Gratitude is a muscle

So like most of the people I know, I started the year with a new planner. I didn’t plan on getting the Starbucks one, but circumstances (hanging out at the hospital everyday at the end of the year for my dad’s gall bladder surgery) had me complete the stickers. I had a bullet journal with me, though, so the planner wasn’t exactly going to be useful to me.

But since I chose grateful as my 2017 word, and I missed being all artsy~ in my planners, I eventually figured it out. I got the idea from a friend, who used her planner as her gratitude journal, and I thought that was a great idea and decided to do it.

So January came, and I took the time every night to fill the day with something I was thankful for. They were usually simple things – easy commute to work, waking up on time, good breakfast, getting some time to exercise. Or sometimes, something special, too:  my two-year anniversary at work, crappy first drafts, finding dresses and discounts for weddings, going to musicals with friends. And some days, I wrote about the bad things, too: falling into sin again, worry about changes at work, annoyances.

I kept it up for a month or so, with the examen at the end of the day to help me keep still. I thought, “Hey, this is actually fun and easy, I think I could keep it up until the end of the year.”

The last time I touched my planner (other than this week) was February 14.

Of course this would happen. It always happens. I’ve noticed this in the past three years or so that I often lose track of my word and my theme sometime after January. What happens is this: I get distracted, I get a disruption in my schedule (in this case, it was the trip to Iloilo for the SFC conference), and then I find it hard to get back into the groove because life just got busy.

You’d think I’d be ready for these things, you know? Or you’d think I’d be ready to at least fight for what I’ve been trying to do a little. But I don’t.

Now we’re almost halfway to June, and I’m in kind of a funk. I’m not sure why or how or when it started, but I found myself complaining more, or ranting more, or just becoming cranky and impatient toward other people. I feel a little troubled with this, especially when I found myself dreading weekdays, and finding the days just passing me by without finding anything meaningful to make them count.

Have you ever felt the same?

Then I remembered: gratitude, just like prayer, faith, joy, courage, and love, is a muscle. You need to choose to practice it actively if you want to grow into that kind of person.

And I remembered, too, the blank pages of my planner that I didn’t fill with things and people I was grateful for.

And because I needed to do something about this, I thought: let’s exercise that gratitude muscle.

It’s simple: I’ll open my planner and write the things I’m grateful for everyday, again. But instead of just looking into me doing this until the end of the year, I’ll give myself ten days.

Ten days of gratitude.

Ten days of writing it down, of being mindful and intentional about being grateful.

I digress, sort of: when January rolled around, I told myself that I was going to change my physical fitness goals, because the “lose # lbs” wasn’t working for me anymore (did it ever?). I decided to change my “KPI,” and instead of counting the pounds, I decided to count the number of workouts I did in the week. That’s something within my control, and easier to track. My goal was to hit at least 3 workouts within the week.

And you know what, that worked. Granted, I didn’t hit the 3 workout counts every single week, but it changed my priority and made me less frustrated when I go for my monthly measurements. I knew that I wouldn’t see any changes if I didn’t work out a lot, and vice versa. It made me more accountable, and it made going to exercise more enjoyable, somehow.

So just like exercising my actual muscles, I’ll go exercise my gratitude muscle. Just ten days. That shouldn’t be hard, right?

I’ll be back to write about it again. If you want to do this with me, comment below? I’d love to hear your journey, too. :)

Thirty One

Years ago, whenever March would roll by, the countdown would start. Actually, sometimes, the countdown started as early as the 17th of February, when it was exactly one month to go before my day. I’d post wish lists, make plans, and start using hashtags when it became the thing – #goodbye27, #hello28, etc, etc.

It stopped this year.

Well, kind of. I still used the hashtag, but I barely thought about turning a year older until it was finally the birthday week. I was busy with work, with writing, and other things to really think about the fact I was turning a year older. Then when my birthday this year finally rolled around, what did I do?

I went to do some grown-up things by paying bills.

Maybe this is growing up? Not that I’m less thankful for my birthday passing, but it just becomes a steady, pleasant hum in the background, because I don’t have time to be all

Am I becoming less fun now? Haha.

But yeah, I turned 31 this year, and the younger me would have had a post ready a few days after the 17th. This year, I had to remind myself to do this. My 31st birthday, was, as I mentioned, spent paying bills and eating and playing with my nephew, and the rest of the weekend was full of art, friends, and family. I was exhausted, so much that I had to go for a massage on Monday to get rid of the knots that I felt formed on my back.

If you’re freaking out about getting to this age, don’t. It’s fine. Whatever you feel like you lack now, it’s just you being hard on yourself. :) You are enough, you are valued, and your age doesn’t define you. It’ll all be okay. :)

But if anyone asks, I’m just 27. :P 

I hope you guys had a splendid March. I apologize for not being here often, and I honestly still don’t know what to do with this blog now that my writing is eating a lot of time, but I’ll figure it out eventually. :)

Be Grateful

So it’s almost the end of January, and it’s only now that I’m blogging my 2017 word. Talk about late? I don’t have any excuse, except that it’s a combination of laziness, busy-ness, and part wondering if I should even keep at blogging for the nth time.

This always happens, you know?

But okay, better late than never.

So 2016 was the year of bold prayers. At the start of the year, I held onto this, in the midst of all my complaining (and believe me, I complained like crazy), prayers held me up and accompanied me in all my struggle to be still. Of course, sometime in the middle of the year, I struggled with prayer itself. Not that my prayers were ever empty, or that it felt like no one was listening to me. It just felt like I wasn’t praying bold prayers, and that was a crucial part of my word/phrase in 2016. It took me a while to hit my stride again, and by the end of the year I realized that maybe the point of praying bold prayers is not so much in me making those bold requests to the Lord but having the wisdom and the grace to notice when He answers.

Because let’s be honest: more often than not, we don’t notice those answered prayers because we don’t make ourselves aware of it.

 

Sometime early last year, when I was going through some sort of personal crisis in my day job, I had one prayer: Lord, teach me to be grateful. It was so hard to be grateful when all you want to do is complain, when everything feels so unfair, when you want to quit (but can’t, for some reason). It’s hard to be thankful when you have to do something uncomfortable, something you didn’t choose to happen to you, or when everything at work, in your life and in the world feels like a never ending source of stress.

And yet, we are called to be grateful.

So there’s my word/phrase: 2017 is the year to be grateful.

Gratitude is a word that has made made its way into my life in the past years, but I never really paid much attention to it. It felt like an extension, an effect of whatever word I chose, but now this year I want to live that word. In my year of bold prayers, I discovered that gratitude is the one integral part that is often overlooked. And now after 5 years of choosing a word for my year, it feels just right to give gratitude the attention it deserves. Gratitude deepens the faith, brings you joy, requires your courage, and opens you to love

Here’s to a grateful year ahead. ❤

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17