MUYL Blog Challenge Day 4: I Have a Lot to Be Grateful For

For the Magic Up Your Life 30 Day Blog Challenge Amethyst asked, “What are you grateful for? Tell us the Top 10 things that make your heart sing, just make one of them something you did, okay?”

a lot to be grateful for
I’ve just celebrated 60 years young in June of this year so I have a lot to be grateful for. My only hesitation/challenge with answering this question is the “top 10” part. I’m not going to even try to figure out what my “top 10” all time favorite things would be. I have a lot that makes my heart sing. Yesterday my list would be different than the one I’d write today. So trying to nail it down to the top ten feels too arbitrary for me. My plan is to simply share ten random things I’m grateful for in this moment. In no particular order of importance….

Note: I actually ended up writing this over a period of several days…so that more accurately makes this: “in several moments spaced out over several days.” I had half of it written on Monday, then set it aside so I could drive up to Portland. I thought briefly about just posting what I had finished as a part 1 and then post part 2 later), but I didn’t want to feel rushed. Posting this on Monday still would have require several steps to get it to the place where I could comfortably push publish (things like proof it, move it from the word doc., find or create an image, etc) So here it is in its entirety only two days “late”…ten things I’m grateful for.

1. I’m grateful for Gratitude – One of my spiritual practices is to be grateful about everything in my life…to find a way to let my heart sing about everything life has to offer me. Even those “I want to pull my hair out or crawl in a hole and die” challenging things. Especially those things.

That practice is a work in progress. Most of the time I eventually get there these days. I’ll often let myself have a half day pity party, but my good friend Gratitude doesn’t let me wallow for days on end anymore. She reminds me to give myself a quick surgery-free face lift. It helps to ask myself, “Am I willing to let gratitude in?” When I forget Gratitude reminds me everything looks brighter when we are walking in/with Gratitude. So Gratitude helps me dig for “gold” and invariably we find it. If I were to pick one thing this would be it. This simple practice and my growing friendship with Gratitude has saved me from having to live under the dark clouds of depression. I’m grateful I found Gratitude …Gratitude makes my heart sing.

2. I’m grateful for being a self taught Photoshop wizard. Okay maybe not a wizard. I know there are probably more streamlined tricks which would make me faster at using this digital darkroom, but I’ve learned to make it do what I need it to do and then some. It’s helping me create delightful images for my book (and website) in a style I’ve rarely, if ever seen before. All in full color too. Imagine that! Photoshop has brought the color photo lab into my living room. (I guess I appreciate this even more cause I remember how it was having a black and white photo lab taking up space in the bathroom). Having tackled this bit of technology it’s given this certifiable non-techy type the confidence to teach herself other bits of technology…like word press.

3. I’m grateful for my camera and my eyes. They make a great team. There is something about having a camera in my hand. Looking through that lens can bring things into focus, give me a different perspective and have me notice things I might otherwise miss. The real joy happens when I find a way to reveal and connect with the soul of my subject.

4. I’m grateful for my family (both immediate and extended). Today I am feeling especially appreciative that they support and encourage my creative efforts and dreams. They inspire me. They believe in me. They champion me. Not every creativepreneur has this kind of unconditional support. I am very fortunate indeed.

5. I’m grateful for my treasure trove of books and love of learning. I’m running out of shelf space again. Several years ago, I found new homes for more than half of my books. I haven’t counted how many I still have (it would take too long). A quick rough estimate is somewhere around 2500 books. And no that isn’t an exaggeration. If anything I may have underestimated. Kindles are convenient …I do love the portability and easy accessibility, but there is something about holding a real live book in your hands and turning the pages. Clearly I inherited this passion (obsession) with books from my mom…thanks mom for teaching me what a wonderful friend a book can be.

6. I’m grateful for my sketchbooks and journals. They’re a meaningful and sacred place to pour my heart and soul. A place to express, experiment, and explore. A place to be unselfconsciously me. They are partly a sacred document, proof that I walked this way; partly a laboratory for my imagination; partly simply a fun way to express myself.

7. I’m grateful for my two passports. The first passport, my external hard drive, on the surface it’s pretty nondescript, humble and unassuming. It’s small, not much bigger than a deck of cards, but it holds a wealth of information, virtually all of my creative life. It has made my life so much easier. When my website vanished…I still had all my images safely tucked away on this portable device. This pint-sized “file cabinet’ has made it possible for me to continue to be creative while away from home…we do a lot of traveling these days. Which leads me to my other passport. The one that allows me to travel…to see the world and broaden my horizons. Travel which enriches and inspires my creative life.

8. I’m grateful for my creative studio. For so many years my studio was either the kitchen table or a desk top shared in common with the household. I made it work, but not having a place to leave stuff out did crimp my style just a little. After the kids left home my hubby agreed to let me turn the former living/dining room into my studio. So the main floor of our home is my creative space. We turned our upstairs bedroom suite/attic space into our personal living quarters. Oh the joys of having space to spread out and make a mess.

9. I’m grateful I am healthy, happy, and 60. That is a significant accomplishment since much of my life I’ve lived under a cloud of depression (oops..guess I mentioned this “cloud of depression” in #1..oh well it feels worth repeating). This wasn’t the soul sucking kind …this was more mild, subtle and sneaky. The kind that just wears you down and takes the fun out of life. The kind where you can pretend you’re not depressed or not know your depressed…cause it’s your normal.

Today I live the life I want to live instead of the one I think I should live. I worry less what other people think …which gives me the freedom to live life on my way. I used to try to tame my wild side and live by the rules (yeah my inner free-spirited, rule-breaker would sneak out and find a way to express herself…would find a way to test the waters when I was younger), but for the most part I felt like I needed to follow the rules. I worried A LOT. Today I’ve chosen some fairly unconventional rules for my life. And my skies are brighter than they have ever been in my life. Sixty years young is something I celebrate every day.

10. I’m grateful for you! reader, my online friends & cohorts, my fellow artists and writing colleagues, my coaches and mentors, my ever expanding global community. I grateful for the sharing and learning that happens within this community. I’m am grateful for this wonderful world of connection made possible by technology, a true life Indra’s net I am grateful we have the ability to find people with common interests and people with opposing views.

On the one hand this ability to connect with (and get to know people) we would not otherwise connect with has the power to help us see our humanity anew; that our separateness is an illusion. To be more accepting and understanding of our differences, hopefully even celebrate these differences. Used well it could help us solve the challenges facing us today. On the other hand…used poorly it can desensitize us, isolate us, create a culture of disconnection and lack of intimacy with each other where forget how to have real time conversations with each other. In spite of these potential traps I’m grateful for the opportunities it has afforded all of us.

Life is good!

gratitude talks to a butterfly
Bonus gratitude: I’m grateful to finally know and trust, deep down in my heart of hearts that the Universe is on my side. All is well. And so it is…

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