Orchard Trees, January by Richard Wilbur
It’s not the case, though some might wish it so
Who from a window watch the blizzard blow
White riot through their branches vague and stark,
That they keep snug beneath their pelted bark.
They take affliction in until it jells
To crystal ice between their frozen cells,
And each of them is inwardly a vault
Of jewels rigorous and free of fault,
Unglimpsed until in May it gently bears
A sudden crop of green-pronged solitaires.
I love this poem for January as it talks about taking affliction and making it the seed of something beautiful to grow. Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share with you all something that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life. It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.
Today is January first, the beautiful beginnings of a New Year of possibilities. I just love that feeling, and this is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the open spaces and bright thoughts. Some people, however, don’t. The possibilities are too endless and almost paralyzing at times. I think this happens a lot, perhaps more than we care to admit in this age of “perfect moments” captured and documented on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. It is easy to feel that everyone has it together except you and your family.
This is a complete and total lie.
No one has it all together! And sorting through the “best” choices for how to do things in our own families can be difficult or feel like a bunch of “we should…” (which isn’t always matched to our own values!)
However, over the years, I have observed that the most together people and families I know have a few things going for them. The main one is that they have a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude brings me joy! Sharing gratitude for life with my family brings me joy. I want my children to know that a positive attitude doesn’t mean ignoring the negative, but it does mean looking at things in a constructive way.
So, today’s Slow Sunday is fostering a positive attitude and gratitude. Many families take today to make a Gratitude Jar for the year, which is lovely. It doesn’t have to be a super fancy jar, and it doesn’t have to be super fancy paper – although that might be joyous for you to have a decorated jar for your counter. Every day, maybe at dinner time or before bed, ask the members of your family to write their happiest moment of the day down and place it in the jar. At the end of the year, you will have a jar of beautiful happy memories! If you did a Gratitude Jar this year and you would like to share a picture of what yours looked like, please post a picture in the comments.
Some other ways to a positive attitude and gratitude that I am thinking about specifically this week:
Start the day with a lovely breakfast, including a blessing. It is so much better to start the day in a positive manner full of thankfulness rather than – “I am late!” “I hate mornings!” I will be sharing mealtime blessings next week, but in the meantime finding a beautiful candle for your table or a little seasonal tray that you can add natural treasures to can be an easy way to start the day on a positive note. I have a small Pinterest board devoted to beautiful mornings. This week I plan on adding things to this board, so it should grow this week!
Keeping a journal each day of gratitude, of the blessed ordinary moments, can be a positive attitude booster.
Having a spiritual practice is uplifting and leads to positive thoughts. I use prayer (I am Episcopalian, so The Book of Common Prayer is what we use daily and in liturgy. If you want to see how to use this book, I suggest the book Inwardly Digest: The Prayer Book As A Guide To Spiritual Life ). I also use meditation, and affirmations. I find affirmations especially helpful in stopping negative self-talk. I think all of these things have a place in creating a positive attitude.
Exercise and physical activity out in nature. Most of you who read this blog know all the reasons why “Vitamin N” is so vital to being positive. Our bodies were meant to move and be outside. This is so important, for all children, but especially for those children ages 12 and up, which is typically when being more sedentary sets in (especially for many girls). I am convinced that many teens would feel better if they moved more!
Please share with me ways you love to increase your positive attitude and gratitude.
Blessings and love,
Oh that poem is beautiful – what a lovely way to look forward into the year and it has such beautiful imagery. Our thankfulness is our evening grace; we go around the table and say something that we are thankful for that day. Sometimes they start off a little snippy but thinking of one thing (I’m thankful to finally be home because the train was horribly late) always leads into something wholehearted (I’m thankful for John making a lovely supper) and it works for us as a daily practice.
Thank you Carrie for this. So looking forward to the posts to come! Prompted by Jean Miller at Waldorf Inspired I started mentally noting three things that I was grateful for for that day – I do this in the evening just before going to sleep. It is something so simple but really powerful.As Carie menioned I think it is great when sat down as a family at dinner to share with each other one thing you had been grateful for that day too. Positivity is so important and having a daughter makes it something I am working on even more so now. Also having my dear grandma pass away in November has made me even more aware of relishing every single moment I have with loved ones and life in general.
I am so sorry for your loss. Gratitude is a bedrock, and I think especially as we grow older we understand even more that life is short and to be treasured.
Lots of love to you,
Thank you for this series, Carrie. My word this year is similar: THRIVE. Last year, my word was “hope” with the flip side of that coin being “prepare”. It was a fruitful year with much preparation, internally and externally. We ended the year with a difficult patch…my daughter’s health simply crashed, and we discovered a digestive ailment that she’s always had but we just didn’t know. We are ready to embrace our new normal and THRIVE. I am also repeating to myself throughout the day: “Bloom where you are planted.” A move might be in our family’s future, but much is up in the air, and I want to stay rooted in the present moment as much as possible.