To read about the challenge from the beginning, click here.

I guess I didn’t do so well on my challenge…at least not the posting part.  I did keep a list of things in my journal for most days, up until about the 25th.  A couple of things happened that encouraged me to neglect the posting of those days:  I got behind in posting, a new phone became a monumental time-waster and we found a place to live!!!

Finding a new place was seriously going to be the only thing I posted that day because it encompassed so many, many things to be grateful for all rolled into one awesome event.  We are so incredibly excited about this move, something we’ve been hoping for/wanting a long time.  I also think it’s possible this place was gained by a combination of luck, sheer force of will and the grateful attitude I’ve been working on.  The hard part now is waiting until our move-in time of later this month.

Old (?) picture found online

Old (?) picture found online

Going back to the challenge, I think it wasn’t actually a failure at all!  In fact, every day I noticed different things to be grateful for, each one then showing me yet another person/place/thing/event/feeling to be grateful for.  It was a crazy snowball effect that is still ongoing.  Basically, the more grateful I am the more I find to be grateful about!  How cool is that??  Of course, this is not to say that I spent August being grateful all day, every day, but I did spend considerably *more* time being grateful than not.  When I got frustrated or angry, I took a minute to think What can I be grateful for in this situation?  Sometimes the answer was enough to calm me down and give me a new perspective.  What a useful tool!  Something else I noticed is the way other people respond to genuine gratitude.  It seems to have an impact.  Who knew that people appreciate being appreciated?  😉

A great example of this happened during a run to the grocery store.  The kids were tired and hungry, which is a poor time to attempt anything!  They weren’t behaving horribly, simply choosing not to listen when I asked them to stay close by and asking for everything we passed.  I was getting annoyed, feeling frustrated, snapping at them, when I almost bumped into another person.  I apologized and the person commented how precious the kids were.  Now, my normal internal response (not to be confused with my external response, which is almost always kindness/appreciation) is to think, yeah right!  Do you see/hear them?!!  What’s so stinking precious about that?  On this day, though, I paused to think about what this person was saying.  Instead of being annoyed or taking the words as a personal attack on my feelings of frustration, I chose to be grateful that a reminder of how awesome these kids are had come my way.  I said, “Some days it doesn’t feel very precious, so thank you for the reminder.  I needed that right now.”  What an interesting moment I might never have noticed or savored if not for this challenge.

Another unforeseen effect of this gratitude project came in the form of increased interest in my family as well as some clarity about continuing down that path.  If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a post or two, you might have read me writing about feeling as though there is never enough time for all the kids or that I often feel like a failure in the mothering (or any/every) department.  I’m still not really sure why, but adding more gratitude into my life allowed me to see there were some areas where I could improve, making me more grateful (and aware) of the fabulous qualities my family possesses and then, through those realizations, seeing that perhaps I was spending more time on extraneous projects/commitments than I was aware.  I saw that my feelings of being stretched too thin were genuine but also self-imposed. Yes, I have ambition and compassion and a desire to help my community and, and, and …. but I also first made a commitment to my children, something that had been lost in translation for a long time.

When I started thinking about this idea, of scaling back on everything but my family, I felt a sense of calm, of peace, of hope.  When I changed it to continuing on this path of meetings, classes, workshops, responsibilities, etc., I felt a sense of constriction, stretching, stress.  Why am I in a hurry?  Will there not *always* be birthing women?  Will there not *always* be something I can lend my assistance to, in one form or another?  Yes.  Will the children *always* be here, asking me questions about the sky?  No.

So, I made a decision.  I’m taking the entire month of October to re-focus my energy, to devote more time to my family, to see where I can cut outside responsibilities and to discover what items truly need to stay.  I am looking forward to this!

In conclusion, I feel grateful for this challenge.  I have much to be grateful for in this life, more than I could ever possibly realize.

I Am Grateful