milestone in the practice, I decided it’s time to course correct. I’m going to continue with the practice … and I’m going to up my game.

For starters, I’m going to aggregate the entirety of the last 100 days’ worth of posts — including the photos (some of which are rather remarkable) and repost them all on Medium.

For those of you who saw my October 30 post announcing how I intended to spread my wings more widely — or at least expand the megaphone I’ve been using — for my work with dogs, you may wonder how this whole #GraciousGratitude thing fits in.

Simple.

In embarking on my dog-centric adventures, quite a few things became clear immediately. One of them was just how important being utterly grounded and centered was to truly do my work. If there is one thing dogs know without fail, it’s when a person is “off”. That can be something physical — a person whose physical condition has them off balance in a literal sense; or it can be more of a physiological or emotional state that is just “off”. Whether that’s because someone isn’t feeling well (a cold, allergies and the like) or they’re having a bad day (rough time at work, problems with family, a break up or other emotional upset), doesn’t matter to your pup. Put simply — Fido gets your feelings, probably before you do.

That’s where #GraciousGratitude comes in.

When I am in gratitude, I cannot help but be centered. I’m not talking about needing to be all zen and philosophical — opining on matters of great spiritual import and communing with the Universe (although all that is nice). I’m talking about pausing for a moment, stopping the hamster wheel whirring madly in my brain that has me gnashing my teeth in frustration, and doing a quick inventory of all that for which I have to be grateful.

After 100 days of this practice, I can tell you that I spend more days grounded and centered than not. My work has improved. My management and leadership skills with my staff have improved. My connection with friends (new and old) has blossomed.

Now to answer the question of why I opted to post this publicly.

There are many people who talk about gratitude lists and there are many practices and methods for doing such a thing. Generally speaking, they’re inward facing, something you jot into a notebook by your bedside or you keep with you through the day. Over the last seven years or so I’ve dipped in and out of such a practice and occasionally I’ve shared on one social media platform or another. When I began the journey to start this time around, I decided I wanted to post on Facebook as a way to keep myself accountable. If I started doing it daily in a place my friends would see, even though no one was keeping tabs somehow it felt like it might motivate me to keep going.

Then something interesting happened.

First, I found I was curating the list. Let’s face it, if you use social media, chances are the face you put forward to the world has a bit of smoke and mirrors. Few are the people who step fully unvarnished into the world — even when someone seems to post without filter, there’s a strategy and intent to that as well. I don’t say that as a judgement one way or another. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. But what occurred to me as I was curating this list — which to clarify means that there were items I wasn’t posting because they felt too raw and vulnerable; and then there were items I was posting that felt as though I was writing for someone else rather than myself — was that curation was bullshit. If I was going to do this, I had to do it right. No filter. Truly, no filter.

So I stopped the curation and got really honest.

Then came challenge number two. I found that the experience became, well, stale. I had initially set it up that I would post 10 items on the list every day. There were days when it was a slog to get even three or four items. There were days when it felt like I could write tens of items. As time passed, there were far more of the former kind of day than the latter. The process became frustrating, stiff and #GraciousGratitude became perfunctory, hollow.

A friend suggested that I loosen the reins a bit, and rather than set a specific number of items for the list, to just do what felt authentic that day. If that meant only one or two things. So be it. If that meant a list of 20, then that was how that day would roll. Suddenly the list became a pleasure again. Removing the fetters of a mandated number, the lists began to flow more easily.

I’ve noticed a few friends launching their own practices of gratitude and thanks. Some people chime in with comments on my list, sharing items of their own. There’s a steady group of folks who “like” the posts almost without fail every day.

For me, doing the posting here every day will be a solid reminder of the OTHER content to which I’ve committed to launching into the ether.

So yes, it’s also about accountability :)

I hope you’ll enjoy the lists … and I hope that rather than merely “clap”, you’ll comment and share your own thoughts.

Or perhaps you’ll start a practice of your own. (hint, hint)