If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is
thank you, it will be enough. - Meister Eckhart
Welcome 2020! In the words of my cousin Vicky “we made it!” That we did; we made it with a lot of prayers, organizing, luck and some witchery. I'm personally praying for better days ahead. Real talk, the past five years have tested my will and politics on all levels; someone is definitely praying for me cause I couldn't have made it alone. So, as I prepare for 2020, I'm reflecting on how I managed to not just survive but thrive. The one thing that holds steady over time is my journaling ritual: a three-day repetitive practice of gratitude, prayers and a to-do list all written in quantities of five.
A few years ago, after witnessing a friend chronicle her gratitude journey online, I decided to move my morning "thank you" prayer to my journal. Doing so felt like a good way to memorialize my own process of expressing gratitude in conjunction with prayers and a to-do list.
Then, like now, these areas feel like invitations to a more intentional and accountable life. All three are interconnected and in relationship with one another. See, what I am grateful for, I prayed for and worked hard for. While doing the work, I realized that the growth inherent in that particular struggle is a blessing within itself for which I have another opportunity to express gratitude. I was taught to pray and wait in expectation with a full heart of humility. And, whether my prayers are answered in the way I imagined is not the goal. Rather, it's having faith that both the given and the withheld are blessings which again presents an opportunity to be in thankfulness.
I'm mothering two babies: an 18th month human and 23 month old bookstore; simultaneously a magical and treacherous feat. I’ve been very vocal about my experience; truth telling is my commitment to self and community care. You’ve heard me share before, that despite all the highs, there are days when I want to just give up.
One particular day, I sat on the train eyes blurry from lack of sleep. I literally slumped down into the seat feeling defeated and resentful because there was so much to do. I pulled out my journal and just sat there. I couldn't write and not because I didn't have 1,000 things to write about. Quite the contrary. It was precisely because I had 1,000 things to write about; I was overwhelmed and deep in the valley. I mean, deep. So much so that I was worried about myself; about my physical and mental health. I thought, I need help and I need it now. And since I was on the 6 train, help had to be generated by me.
So, I challenged myself to list three things I was grateful for. I sat there tired, pen hovering over the page wondering what to say. I literally had to will myself into writing. So, I wrote:
1. To be up and fully functioning
2. For a healthy and rambunctious son
3. For a banging credit score (770) after a precipitous drop the year before (645).
It felt healing to reflect on the small pieces of my life that were going good. So, I decided to try for two more:
4. The small incremental and sustained growth of Café con Libros
5. Another successful book club
Cautiously, I determined to go to seven:
6. Having choice in my life
7. Having healthy, engaged and loving parents
I thought, oh, I’m at seven let’s go to 10. Then, I stopped. Abruptly, I just stopped writing. I wondered if I could make it to ten and literally felt something happen in my body. I can't tell you exactly what it was. Maybe fear, doubt? I took a moment to sit with the feeling while asking myself is there such a thing as a limit on blessings? If so, what does that say about me and my own sense of worth?
And simply because I feared it, I decided that was the direction I was being called to go. So, I went for bust…ten:
8. For the financial space to help my family members when they need it
9. For the love and support of my family and friends who make the time to hold my sadness, insecurity and anger
10. For the ways I’ve grown as a result of mothering a human and a business
To answer my fear, limiting thoughts and whatever else that was holding me back, there is no such thing as running out of blessings. If I am paying attention to life, blessings are abundant. So, I kept writing until it was time for me to get off the train.
11. For Café con Libros community advisory board and my mentor, Marlene England
12. For my Hunter family who ensure I think, feel and laugh every single day
13. For quality and affordable healthcare
14. For the pockets of flexibility in my life that affords me the space to thrive
15. For all the volunteers that emailed to offer support
Fam, I could have written more had time permitted. "What we appreciate, appreciates.” The more I said thank you, the more I had to give thanks for. And, that was so healing. Marianne Williamson said "joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are." I literally tilted my head back and sighed.
Gratitude is powerful. For sure, it isn't the end all, be all. However, within a comprehensive self-care commitment, it is unmatched especially when all you have is you. In that moment, as I sat alone on the train, all I had was my journal and a dogged will to persist – to thrive. So, I chose to be grateful.
Thank you all so much for your loving support in 2019! Please know that you matter; your words, encouragement and patronage has sustained me. I truly appreciate you. Here's to 2020!
*- Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey