She sat in her usual chair, her rolling walker next to her. I sat across from her in my usual spot on the couch. This is how we’ve started my piano lessons for the last few years. We sit in the living room and catch up. Sometimes we don’t even make it to the piano there’s so much to discuss.
“Have you ever seen this book?” she asked me on my first visit of the new year. She pulled a fairly large pink book off the tray of her walker. “Yes! I have it!” I said. The book she held in her hand was Sarah Ban Brethnach’s Simple Abundance. “Well, I’m doing it again this year,” she said. “The last time I did it, it really changed how I looked at my life and I think it’s time to do it again.” “Hmm…” I said, “I’ll have to dig mine out – I know exactly where it is. I’ve never actually done the whole book.”
For those of you that don’t know, it’s a book with something to reflect on each day of the year. It’s subtitle is A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. I like that subtitle even better than the title. It came out in 1995 and it was all the rage – especially after the author appeared on Oprah.
I found my book, and started reading a passage each day. Early on she does ask you to physically do one thing in particular: start a gratitude journal. Each night before you go to bed, pull out a pretty journal and write into it three things you’re grateful for. She says it’s a non-negotiable. “…You simply will not be the same person two months from now after conscioulsy giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.”
Well, she’s right. I’ve only been doing it for 10 days or so, and what I’ve noticed so far is that things that in the past would have bothered me roll off my back now. Not all things, mind you. But most of the little things – things that I would have beat myself up about, things I would have let ruin my day, they’re just not such a big deal anymore. For example, I started teaching Anatomy and Physiology at a local college. I’ve taught the lab for a while now, but this is the first semester I’m teaching the lecture. I was going to explain all the things that have gone wrong since I started the class, but as I think about writing them it seems such a waste of time – they’re really just not that big of a deal anymore. I’ll just put it this way: technology wasn’t working out for me. But I improvised, moved on, and neither me nor my class are any worse for wear.
As I sat in the waiting room at the tutoring center where I work recently, I started chatting with the mother that was sitting there waiting for her daughter. I can’t recall how we got to the topic, but I asked if she had the book Simple Abundance. “Oh, yes,” she said, “that’s an old one!” I laughed. “I know, but my piano teacher is doing it again this year, so I pulled mine out and I started doing the gratitude journal.” “That’s so funny that you should mention that,” she said. “My daughter has been having a tough time of things and I’ve been thinking of having her do that. I’m going to go home and pull mine out.”
This is one of those things I love about life: that a 70+ year old grandmother can inspire a 33 year old single woman who can then pass on a good thing to the mother of a teenage daughter. And who knows where it will go from there?
So today, give thanks. For three things. Write them down. Every day. Watch your life change:)