In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fitting to talk about keeping a Gratitude Journal. Many journalers keep a separate book for recording things they are grateful for. I have done this in the past. Especially in hard times, making a point to search out what's good in your life and write it down can really boost your mood and give you courage. It works just as well to periodically make a list of things that make you happy, give you joy, bring you peace, or that you are grateful for in your regular journal. I make a point of doing an entry like this every Thanksgiving, and also at times when things seem bleak.

This week, sit down with a cup of hot apple cider, cocoa, coffee or tea, and write about the things in your life that you are thankful for. It can be an entry or just a quick list.

Feel free to share some of what you come up with.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Courage Knocking

Pretty much everyone has at least one or two things (if not one or two dozen) that they don't do. "I'm not a runner." "Writing? I'm not good at that." "Oh, I don't mow the lawn, my husband does that." "Special music? Are you kidding? I can't carry a tune!"

I have a whole list of things I don't feel confident, or competent doing. I am one of those who doesn't mow the lawn, doesn't plant flowers, 'can't' run, doesn't feel comfortable with any recipe that uses words like 'saute', and the list goes on...

When we are young, before we've found our proverbial boxes, labeled them, and climbed inside, we dare to try new things. What we haven't yet attempted, we haven't failed. And then we grow up, finding things that come more naturally than others, or things we enjoy more or even excel at. So we tend to stick to those things.

Today I woke up tired, but strangely energetic. I itched to create art -- not just write or doodle or stamp, things I do regularly, but do something truly artistic. Paint. Pastels. Canvases. Hard, scary, messy things to which I normally say "Oh, I don't do that. I'm not an artist."

So after taking my Kindergartener to school, my almost-three-year-old and I went home to create Art.

I used oil pastels for the first time and shoved my inner critic and self-doubt aside to create something worthy of being called art. I had a blast and actually liked what I ended up with.

I also decided to tackle a new recipe for dinner. Pumpkin Lasagna. The pictures looked too good to be true, but the recipe wanted me to melt butter on the stovetop and brown minced garlic and.... I was already overwhelmed with the browning of garlic.

So I again pushed aside that little inner voice that said, "It's okay that you can't cook. You have other talents. You bake! You write! You're nearly ready for the Olympics in laundry." Step by step, I followed the recipe.

I melted butter. I browned garlic. I added incredients and stirred and layered and shredded and layered and spread and layered and topped the whole thing with sliced fresh mozzarella. It's out of the oven now, bubbling and hot and smelling of autumn comfort.

What 'can't' you do? Why not try?


Remembering Our Heroes...

Almost seven years ago, my beloved grandmother died. She was young; her death was sudden and unexpected. Today is her birthday.

She loved God and she loved people, and her life reflected it. She prayed fervently for me, and all of the members of our family every day. She did her best not to judge. She used her time to be a friend, her hands to serve (even if it meant scrubbing toilets or doing dishes), her voice to encourage; her home to offer hospitality. She touched hundreds of lives.

So along with the men and women, past and present, who have served, honored, and defended our country, I remember and pay tribute to my Grandma Lonnie, one of my personal heroes.


"Why keep a journal?"

I believe in journaling. There are numerous aspects of writing in a journal that are beneficial. It's wonderful for record-keeping, lowering your stress level, making goals and tracking your progress, reflecting on the day, remembering the best days of your life, and counter-intuitively, documenting those "worst days" too.

Another, deeper, aspect of journaling that I've found tremendously valuable is using it to work through tough stuff. Are you grieving? Are you a survivor of abuse? Have you been diagnosed with cancer or some other serious medical condition? Do you live with chronic pain? Write about it.

Research shows that unresolved issues can create physical disease. That is to say, your mind is not at ease, and left alone that can lead to real medical disease. Work through it. Write through it. Write it out.

Here are a few prompts to get you writing if any of this post resonated with you:

  1. I am a survivor...
  2. Living with pain is like...
  3. What I don't want to remember is that...
Yes, it's hard. Yes, it hurts. No, it's not pretty. But sometimes the most important step we can take to start down the path of healing is to rip off the scab and bleed a little.
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