Monday, October 15, 2012

Gratitude in Small Packages

This year during our 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge, we will be showcasing one gratitude warriors' testimony each week. We feel that it's important for you to see that we all struggle with being thankful. During week 2, you may find that you days are just not meeting the expectations you had for them. 

We seem to struggle each year during our own 40 Day Challenge. We want you to know: this is normal. At a certain point you begin to feel uncomfortable with being grateful when things aren't going your way, when you are sick, during the loss of a loved one, during a conflict within a special relationship, or when you just feel alone on the island. 

We want you to see that through our friend, Maria's story, she's continued to press on even when she struggled doing her thankful posts. This struggle, this uncomfortableness is WHERE THE CHANGE IN YOU HAPPENS. 

Here's Maria's story: 

In the beginning I used to sit and think of something to write.  Seriously.  Sometimes I felt like my day had been so "bad" that I didn't have anything to showcase.  I wanted every post to be a huge deal.  Something big and bold and wonderful that I was grateful for.

I've learned it doesn't matter how big or little the gratitude is, but rather just the fact that I remember to be positive.  As I posted more and more about my daily gratitudes, most reactions were positive, and many people asked me about them.  Some even joined in for a while.  I must admit, I felt a bit of pride that some had joined, but I also learned that it wasn't necessary.  My gratitudes are for me.  I need to focus on the positive aspects of my life among the chaos and confusion that come from a busy family and professional life.

So, this begs the question, why make them public if they are for personal use.  Well, I struggled over this a bit.  Not just with my days of gratitude, but also amongst questions regarding my Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.  I think I may even still be struggling with it.  Here is what I came up with...why not?  Is there a reason to NOT share happiness with others?  Is there a reason to keep my positive attitude to myself?  Can positivity truly offend people?  And the more important question:  should I continue to make my positive thoughts public if all reactions are not supportive?

The change for me over the past two years has been slow, but steady.  When I now sit to type a gratitude, I find it difficult to highlight just one.  Is that a change for me?  You bet.  No more pity parties.  Even on my worst day, I have a home full of healthy children, a loving husband, a satisfying job, and everything I need in life, and even some things I don't need.  Sure, I may have gotten stuck in traffic, spilled my coffee,  forgotten my purse, forgot to sign a permission slip, and snapped at my hubbie on the way out the door.  Yes, over the past few years I have forgotten to put the laundry in the dryer, ran out of dog food, had a disagreement (or hundreds) with family and friends, copied the wrong page of homework, missed a deadline, and cleaned up countless messes from dogs, students, children, and yes, even a potty training two year old.  I mean, I am human afterall.  But, are these the things that I want to define the person that I am?

I have come to a greater understanding that I need to focus on the important parts of life, and if typing one sentence on Facebook each day helps me to remember that, then I will continue.

PRESS ON! At the end of the 40 Days, you'll be so glad you did! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grab Gratitude

The day was busy. I was driving to my second work location of the day. As I drove, I reflected on all those people around me and the words they said that resonated with me day in and day out. I, silently, thanked God for the few in my circle of trust. 

Why was everyone so negative? Did they not realize how often they complained or how their words affected others? Were they not conscious of their thoughts that became words and in turn became their being? 

I was at the end of a divorce. My soul was broken. I had enough negativity in my life to last a lifetime and I wasn't even well into my thirties. 

I drove into the parking space I'd parked my car into for the last few months. Instead of jumping out, I sat. Silence. Then, a butterfly fluttered by my window. How is that butterflies seem to come out of nowhere anytime I'm struggling or feeling like giving up? It had occurred more times since 1988 than I could count. Butterflies are my sign of hope, my sign of restoration, my sign that there is always something to be grateful for each and every day. 

So, I declared that I was going to be grateful no matter what. I was going to be grateful no matter how many negative people were around me. I was going to be grateful no matter what my life circumstances were. I was going to be grateful for my girls. 

In an split second, I made a decision without knowing how big of an impact it would have. I took out my phone, I opened Facebook (where there were many messages of negativity), I posted "40 Days of Thankfulness Day 1:"

I didn't make a big announcement about it, I didn't feel the need to explain my post, nor did I ask anyone to do it with me. I, honestly, don't remember what my very first gratitude was on that day.  I just needed to remind myself that in the midst of struggle I could find something to be happy about, smile about, and thank God for the opportunity. 

Ironically, my first 40 Days ended the week of Thanksgiving. (For the record, I don't believe in coincidences.) 

The next day, I kept going..."40 Days Day 2:" By the end of the first week, people started asking me what I was doing. I shared my journey with them and kept being consistent. I discovered a lot about myself during those first 40 days and before the next summer, I was longing for another 40. 

In 2009, I decided to recruit some gratitude warriors. We didn't have thousands but the gratitude was changing all of us from the inside out. Just a few of my friends and a few of their friends joined in the challenge. I knew the 40 Days concept wasn't new. It was easy to search Google or Facebook to see how many people had thought of the same idea. 

2010 was a year of restoration and renewal and the 40 Day Challenge that year added hundreds more to our October event. I began hearing from friends and friends of friends about how their gratitude was helping them through difficult situations in their lives. See, gratitude doesn't keep struggles away, but it does remind you of all the GOOD in your life in order for you to get through  the BAD. 

Last year, I was astounded to see we had over 2,000 people join. 2,000 to some is not that many, but for a thirty-something working mom and wife in a small Texas town, it was amazing! 

I had no idea how big my vision would be and definitely did not think where we are now would come to pass. It has encouraged me to share my story, share my love, serve others, restore my own relationships, and remind those around me of this: 

"It's not that life has been easy, perfect, or as I expected. It's just that I choose to be HAPPY & GRATEFUL, no matter how it all turns out."  ~tisha p. 

We are so excited if this is your first time to join us! We are honored if you've made the choice to join us again after seeing the transformation in your own life.

Remember, it doesn't matter where you're stating your gratitude, as long as you are making time each day to be in the moment of gratitude and declaring it as yours! Twitter, Facebook, emailing yourself, journaling, texting, taping them to a door, writing them on a chalkboard or whiteboard, voice recording them.....
Your options are unlimited. 

Our gratitudes will not be the same as others and our journey will be just as different, but we will all find ourselves renewed as long as we are consistent and committed to the challenge.

Each week we will spotlight a "Gratitude Testimony" and we will give you a specific Gratitude Challenge to elevate your experience. 

Remember that our event page is not just a place for you to post your gratitude, but also for you to come to as support during your most difficult days. The 40 days will test your commitment and some days may cause you to think you should quit. Remember that feeling. Just as you think you want to quit, your transformation really will be just around that corner of greatest discomfort.