The Sunday Seven
It feels like forever ago that I used to do this funny little “Friday Five” exercise where I’d think about my week and what things I’d been grateful for. Sometimes these “grats” as I called them came easily and I’d find myself offering “bonus” grats; other weeks the struggle was so real that just finding one positive thing felt like pulling teeth – my own. With no sedation.
Over time, as is the case with even healthy habits, life took over and I found myself tumbling back down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs until eventually there was no pause to express gratitude at all. And sometimes it be that way, right? Sometimes the world you thought you knew just crumbles and you’re left staring behind the curtain wondering what the hell just happened.
But as my life has shifted and evolved and I’m discovering more about who I’m meant to be, this little exercise is something that has continued to crop up in conversations. In early 2019, an old friend reconnected with the simple message, “I just wanted to remind you of your Friday Five Grats…you had some funnies.” But it didn’t make me move. And again a few weeks ago, the stretches between conversations growing like winter yawns, when they’d seen I landed a new role, “Congrats on the new job…now THAT is a Friday Five Grats for sure.”
And it was. It is. It still is.
A regular practice of gratitude isn’t life changing in the sense that it’s going to magically transform a junkyard into the Keukenhof. It takes action. Sitting on your ass imagining what you want your life to be is great – you’re still creating new pathways in your brain and new neural connections (hey, science has come a long way) – but it’s much more likely to become your reality if you take even small, kaizen-like actions towards the fulfillment of those dreams.
For example, it was wonderful to spend years dreaming of buying a piece of land in the middle of nowhere. Then I bought 10 acres in the San Luis valley to build my Mad Max Dreamhouse. And it’s great to sit here and think about what I want it to be, but what is actually going to get me towards that reality is scheduling the site survey, optimizing well and septic placement and determining a site to build, interviewing contractors and their subcontractors. In short, action.
But action is a great way to forget about all of the things you’ve accomplished in the meantime and for me, at least, that’s where gratitude comes into play. Because gratitude reminds us to be humble, to appreciate even the smallest details, and while many of us are isolating ourselves in this current situation, we must not lose sight of the thing that connects us – our humanity.
It’s been years since I’ve written a Friday Five Grat post. It’s been coming up not only with old friends that are reconnecting, but in coaching and spiritual sessions too lately. And so, while I believe strongly in the practice, even to the point that I’d suggest keeping a daily list – and I now in fact, do, I think it’s time to give them a makeover.
I give you…
The Sunday Seven.
- Moisture. As much as I don’t love the cold and still don’t engage in winter sports, we got a few inches of snow this week. I’d finally made a dent in cleaning up the fall debris in the yard, extended the flower beds out another few feet and started to think about how I’d attack the yard. The snow brought a few days respite of working in the garden and some much-needed moisture to this high desert I call home.
- Social Distancing. For all of the panic many folks experienced in the last few weeks, we’ve found ways to thrive while following social distancing for the greater good. I’ve actually started a yoga practice (what?!??!? and see below) and have been making slow and steady progress on other goals. This time is helping me learn to get comfortable with myself too since I don’t get to immerse myself and hide in a crowd. Crowds just don’t exist at the moment. I guess the one caution I’d offer is to make sure you’re not filling your time with fear-based media. So many opportunities exist to take classes or tour a museum or gallery online.
- Health. From tented hospital beds for respiratory illnesses as a toddler to a severe case of anemia that took the better part of last year to get under control to asthma that sometimes reminds me it’s still there and arthritis ringing on about how I’m just not as young as I used to be…I’m grateful for my health. I’ve been nicotine free for more than 6 months and sober for 5 1/2 years. I’m anemia free for the first time in at least 4 years. Regular IVs keep the malabsorption under control; regular massages helped me realize how much tension I hold in my body. And after literal years of avoidance, I bought a mat and am learning to suffer through a yoga practice that I hope in time will feel less like punishment and more like something I actually enjoy. Plus, hand stands.
- Coaching. When the company that moved me to Colorado was sold and my position was eliminated, I spent months spinning my wheels. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice spring. I did a ton of hiking and traveling and enjoyed myself immensely. But then I found a life coach and started making an investment in myself. I wish I could tell you it’s easy (it’s not) but the accountability and insight I’ve gained has brought me here. And ‘here’ is so much better than where I was that there simply isn’t any going back.
- Self-Reliance. “I want you to go out there and pitch five clients this week,” my coach told me. I’m pretty sure those who know me know what I told her. But I did it anyway. I actually registered a company name, built the shell of a website and pitched a potential client that I landed less than 48 hours later. I did a whole lot of things I’d never done before. Some were successful; others I wouldn’t do again. I’ve learned new industries, made new connections and tried things I never thought I’d do.
- Sunshine. Despite the snow (see above), we’ve had a few days of sunshine. When the temperatures are warm enough (because let’s face it, we’re a mile closer to the sun than most of you), I’ve learned to appreciate the sunshine on my face; as the seasons change and it gives ways to shoulders and knees. With the sunshine comes the return of the bulbs I planted last year, sprigs of green inching their way above the soil line. Maybe this week, I’ll have an opportunity aerate and feed the lawn, clean up the mulch and start the seedlings that will go into the garden beds.
- Routine. One of my quirks is that I’m like a moth flitting off in any direction after pretty much any shiny object; so routine helps me tremendously. This week, in particular, I seem to have hit my stride. Not needing to commute has given me at least an hour back in my day. Working from home means I can get home-cooked meals on the table most nights, despite managing my full-time career, small business and ongoing projects related to client work there, keeping a household running while being a human body pillow for one Sir Didymus puppy and an ornery (part) Maine Coon and juggling how to show up for my partner in any way that doesn’t involve weeks-long stretches of flannel pants and sweatshirts.
With that said, it’s Sunday morning and I’ve (bonus) got a giant cup of coffee to finish.