May 3, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge: Step 2- An Attitude of Gratitude

Last night I sat on the phone with my dad and absentmindedly checked out flights, while he chattered on and on about our trip this past January to Hawaii.

Sure, I played along and “uh-huh’d” and “mmm-hmmm’d” in all the right places. But it has been four months since the trip….AND I was there. So, I’ve heard all these stories before. Twice. And so it went on. He talked about helicopters and Jurassic Park, and I toggled between my options at SFO and OAK on expedia. And then he said something that made me sit straight up in my chair.

You know, like they do in the movies. Or quirky female lead character sitcoms.

Honestly, I didn’t know people actually did that in real life. Until last night. When sure enough, there I was sitting straight as a pin in my seat as the words he said still hung up in the air like giant speech bubbles above me.

Listen, I know you & Justin being the big jet setters that you are, you probably don’t even bat an eye at going places like this any more. But for people back here, we usually only dream of taking a trip like that.

And there it was. Reality slapping me in the face like a wet towel. Hard. Sting and all.

How easy it is to take for granted all that we have.

As I sat with Justin and recounted the story over dinner, he furrowed his brow and looked at me as he was counting something in his head. “What’s up?”

He said, “Do you realize that with this trip next week we will be crossing the Mississippi for the tenth time so far this year. And it’s only the beginning of May. How old were you when you first crossed the Mississippi?”

Huh. I thought hard as I pushed around my penne rustica. Uh, twenty-three, I guess.

Wow, twenty-three years of my life leading up to something I wasn’t sure I would ever get to do. And now I give it no second thought as I’m about to do it for the tenth time this year.

How easy it is to take for granted all that we have.

I can still remember the very first time I flew on a plane. I couldn’t sleep at all the night before, and I fastened my seat belt extra tight & asked for ginger ale because I thought I was fancy. And now I roll my eyes at security lines and people who don’t know to take their shoes off beforehand.

Here’s the deal. I don’t want to be that person who loses the wonder at life because she thinks she’s seen it all before. I don’t want to be the person who wants something until I have it, and then it’s no big deal. I don’t want to be the person who is so focused on what’s next that she misses what’s now.

Step 2 is about living with an attitude of gratitude.

For the next 30 days, I want all of us to keep a gratitude journal. Go out and buy a journal just for this if you don’t already have one. And every morning or every night, I was us to write down 5 things that we are so grateful for that day. I want us to open our eyes to the blessings right before us. To remember how long we wished for the very things that are now staring us in the face. To re-open our eyes and look with the wonder we used to see in this life. I want us to fasten our seat belts tight. And order ginger ale because it makes us feel fancy.

And for the next 30 days, I don’t want us to take a single thing for granted.

So chime in and let us know how you’re doing. How is the facebook/blog/real life filtering going? Or if you didn’t join in for Step 1, maybe you’ll join in for Step 2. You can do any part of any step and still be included in this challenge. What are 5 things you are especially grateful for today? We want to know!

  1. Nicole Gravatt

    I thought i would give you a book recommendation because I read this book last year and it is wonderful and it goes along with your 30 day challenge. So in your spare non facebook and twitter time it is a perfect read!!

    29 Gifts …. How a month of giving can change your life. By Cami Walker.

    Much love!

  2. Susan Wacht

    1. That I wake up each morning
    2. That I have a man in my life who loves me so much that we are tying the knot in three weeks
    3. That I am relatively healthy
    4. That, for the most part, my family & friends are healthy, too
    5. That I met Justin & Mary

  3. Sacha

    I love gratitude journals! I also do thankful time with the kids each night just so they know how much they have and are blessed with compared to so much of the world. And we are happier for it. And healthier too! So loving your attitude of gratitude xxx

  4. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    I like this!

    1) the spatter of rain. There has to be more on the horizon! I have rain barrels ready to collect so I can water my garden in the hot days of summer 2) that my husband wasn’t the one at his company who was laid off yesterday 3) for my sweet, sweet nephew 4) that I can stay in my PJs, working for 2 days straight and it’s OK. 5) for hot tea.

  5. MM

    @Karen: ooh, so glad to hear that about your husband!!

  6. Kathryn Denelle Stevens

    five: I’m so so thankful to everyone who made my very first styled-shoot and wedding event (this past Sunday) a success!
    5a) AND, that I didn’t let my knee-shaking fear of failure get in my way to make it all happen!
    four: I can’t begin to express my gratitude for my good friends who live near me and are far away…who are supporting me as I overcome my fears and believe in me, that I can make my dreams come true.
    3: For the work that I continue to do at the newspaper I work for. I can not take this for granted. It’s good work and it is still helping me to get where I want to be.
    two: For kizmet, fate…when lives intersect and intertwine to create magical moments.
    ONE: For my husband who said to me last night how proud he is of me AND that he fully supports me in my pursuit of "the dream", saying, "You can do it…you ARE doing it."
    *Finally, wow…so thankful to J&M for presenting this 30 challenge to provide an opportunity for me to reflect on all of this goodness!!

  7. Taylor Jackson

    Hi Mary! Great great post. If your looking for a good read on appreciating the small things pick up "The Book of Awesome" Last night I read it with my sister and it is amazing all the small awesome things in life we often look over. its a quick read and puts everything into a nice perspective!

  8. MM

    @Taylor: oooh that does sound awesome!! Thanks!

  9. Eileen Broderick

    Mary–I am loving this. I have been struggling to find Me for years. (How sad is that?!) I’m doing lots of things all the time but always "on the side"–feel-good blogs, podcasts that inspire and challenge and nourish me, reading and writing–but it is always "on the side" and surrounded by and too often drowned out by the flurry and chaos of everything else. I’ve been meaning to start my gratitude journal for ages and a second one for my son/family so that we end every day sharing something we are grateful for. Time to just start it!! Also–I was going to recommend the book "29 Gifts" to you, too–someone beat me to it. Another wonderful and uplifting challenge. =) Cheers!

  10. Gail

    What a great post Mary! I feel the same way about traveling (right down to still ordering that ginger ale on flights ;) ) because I, too, came from a family that doesn’t travel much and I never want to take for granted the amount of traveling I’ve given myself through hard work these past 10 years.

    Also, have you been reading Tim Sanders’ "Today We Are Rich"? It’s perfect for you. For this.

    Keep on with it! :)

  11. MM

    @Gail: I have been!! and these two points in particular were perfect for me because they had been on heart already from Spread the Love. Love what Tim brings to the table!

  12. MM

    Here are mine for today: 1) getting back to what I feel called to do, 2) a husband who understand just how important a veggie fritata artisan sandwich from Starbucks is to starting the day 3) Cooper. I have dreamed about having a golden retriever since I was 12 years old. And now here he is staring back at me. 4) You guys. Each and every one of you who share your days & hours with us. Life is so much richer because of you. 5) My grandma. I miss her so much.

  13. Jennifer Bacchiocchi

    One of my facebook friends had a status that said something like "What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were truly thankful for?" I thought that was so powerful and since I have been trying to be aware of my many blessings.

  14. MM

    @Jennifer: ooooh dude, that is powerful! That seriously just gave me chills

  15. Kelly

    This is a great idea! I have been doing something similar for several months now. On my blog, it’s called "Smile Therapy", and each day I write down something that made me smile. It’s an idea I nicked from someone else’s blog, but it’s really great to remember those little things that are sooo important to keeping your eye on the positive. I haven’t updated it on my blog for sometime, but I am still writing these in my planner every day!

  16. Sarajane Case

    Me and my husband have been on a road trip for four months. There’s a month and a half left and yesterday I was ready to go home. Just one o those days where I just wanted to do work in my office instead of starbucks. But, he made a point to be patient and helped me to see the beauty in the fact that even though I was feeling grumpy, we were still about to see stinkin’ Mt. Rushmore! I have so much to be grateful for, my sweet understanding husband, and the adventures in this life! Thanks J&M for reminding me : )

  17. Brigid

    LOVE this…and I’m definitely on board!! You continue to amaze me. Not only are you always pushing yourselves to be the best you can be….but now you are inspiring us to do the same!! Truly shows the people you are ;) Thank you!! Love the inspiration!!

  18. Tiffany

    J&M: it’s inspiring to see you working to be your best selves and helping others on the same path. I’ve been keeping my one-line-a-day journal since my wedding day and, lately, with all the upcoming changes in my life with Charlie (returning to school and being apart for a year), I’ve realized I’ve been writing a lot about anxiety. This challenge will bring a much-needed theme to my entries – and lift my heart a little!

  19. Tira J

    I am loving this, and loving you guys for doing the challenge. 5 things I am grateful for today are: 1) My Mom and her health. Her birthday is tomorrow and every year we are thankful that she gets to celebrate. As a breast cancer survivor, you certainly don’t take anything for granted. 2) My husband and the awesome opportunities he is being given at work. 3) My clients, who push me to be better every day 4) To be an American and the celebration of freedom. 5) Justin & Mary. For Spread the Love, WTAW, and just being you guys!

  20. Liz Bedwell

    I love this idea! :) Here are the 5 things I’m grateful for today: 1-My husband, 2-My family & friends, 3-My puppy dogs, 4-Photography, 5-Justin&Mary’s blog and all the positive vibes they share. :)

  21. spring

    1) that i have found a way to use my photography degree. i always thought i’d end up doing something else to pay the bills. 2) my support system- friends, family and boyfriend without whom I wouldn’t be able to follow my dreams. 3) J & M & J2- My friends and mentors, you push me to be better and to believe in being better. 4) chocolate. 5) my determination to push through the hard and get to the good.

  22. Katie

    Loving this challenge… it’s so needed for me! Oh, and loving the fact that it’s now giving me an excuse to buy a new journal ;) here are my 5 for today: 1) my health. I took it for granted until it took a turn 3 months ago. but things are looking up, and I’m thankful for that! 2) my mom. I take her for granted too. she’s the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. hands down. 3) the opportunity to be educated. even though finals are here and I’m drowning in them, I don’t want to ever lose sight of how fortunate I am to learn. 4) coffee. 5) the love of my Savior.

  23. Alison

    Today: 1. I have children who remind me every single day how amazing unconditional love 2. Rediscovering long dormant friendships when needed the most 3. a day job that supports my dream of photography 110% 4. A strong family who loves me flaws and all 5. finding my higher power and learning how to talk with him.
    Thank you for this. You both have given me so much I don’t know I can ever express my true gratitude to you.

  24. GrandmaIna

    1.my children and grandchildren 2.my health (at my age that’s ij=mportant!) 3. my friends 4. my adult community 5.that I live in America
    I could keep going with many more!!

  25. Chase+Jaime

    J&M: I’m so excited for this attitude of Gratitude. We’re SO blessed, and sometimes it just takes us to stop in the tracks of our journey to realize what we already have. I was the opposite growing up; came from a jet-setting family. I’m a Army brat. Travel is my middle name. Chase is from good roots in OK. I’ve never been more aware of the differences in childhood until I’ve gotten to know Chase and his family. It has been a blessing. Not for the stories I’ve shared with them, but what this family has given me and for what I’ve come to realize as a true gift and blessing in my childhood. So I’m grateful for 1. This journey we call life. It’s beautiful 2. Chase and his love an support for me. Helping me as well see the blessings I often miss 3. Family. It is a very precious thing indeed. 4. Friendships. Without all the ‘hey your cool’ garbage, but real deep keep you grounded and accountable friends. 5. Grace. Because Lord knows it I need it and He gives it to me freely.

  26. katie

    1.my family
    2.my future husband
    3.my job
    4.my house me and matt bought.
    5.having a wonderful rescue squad family i spend every tuesday night with.

  27. Karen

    1. My family 2. the light, I love twilight and the way it makes everything beautiful 3. peace and quiet 4. friends who take the time to listen and really care 5. all the laundry folded and put away at the end of the day!

  28. Nancy Mitchell

    1. My family 2. My HUSBAND~he is my rock 3. For my ability to get a project done from start to finish(i painted our bathroom, pics to come later) 4. For the new friendships that I have made through the Pursuit31 group 5. For knowing J&M even if it is only via the internet! For you two always giving me the inspiration I need to push toward my goals! THANK YOU!

  29. Janet Galland-Hunt

    1. The good Lord 2. My children and grandchildren 3. My husband’s remission from cancer 4. The beauty that this world holds 5. The fact that I am loved

  30. Abbey

    Soo much to be thankful for. 1) God’s continued blessing on my life 2) a husband who loves me and is soo supportive of all that I do 3) my parents, even if they are not in the best of health, they’re still here 4) the job interview I had today 5) the friends I am blessed with.

  31. Ray

    Excellent entry again. I loved this: "I can still remember the very first time I flew on a plane. I couldn’t sleep at all the night before." ;o) Because I felt the same way. I’ve only been on a plane twice (duh? Round-trip. Haha.) so it was pretty cool experience I still remember. I hope to travel a lot one day. But it’s always great to remember your first time, and yes, to be grateful. Today, I’m thankful for: parents who support me, for having a roof over my head, for being in a free country, for never going a day hungry and for blogs like yours. Your blog is like a light of hope. I love it. Because I greatly need hope right now.

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