Maybe you’re settling in to catch up on the interwebs after spending a few days with your folks. Perhaps you’ve even got a huge turkey sandwich next to you. Just don’t get cranberry sauce in your keyboard — that’s sticky stuff.
Before you polish off the last piece of pumpkin pie, and I get back to writing more broadly about reinvention and transformation, here’s a recap of the Month of Thanksgiving.
Let’s start with the contest — I asked you to share your gratitude with the world via Facebook, Twitter and your blog.
- Margaret Yang wins the Facebook division for multiple posts of thanksgiving, including:
Margaret Yang is grateful for friends who make me laugh until I squeak
Margaret Yang likes you soooooo much. My friends seem like such normal, sensible people. Or maybe we’re just nutty in the exact same way. Either way, I find you all fabulous!
Margaret Yang is grateful for apples, oranges, and bananas–the holy trinity of lunchbox fruits.
Margaret Yang is grateful for books that fit into my purse, and purses big enough to hold my books.
- Catherine Mulligan wins the Twitter division, for sharing multiple messages of gratitude, including one that linked back to a blog post she wrote before the contest began. I gave her bonus points for being thankful even before prizes were dangled.
Catherine writes of being away from home for work and realizing how good she has it back home, thanks to cable TV and hearing the heart breaking phone call of her neighbor. She carried that gratitude home:
The Amtrak back to Manhattan hurtled along but couldn’t carry me back home quickly enough. I read somewhere that our first 4 minutes after arriving at home is a rich time to cultivate peace and to tend to our relationships on a daily basis. Those first 4 minutes are said to set the tone for the evening, so my Andy and I take those “Welcome Home!” moments seriously. I think that contributes to the good mojo in our place.
- Lara Zielin wins the blog division for her post extolling the virtues of her literary agent.
Lara’s first novel, Donut Days, was published by Putnam this summer, and she’s got a second, Promgate, in the pipeline. All along the path to getting published, she’s had the support of her agent.
What I’m thankful for, though, is that my agent gets me, and she works to further my writing career in a way that jives with my (oftentimes impatient and oftentimes scattered) personality. My agent is always in my court. Always.
I’m also thankful that my agent is part of an amazing literary agency that’s run with integrity and kindness. In the publishing world, especially these days, there are a lot of ways to do business. They choose to do it the right way.
I shudder to think where I’d be without my agent. Maybe I would have found someone else but I guarantee they wouldn’t be as smart, as committed, or as patient.
These three fabulous ladies will receive a prize package that includes a gratitude journal and goodies assembled from some of my favorite Brooklyn shopping stops, including Two for the Pot, Sahadi’s and the Freshkill Farms stand at farmers market. That’s part of my notion of giving gifts that remind me of why I’m grateful — I love shopping in my neighborhood so putting together the gift boxes will help me celebrate that.
In other blog participation news, I’ll be making a donation of $25 to Feeding America — $1 for each of your thoughtful comments, some of which I’m counting as more than $1 because of the multiple sentiments expressed, then matching with my own gratitude for your time and thoughtfulness.
On my Thanksgiving day post, readers shared some wonderful reasons they’re grateful: for family, friends, pets, food. I loved this one from Charity Nebbe:
One of the things that I’m thankful for is that Rob and I made the decision four years ago to live with less. We both stopped working full time and have been sharing the responsibility of raising our children. Money has been tight, but every single day I feel lucky to have time to spend with my beautiful and amazing children. I don’t have to miss all of the new things they learn, I get to hear the funny things they say, I get to dry their tears, snuggle with them, read to them, play with them and teach them.
Charity, I liked your post so much I’m exercising executive fiat and giving you a contest gift pack, too. You brought it back to the theme of my blog — making changes in your life to live it truer to your heart.
In case you missed some of the Month of Thanksgiving and you’d like to catch up now, as you’re grateful for your full belly, here’s my Cliff Notes version:
On Oct. 26, I launched a Month of Thanksgiving. Every day I blogged about doing something to be more grateful for all my many blessings, leading up to Thanksgiving.
Ways to get started being more grateful One of the most common ideas I run across is keeping a gratitude journal, writing down a few things you’re grateful for every day.
- If you need inspiration about what you’re grateful for, the Love List Project can get you thinking about what makes you happy.
- Once you’ve thought of some things that make you grateful, you might enjoy sharing them on Facebook or Twitter
- You might also enjoy reflecting on why you’re grateful for each thing on your list
Overcoming the obstacles to gratitude We all have frustrations, regrets, people who’ve hurt us, things we wish we had or things we wish were better. If you’re feeling any of these things, try to convert them to gratitude:
- acknowledge the things you hate and try to find something you love in each
- reflect on your regrets and give thanks for the lessons your mistakes have taught you
- try to forgive the people who’ve hurt you, or at least to find something to be grateful for in the hurt
- try to redirect your desire for things you don’t have to gratitude for things you already have
- if you’re grieving, reflect on the reasons you’re grateful to have known the loved one you’ve lost
- embrace life’s imperfections — if you throw a dinner party and it goes terribly wrong, at least you’ll get a laugh
- find time to be grateful even if you think you don’t have time to give thanks
Need some ideas about what to give thanks for?
- If you put most people on the spot and ask them what they’re grateful for can come up with some of the basics: health, a safe home, enough to eat. Just because they’re cliche doesn’t mean we should take these for granted. I gave thanks for my husband, my family and my friends.
- How about simple pleasures like sleeping in late on weekends, the smell of autumn leaves, hot coffee waiting when you wake up? I’m grateful for Battlestar Galatica, which I would never have watched if not for the urging of old friend Scott Sigler, for the love of olives I developed later in life, and for the excellent knives we use almost daily, wedding gifts from my cousins. (See above blessing of my family.)
OK, so now I’m feeling grateful. What should I do about it? If you’re getting into the habit of doing a gratitude journal, you might want to express your thanks beyond just writing it down as a personal exercise. You could:
- do a little dance
- write a thank you note
- give a gift that helps remind you of something you’re grateful for
- give and receive thanks verbally
- bring that gratitude to Thanksgiving, either with an old tradition or starting a new one
This post is already ridiculously long, but let me wrap up with gratitude for all of you who’ve participated this month. Committing to gratitude this month has been a great exercise — I find I’m now in the habit of narrating my life by thinking and saying “I’m grateful for …” It’s become a reflex to view my world through the gratitude lens.
Writing daily has been a creative test I’ve enjoyed. After coming home from a full day at work, and often juggling other obligations, I sometimes felt I didn’t have time to write nor anything to say. But I did it anyway. Often the days I resisted the most turned out to be posts I liked best. I will keep that in mind as I make excuses about why I’ve never finished my long-languishing novel.
I now turn back to my broader theme of writing about personal and professional transformation, about evolution and revolution. I expect I will see those stories with the perspective of being grateful for the opportunity to change.