Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude has been on my mind a lot lately.  Aside from the fact that it's November and almost Thanksgiving (a natural time to think about gratitude) I've also been thinking a lot about gratitude because a few weeks ago I read this quote and can't seem to stop thinking about it:


I know this is true.  I know that happiness doesn't come from buying the next thing or by moving on to the next stage in life.  I know that to be happy we need to live in the moment and be grateful for what we have right in front of us.  We need to be grateful for how our life looks right now in its present state (regardless of whether or not it is how we thought our life would look).  But how do we do that?  That is what has been on my mind a lot this month.  How do we recognize and appreciate all of the wonderful things in our life on a daily basis?  Life can be so busy and sometimes stressful and just overwhelming. I have been feeling that a lot lately.  Busy, stressed, overwhelmed.  How can we make gratitude a part of our every day lives?  I was talking to Kenny about this a week ago on Saturday and was suggesting some things I want to do in our home to help us focus on all of the positive things in our lives.  Then on Sunday I went to church and was asked to speak the following week... on gratitude.  It gave me chills!  Although I have to say that maybe I'll think twice next time before pondering topics like this.  Speaking in church was NOT the outcome I was looking for!  :)  But I did speak in church - today - on gratitude.  And I was nervous.  But I was more nervous for Kenny because he had to manage all three kids while I was sitting in the front of the room with the other speakers and he definitely had his hands full.   Let's just say that Kole didn't do him any favors.  :)

I don't want to bore you with all of the details of my talk, but I thought I'd just mention three things I spoke about - the three ways that I think we can make gratitude a part of our daily lives.  

Find Joy in the Little Things
Accept that God is in Control and Trust Him
Love and Serve Others

When I was talking about finding joy in the little things I mentioned a time in my life when I was really unhappy.  About a year after Kenny and I were married we moved to Virginia for him to attend Law School.  The first few weeks were so fun - being in a new city, decorating our little apartment.  I was all ready for a new adventure!  But soon the "newness" and excitement wore off.  I was always working - teaching school, tutoring students after school, and working several nights a week at a clothing store at the mall.  Kenny was always studying.  We hadn't made many friends, we had no money, and I was terribly homesick.  It was the first time I had ever been away from my family and friends and all I could think about was how much I missed my life in Utah and how miserable I was.  I had a bit of the "poor me" syndrome and I didn't like it.  So I decided to start a gratitude journal.  I had read about it in the book Simple Abundance.  I started writing down five simple joys from each day - a funny e-mail from my sister that made me smile, the beautiful trees on my commute to work, and some days - harder days - I wrote that I was grateful that the day was over.  That was ok.  Real life isn't perfect and wonderful all the time.  In the beginning I was just looking for the good in my life so that I would have five things to write down, but before long I was looking for the good in my life period.  An inner shift was happening.  Taking time each day to reflect on the simple, every day joys and the abundance in my life (instead of what my life was lacking) made me realize how wonderful my life really was.  My situation didn't change - the way I looked at it did.  Now I look back on those three years in Virginia with such good memories.  My time there helped me become a better person and my gratitude journal I kept while we were there is so special to me.  It is such a neat glimpse into my life during that time and it truly taught me how to find joy in the little things.  

I want my girls to experience the same thing that I did.  I want them to feel the happiness that comes from focusing on the positive things in their lives.  We celebrate the every day joys already, but it's different when you have to write them down.  All of the good in your life becomes even more apparent.  

So I bought some inexpensive notebooks from Target.  These are my girls' new gratitude journals.  (I added a label with their names on them after I took this picture.)  Every night after they read stories with dad they are going to write down what they are grateful for from that day.  They can write down three things or one thing - it doesn't matter.  I just want them to end the night thinking about how blessed they are.  

I also bought this book to read to them to introduce the gratitude journals.  It's called Thanks for Thanksgiving and is such a darling book.  I love children's literature.  I could spend all day in the children's section of Barnes and Noble!  This is a perfect book for this time of year and also a perfect book to introduce gratitude journals because it just lists simple things to be thankful for...





Isn't it fun!?  I love the simple rhymes and the beautiful illustrations.  A great book to add to our holiday collection.  

Because I need to practice what I preach when my kids are involved, here are five things I'm grateful for today:

1- I'm grateful that my church talk is over.  :)
2 - I'm grateful for a fun phone call with my mom.  She is the queen of gratitude and positive thinking and sets such a great example for me.  
3 - I'm grateful that the dinner I made tonight didn't blow up or taste awful.  It was a newish recipe for me so the fact that it turned out ok is rare and in need of celebrating.  
4 - I'm grateful for all of our Veterans.  
5 - I'm grateful that our weather is finally cooling off.  The heater clicked on for the first time last night and it smelled like Christmas!  Plus I finally get to start wearing all of my boots.  Oh happy day.  :)  

Kids are out of school tomorrow for Veterans Day.  Here is our agenda:

- Meeting with our builder to establish where all of the air conditioner/heater vents will go (exciting stuff).
- Help El finish up her school turkey project
- 45 minutes at the gym (my girls love the kids club)
- Begin Christmas decorating (I just can't wait one more minute!)
- Potluck at the park with friends 

Not bad!  I'm also grateful for a fun/low key schedule.  :)

I ended my talk today with my favorite quote on gratitude.  I shared this quote last year around Thanksgiving but thought I'd share it again.  I never get tired of hearing this and feel like I always need the reminder.  Maybe some of you will enjoy it too.  Have a great Monday!  




31 comments:

AshleyRo said...

What a beautiful post!!! Right now it is 4am, I just finished feeding my son and could not go back to sleep, so I got on my phone and went to your blog to find this post at a time when I really needed it! My son is 12 weeks old and I also have a 4 year old daughter and right now this infant stage is just about killing me. I am not going back to work and I'm having a really hard time with the loss of income especially with the holidays coming up! Thank you for this post to help me remember that what I have is plenty and we are all happy and healthy and that is what matters most. The journals for the girls is such a great idea! I'm going to start doing this with my daughter too:-) Thanks again and happy decorating:-)

Natasha SerenityYou said...

This is such a sweet idea. Going to start doing this with my son, and also my 2 other kids when their a little older

Pinning!!

Brenda said...

Loved this post. I've been feeling so grateful lately, from flowers on the table, to a snuggling 3 and 4 year old. This just echoed what I've been thinking and feeling.

And i loved the kids journal idea. Thank you.

Katie Rose said...

That is a fabulous quote and that book looks fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing!

Kristen@fit2feelbetter said...

Oh Erin, I loved this post. I'm so glad that I jumped on the computer for a minute this morning before waking up the kids. It has set the tone for the day. I have been thinking of doing a gratitude journal lately. You have given me the push to just do it! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Love this ! I'm going to get that book. thanks

andee said...

Beautiful post Erin! Just what I needed after a freezing cold weekend of snow. Although I hate it, I'm so glad my boys love snow and got hours of playing time outside this weekend. I think I'm going to have to go and visit my local Barnes and Noble to find that cute book.

Amber@Munchkin Land said...

Lovely post and Erin I'm way ahead of ya sista! ;-) I decorated for Christmas last week. Yay! Thank you also for your tribute to veterans, I can hardly believe my USN service has been over now for 5 years- time flies and I just sent one of my younger brothers off to the Navy. So proud! Anywho....have a lovely Monday!

Hugs,
Your friend from Kansas

Sara {Nest Your Best} said...

What a wonderful post! I have the same little Target journal for my gratitude journal! Loving what God has given us already really is the key to happiness. Always nice to be reminded!

And hey! I nominated you for the versatile blogger award. Check it out in my post here:
http://www.nestyourbest.blogspot.com/2012/11/an-awardfor-me.html

Erin said...

Thank you so much everyone! I'm so glad you all like the gratitude journal. I'm excited to start it with my girls. :)

Ashley - Congrats on your new little one! Sounds like you are just coming out of the newborn stage which is BRUTAL! I know exactly how you feel. Hang in there! Wishing you more sleep soon. xoxo

Keri said...

I just love your blog! Reading it every day puts a smile on my face:)

Jane Carden said...

Erin, you are such an inspiration to me! I am sure that your talk at church inspired so many others to start gratitude journals, too! One of the top highlights of my day is reading your blog posts! Thank you for all of the wonderful pictures, stories about your three sweet babies, decorating ideas, and inspiration! You're the best!

Mackenzie said...

Love this post Erin! I'm going to write down 5 things I am thankful for this morning.

And woo-hoo! Fall finally arrived in So-Cal. I can't believe we actually have had to turn on the heater :)

Sarah said...

You are awesome. I read Simple Abundance also, just when I needed at a certain time of my life long ago. Made such a difference.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! It couldn't have come at a more pretty time. I'm starting a gratitude journal today!

Cathy's World said...

Hi Erin. I love this post. Sometimes it is the little things that put a smile on our face through out each day. We tend to forget about them come the end of the day though. I have been posting what I am thankful for on FB each day. (The 30 days of November.) It really does put things into perspective when you write it down. I think I will add a journal also.

I am also loving this colder weather in Cali. As much as I love summer, it has been a nice change. I was getting tired of my summer clothes.

Have a fun week.

Erin said...

Thanks you guys!

Jane - that was such a sweet comment. That means a lot to me. Thank you!

Laura said...

Wonderful post!! :) LOVE this so much. Im goinf to start a gratitude journal. And I know it's about time for me to soeak in church again, so i'm hopong it doesnt happen soon ;) lol

Love Being A Nonny said...

Love this Erin. I just read *KISSES from KATIE* and my heart is BURSTING with gratitude! Have you read it?

Dean said...

Erin, thank you for this post:)

It has come at a very timely point in my life. Im just re-discovering my faith and this quote is a perfect reminder on how wonderful HE is.

Thanks again Erin, today Im grateful for your sunny blog and this quote.
P.s it is now my facebook profile picture so I can reread it everyday!

Koni said...

Erin my friend,
I am laughing right now! It sounds like both you and I were giving out our "wisdom" in church yesterday. I had to speak in sacrament meeting too. Funny! I was asked to speak on the blessings of freedom. Sounds easy enough but man it was kindof a tough topic for me. But it's all over now, phew! I loved this post. What a fun Thanksgiving book. :)
Hope you're surviving this house project. Sure miss you. If you come home for the holidays I would love to catch up.

Keshet said...

Can i say how much i needed this today? My hubby has been working nights and weekends on a case for six months straight, and I've been feeling sorry for myself. This really helps put things in perspective!

Shari said...

Just what I needed to hear. :)
My days have been feeling very dark lately.

Miss you. xoxo

Becky said...

Such a beautiful message, Erin. Thanks for sharing. My kids gratitude journals from when they were young are such a treasure!

Nita K. said...

Love this post. I really like the idea of having kids keep a gratitude journal.

ReenieK Designs said...

Awesome idea, those gratitude journals will be wonderful keepsakes for the kids. You're a great mommy Erin !

Unknown said...

Love your post! God bless you and your family.

Alicia Danae said...

Erin,

Thank you so much for this post! I really needed to hear these words, thoughts, ideas. I loved it sooo much that I pinned 3 separate things from it.

I'm definitely going to start a "gratitude journal".

Darci said...

great post Erin! I was lucky to actually hear most of your talk and it was fabulous. You did great! Loved the message, and am trying to enjoy my stage more myself these days:)! So grateful for my two year and how cute he is!!! love and miss you!

Erin said...

Thank you everyone! Your sweet words mean so much. Thank you for taking a minute to stop by and say hello!

Аленушка said...

Thank you!! We don't have Thanksgiving, but I'll make something this year. I have a difficult period now and I don't know when it will end. I'll make such a journal today, though it's a deep night ��. I'm sure it's just what I need now. Thank you!!!!
Aljonushka from faraway Belarus