Thoughts

Keeping a Gratitude Journal

Monday, January 26th, 2015

I used to keep a written journal when the children were babies, mostly about their little milestones since they were changing from week to week, but I stopped when I started blogging in 2009, mostly because blogging was taking up most of my free time. I picked up that old journal earlier this year and read a few entries and thought I really should get back to journaling about more personal thoughts…

I read Oprah’s What I Know for Sure over the holiday break and in it she mentioned she keeps a gratitude journal with a daily list of five things to be grateful for and I thought to myself, what a great habit and one that isn’t too time consuming. I bought a journal at Barnes & Noble two weeks ago and started keeping notes of gratitude for myself, jotting down random things that happened to me that day that made me smile.

journal and tulips

Everything we record these days is in digital or electronic form, sadly the beauty of the handwritten note is losing out to the convenience of "there’s an app for that" so this my little way of rebelling against the movement to let technology do everything for us. 

jounal and tulips

I think the daily habit of recording the happiness that comes from simple pleasures is a healthy one. The older I get the more I realize that the simplest things are the truest sources of happiness, time with your child, a conversation shared with a friend, a sweet treat enjoyed in stolen moments of relaxation, tulips in January, flannel sheets and a warm fire on a chilly winter day…

tulips on nightstand

Now that I keep this journal, I’m find myself actively looking for things to be grateful for (gotta have something to write down.) There are always difficulties, stressful moments, and frustrations that come with each day, but staying focused on things that are good is a mindset that keeps me content, like a ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds.

Curing a Funk

Monday, January 19th, 2015

I couldn’t put my finger on it for a few days but then I realized that coming down off the holiday high followed by the excitement of a new year coupled with gloomy weather made me feel like I was in a funk. I know I’m not alone, friends and relatives have mentioned it too. I’m generally a very positive person which makes the state all the more uncomfortable.

There’s funk (we love you Bruno) and then there’s a funk – much different. Every January 1st we share inspirational quotes with the message more or less to “make this year extraordinary” but those left me empty because truthfully I’m very content with the way things are going and the pace in my life and don’t feel any pressure to change it. But I still felt like I was in a funk last week, lacking in all creativity and energy, so I made efforts to change my mood. I realized I had to actually do something to lift my spirits, it wasn’t going to appear out of thin air. A few things worked.

Get Busy Sweating. The hardest part is tying the laces on my trainers, but exercise truly is the best mood changer, I always feel fantastic after a run or some weight lifting sets. Sweat is a go-to cure so I turned to my playlist of favorite jams and I got busy sweating. I’m not where I want to be fitness wise, but working toward my goal makes me feel better. 

girl working out

Get Busy Cleaning. I came home from weeks away in Las Vegas to piles of stuff and papers everywhere and the sight made me want to run screaming for the hills. I knew I had to conquer it in baby steps so I began by organizing my pantry last week. It took three hours, I killed two large spiders in the process, and filled several bags with things I wasn’t using (cookbooks, plates) and dropped them at the Goodwill.

My pantry should win the Most Boring Pantry Ever award, I’ve considered painting it or wallpapering it and photographing it with glass jars filled with flour and pasta with printable labels but then decided no that doesn’t work for me, mine is filled with everyday things like cereal boxes and canned goods and I’m totally fine with that because each time I enter it now I breathe a sigh of relief knowing where everything is and that every single thing in there serves a purpose.

organized linen closet

via

I want this feeling for my whole house (don’t we all) so on Saturday I tackled my daughter’s room with her help (gah! it’s amazing what they accumulate). My linen closet is next, I figure if I can tackle one or two spots a week I’ll get that same sense of relief that came with the pantry reorganization. (P.S. I love how Jerry describes how we all have too many things – truth!)

Start Making Plans. I took a walk around my yard yesterday, at first glance it was so depressing in winter with so many barren branches but then I remembered it will bud again soon. The benefit was that in dormancy I can see where we might plant a tree or add some shrubs here and there. The same is true for the blank pad of paper that sat in front of me until I filled it with some things I want to do this year: Update the website. Transplant the olive tree. Make more art. Design more fabrics. Visit more wineries, etc.

projects to conquer list

printable to do list found here

I never know where motivation will come from, sometimes an encouraging TED talk or inspirational website, sometimes a book or article that kicks my booty into gear. Other times is the act of creative work, picking up a paintbrush or going outside with my camera. I think when you find whatever it is that helps you recharge – crafting, cooking, solving puzzles, whatever – those activities help you get your groove back.

Seek Out Laughter. When all else fails, I call up my sister or a friend who brings joy while I drink a glass of wine and chances are I leave that conversation feeling better than I did before the connection. Or I turn on a comedy that makes me laugh, that helps too.

What tricks do you use to pull yourself out of a funk? Do you get the same feeling this time of year?