Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Things + Thankfulness Project 2.0

Last week was a doozie - just a lousy, lousy week that I would like to forget for so many reasons. However, in the spirit of being thankful for the many undeserved blessings God has given me, this week I will be posting about things that make me happy. (Sort of along the same lines as the Thankfulness Project posts I wrote a while back, which you long-time readers might remember.)

Tuesday's Happy Things:
1. Winning another free coffee from Tim Horton's. (So far I'm up to three free coffees and a donut!)
2. The stupendous lentil stew we made for dinner tonight! (It deserves its own post, which will be coming later this week.)
3. The high I get from a successful day's tutoring session. (It never gets old.)

Actually, speaking of the Thankfulness Project, I think it would be good to get back into the habit of publicly giving thanks for what I have been given. (I totally did not expect this post to take that direction when I started writing. But hey, why not?!) Let's do it!

As a reminder, here's my "mission statement" from a few years ago when I first set out to document on a regular basis the things for which I was thankful.

The Thankfulness Project

Normally, I am really big on the psychological boost of “fresh starts,” like the beginning of a week, month, year, new school term, etc. These dates somehow hold special promise for me, and can motivate me to success in all kinds of ways. On a “fresh start” day I have the confidence and the drive to develop better habits, work toward a specific goal, or just generally get it together. There’s just something inspirational about “the first day of” that brings balance to my life and speaks to my soul. Or something less cheesy and pop-psychological-sounding.

All that to say that when I was originally planning to start The Thankfulness Project on my blog, I fully intended to begin on July 4th (my first official day of vacation) and continue from there. But I didn’t, and tonight I decided to throw up my hands and forget about being tied down to a “fresh start day.” It is Wednesday night, and I am bringing you The Thankfulness Project. So there, psyche.

What it is
The Thankfulness Project is one way I’m trying to develop an attitude of gratitude. It’s my way of dwelling on the blessings in my life and giving thanks for all the good things, both small and ginormous, that God has given me.

What it is not
The Thankfulness Project is in no way grandiose or pretentious. I have always admired the ability of children to delight in the smallest things (an old cardboard box, a sticker that isn’t sticky anymore, a jangly set of keys) and I certainly hope that is a skill I have held on to. While the Thankfulness Project is certainly meant seriously on my part, that is not to say that every post is going to be deeply moving and profound. Some might be. I will certainly be giving thanks for some really major blessings. But I’ll also be thanking God for the little things that bring joy into my life.

When it will happen
Since I can only go against my personality so much, and we’re already starting in the middle of the week, toward the end of my vacation, and on a pretty random day in July, I must at least maintain some semblance of balance and symmetry by turning this into a weekly series. So you can expect a Thankfulness Project post on the blog every Wednesday.

The back-story
Many of the personal blogs I frequent are great proponents of the “Life List” or “30 Before I’m 30” or “Top 63 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.” Basically these are lists of a person’s personal goals and desires, ranging from small & relatively insignificant items (ex. learn how to make chocolate cherry ice cream) to larger goals (ex. complete the Boston Marathon). Many of the lists I’ve read include practical entries, like “learn how to change a car tire” or “start buying only local produce,” and lots of people have very laudable and self-giving goals, too, such as “write a thank-you letter to my most influential teacher.”

The thing about these lists is that whatever lovely and noble goals the writer may have, everything invariably centres around me. What do I want to do/learn/create/experience/give? Don’t get me wrong, I have such a list as well. I want to learn CPR and basic first aid and rudimentary sewing and ancient Greek; I want to make weekly trips to the farmers’ market and bake my own bread and walk everyday and read a book-a-week next year; I want to make dinner for friends and make all my Christmas gifts from scratch and learn to live on less and tame my temper. But for all of those great desires, there’s still a lot of me me me floating around in those goals.

Thus, my answer to the “life list” was born. I don’t want to make a list of things to do before I die. Not that there’s anything inherently problematic with such a list. But to me, it puts the focus in the wrong place. Sure, it would be great to travel to Paris while I can still remember some French, and it would be lovely to have a house with a garden where I could grow my own veggies, but those things don’t really matter.

And so I’ll dream a little dream, and try to use my time and resources as best I can, and meanwhile, I will choose to give thanks for everything I have already been blessed with, so far above what I deserve. I hope my list of thanksgiving will uplift and encourage you.

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