150 Days of Gratitude

Several years ago, my husband recommended I start a gratitude journal to help with my mental health. The general idea is that every day you list three things that you are grateful for. You can do bullet points or journal several whole paragraphs; these specific things that you are grateful for can be anything from daily events in your life or as simple as “running water.”

I resisted this idea because I thought that forced gratitude would have the opposite effect, making me resentful and inclined to wallow in any misfortunes. But I decided to give it a shot when my therapist recommended it, and I found that it hasn’t turned out that way. In fact, it has been great for my mental health during the COVID pandemic.

I’ve been doing my daily gratitude journal for over 150 days now. I’m using a great app called Presently; it’s really nothing fancy, just a space to freely write every day.

Mostly, I use it to document things that made me smile that day. Things like:

–Epik High’s awesome playlists
–Star Wars Zoom backgrounds
–Taking photos of flowers in the rain
–“COVID AND CHILL” written in railroad ties by the train tracks
–“Waterlemon” [which is what my kid calls watermelon]
–Being productive at work
–Clean(er) office
–Purring kitty on my lap

It turns out that what really helped my mood wasn’t the act of thinking and writing positive things, but rather seeing what I’d written on previous days and re-reading over my list of happy things. Even looking through it now as I’m writing this, I’m smiling at seeing the funny things my kid said or the delicious foods I ate.

I admit: there was one day where I just wrote “Blahhhhhhhhhh not feeling grateful.” I don’t want to use this journal to enforce a mentality of toxic positivity where I always have to look on the bright side of things. My sadness, anger, anxiety and frustration shouldn’t just be dismissed. It’s still important to acknowledge our negative feelings so we can deal with them.

My gratitude journal helps me stay in the present and focus on the things that are important. Thanksgiving in particular is a time to reflect on what we are grateful for. We may be celebrating small this year, but we are still celebrating!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!  Two years after hosting our first family Thanksgiving, B and I were back to it again.  Yesterday I was kinda freaking out about it and never ever wanted to host again.  But it was a great day, of course, because we were with family, and really put our hearts into preparing food for their enjoyment.  And the smoke detector only went off once.

Only minor issue of the day was that I had bought Fleischmann’s Original, which has dairy, instead of Unsalted, which is Kosher pareve.  A quick internet search informed us that butter-flavored Crisco is also pareve, so that went in the stuffing.  I don’t eat stuffing, but no one else complained.

As for my desserts, I tried out Bananabelle’s Apple Crisp (great for vegan, gluten-free, or Kosher guests).  My attempt had too much crumble for the amount of apples, but it was still pretty tasty.  I also reprised the Pumpkin Cheesecake, because I prefer that to pie.  It didn’t sink in the middle this time, but still cracked.

Today I am thankful for my cat who is keeping my legs warm, my two hands that can make food, my mom who helped me cook the turkey at 8am, my husband who learned how to use the KitchenAid mixer to make mashed potatoes and then dried all the dishes, snow that looks beautiful and doesn’t stick to the road, holidays off from work, and leftovers.  I am truly blessed.

Officially a grown-up

Well, we have passed the initiation ceremony: my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving this year.  I feel very grown-up.  There are paintings on my walls.  I own wineglasses.  I cooked a turkey.  Hello, adulthood.

We had both of our families over for a noon dinner and it was really lovely.  We put in a lot of hard work to get the house together in the weeks leading up to it, but it was all worth it.  Everyone had a nice time, even my little niece (it was her first Thanksgiving).  I have a lot to be thankful for this year: a good job, house, family that lives near me, and a husband who is my reason to get out of bed every morning (and not just because he puts his cold feet on me!)  I am much happier than I was about this time last year, and I am grateful.

I had a lot of fun decorating.  I made place cards for everyone at the table:

I made these at a scrapbooking retreat recently.  The Creative Memories Border Maker was used to make the cute fence and pumpkins.

For dessert, instead of the traditional pie, I made a pumpkin cheesecake from scratch, which turned out great.  I used the Cheesecake Factory’s recipe here: Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake  To make the pumpkin puree, I cut two little pie pumpkins in half and baked them for about an hour at 350°.  I scooped out the flesh and pureed it with a stick blender (which worked much better than a regular blender).  Everyone loved it!

After dinner my family stayed to take a walk and play a little Carcassonne.  Yesterday I slept in and watched some TV Christmas movies as it snowed outside; my husband had some friends over to play D&D.  I went out to do some shopping, and then really wished I hadn’t.  I went back out today for Small Business Saturday and made some purchases at Wayside Workshop in Aurora and at The Learned Owl in Hudson (one of the few bookstores left in the area).  So, my Christmas shopping is started but definitely not finished!