Those of you that read my blog know that nearly two years ago, I dove deep into gratitude with a rather crazy idea. I would make 100 paintings for 100 people I would love to thank. After seeing Hailey Bartholomew’s gratitude project I knew I wanted to do one too. I had made gratitude lists before, but I never stuck with it- I never made it a part of my life.
There is a history of depression in my family. In some ways, I believe I have been waiting for the depression to hit me (I call it The Depression because, in my experience, it is this thing that swoops in and makes everything so heavy.) All of my life when I get sad or a bit hopeless I think I may finally be getting it. I also know I am a highly sensitive person and I tend to feel things deeply- sometimes to the point of overwhelm.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, my focus is entirely on what is not working. There is no room to see all of the wonderful things in life.
I am not someone who thinks I should be happy all the time. I love a good rainy day and sad, sappy movies. I think it is important to pay attention to the sadness and to accept myself no matter how I feel. I don’t try to pretend I am feeling good if I am not.
But that said, I notice that there are cycles that I get into where I am so far from being thankful and I am spinning around in anxiety.
I knew a practice of gratitude would help me.
In some ways, A Hundred Thank Yous was a challenge for me, both spiritually and emotionally. It stretched my ability to love and appreciate. I found that I was more present and in the moment, appreciating the smallest of gifts, often to the point of tears. The consistent practice of thankfulness brought even more things to be grateful for in my life. I saw people with gentler and more compassionate eyes. I saw myself in this light too.
Also, I realized something else this week- now that my project is over, I am thinking about a new way to practice gratitude on a daily basis. Gratitude is a huge part of my life now and I want it to continue to be. But I know that it is easy to slip back into old patterns. So my mind is open to new ideas, new ways to be grateful, new ways to focus on what is good in the world.
One way that I am getting into the practice of feeling grateful instead of fretting is by creating the new kit, A Month of Gratitude. I wanted to extend gratitude beyond my original project to reach as many people as possible so I created a kit for people to do their own gratitude projects. Yay! I love to see other people doing gratitude projects. I love that gratitude expands and grows. It is now available in two versions- one for lovelies in the United States (with cute custom art postage stamps!) and one for International friends (without US stamps.)