To bring in the new year, I would like to share a practice I keep, especially for any of you who may be struggling. It is not a magic cure-all, but a little something that I started a few years back while wading through difficult waters. It costs nothing, not even extra time, but it has consistently allowed me to feel just a little bit better. I hope it does the same for you.
When I first began this practice, much of what I was dealing with was out of my control, not unlike what we are all going through now. My perspective was slipping, and I was having a difficult time being ok.
It was the most challenging at night when I was falling asleep, because my thoughts wandered, often into dark places. One night though, the breeze outside was particularly beautiful, blowing through the poplar leaves. That sound pulled me from my thoughts and I simply listened.
And to that sound, I said, thank you. And I felt a touch better.
I kept going.
I thanked having a home to sleep in. I felt those dark feelings push aside a little more.
And then I thanked the comfort of my bed. Then I thanked the sheets, and then the pillow.
Each time, my “thank you” became a little louder than my troubled feelings, so I kept going. After I ran out of the big things to be grateful for, I moved onto smaller things, trivial things, silly things. And then I woke up the next morning.
I suppose I “thanked” my way to sleep.
After doing this for a few nights, I noted that while it did not create miracles, my perspective was taking steps in the right direction. As we all know, some days are more of a struggle than others, but I still engage this practice every night.
In my opinion, falling into an unconscious slumber with gratitude can only help.
So these last number of nights, a few days after the solstice, this is how I have fallen asleep:
- Thank you to the people who chose kindness before anything else. You have options to be angry, or afraid, or apathetic, or selfish— but instead you show kindness. Thank you.
- And thank you to those people who smile extra big behind their mask, so their eyes show they are trying to connect with me, even though we keep our physical distance.
- Thank you for the customers who have come into our stores or emailed our team with lightness in their heart, and patience, and even joy— we all appreciate it more than you know.
- Thank you to the folks who wake up everyday (because of their job, or because of an intention), to make someone’s life better. All of those who work in hospitals, or in ambulances, or as police and fire responders, thank you. And thank you to all the people who support these people. The list is long, and we see you. Thank you.
- Thank you to those who work in grocery stores, retail stores, warehouses, delivery services. My goodness the list goes on! You are allowing us to feel a little normal in very abnormal times.
- Thank you to those who have to make tough decisions. None of this is easy, nor are the decisions to be made.
- Thank you to the teachers who are trying to connect to kids through a screen, who try to keep the attention of 20 or 30 + kids and be interesting, engaging, but also get them to learn difficult material.
- Thank you to the online teachers of sourdough. Yes, guilty as charged, I went down that rabbit hole. Still there, and love it!
- Thank you to the people who stand beside those who are in need of help, of connection, of honour, and of safety.
- Thank you for my childrens’ heartbeat.
- Thank you for their laughter.
- Thank you for my husband's quirky sense of humor and his brain. That brain helps us when we are not feeling well, and for that I am eternally grateful.
- Thank you for our fur babies who have no idea what is happening in the world and so greet us with such purity of heart and enthusiasm. I can’t help but giggle at their antics.
- Thank you for chicken noodle soup.
- Thank you for coffee (& wine).
- Thank you for bullet journaling.
- Thank you for pens.
- Thank you for thumbnails (I lost one once and realized how important it was).
- Thank you for being able to walk.
- Thank you for …
The list goes on. Reflecting back on the year we’ve just had, I cannot help but simply pause, trying to digest it all. So much has been said, learned, and lived (good and bad). This year has been humbling unlike any other, and has reaffirmed the importance of gratitude repeatedly.
Our little New Year’s Day tradition is to send out a reflection page. This is where we can grab a cup of tea, sit in a cozy place, review the questions, and reflect back on our experiences, loves, and challenges. This year will be a particularly interesting one.
Many of our staff-mates (my family included) have done this for quite some time, and many have kept their entries in a special place to return to year after year. While this year will be memorable for us all, I encourage you to set aside time to also appreciate the nuance that is too easily forgotten.
So, we invite you to download the PDF, print it off, and enjoy reflecting over the last year...
Sending you all warmth and beauty,