30 Day Gratitude Challenge
Day 1 – Wednesday 23rd April 2014
Today I am grateful for the wonderful weekend I spent at Mole Creek; candlelit BBQ (no power), great wine and even better friends, exercise from drenching and tagging the goats, and waking up to mist over the Western Tiers. I am grateful to be at home with my children, looking forward to dinner with Jessica tonight. I am grateful that even though I am disappointed about dropping science at University, I have done so, knowing that it was the right choice. I am grateful for the card reading done by my friend on the weekend; it has given me much needed clarity on numerous levels and last but not least, I am grateful that I have people around me who constantly remind me that I am lovable and worthy on days when I can’t remember why.
Something that I didn’t mention on Facebook was about one of the readings I received on the weekend. For many years I have used guidance cards on a semi-regular basis and have found that for the most part, when I need an answer, a card will just fly out of the pack while I am shuffling. After my friend did her reading for me she allowed me to work privately with her cards.
I have been struggling with many issues of late, but one that has been quite prominent was the issue of future direction. Lately, the need for grounding and focus has become so dominant in my mind that at times it has almost consumed me. As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to write; poetry, music, short stories, whatever felt right at the time. The one thing I always wanted to do was write a book, well actually lots of books, but one would be a good start. I realised many years ago that I had avoided starting anything because of very old childhood beliefs. My father is an amazing man; however, he is also very practical. I don’t think he ever understood my passion for art and music and the way it not only inspires me but also how healing and necessary it is; nor did he understand why books could absorb me so much that I literally would leave this plane, and trying to find my way back was often a difficult process. For years I have tried to be or do something worthy of his praise but I have come to realise that while he is proud of me for a lot of reasons, there are some things about me he will never understand or appreciate. That is alright, he loves me and I love him. What is not alright is that I allowed fear to stop me from doing the things that I love, need and want.
So back to the cards. I am shuffling the cards; my mind is wandering, not really focussing on any thought in particular. I am trying to work out what question I need to have answered. I throw questions at the cards like darts at a board and predictably, the universe doesn’t respond. I’m almost at my wits end and about to give up in disgust when out of the blue a thought pops into my head. With a fair amount of sarcasm I asked the universe my question:
“Am I supposed to write a book?
The card I received was Epiphany – Problem wasn’t the universe; problem was I was asking the wrong questions.
Day 2 – Thursday 24th April
Today I am grateful that I found all the readings I need for my assignment without too much fuss but mostly I am grateful for daughters who take on massive jobs without being asked and I am extremely grateful even though I know I don’t show it appropriately. I am grateful that I am big enough to say “I’m sorry”. Jessica and Abby, you mean the world to me and I am sorry that I’m not very good at showing that.
“I am an ungrateful sod”. Last night my eldest daughter Jess and her youngest sister Abby decided to clean up the garage. Picture this – our garage is a decent size that opens up to the under floor space of a four bedroom house and it has a room attached to it that has been used for various purposes over the years, everything from a workshop to a bedroom. We have lived here for nearly 15 years and for the past two years I haven’t been able to park my car in the garage because there is so much shit in there. Since last Christmas we have barely been able to get into the garage because of the ongoing accumulation of camping gear, tools, materials for renovating the van, stuff from my mum’s estate, kids/partner asking to store things they can’t fit in their houses and the kayaks that we decided we had to have.
So the girls decided to clean up; at night, in the rain.
I was less than impressed as I watched them dragging stuff out into the drive in between showers. I imagined everything getting soaked (it didn’t) and I bitched in my head because they were rearranging everything and I probably wouldn’t be able to find anything. I went to bed in a vain attempt to put it out of my mind and ignored the occasional bangs and crashes that echoed through the floorboards.
Well eventually Jess left and Abby went to bed, I think I said thank you but I can’t be sure. Images were still racing around my head and distorting anything that may have vaguely resembled gratitude. The next morning I went down to the garage and I spat the dummy. The girls had placed the seat of the van on top of some hay bales next to a pile of rubbish. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t belong to me, it was not an ideal place due to problems with mice. I sent a rather curt text to them both asking them to put it back in the spare room and went to uni.
That night I came home and the seat hadn’t moved. I thumped my way around and lugged it back to where I wanted it before storming inside in a very grumpy mood. I can’t remember what I said to Abby but I have no doubts that it was inappropriate. Not long after she stormed out of the house with tears in her eyes; her parting words were, “You are so ungrateful!”
Those four words floored me. Here I was on Day 2 of my gratitude challenge feeling pretty proud of myself for finding all these things to be grateful for and my daughter tells me I am ungrateful. I walked down to the garage to get some wood and shame hit me in the face, literally! The previous day the wheelbarrow, lawnmower and kayaks had all been lying in a jumble and there was no way anything could be accessed. I walked into this space, reached for the wheelbarrow and whacked my head on one of the kayaks. I stood back and looked, confused and unsure of what I was seeing. Then I looked around the garage, I really looked.
And I cried.
I had gone in to the garage that morning looking for problems and I found them. In my haste to criticize I saw nothing but problems. Now as I stood looking around for the first time with eyes open and shame and guilt in my heart, I saw what they had really done. The lawnmower and wheelbarrow were accessible; the kayaks were hanging from racks tied to the beams above. The pool table, previously covered with every tool known to man was clear; all the tools back in boxes waiting for me to sort them out and return to their various owners/cupboards. The garage floor was clear enough that if I chose I could move the pool table back and bring the car in. They had rearranged the spare room in such a way that we could get access to everything in there and Jess had collected the last of her boxes to take home. They had removed all the rubbish and stored it around the side of the house so it could be taken to the tip and they had brought the last of mums things inside, things I had almost forgotten I had.
I was ashamed, humbled and very, very sorry.
I wrote a text to both the girls apologising for my behaviour, Jess accepted my apology and forgave me, Abby didn’t reply. I apologised on Facebook, she mellowed but still said nothing. I’m thinking, bloody hell Ab, I said sorry! And then I realised I hadn’t said anything at all. I went up to her bedroom and knocked on the door; still ignoring me. I spoke through the door, I apologised, I said I was an idiot, I told her how much I appreciated what they had done and how ashamed I was of my ungratefulness. I still don’t know if she heard me or if she was asleep. I hope one day she reads this and if she hasn’t already, finds it in her heart to forgive me for being such a twat that day.
Belated Day 3 – Friday 25th April
I meant to post this last night but I fell asleep reading international law lol
Yesterday I was grateful for a lot of things. I was grateful…
•For the men and women who have given their lives for my freedom and for those who continue to do so.
•For the opportunity to spend time with my dad and his mates at the RSL after the service.
•For knocking over six readings on the Antarctic Treaty and International Law and actually understanding what I read.
•And last but not least, I was very grateful for firewood.
Over the last 20 years there have been very few occasions where I have missed the Anzac Day service. In earlier years I attended primarily because I was a member of Scouts Australia and this was something that we always did. As I got older my reasons for going became more personal. I gradually developed a deep appreciation for my freedom, particularly when I started paying attention to the media and found out what was happening in other countries. I attended these services then to show my support for the men and women who serve our country, people who put their lives at risk every day so that I can enjoy the freedom I have in this country.
I can’t remember when but many years ago my dad started to make contact with members of our local RSL and over time reconnected with old mates from his days in the army. My dad is a Vietnam Vet who served in the Vietnam War and the Malaya Borneo confrontation. As children we sometimes asked dad about the Vietnam War and what it was like. His response usually went along the lines of, ‘we didn’t do a lot except smoke and play cards’. Fool that I was I believed him for many years. As an adult I started to suspect that there was more to the story but he was not willing to talk and to this day remains very quiet on the subject.
Fortunately for me he has friends. It was through one of these friends, over a beer at the RSL breakfast on Anzac Day that I found out my dad had been at Long Tan. I had heard a few stories about Long Tan but this prompted me to look into it more thoroughly. As a result of this conversation I began a journey, a journey into my father’s past. I visited the Canberra memorial again, I read books, I watched documentaries on the war and about the physical/mental impacts on returned servicemen and women and I visited the memorial at Seymour in Victoria and found my father’s name on the honour roll. In short, I started to piece together information from the past that I had never been privy to. There are still gaps in my knowledge, things that dad will probably never talk about to me, but I know enough. I know the war was horrendous, I know he didn’t sit in camp all day playing cards, I know he shot and was shot at, I know he lost friends, I know the public shunned him when he returned and I know there is a depth of grief in him that I’m not sure he is even aware of. These days when I go to the Anzac marches, I watch my dad march; I watch him with a deep sense of pride and humility, I acknowledge his service to our country, to my family, to me. I listen to the service with a deeper understanding, I cry for the children who are currently serving and I pray for the day when we learn to live in peace with each other so that war becomes a thing of the past and no one has to die to protect the rights of their country.
Day 4 – Saturday 26th April
Today I am grateful that I am NOT a hockey player. I spent the morning watching a hockey game and nearly froze even though I was well and truly rugged up. The girls on the field weren’t so lucky.
I am grateful for time spent with Nicholas and Nikki laughing at Jeff Dunham and Walter and I am grateful that I got my essay plan sorted out, something I usually don’t get around to doing until a week before the essay is due.
Day 5 – Sunday 27th April
Today I am grateful for insight and clarity, for gifts given freely that return in ways that I could not have imagined, for stories that remind me of my values, my love for my children and why I am still doing what I do 28 years later. A blessed day.
Day 6 – Monday 28th April
Today I am grateful for Panadol, naproxen and doxylamine, hot cross buns and a warm fire. I’m cold, tired and feel like crap, good night lovelies, I’m going to bed.
A Year of Gratitude
Day 7 – Tuesday 29th April
So some of you might have noticed the name change for this post. Over the past seven days I have noticed a few things:
- My perspective is changing.
• I’m looking for the positives more often.
• I am actually FEELING grateful as opposed to reminding myself to be grateful.
With this in mind I am setting myself a challenge. Rather than 30 days I’m going to try to keep this up for a year. Who knows, one day it might become a book 😉
Today I am grateful for…
Finding out one of my best friends didn’t die from her heart attack that she NEGLECTED to tell me about till after she got the all clear. You know who you are grrr, it was lovely talking to you.
For making a decision to continue this post for a full year.
For finishing my assignment on time.
For finding out the next one looks really interesting and I’m keen to get started.
For leftovers from the café, I hate being broke lol.
For airlines that get my loved ones safely to their destination.
For flannelette pyjamas and a warm fire.
And finally, for finding my mojo.
Day 8 Wednesday 30th April
Today I am grateful for all the people in my life who choose to share their friendship, love, wisdom, caring and hugs with yours truly; your love and support inspires me and it never ceases to amaze me how many beautiful people I have in my life. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart xxoo
There was a time in my life, not very long ago, when I could count all my friends on one hand and at that time, not one of them lived close by. For various reasons we had moved away from each other over the years and even though we continued to maintain a strong friendship, I found it very hard and lonely not having anyone close by that I could turn to. Over the last six years I have met some amazing people who I now consider to be close friends and I know that without their friendship I would not have survived.