Monday, November 07, 2016

What the World Needs Now is Gratitude

Between the election and the toddler emotional roller coaster I find myself trapped on daily I've been feeling a spent. I mean spent like a crumpled up, dirty dollar bill ya'll.

When life has me feeling overwhelmed and stressed for an extended period of time there's one solution I crave. But since I don't drink, I have to turn to the next best solution: Gratitude. 

Gratitude is a magical balm of healing and love. Gratitude is a conduit to God and is, in my opinion, one of the keys to a happy life. Obviously I didn't discover the secret of gratitude--that was Oprah-- but I've felt it's magical properties more than once in my life. And it's been too long since I've burrowed myself in deep well of gratitude and just let it soak there. The amazing thing about gratitude is that nothing in your life actually changes--your problems and pitfalls remain the same. But your heart and your perspective change and somehow the unmanageable becomes manageable, and the heavy becomes light and everything changes without anything changing at all. Magic. 

It's been a couple years, but this morning I decided to bust out a couple gratitude trees with the words Give Thanks in the middle. The last time I did a gratitude tree I used a painted on concoction of cornstarch and water (still a great option--will not be easily wiped off with little hands) but this year I wanted something even quicker and easier, so I just used regular chalk.

The dark wall behind our dining table isn't a chalkboard wall--it's an eggshell or satin finish, but the chalk worked great. I invited Zuzu to come draw on the walls with me while I did the lettering and the trees. What? Draw on the walls with mom?!? Dream come true!
As we stood together drawing on the walls I said, I explained that we were going to cut out some leaves and write what we were thankful for, then hang the leaves on the wall. I then asked, "Zuzu, what are you thankful for?" Fully expecting that I would have to explain what thankful meant.

But without missing a beat she said, "Love."

My sweet, little terrorist-of-a-two-year-old who has been draining me of my will to live this past week said LOVE. See? It's working already! Gratitude wins!
To make something similar simply use chalk on any colored wall in your home and draw a tree--everyone can draw a tree, just go for it. If you only have white walls, try colored chalk. For the leaves I used my Silhouette portrait to out out a bunch of leaf shapes in a snap. However, you could easily sit down with your kids and some construction paper and cut out simple leaf shapes as a family. This really can be as simple or as crazy as you want to make it.
Of course you don't need a gratitude tree to teach your kids about gratitude, but having something interactive that sparks conversation and action is always a great teaching tool for the littles. I'm really looking forward to hanging these leaves all month long and watching our wall fill with all the things we're grateful for.
While I'm a little anxious about the election tomorrow--it feels like the fate of the world is hinging on this one!--deep down I know that whatever ever way wind blows we'll be OK. Gratitude has seen people through a lot worse. (Also this.)

In the words of Coach Taylor:
Clear eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose.


  1. I love this post -- so sweet and special and important! My daughter just participated in a cheerleader lock-in and part of the bonding exercises included working on a "bag of kindness." Every girl wrote kind notes to each other about how special each one was and what they loved about each Huge impact on girls and this Mother too. We all need those notes sometimes, don't we. I love how you write so beautifully!

  2. what a lovely post. i especially love: "Gratitude is a magical balm of healing and love. Gratitude is a conduit to God and is, in my opinion, one of the keys to a happy life." so poignantly written. i'll be following you. (;

  3. I love that you quoted Coach Taylor. I'm especially glad that you shared a special moment with Zuzu during this really cool activity. I haven't visited your blog in a while, and when I landed on your page this morning I had anticipated something more election-related. So when this post was your most recent, I felt grateful and inspired. Not that I wouldn't have otherwise--I would have jumped to your side anyway, but the gentleness of this post was just what I needed. Thank you.