For the past 28 days I’ve been participating in the 2016 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge, sponsored by Dani from Positively Present and Caroline from Made Vibrant. Each day, I’ve used a prompt to write about something for which I’m grateful, added a photo, and posted the results on Instagram and Facebook. Some days I’ve gone deeper than others, some days practically wrote themselves, and other days I’ve had to mull over the prompt all day before I could come up with something to write about.
I really am grateful for all that I have, and all that I’ve experienced and learned, even the hard things. My life isn’t “perfect,” but it’s perfect for me. Twenty-eight (and counting) days of gratitude have reminded me of just how good I have it. As promised, here are a few of my favorite posts along with their photos (prompts are in bold):
“Love them with your heart, not your ego.” I can’t remember where I read this, but it has been a life-changing lesson for me when people I SAY I love don’t behave the way I want them to! It’s helped me to let go of my expectations for others and simply love them. It’s brought me peace instead of frustration and pain. It’s even helped me love myself when I’m not (surprise!) perfect. This photo is of my cat—who I love with all my heart, even though she sometimes (ahem) behaves in ways I don’t want her to!
It took half a lifetime of dreaming, but 12 years ago this guy came into my life. I’m still filled with wonder when I’m with him, even today, when I finished up his fall clip (in Florida, he won’t need his winter coat until about February) and came home covered in sweat and horse hair. So grateful for him.
Julia Cameron wrote, “My feeling is that if you are making art, you are already an artist. Over time you may become a better one, more skilled in your craft, but what do real artists do? They make art. If you’re making art, even beginning art, you’re a real artist—at least today.” By this definition, I’m an artist, because I make art. It’s not art to sell, or even always to share, but I’ve begun sketching, either in pencil or using watercolor, every day for at least five minutes. I’m grateful for this simple way to bring art into my life, as well as the quiet moments spent this way, and the memories brought to mind by looking through my sketchbook pages.
This photo is of my mom’s house, which used to be my grandparents’ house, in Northern California. It holds many of my happiest childhood memories, including playing card games, and indulging in Grandma’s homemade bread and boysenberry cobbler. Now that my mom lives there, we’re making new memories. I’m grateful for the love, peace, joy, and continuity this house stands for.
One of the best gifts I was ever given came from my husband. It was near my birthday, and our son was just about to enter elementary school. My husband bought me a cake with our son’s photo on it and the words “Thank you Mommy. You were there when I needed you” written in icing, as well as a beautiful opal necklace. It wasn’t so much the gifts themselves as the sentiment—your contributions to family life are important, and what you do matters—that meant so much to me. When our son was born, I’d left work in our business and become a stay-at-home mom. I wanted this very much, but had found the experience much more difficult that I expected. I was (and am) grateful for the recognition of my work and sacrifices, and felt loved, appreciated, and respected. Photo is of me and Nick at the zoo.
My motto is “progress, not perfection.” My spirit animal is the tortoise. Ninety percent of the progress I’ve made in writing, riding, sketching, and so on, has come from baby steps. I’m proud and grateful that I’ve continued making progress on goals that are important to me, even though that progress has been slow. I haven’t given up. As Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
What are you grateful for today?