It’s time for a new 30-day challenge, and here’s what I’m doing:
30 days, 30 acts of (expansive, unabashed, downright mushy) gratitude
I know: everyone talks about gratitude. Everyone encourages it, and saying that we should all practice gratitude is like saying we should all breathe. Of course we should.
But I’m not talking about a gratitude journal here, or a jar, or a meditative ritual. Those are great too, but what I’m talking about is more communal. I’m talking about concrete, outward, unmistakable acts of heartfelt appreciation.
It’s writing something nice with the tip you leave in a restaurant. Telling someone’s manager what a great job they did for you. Writing thank you notes and sending ardent, immediate gratitude texts. Emailing a favorite author, blogger, artist, speaker, teacher, activist to say how much you appreciate their work. Calling someone to say, “the world is better with you in it.” Hand making a card. Treating someone to coffee. Giving, without reservation, your conscious, focused, undivided attention because someone you love deserves it.
It’s all of that without expectation of anything in return.
I confess that I’ve already been doing this – an act of gratitude every day so far this year. During and after the experience of losing Ash, I was broken open by the concern, love and kindness that seemed to come from everywhere, sometimes from people who have never actually met me, even online. It reminded me – in the midst of my personal grief and in the aftermath of a national tragedy – how tender and generous people can be, how much I have to be grateful for.
So I started thanking people, not just the people I know and interact with regularly, but strangers, people who help me, people I admire. It’s okay if they don’t respond (though most have), and it’s okay if I look like a goofball (I am). For the next 30 days, it’s not about my looking graceful or poised or even thankful. It’s not about me at all. It’s about sincere, unselfconscious gratitude and the tangible spreading of love in a world that sorely needs it.
Are you in?
I’m beyond excited to announce… The launch of my Etsy store!
I’m selling doodled postcards!
Here’s how it came to be. I love postcards, and last year, I wanted to buy a box of postcards so I could send them out whenever I was seized by an impulse to connect the old-fashioned way – through the mail. I love real, in-the-mailbox mail. I love getting it and sending it, and it makes me sad that the U.S. post office is in such dire straits.
I looked and looked for postcards and even bought some, but I was looking for whimsy and playfulness and positivity and love, and nothing I found ever quite felt like what I had in mind.
So I decided to make them myself. And then, on a whim that I nurtured into a big, hopeful, fear-shedding leap of faith, I decided to sell my designs. The first six are available now:
Three Whimsy and Wisdom cards…
and three Thank You cards (in honor of my 30-day challenge).
Honestly, I’m as crazy nervous as I am excited, but I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and it’s reminded me how important it is to live my life “in the arena.” I may fail, but I would rather fail daring greatly than fail on the sidelines because I was never brave enough to try.
Inspired by the book, I’m doing something totally new. Rather than launching and then holding my breath, pacing compulsively, stopping only long enough to check (again and again and again) my stats, my comments and my sales for validation, I’m going to turn off my computer and meet my best friend for my first ever “leap celebration.”
Historically, I’ve tended to value my efforts only when they’ve resulted in tangible, external validation – a pitch gets accepted, a piece gets published, a post gets lots of comments, someone says yes to an interview, I finally manage a tough new yoga position without toppling over. But that approach to my work is really ass-backwards. It’s important to have wins, of course, but the thing I should be celebrating is my willingness to try. (And by MY willingness to try, I mean all of OURS).
So I hope you’ll love the postcards. (Note: I could not be happier with how they came out. I love the thick card stock, the great color, the glossy finish. I look at them and can’t believe they’re mine.) I hope you’ll buy some and send your love out into the world via the bruised and beleaguered post office, but most of all, I hope you’ll join me and start celebrating your leaps like the wins they already are.
Oh! And if you’re going to join me in my 30-Day Gratitude Challenge, tell me in the comments below.
I’ll pick one gratitude hero to win a set of the Thank You postcards.
Also, in case you missed it… I was invited to write a Books By The Bed piece for We Wanted To Be Writers. I love that series and I had fun writing the piece. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything I enjoy writing about more than books.