As we enter our 4th year of Gratitude Practice, a word of Thanks….
On the 20th of August, we marked the 3rd year of this gratitude practice. In prior years, I’ve looked back at what we’ve achieved, but this has not been an easy year for me. I have to admit that I’ve struggled to stay positive and to be grateful. Depression, panic, and anger have been my companions as much as gratitude, joy, and oneness. I’ve been stuck in my own pain more than I have been able to serve, it seems. And, because its been such a difficult year to keep that balance a positive one, our anniversary passed, without me noticing it.
But, as much as I – and maybe you – have struggled with a personal or professional life that have been painfully disappointing and faced, every day, the darkening of the world news, we have stayed the course and we deserve to celebrate that.
I have always said that I am personally most inspired by moments of gratitude found in the darkest hour. And frankly life is always a dance with adversity as much as it is with ease and joy. We started this journey of gratitude on Facebook when I was terribly ill. Daily gratitude practice helped me to overcome that challenge and to inspire others. Internal challenges are not as cut and dried and progress as easy to see as when it is when the issue is physical. I understand that. And yet, we are still here.
We are all still here!
I have learned that frequent practice is essential in difficult times. During the year, I returned to a daily practice on Facebook, with friends, and I’m sorry that I was not in a place to be able to write publicly as much as I would have wished I could. Most of us are not able to give our best when we are struggling and I urge you to go gently with yourselves in your own times of sorrow.
I have also learned that grief is a lonely place.
I have faced judgement for being depressed or angry or for experiencing anxiety this year. Not for the experience itself, but because it stretched on too long for the patience of others. When someone dies, people are, for example, sympathetic for the first week following the loss. But compassion fades. From experience, those who are in touch with their loss and their emotions surrounding loss do not generally get over it within a week, or even a year. It is usually that second week, second month, and second year that is the loneliest for those who are struggling to put their life together again after the shock of a loss. When one has truly grieved a loss, life will never, ever be the same again.
I never aimed to create a saccharine site where all we did was write ‘It’s all good,’ and then stuffed our suffering down into the depths of our souls where it could ferment and cause illness. To me, the most meaningful offering I can give to others is to say ‘My life is difficult and I’m feeling awful and I can’t seem to want to get out of bed. But I’m working these tools of gratitude (and joy, oneness and service to find meaning and purpose) all with faith that this low moment will pass.’ I invite you to witness as much of my journey as I can bear to reveal and you can bear to witness, so that you will know that you are not the only one who sometimes struggles with loss and grief and anger and panic that seems will never end. I applaud anyone – including myself – for trying each day to apply the tools, even when it feels impossible.
I will never judge you for your grief. Instead, I hope that you will find a place of solace, here.
Let us never use our commitment to these practices to shame one another for not doing as well at our work as someone thinks we should be doing, or for having difficult and dark emotions or for cursing or otherwise behaving imperfectly in times of distress. We know when we are not doing as much as we wish we could. We are all doing the best that we can. I will never judge you for trying and falling down on your gratitude practice. I will, if only by example, try my very best to encourage you to keep getting back up again when life sucks so hard you don’t know where to turn.
Fall 9,999 times; Get up 10,000 times.
Together, we WILL make Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude.
As I do each year, I re-affirm my commitment to living a grateful life through 10,000 days spent observing that for which I am grateful, and making my life one of service to life itself, living a life of joy, from a sense of purpose, and of Oneness experienced through the awe of nature, art and spirituality.
I will tell my story of this journey because I believe that storytelling is how life’s meaning is revealed. And I invite you to share your stories, in the comments, in an interview or in some new – as yet unknown manner – because it is in mutual sharing that community is forged and a new culture of grateful living can spread.
I’m grateful to readers who have stayed the course with me, through the dark times of winter and the strange and curious death and rebirth that is currently in process. And I’m grateful to all who have shared their stories with us over these past three years.
I acknowledge and remember the friends and loved ones we’ve lost this past year.
And, I am truly thankful for another trip around the sun, together. I look forward to our 4th year…