I find it curious that as I deepen new practices, others seem by necessity to languish. Writing being one of them! I have been feeling deep shifts - tectonic plates within my heart and soul - but lack the language to describe it all. Or perhaps I should say I do not feel the need to explain myself. And that is a little huge for me!
I have been spiraling back to long-lost practices - meditation, yoga, journaling. I recently realized my meditation practice dropped off just as my creative practice took root. Now I am returning and while my initial reaction is to bemoan the gap of 8 (!) years and all that might have been if I had stayed true, the new and wise me recognizes that I return ready to sink down some deep and tenacious roots.
I doubt it comes as much of a surprise, but I can be a bit of a curmudgeon. Cantankerous in the sense of needing to go against the flow. Yes, I resisted for many many years the Harry Potter series because, well, I was annoyed by everyone pestering me to read them. (I also worked at a bookstore at the time and resisted ALL books that arrived in bulk. It just offended my sensibilities to pile waist-high stack after stack of one book when there are sooo many good books seeking readers.)
Another trend I resisted on principle was the gratitude journal. (If it came from Oprah's lips, I turned a deaf ear ... yet I love Oprah? So I own, I am a tortured soul.) It's not the concept of gratitude or the beauty and impact of a regular practice in acknowledging the daily gifts offered by life and living that raises my hackles, but rather a scrapbookish notion of prettifying and pasting gratitude down in a kind of memento mori manner.
Truth be told, I didn't give it a whole-hearted effort. Oh yes, I did for one month keep a gratitude journal. I completely forgot I had done so until this past week when I half heartedly decided to answer a journal prompt from a course I am taking. The prompt was to write down 111 gratitudes.
Let me say, that when writing down so many gratitudes, the heart shifts from half to full.
What I loved about this exercise was how much deeper the gratitude flows when I pushed myself beyond the usual items of health, family, nature, and friends. I started to see the relationship between gratitude and creativity. For the more I wrote, the more expansive my understanding and the vision of my heart.
So I decided - decades past Oprah's proclamations - to start a gratitude journal.
Which is how I found the journal (that one month experiment) I had forgotten I had started eight year ago. Looking through the entries, I was blown away by the beauty and love within those pages. I was also stunned to realize that at that time, I could not fully perceive the depths of the love and gratitude.
I found these entries which spread wide my heart:
- reading out loud to Cowgirl; feeling her head upon my shoulder
- warm & spicy chai to begin a new week
- seeing the pride on Cowgirl's face as she puts her boots on "all by myself"
- the drive through French bread bakery and warm rolls to eat in the car
- the smell of Cowgirl's hair
- my girl telling me "good job mommy" as she holds my leg
- meditating in the early morning; finding my girl sleeping behind me on the couch
- baby orangutan looking us in the eyes and goofing
- singing together in the car
- my mantra for when things get tough
- Cowgirl singing to her stuffed animals in the dark
I marvel that I relinquished this practice so quickly, but I probably hadn't even looked at what I wrote down. I was too immersed in it all to perceive the tiny treasures each entry was.
Now, with the distance of time and perspective, I see how unique and precious each moment can be ... and truly is. So each night I reach for my lovely gratitude journal (a beautiful book of handmade paper given to me at Cowgirl's baby shower) and I write with my Lamy fountain pen five items for that day. It helps to be doing so as the sun sets over my garden, the birds singing and the fragrance of new blooms combining with a citronella candle or incense by my feet.
Gratitude, mindfulness and celebration ... life in these past 8 years has prepared the soil and I am ready to receive it all.