I have spent the last few days at my best friends house. Circumstances had sadly prevented me from visiting for a while, so I am especially delighted to be here now. I’ve been having lots of fun with her two sons who are full of cuddles and “I Love You!!”s. I can soak that kind of stuff up all day long. Who wouldn’t enjoy such squishy salutation every half an hour or so?
In a quiet moment (which to be fair come few and far between in a house that contains young boisterous boys) I thought I would share a little practice I took up a few years ago, which helps me to capture such smile inducing moments as these, as well as giving me a space to consider the gifts that the harder days in life may have to offer.
For 7 years I have kept a monthly electronic journal. I don’t write in it every day. Just when something interesting occurs to me, or I want to explore some event or interaction that has been troubling me, or I am maybe losing the plot and just need to scrawl some thoughts out in order to empty my racing mind. I use it to capture interesting or inspiring thoughts I have read from others, perhaps an intriguing dream I may have had, or a song lyric on any given day that caught my attention or inspired a smile or a tear.
I imagine myself in years to come looking back at these journals and reflecting on all that has transpired, remembering this time and that, and pondering the impact of it all and the places it has brought me to. The journal is a mixture of both positive and negative, gratitude and perturbation (as is life). Sometimes just plain curiosity at this random little journey we are all on.
As a final footnote to each month, I include a little ‘Appreciation Log’ I created, with three simple questions to complete, which are:
1) Daily Mission “Today I will …”
2) Today I am looking forward to …
3) Today I am grateful for …
I like this little check in with myself, on the good days and the bad – especially the bad I think, as it provides a little personal scaffolding to keep me up when I may be struggling.
I was thinking about my Appreciation Log this morning – as I woke and listened to the ever-present threat outside the door of imminent bed-jumping miniatures, with their clockwork winders already tightly wound at this early hour of the day.
We all had such a lovely day yesterday. We went to the beach and we swam in the sea. We laughed at the boys falling over each other in the waves, we got covered in sand and we ate chips from a box. Then, in the evening, my friend had arranged a most magical little adventure for us both. As a belated birthday treat, she had signed us up for a night canoe trip along a local river. We saw kingfishers (my first ever), we saw fish jumping, we sang a strange Nordic song, we listened to stories and pretty music created on an African instrument I had never seen before, and then we paddled back along the still, glass water, under a near full moon, unable to tell where the river and trees ended and the reflections began.
Yesterday was one of the very loveliest days, and I knew I would want to capture that in my journal and that it would raise a smile in years to come.
There are of course other, less lovely days. And I try to think about the answers to my three questions on those days too. It is easy to be grateful on days of pleasing company, laughter and adventure. Not so much on days when getting out from under the blanket feels beyond you. But these are the days it is most important.
So, on days that I may be stressed to hell, my answer to the question “Today I will …” might be simply “Cope”. The question “Today I am looking forward to …” may be “When today is over …”. And my gratitude may have to be contented with “My resilience when things are difficult, and the knowledge that this weather will pass”
On the hardest of days, appreciating the fact that you are getting through as best you can may be a boost in itself. Sometimes getting through is good enough, and we should pat ourselves on the back for these days more than any others. Because this is when we are truly at our strongest, these are the days that our fortitude keeps our heads up and we can be proud that we could keep on keeping on, regardless of the challenges we face.
Copyright 2017 · Forty and Everything After