One year, as I sat down to write my annual family Christmas letter (yes, I am one of “those people”), I was overcome with a severe case of writer’s block. It had been a difficult year and I could not motivate myself to write my usual greeting filled with joyous memoires of shared experiences and happy childhood milestones. Instead, I thought only of the loss, tragedy and isolation I felt throughout the year. Who wants to read about that?!
So I set aside my task (despite the fact that it was already December 15 and I was on a tight deadline!) and asked God to give me clarity to see my life in a more positive light. He immediately reminded me of my many blessings by exposing me to the devastation of others – husbands killed while serving their country, children stricken with terminal illness, wives battling end stage cancer, families displaced from their homes… sadly, the list is endless. There is nothing more humbling than to learn of someone who has suffered a greater loss.
You know the feeling – just when you think your life is miserable, you get an uncomfortable reminder from God that someone else has bigger problems. I call this the “itcouldbeworse” message from above.
All around me, people were losing their jobs, their lives and their hope. Yet, I was truly blessed.
When I returned to my desk to write the letter, the joy and gratitude began to flow. It poured forth as my spiritual muse reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas. I vowed to keep a Blessings Journal the following year and record all the Little Things That Bring Me Joy. I felt confident that this would help me keep my perspective all year long.
I dedicated my journal to finding Moments of Joy in Everyday Life. As an avid subscriber of the KIS philosophy (keep it simple), I decided to make a list and number each entry. I set no expectations on how often or how much I would write. But I kept the journal easily accessible, within sight, so I could jot down phrases and words as they emerged in my thoughts.
As life unfolded, I found myself recording simple pleasures, like “sleeping in!” and “listening to the sound of my children laughing.” I made note of meaningful events such as “sitting in the quiet of a snow covered mountaintop” and “spending a crisp fall day hiking in the woods.” Whenever I received good news, I added it to my list. “Sue’s stress test was negative!” Or, “Patti got a job and is moving to Cape May!” As the season’s changed, my list grew longer. It was filled with small moments of happiness. It contained all the things that remind me of what I treasure most in life. The list was more than just a Blessings Journal. I came to think of it as my Time Capsule of Joy.
Indeed, by the next December I had documented 118 Joy-Filled Moments. Not bad, considering that I went weeks at a time without an entry. As I reviewed the list, I was reminded of the day I came home from work to find my husband vacuuming. And the time my daughter’s poem about inner beauty won first place in a school contest. Several entries were tributes to mothers who helped me in simple ways – transporting the kids to an activity while I was out of town, or taking the time to listen when I needed a friend. The pages were filled with the myriad of ways God blesses me and my family every day.
If you are feeling the need for a gentle reminder or an “itcouldbeworse” message from above, try capturing your moments of joy in a Blessings Journal! I wish you a joy-filled year.
Copyright 2011 Theresa Ceniccola