As we near the end of 2016 there are a wide range of emotions flying around. Whether the discussions are at the dinner table or on social media, we hear relief that this year is ending, and hope for a better year ahead. Though some have had a banner year with loads of positives to celebrate, others have limped along and are barely standing at this juncture. However, if you are able to read this you are indeed better off than most. Because you still have a living breathing chance!
If I could sum up this past year in one word, for me, it is GRATEFUL! Yes there’s that word again! The anti-positivity folks will scoff I know. But gratitude is actually a defining factor in how we humans process and indeed look at the world, including the past 12 months on the calendar. But boiled down to one month in particular, I think November was pretty awesome. It’s not because it was the month of my birthday. Nor because it was when my favorite holiday Thanksgiving occurred. But it was because for thirty days I had the pleasure of hosting a gratitude challenge on Snapchat.
It wasn’t the typical #30daychallenge currently making the social media rounds of the clean eating/detox/no sugar diet variety. This wasn’t about eliminating but about incorporating. And the addition was the daily habit of appreciation. I shared the start of it with you on here. And there were many posts along the way where I shared my own love and gratitude for special people on social media: Blogs, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. I shared my love for certain books on here, my appreciation for the military and even gave some furry four legged gratitude. But I never actually wrote a post sharing some LOVE for all those amazing people who actually participated in the competition.
These awesome people of Snapchat poured their hearts and souls into the month long challenge posting their gratitudes day in and day out. Some posted daily, while some, if they missed a day, caught up by posting several in one day. In the end, thirty seven individuals completed 30 gratitudes in 30 days. These folks posted a gratitude even if they had a crap day and instead felt like shouting to the sun, moon and sky. But they found one thing, even if it was tiny, for which to be grateful. And guess what? Somehow, someway, the miracle is that it made their crap day not so bad after all.
While throngs started off strong but didn’t make it all the way through the month, I am grateful for them too. And while yes it took time each day to watch all the snaps, make note of the names and reply to each person, it was so worth it. I was the one who was blessed. I was inundated with gratitude and it made me feel warm and happy and for that, wow I am one lucky lady. Some of the snaps I watched were a simple thank you in the morning for being able to get out of bed or for the ability to breathe. And others might have shared their appreciation of having a job or a car. However, while each one was personal, they were also universal.
Some seemed to do best when they started their day with a gratitude and others liked to post theirs just before going to sleep, either way an appreciation shared was doubled. I received many snaps that made me laugh and others that brought me to tears. And yes it has taken me nearly a month to write this post because I have been processing the profound nature of this challenge; human beings connecting in this most wonderful way.
Those that were involved reported feeling better about life. They eagerly awaited others’ daily gratitudes in a supportive community spirit. And a big thing I noticed was there wasn’t any sort of begrudging or judging. If someone was appreciative for only one thing every day for 30 days so be it. Whether it was, “I am grateful for coffee” or “I am thankful I survived cancer” there was no measuring stick for level of importance or gravity. Because that same person who survived cancer might be just as grateful for coffee on another day.
As with all of the competitions I have hosted (some 40 at this stage) there was a winner chosen at random from all the names and a prize was awarded. However, like the LOVEfest competition this has had an impact on all the participants. I wish I could have given a prize to all who took part, even if they only shared one day. But I hope the gift lies in the fact that people realized they are able to lift their spirits even on a cloudy day, by seeing a rainbow in their hearts of gratefulness! Based on the comments I received from them, they were grateful for the #30daysofgratitude challenge.
I do want to show you the prizes the winner received because I think they are pretty cool. For every competition I’ve hosted I buy the prizes with my own money. So first I purchased a gorgeous necklace with the word “Gratitude” on it. Then I went to purchase a custom made Irish chocolate bar from Sweet Living Kilkenny. To my surprise, the owner, the lovely Claire Molloy, kindly gifted it as her way to support this wonderful Snapchallenge. So thanks a million for that!
And finally I would like to share with you all of my own gratitudes that I posted during November, as there are many of you who read the blog that are not on Snapchat. It might help you see the range of topics, because as I said many were common themes with others. I meditate on a list of gratitudes everyday and have done so for many years. So some of these are from that list, and others are new. They aren’t in a particular order per se, but some are date specific, such as November 11th happened to be Veteran’s Day in America so naturally my gratitude that day was for the military.
1. My Snapchat, blogging, and social media community
2. Being a dual Irish American citizen
3. My two precious children, my greatest honor in life is to be their mom. My daughter and son may be grown adults but they will always be my kids!
4. Food to eat
5. Waking up in Ireland
6. Having spent a few days in my soul home, Ireland
7. Stella our sweet doggie
8. The right to vote in political elections
9. The ability to travel
11. The military who risk their lives to protects our freedoms
12. My Friends
13. Modern technology to be able to speak, email, text and facetime with distant loved ones on my birthday
15. My dear granddaughters Harper and Hope, as being their “Amma” is such a delight and blessing
16. My daughter in law Koko and son in law Freddie, whom I love as much as if they came from my own body
17. Books of all kinds, for the different information I glean or adventures and imaginative places they take me on
18. Having cooking and baking skills, and my passion & enthusiasm for being in the food industry as a career
19. My formal education and having a curious mind to continue to learn new things
20. All of my senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, TASTING and touching)
21. Jack our soul dog for those 14 years of LOVE and all our memories
22. Our home
23. My health
24. My family
25. Our car
26. My years of working in Hollywood as an actress
27. Time, because it is so precious
28. My hubby, soulmate and best friend
29. For Me! That I was born, and I am still here, alive and thriving!
I am sure many of these might be things you would be thankful for as well. And others not so much. But by my sharing them I hope to inspire you to think about what fills your heart with gratitude? Even if only one thing! Focusing on that just might make a huge difference in your life. Personally, I have endured many traumas and hardships in life and it could be cause for anger, bitterness and resentment. And currently there are issues in my life that could cause anxiety, fear and upset. But I choose, like our friends in Africa, to be grateful.
Being grateful doesn’t erase the bad things, but it makes dealing with them less burdensome. It is the small light of hope that catches our attention and keeps our spirits strong. And when we give thanks regularly it becomes a habit, which when shared, rubs off on others in a positive way.
With utter and complete gratitude and LOVE,