Westonbirt Arboretum, November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a warm, cosy, family- and food-filled Thanksgiving Day! I wish I was back home with my family in WNY helping and celebrating, but instead I’ll be cookin’ a bird next week for my husband and friend coming to visit from Plymouth. As in, Plymouth, England. Which I just realised is sort of fitting given the first Thanksgiving was in Plymouth, Massachusetts, if I remember correctly from elementary school lessons. So, thanks to Lauri for bringing a bit of tradition to our Thanksgiving ­čśë

In honour of the day and the simple message of counting your blessings and giving thanks for what you have, here is one of my favourite quotes:

Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.
– Helen Keller

I think that speaks for itself.

I have so much to be thankful for – my husband, our memorable wedding day this past May, my family back in the U.S., my friends both there and here, good health, a roof over our heads, and so much more. It’s easy to focus on what I don’t have, but that’s the story of mankind, really; we’re always focused on what’s missing rather than what’s present.

I have been job-hunting, trying to get my foot into a career since graduation 2.5 years ago. At my age, as I’m often reminded, this is not a great situation. It’s frustrating mentally, and also frustrating our plans and goals of settling down. As wearying as these things are though, I’m trying to learn to choose to be thankful. Every morning (well, okay,┬ámost mornings) I jot down at least 3 things in a journal that I’m thankful for; 3 positives. Some days the best I can come up with (and most days if this is true, it’s on the list) is that the sun is shining. In the UK, that’s cause for breaking out the champers.

I’ve also been learning this year to just focus on today. I believe God meets our needs daily. The example for prayer includes the phrase┬áGive us this day our daily bread. It doesn’t say┬áGive us what we’ll need for the next year in advance so we can feel safe and secure. The reason? I think it’s so we learn to trust Something bigger than ourselves. We have to trust that tomorrow will take care of itself, but for today, we will have our current needs met. Even if this means what we think we need, we really don’t. Not yet.

I find this hard because I’m a planner, and a bit OCD. I make 10 lists before going on a trip, check the kitchen about 5 times before leaving to make sure everything’s off, check that the door is locked multiple times. I struggle with it a bit. I’m the same way with future plans. It’s wise to make arrangements for what’s to come so when it comes you’re not left scrambling, but I think in many cases, there’s only so much planning you can really do until the need arrives. So I have to let go of needing to know how things will be on the 8th of February four years from now, and just focus on today.

I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and have a lot to be thankful for!

– – –

On another brief note, my #Writemotivation updates have been scattered this month but I think that’s expected, given┬áNaNo.┬áMy update is a positive one, though:

1) 50k on WIP (which will bring the word count to ~70k): I’ve written 34,306 NaNo words bringing my WIP first draft to a grand total of 76,476. Yay!

2) MS#1 x3. Done.

– – –

Best of luck, you NaNoWriMo and WriteMotivation writers! And enjoy your holiday, Americans! ­čÖé

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Count Your Blessings

“What else floats in water?” “Very small rocks!”

This might sound cheesy but I don’t care. Last year, while reading Dale Carnegie’s HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING (the virtues of which I’ve extolled here in the past), I decided to follow his advice to keep an ongoing journal of three things a day that I’m thankful for. Whether you want to thank God for your blessings, or simply write down three positives you can think of every day, I believe this is a worthwhile exercise.

Especially because sometimes, it’s really difficult to do. Maybe because┬ásometimes it’s really difficult to do.

I’ve been trying to keep this up and for some dumb reason, I seem to take Saturday and Sunday off (possibly because my routine isn’t the same on those days and we can be off first thing in the morning on a day trip, or I could be treated to breakfast in bed, or whatever, but I know I’m bad about this inconsistency and I need to sort it).

I’ve been doing it pretty much every Monday-Friday for several months now, and my journal is starting to fill up. My way of approaching it is writing three numbered items from the previous day that I’m thankful for, or from today. Things as simple as, “I’m thankful the sun is shining” (I’m definitely a SAD-sufferer so sunshine is a major thing for me, especially in this country where it’s cloudy or rains 99.9999% of the time), or “I’m thankful for the customer service person yesterday being really helpful instead of telling me what they can’t┬ádo.”

Sometimes they’re much larger entries, like yesterday’s. Yesterday I had one that was 2 pages long, where I wrote out exactly what very sweet gesture my fiance’ did that made me so grateful to be with him, but also so I could look back and remember the details of the thing I’m thankful for.

It might sound obvious but I’m seeing that this exercise–when done relatively early on in the day–makes me more optimistic and cheery for the remainder of the day. I definitely notice a difference on the days I don’t. And if for no other reason, when you’re in the dumps you can look back through the pages and see that you really do have a lot to be thankful for, even if you’ve just received another query rejection or someone who’s had your manuscript for 8 months has just written back a one word reply: “Pass” (No, this last one hasn’t happened to me as no one’s requested pages-yet!).

A lot of times I think, “These are all such insignificant things,” but no matter how rubbish a day I’m having, I always manage to find at least 3 things to write down and it’s really been helping me. So I encourage you to give it a try! Try it for one week and tell me if you don’t start to feel even a teensy bit more positive afterwards.

(Photo credit: me-as always :)-I believe taken from the top of the 2nd highest peak in the UK, Ben Macdui, after we’d already conquered Ben Nevis.

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