Growing in Gratitude: On beaches, blissful blogs and other blessings bestowed

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‘ Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise’ Psalm 100:4.

Today is ‘Writing Wednesday’. The day where I write something. And there are a vast host of topics that I wish to write about for my weekly writing workout. I don’t seem to be short of anything to say, despite being really rather reserved and sometimes somewhat shy. Perhaps it ought to be called ‘Whimsical Writing Wednesday’  maybe, but really I just try to write from the heart. My writing can also be rather lengthy, or so I’ve been told, so I’ll try to keep it brief.

Gratitude – the expression of thankfulness or appreciation. It’s something that we all know we ought to practise. To grow in the attitude of gratitude, is to grow in the attitude of appreciation. But being thankful is not something that comes naturally to many of us. There are those of us who would confess that we are glass half empty people. However, there is hope that we can exchange complaining for thankfulness and experience living with an attitude of gratitude. I know I complain. I’m not a very good doctor’s wife. I complain about my husband’s hours of work all the time, rather than being thankful that he has a good job and that we have enough to live on, that I can be a fulltime parent, and be with my children, even though I’ve sacrificed a career to do this.

I’m all for keeping it real. Isn’t honesty refreshing, when we are honest it allows others the permission to be honest also and validates that we aren’t alone in the struggles of life. But there is also a place to be thankful. Isn’t it amazing how thankfulness can change our mindset, lifting us out of a cycle of negative thinking. Because we’ve heard it before haven’t we – it’s not what happens to us, it’s how we think about it. We can guard our hearts and our minds, especially against cynicism.  Overt cynicism may be easy to spot, but it’s the subtle cynicism that can creep up on oneself slowly. New Zealand can be somewhat cynical as a nation. And at the risk of sounding a little pollyanna-ish, most of us know we have much to be thankful for or glad about. Even when life is hard.

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I like the idea of a celebration such as ‘Thanksgiving’. A day to take stock of all the blessings that have been bestowed on us. Things that we take for granted, like political freedom, the necessities of life, our health, or the people around us. I don’t want to take my wonderful husband for granted – how easy it is to do so when you have been married for some time. Nor my wonderfully supportive parents, who are very committed grandparents. The grandparents who have decked out their home with a portacot, high chair, buggy and the like. And my parents-in-law who are also very committed grandparents who are able to travel from England to visit us often. They are fortunate to still be in fairly good health. They are seriously fit. They go cross-country skiing most winters and my mother-in-law would beat me in a running race any day! And my grandmother – I am fortunate to still have a very special grandma, and she shares my faith. We have wonderful conversations.

We’ve lived for six and a half years now near a simply stunning beach. Even though it is a place I’ve visited many many times, when I stroll down there I always think to myself ‘wow’. We are so fortunate to live close to such a beautiful ocean beach. And it’s a lovely place to swim (if it weren’t so darn cold). Like a child, I can view the magnificence of our local beach with a sense of awe and wonder. As gyms are not really my cup of tea, I’m also fortunate to have several complimentary personal trainers – one six year old who take me for walks on the beach. He’s also a hard task master mind you, and he has me running down sand dunes. And my 19 month old personal trainer who has me running…well, everywhere!

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And blogging….creating my own blog has been a labour of love and a source of refreshment and recreation for me. An outlet to cultivate creativity. My blog currently employs the ‘Blissful’ design, and my husband jokes that this blog has had more changes of design than most people have changes of underwear. I appreciate his sense of humour. Reading the blogs of others has been a great source of encouragement and inspiration also. Because being a mother of little ones, especially of the stay-at-home variety, can at times be a rather solitary pursuit. Now in addition to the face-to-face friendships that I have forged, I also now have a virtual world of friendships forged not only on facebook but also in blogland.

And other blessings bestowed? There are many. Who could forget my three beautiful babies. And the mochaccino moments I have as a mother where I can sit down and say ‘Ah, the house is clean and tidy.’ Well for five minutes anyway. Yesterday was the first time in six weeks that this was the case, as my approach to housekeeping over the school holidays was rather ‘relaxed’. Prizes for who can spot the euphemism. Quick, I’d better capture a photo before they all wake up, come home, and mess it all up. As I am allergic to mess. The ‘messmometer’ frequently sits on around 9/10 in our household. But I am thankful. I am mindful that many women would love to have a house covered with plastic toys to fall over in the middle of the night, kid’s toys that strike up a song when you roll over them in bed, not to mention squished raisins in the bed, lego floating in the loo, and the occasional marmite crust stuffed down the back of the couch. Oh and sometimes I could make a meal out of the contents of the children’s carseats. Although I do have a husband who is very particular about keeping our car neat and tidy, to the envy of all our neighbours! I am beyond blessed.

I’ve decided to start a 30-day gratitude journal called ‘Growing in Gratitude’. It’s an idea I saw on Oprah years ago. Gee I miss that show,  Jeremy Kyle is just not the same. To begin each day with thankfulness, and to simply journal one thing I am grateful for each day. 

Would you like to join me in journalling 30-days of growth in gratitude? I’d love to hear from you.

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The stunning sunset photos come courtesy from my talented sister, who is fortunate to live right on a West Coast beach.

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