Tag: gratitude

Gratitude

In “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge resolves, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Is it possible to do the same with Thanksgiving?

And what would the spirit of Thanksgiving look like❓

When I was younger, I remember saying a very LONG prayer to stall bedtime. It’s surprising how many things you can think of to be grateful for when you really try–even at age six.

I’m grateful for night lights. Without them the monsters would have eaten us all a long time ago.

Looking back, I find that I am grateful for the difficult times. The pain in my hands forced me to focus on what I really want to do. I chose art over things like piano or knitting. I found that sacrificing for something helped me value it more.

Negative events really stand out in memories. But I’m thankful for the positive times, too (of course). Trying to focus on and remember the positive relieves stress and gives a more balanced view of life.

Keeping a gratitude journal helps me recall those events and end the day on a happy note. 🙂

I’m grateful for those who read, comment on, or like my posts. Thank you so much! In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one.” ❤️

Flashback Friday: The Thank You War

This story was originally posted on October 12, 2017. I have been told that you aren’t supposed to return someone’s container empty. Instead, you should send a treat to thank them for the treat they sent you. It’s a funny idea, if you look at it the right way.

Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith were leaving the grocery store at the same time one day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Everything seemed wonderful. The two neighbors smiled widely at each other. “It’s so good to see you,” Mrs. Jones said.

“It’s been such a long time since we last talked,” Mrs. Smith said. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well. I just harvested the last of my pears,” Mrs. Jones said. “How have you been?”

“Oh, I do love pears,” Mrs. Smith said. “I’ve been fine. I started singing in the community choir. You should come.”

“I don’t sing, but let me know when your next performance is, and I’ll come cheer you on,” Mrs. Jones said.

And then, the handle of her grocery bag broke, and a cabbage, three carrots, and a can of beans fell out and started to roll away.   Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones chased after the escaping groceries.

The carrots hadn’t gone far. Mrs. Jones scooped them up and put them in another bag.   She crouched to fish the cabbage out from under a car. When she straightened up and put the cabbage securely away, Mrs. Smith was returning with the can of beans.

“They almost went into the storm drain,” Mrs. Smith said. “I caught them just in time.”

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Don’t mention it,” Mrs. Smith said.

“I’d better get my groceries home before something else happens,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Of course. I’ll see you later,” Mrs. Smith said.

And the ladies went home and put their groceries away.   That evening, Mrs. Jones brought Mrs. Smith a pear cobbler. “It’s to thank you for helping me with my groceries,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Smith said.

“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Jones said.

A few days later, Mrs. Smith returned Mrs. Jones’s pan.   She put some cookies inside the pan.   “I made you some cookies to thank you for the cobbler,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Jones said.

“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Smith said.

A few days later, Mrs. Jones stopped by to visit Mrs. Smith. She brought a bag of peppermints. “Thank you for the cookies,” she said. “They were delightful.”

“Thank you for the peppermints,” Mrs. Smith said.   “They’re my favorite kind.”

A few days later, Mrs. Smith visited Mrs. Jones.   “No more sweets, please,” Mrs. Jones said. “I’ve eaten far too much sugar this week.”

Mrs. Smith laughed. “Me, too. I don’t have any sweets. Just a flyer for my choir concert. I hope you can come.”

Mrs. Jones smiled. “I’d love to! Thank you.”

“I’m so glad,” Mrs. Smith said. She handed Mrs. Jones the flyer. “Oh, and a thank you card,” she said. She handed Mrs. Jones a card. “For the peppermints. Well, I’ll see you later.” She left, feeling certain she had won.

Three days later, Mrs. Smith was retrieving her mail from the mailbox. She sorted through the bills and advertisements. “Oh, look, this one’s from Mrs. Jones.” She opened it. It was a lovely handmade card. “Thank you for the thank you card,” it said.

Facing Worry

I’m a worrier, and it stresses me out. This is not new. Actually, I do better now than I used to.

And yet, I still worry far too much. In some ways, I feel like I took the scout motto to “Be Prepared” much too personally. I’m constantly peering into the shadows trying to anticipate which monster will come out next. Maybe I read too many mystery novels when I was young and impressionable.

It takes a lot of energy to try prevent all the bad things that could possibly happen at once. “Don’t talk to strangers. Or people you know. Or walk too close to cars. Or groups of kids. And look out for dogs. And powerlines…” The warnings I want to give my middle schooler before he walks a block to school in the morning are endless. Usually I manage to limit it to one or two. Sometimes I just drive him to school.

I unplug small appliances before I leave the house and worry about the larger appliances that are too big to unplug. Every time the phone rings, I worry it’s the school calling. Bee sting? Broken arm? The sky falling? They haven’t happened yet, but this could be that call.

Early in our marriage, my husband stopped our newspaper subscription. I was reading the paper cover to cover, and I can still, twenty years later, remember the details of some of the scary stories I read. “It’s stressing you out,” my husband said.

“I need to know what to watch out for,” I told him.

And yet, without the newspaper to warn me, we survived living in that city, and the other cities we lived in. Some bad things happened, but some great things did too. I didn’t miss the newspaper… okay, I did. But I didn’t miss my daily dose of fear.

The internet has tried to provide that with its newsfeeds and Facebook, but I try to be wise and only read a few stories here and there. It’s like a security blanket. If I can just predict the bad things, whatever they are, I can defend against them, right?

But I think that the worry can be a bad thing all on its own. There is a point where it ceases to be helpful, and starts taking too much energy, time and space. I’m tired of worrying.

I will probably never leave my toaster plugged in when I leave the house. I don’t think I will ever ride a rollercoaster without imagining that this is the time it will go off the tracks. That said, I am trying harder to worry less. But how do I worry less after all this time?

Science says that the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. This article explains it well: https://www.inc.com/melody-wilding/psychology-says-this-is-how-you-change-a-bad-habit-for-good.html

So what is a good replacement for worry?

In an Ensign article in April 1986, Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.“

And later in the same article, “I have little doubt that many of us are troubled with fears concerning ourselves. We are in a period of stress across the world. There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. Do not let the prophets of gloom endanger your possibilities.”

Bad things do happen, but good things do too. Why not spend my energy preparing for the next big opportunity? Why not notice and recognize the good things that happen? I think it would be a better use of my time.

I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal. I try to get out and help other people. It really gives me a lot of perspective. Somehow, it’s easier to do hard things when I’m doing them for someone else. I am developing my talents and trying to share them.

I may always be a worrier. But, I hope that I can continue to improve. I want to stop seeking out storms and instead enjoy the sunlight. While wearing sunscreen. And a hat.

Do you worry a lot too? What are some things you do when you can tell that you’re starting to worry?

Don't Miss a Post!

You haven't subscribed yet?! Type your email address below and friendly elves will let you know via email when Summer creates new content.

Join 127 other subscribers

Charlie’s Room: Secret Weapon

Isaac’s only clean pair of black socks had a hole in the toe of one of the socks. He didn’t discover the hole until he put the sock on and his toe poked out the hole in his sock. He had to dig through the laundry basket for a pair of socks he could rewear.

When he started tying his left shoe and the shoelace broke, he knew it was probably going to be one of those days. He tied it back together and tied his shoes. Sure enough, it was rainy and dark when he left for work. Someone was always driving next to him at just his speed when he wanted to switch lanes. He hit every red light.

At work, under the bright florescent lights, he realized that one of the socks he put on was navy, and his shirt was inside-out. His log-in information didn’t work. He had a hundred emails telling him he did something wrong. He left his lunch at home and didn’t have enough time to go buy something.

He had to stay late at work fixing things, listening to his stomach growl. He couldn’t find his scarf when it was time to go home. A puddle stretched across the sidewalk outside the door of his workplace. Isaac had to wade through it to get to his car.

On the way home, his car ran out of gas. He had to walk in the pouring rain to the gas station. The wind turned his umbrella inside out and broke it. He got home very late. Dinner was cold. Charlie had gone to bed early, not feeling well. Marianne was scrubbing a spot on the carpet where he’d thrown up. Isaac greeted her, changed out of his wet clothes, and returned.

She held up the washcloth. “Tag, you’re it. I’ll go heat up your dinner.”

“I can heat it up,” Isaac said.

Marianne shook the washcloth. “Take it anyway. I am so done with this. Why were you home late?”

Isaac shrugged and took the washcloth. “Bad day at work. Ran out of gas. It was one of those days.”

Marianne stood up and Isaac took her place. “Days like that happen, I guess. Did you want to talk about it?” She looked away, and Isaac sighed.

“That’s okay. Go take a break. It looks like you had a hard day, too.”

Marianne looked back and smiled. “Thanks. It has been a little tiring. I think I might go to bed early and read.”

Before long, the house was quiet. Isaac finally got the carpet mostly clean. He went into the kitchen and started to eat his dinner without heating it. Unfortunately, cold spaghetti is slimy. And his hands smelled like vomit even though he’d washed them.

He put his dinner in the microwave and scrubbed his hands again. They still smelled. He washed them again. Was he just imagining things at this point? He put some floral-scented lotion on his hands to mask any remaining smells. The floral scent gave him a headache.

The spaghetti was now a little dried-out and stuck together. But it was no longer slimy. So, he ate it, because at this point, he was really, really hungry. He finished eating, but he was still hungry. He poured himself a bowl of cereal and poured on some milk. It was sour. He tossed the bowl of cereal with a sigh.

The bag of bread was open, and the slice on the end was stale. Isaac ate it anyway. He cleaned up his dishes. He was still a little hungry, but he was too tired to try to find something else to eat. He drank a big glass of cold water. His stomach churned at the sudden cold.

Isaac sneezed as he sat down at his desk, and he reached for a handkerchief. There weren’t any. He went to the kitchen for a paper towel. All gone. There was no toilet paper in the bathroom, either. He changed out the roll for a new one, and finally he could blow his nose.

He sat at his desk and opened the bottom drawer. Isaac had a secret weapon for days like this. At the back of the drawer, there was a small blue book. He tried three pens before he found one that worked. He started writing in his gratitude journal.

His family was safe. His house was warm. The roof didn’t leak. He had dinner waiting for him. There was a gas station within walking distance when he ran out of gas. He didn’t lose his wallet. No one drove by and splashed water on him when he was walking. He messed up at work and didn’t get fired. He had socks without holes. He had shoes without holes. The carpet was clean. Tomorrow would be better.

His problems seemed small. Nothing really terrible had happened, after all. It was just a bad day. Days like that happened sometimes. Isaac sneezed and blew his nose. Time for bed, so that he could fight off this cold. He smiled and put away the journal. Tomorrow was going to be a good day. He could tell.

Gratitude

2018 has been a great year. Not that everything has gone well, but overall, I think I’m in a better place than I was at this time in 2017.  I’ve been very blessed and seen a lot of little miracles in my life.  I’m so very grateful.

I have continued to learn and grow and improve. It’s pretty exciting to see the progress I’ve made this year. I still have a lot of room for growth, and that’s exciting too.

My creative goals for 2018 were to publish something, make one YouTube video, and sell one artwork.

This is my index card of my creative goals for the year. Also a quote from Diane Ackerman: “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

I did get something published. One of my cartoons was published in the New Era in September. You can read all about it if you follow this link. I just had another cartoon published in the New Era in December, too! (And I will have one in the January New Era!! Wow!) I know that is a lot of links, but please check them out.

Here’s a look at the cartoons I just had published in the New Era!

My husband helped me make two YouTube videos. I am happy with how they turned out. It was fun to see my work progress at super-speed! You can watch both videos on my YouTube channel. (Yes, I actually have a YouTube channel!)

Have I sold any artwork solely based on its artistic merit? Not yet. But I’ve improved my skill, and that makes it more likely, I think. I’m still working on this one.

I am so grateful for the progress I’ve made. So many people have helped and encouraged me on my journey. To all of you, thank you. Thank you for reading my stories and laughing at my comics. Thank you for telling me that you like my work. Thank you for mentioning my website to others.

Sometimes, when it’s just me at my desk, trying to find my motivation, it’s nice to remember that I’m not alone. The internet isn’t like the empty wells in the cartoons where you shove something in and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait to hear it hit the bottom. There are people out there listening.

If you are reading this, thank you for being one of those people. Thank you for supporting me this year. I look forward to 2019 knowing that achieving my goals and dreams is possible. Best wishes to all of us in the new year!

From Quentin Blake‘s “ABC” Ff, reproduced by me on 6/11/18.

Don't Miss A Single Post!

Type your email address below and friendly elves will let you know via email when Summer creates new content.

Join 127 other subscribers

Charlie’s Room: Thank You Notes

Charlie met Isaac at the door. “Hi, Dad. How was work? Miss Marta brought us cookies!” he said in a rush.

Isaac smiled and ruffled Charlie’s hair. “Work was fine. Cookies are great. How was your day?”

“Dad!” Charlie batted his hand away. “We had a good day. We had so many green beans from the garden that we took some to the neighbors. Mr. Jones gave me a hat. Do you want to see it?”

“Of course I do!”

Charlie raced off. While he was gone, Isaac changed out of his work shoes. Charlie raced back around the corner wearing an old, faded blue fedora. “Look at me! Do I look grown up wearing a hat?”

“Very grown up,” Isaac said seriously. Charlie grinned.

Charlie took Isaac’s hand and started leading him to the kitchen. “I added Miss Marta and Mr. Jones to the thank you list,” he said.

Marianne was in the kitchen stirring a pan of green beans and tomatoes. It smelled wonderful. Isaac sniffed the air. “Did you bake bread today, too?”

“It was supposed to be a surprise,” Charlie said.

“The nose knows.” Isaac tapped his nose and tried to look wise. Charlie laughed. Dinner was wonderful, and the cookies were oatmeal. Isaac loved oatmeal cookies.

By Sunday, the thank you list had grown longer than normal. Marianne brought the box of thank you notes from the craft closet, Isaac gathered some pens from his desk, and Charlie pulled the list out from under the magnet on the fridge door. “We have lots of thank yous this week,” Charlie said as he dropped the list on the kitchen table.

Marianne sat down and picked up the list. “That just means it was a good week. Which one do you want to start with?”

“I’ll start with Mr. Jones’ card. I really like my new hat!” Charlie picked up a card and a pen and started writing.

Isaac picked up a card and pen. “I’ll start Miss Marta’s card. Oatmeal cookies are my favorite.”

Marianne looked at the list. “Then I’ll start with Robert’s mom. It was so nice of her to bring us all those jeans that he grew out of. They look brand new.”

The room was quiet for a minute or two. Then Charlie sat up and put his pen down. “All done. Here, Dad. You can sign this one next.” He took the list and looked at it. “Aunt Doris?”

Marianne looked up from her card and nodded. “She sent us that nice book.”

Charlie frowned. “It was a baby book. I don’t need baby books.” He took his pen and scribbled out Aunt Doris’ name.

“Charlie.” Marianne looked disapproving. “Why do we write thank you notes?”

“Because we feel thankful? But I’m not thankful for baby books! She always thinks I’m a baby, but I’m not.” Charlie folded his arms across his chest and pouted. It made him look like a somewhat tall toddler.

Marianne sighed. “Sometimes we are thankful for the gifts themselves. But even when we don’t like the gift, we can be thankful that someone thought to give us a gift at all. It’s nice that Aunt Doris thought of you and wanted you to be happy, even if she isn’t very good at picking out presents sometimes.”

Charlie continued to frown for a little while longer. Then he sighed and unfolded his arms. “I guess it’s not her fault that she isn’t good at knowing what kids like. She’s really old.”

Isaac chuckled. “She is older than any of us, but be careful about calling people old. Once people are around my age, they usually don’t like being reminded about being old.”

“But you’re not old. Well, maybe just a little bit old. But not old like Aunt Doris. And you’re good at picking out presents!”

Isaac held up a hand. “Don’t worry. I think I still have many years left. Just be careful about calling people old.”

Charlie shrugged. “Okay.”

Marianne picked up the list and held it out. “So, would you like to fix the list now? I think it’s missing a name.”

Charlie took the list and scowled. “Fine. But I’m not going to say it’s my favorite book. Because it’s not. It’s not even about dinosaurs.” He added Aunt Doris to the bottom of the list.

“That’s fine.” Marianne smiled. “Just say thank you for the gift. Maybe you could tell her about something fun you did recently, too. I’m sure she’d like to hear more about you. We don’t get to see her all that often.”

“Okay. I can do that,” Charlie said.

Isaac finished his note and signed his name, and then he passed Miss Marta’s card to Charlie. “Then you can sign this card next. I know you liked the cookies too.”

He picked up Mr. Jones’ card and chose a place to add his thank you note for Charlie’s new hat. He slid the card over to Marianne. With no new cards to sign, it was time to look at the list again. “Now let’s see… who’s next on the list?”

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: