Guest post by: Karen Benke
Last Thanksgiving I started a gratitude project, something that has brought many gifts over the last year. More treasures, really, than I could have imagined. And I have a pretty good imagination!
Basically the project involves picking up a pen and a random notebook. At the end of your day— no matter how exhausted you are— you simply dash out moments, images, snatches of dialog (you know the ones) that sparked joy.
Some nights you might be so tired you find only one: “For my feet, at last elevated, the kid, dog, cat finally asleep.”
With time and focus, the attention you place on that which you notice being grateful for e x p a n d s. It just does. What you appreciate picks up major speed. Trust me. Actively looking for joy-sparked moments attract more joy-sparked moments! Your inner and outer worlds magnetize.
Jot in what I call “broken bits of thought.” At the end of the day sometimes this is the only way I can write. Scrawl fast. Don’t think too much. Allow small details to surface. Surprise yourself. (Really? I’m grateful for the way the sun landed on my left tennis shoe with those purple laces as I walked the stone steps to Eldon’s house this morning?! Well, okay…)
The point is to notice what you notice and include as many of those light-filled images as you can. No need to be linear, chronological, make sense, discriminate: The man at Rodeo Beach who asked if Rasco’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling? (turns out R. is!); R’s new Duck Toller identity, paw prints punctuating wet sand; that misty mountain smell on Pixie Trail; the painted envelope in my mailbox; drinking tea with Clive curled at attention beside the keyboard; the Warriors pure love of basketball and making NBA history; my sister’s multiple-emoji texts; hearing Patti Smith read and sing and say a prayer for Paris; the elderly woman who passed up peppermints when I couldn’t stop coughing…
On and on. That easy. A little dashed out who, what, where narrative of light from your day, your week, your life!
“You’re allowed to put your hand print on the wall of your life,” is how Elizabeth Gilbert put it to a group of us a few weeks ago. Commit to 365 days and everything will start and end up feeling whole and with blessing.
Karen Benke is the author of the poetry collection, Sister, and three creative writing adventure books: Rip the Page! for 8-12 year-olds (& parents/teachers) to inspire word-play at home and in the classroom; Leap Write In! for tweens and teens to experiment with the illogical and heart-space within; and Write Back Soon! Adventures in Letter Writing for anyone who has ever said, “I love getting mail!”