Tuesday, 29 January 2013

One Little Word

For the fourth year I am participating in One Little Word. I have been living with my word, gratitude, for almost a month now, and I think it is my favourite One Little Word so far.

On and off in 2012 I kept a daily gratitude on my iPhone, and I do believe that it made a difference for me personally. Finding something that I was grateful for each day, even on those days that just need to end, definitely did turn things around in my mind. I said that I would do something with my list, but after emailing it to myself it languished in my in box and I may have even deleted it by accident. But I suppose it is the thinking that is important, not the documenting.

Including my family in a daily gratitude is part of my 2013 intentions list. It is all too easy to complain about how the day went, the mishaps and unfortunate things that happen. I want my daughters to be resilient in the face of hardship because life does not go smoothly for very long; things always happen. I don't want my girls to have their steps backward overshadow their steps forward. Or even better, I want them to see that the backward steps in life are perhaps just nudging us toward a different path. And if I want them to believe this, I must also believe it. Yikes!

Instead of losing my cool (which I never do, by the way) on a particularly trying day in late December, I had a flash to do a family daily gratitude. I made a gratitude box (because pretty things are motivating) and announced to my family that every night, after dinner together, everyone has to write one thing for which they are grateful, then put it into the gratitude box. I never said anything about sharing, but this is sometimes part of the routine now. Surprisingly everyone (including my husband) agreed. In fact, my daughters were very excited. Pat on the back for me!

We haven't written a daily gratitude every night, because occasionally we are busy and don't all sit down together for a family meal at the end of the day. But because I leave the gratitude box on the kitchen table it is a visual reminder for us all and we do it the majority of nights.
This is a random sampling of some of our daily gratitude writing. I love my husband's:
"I am grateful that the NHL is back", and my daughter Ella's: "I am grateful for my loud screaming voice."

It hasn't been a full month yet, but I can already see some positive spin offs:

  • My five year old is sometimes so excited to write her gratitude that she does hers before dinner. A few times she has even said part way through the day that she knows what she wants to write for her gratitude, or if another thing comes along she asks if she can write two for the day! 

  • If someone has a stinker of a day we have fun guessing what they are going to be grateful for; sometimes it lightens the mood because we make up funny ones for each other. 

  • Once or twice my daughters have said that they have nothing to be grateful for that day, and I appreciate the discussions we have had about their lives and others they know. This has been good for my five year old, who naturally seems to be more of a glass half empty sort. I worry about this and I'm glad that doing a daily gratitude forces her to think of positive things. 

  • My almost three year old was in emergency last week with a sore leg and we were all worried it was broken (thank goodness it wasn't!). My older daughters were quite anxious about this so our discussion for the daily gratitude expanded from this into the importance of health. I find that this is hard for young children because unless they have had direct experience with someone who has been seriously ill or died, it doesn't resonate with them. They think in terms of catching a cold or the flu and because they always get better they don't think to be grateful for good health.

  • I am grateful that my eight year old is starting to understand that our deepest gratitude should come from non-tangible things in life. Happiness does not come from stuff. 

  • I love how doing the daily gratitude makes my girls write more. My eight year old is starting to discover journaling and making personal lists and so independently seeks opportunities to write at home, but my five year old is an emergent writer. When she has to write her gratitude she asks us lots of questions about sounds in words and I love the invented spelling she does on her own. Yay for motivation!

I don't know what I'm going to do with all the slips of paper in the gratitude box at the end of the year. Perhaps they can be glued into a scrapbook? Or put into envelopes by month and into a scrapbook? I'm open to suggestions. 

I am grateful for my One Little Word.


Gratitude Box D.I.Y.

To decorate my gratitude box I used a shoe box, scraps of decorative paper from my scrapbooking stash, chipboard letters (magazine letters or letters cut from paper could be used as well) and modge podge (I don't like the glossy look for this project so I used matte modge podge).

First I carefully measured the paper to fit on the five visible sides of my shoe box.

Then I applied a thick layer of modge podge to one side and carefully placed the piece of paper to top.

After slowly smoothing the paper to remove any air bubbles or wrinkles, I applied a layer of modge podge on top of the paper and smoothed the paper with my fingers one more time. *

I repeated this for each side of the box (excluding the bottom - I don't need it covered).

* Immediately after applying the layer of modge podge to the top of the box I placed the chipboard letters directly on top, then added one more layer of modge podge over the letters.

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