Countdown to 2015 – 9 – Gratitude

I am so grateful to write this post. Countdown to 2015…number 9 is brought to you by GRATITUDE. I am of the opinion that every intention, relationship, adventure, challenge, triumph, day, night…and yeah I’ll say it, life and death…should start with gratitude. I think it is that important.

If we can’t start from a place of gratitude, recognizing the good in the world and in our lives, we have nothing. I mean to be dramatic.

Expressing gratitude creates a mindset and a soulset (new word?) of abundance, possibility and positivity. It acknowledges where we’ve come from, what we’ve received and what good was there and is there. It is a response to the energy that has acted in our favor. It is a gift back to that source.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” ~ Albert Einstein

Even in the worst of situations when the only thing we may have to be grateful for is to be alive, what a crazy wonderful thing that is…to be alive.

There’s that joke by Louis CK where he talks about flying and how people are getting pissed off about their wifi not working on a plane, for example, when they should be enjoying how crazy cool it is to be sitting in a big hunk of metal flying through the air at turbo speed.

There are thousands of studies that link gratitude to a state of well-being, happiness, personal growth, even good sleep. It is not a coincidence; it is truth. And it is easy. There is value in acknowledging that we are not alone in this world. We are supported and we are connected and we are part of a greater whole.

Some ways to keep gratitude front and center in your life (and please share others in the comments!):

Do something for someone…maybe someone you know or maybe a stranger…that is unexpected. Reflect on what you are grateful for and then share that in some way with others.

Keep a gratitude journal…handwritten or use an app. Record something you’re grateful for every day. Some days may be easier than others and some of the richest material may come out of the hardest days.

Let the last thought when you go to sleep as you shut your eyes be about the things that happened in your day that you are grateful for. 

Say “thank you” and mean it, maybe even hold eye contact while doing so if you’re face to face.

Take the opportunity on Thanksgiving and other milestone marker days to spend dedicated time thinking, writing and expressing what you are grateful for.

Set up some sort of sacred space in your home dedicated to your life, your intentions and such, where you can place notes and objects and reminders of what you are grateful for. Create imagery around it to keep it in your awareness.

Reach out to someone right now and tell them you are grateful for them and why. 

Journal about what is good in your life or even what is hard in your life and find the things within that for which you are grateful.

When you’re feeling your best of best or your worst of worst, let the first thing you do be to express gratitude…to acknowledge what there is to be grateful about in the situation.

Thank yourself for following your intentions and your passions and acknowledge what you’ve done for yourself.

I am so very grateful to have been on a journey of self-discovery for the last two years. I’m grateful for the experiences, the people who have supported and encouraged me and for realizing my talents and passions that I now wish to share.

I am grateful to have discovered a passion for adventure, transformation and for writing. I want to share that.

I’ve launched a campaign on kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! to help me turn these passions into something to give and share. What I like about kickstarter is that it brings together people who are working towards something, who have something to share with people who want to be a part of making it happen.

I have 9 days left in my campaign. All or nothing…not to be dramatic, but you really do get everything you’ve raised if you meet your goal or you get nada.

To give people a taste of the type of material that will be in the interactive guidebook/journal, I am doing a countdown to 2015 with ten blogs over ten days. They will be focused on personal development practices, specifically around getting ready to plan a glorious, adventurous new year. Number 9 here is focused on starting your year with gratitude.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my campaign, any donation helps; also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired. You can find out more about me and my story at erinkmac.com as well.

Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me, the countdown to 2015.

Let’s Go on an Adventure in 2015!

We have this package of “a year” that we celebrate with champagne and kisses and often resolutions…the Earth has made another trip around the sun, through the cycle of the seasons, the shortest and darkest days, to the longest and brightest days. I don’t need to look too hard to find reasons to celebrate life and this seems like a pretty damn good one. I’ll take it.

So amidst all of the celebrations, I like to spend some time reflecting on the previous year…

What were my intentions last year? 

What did I do to work towards them? 

What were the key decisions and turning points in my journey towards those intentions?

Did any of them manifest? Have any of them changed?

What were the surprises? How did I respond?

What were the challenges and the lessons? What did I learn about myself?

Where did I find synchronicity and serendipity?

What were the highlights? The lowlights? and why?

What were my relationships like this year? What new people showed up in my life?

What did I let go of? Where did I explore something new?

And I like to then look forward to the next chapter of my story…

How have my intentions evolved for what I want for my life?

What do I want out of this next year?

What opportunities are available? 

What are my priorities?

How can I apply what I learned last year?

What do I need to do and what do I want to do?

What am I willing to do to make it all happen?

What resources do I have?

What’s my plan for checking in with my intentions and tracking my progress?

How do my dreams for the next year fit into the dream for my life?

This may seem a bit intense and those of you who know me know that that is sometimes true, but I like to think about it as passionate and intentional. I’m not doing this because it’s a “thing”…hashtag resolutions…I’m doing it because I actually do intend to make these dreams a reality. And when I’m intentional about setting intentions, the universe seems to conspire to help them become a reality…always in a way I don’t expect and not always on my time frame…but it happens.

I should also say that the questions are just meant to help guide me in this mindful exploration. I like to get creative and have fun with the process too. When I’m done, I end up with a list of meaningful intentions for the new year. And by all means, I celebrate.

New dreams, realms and possibilities are opening to you now.
New dreams, realms and possibilities are opening to you now.

One of my intentions, my Top Priority intention for next year, is to write and publish my book on my transformative adventure from Corporate America to a life designed around my passions and an interactive guidebook to personal change to go with it.

I’ve launched a campaign on kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! to help me make this happen. What I like about kickstarter is that it brings together people who are working towards something, who have something to share with people who want to be a part of making it happen.

I have 10 days left in my campaign. All or nothing…not to be dramatic, but you really do get everything you’ve raised if you meet your goal or you get nada.

To give people a taste of the type of material that will be in the interactive guidebook/journal, I am doing a countdown to 2015 with ten blogs over ten days, starting with this one. They will be focused on personal development practices, specifically around getting ready to plan a glorious, adventurous new year.

If you like what you’re reading here, please consider backing my campaign, any donation helps, and also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired. You can find out more about me and my story at erinkmac.com as well.

Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me and stay tuned for the countdown.

Write Now

I know this is going to sound biased coming from a writer, but I highly recommend everyone have some sort of writing practice as a personal development tool. If nothing else, it’s fun to be an adult and find your diary from when you were 6 years old and pouring your heart out. I sometimes picture myself at 80 years old reading the things that I’m writing now.

One of my favorite things to do is carry a little moleskin notebook around with me ‘a la Hemingway’. Here’s an exhausting, but not exhaustive list of the types of things I write down in there: the occasional ‘To Do’ list, book recommendations, my intentions for the year (at the front, so they are regularly in my face), little pieces of wisdom I learn from someone or discover myself as I’m out experiencing this highly stimulating world, inspiring quotes, dreams to be worked with later, more bits of wisdom, agreements I make with myself, doodles, and ideas as they pop into my head that I want to journal about or act on later. Last year I put my vision board in this little book so I could carry around the images with me. I also made a list of things I want to do regularly at the back of the notebook, where I give myself a “point” when I do them. I don’t know why a drawn line helps keep me motivated, but it does.

When I’m working towards a goal or making a change in my life, my sense of awareness is heightened. I am curious and ask questions and notice the little things around me. I think I’ll remember something later, but often just don’t. This little gem of a notebook becomes a treasure trove of these thoughts and discoveries. It lets you capture things “real time”, gives you a flavor of where you’re at with things when you look at it as a whole and also gives you a souvenir from that time in your life. And of course I realize this can be done electronically, but not for this chick. You’ll forever find me with my moleskins covered in random stickers. Flipping through the pages and seeing my own handwriting or scribbles is more intimate and holds more substance.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

And then there’s journaling…not just for traveling! Time never seems to tire, always just trucking along, tick tock, tick tock. We have experiences, we change, we grow…we let go of things, we gain new things, we let go of people, we meet new people. We make big changes and little ones, we live, we dream and hopefully we live our dreams. I can’t express how much I have learned about life and myself from regular journaling. Sometimes I’ll sit with a specific question or something I am trying to work through and write it all out, one of my principal methods of processing. Other times I just give myself a page limit, say 3 pages, and I free associate anything and everything that comes to my mind. (Julia Cameron calls this ‘morning pages’ in her book The Artists Way)

For journaling I actually type instead of going the handwritten route, which seems so contradictory to what I just said above. I’m living out of a backpack right now and so it simply makes more sense. If I could afford it, I’d have a sherpa just for my journals. Instead, go ahead and tease me, but I use the “handwriting” font on my MAC and type away. I like to do this in the morning as sort of a meditation…thoughts come up and they go on the paper. It honors the chaos by giving it a destination somewhere besides my brain…and then I can read it later and experience myself from the outside. I also like to journal at night with a glass of wine, by a fire and/or some cozy writing space. It doesn’t have to be a class or work, get comfortable and have the glass of wine.

New Years is coming up and my birthday is in June…for me, these are two natural milestones for reading back through my journals. Any cadence or milestone is great, whatever works, but definitely do it. I notice themes, ideas that unfolded into action and reality, relationships that have evolved, places where I got stuck, the things that helped me get unstuck, the new things I’ve tried, the feelings I’ve felt and what triggered it all, and little nuances that seemed like nothing at the time, but become the keys into my soul.

A few more little things I do that have been cool to do and to have later:

I keep a gratitude journal separately and I do join the modern ages for that one and use an app. There are apps that let you take pictures to go along with a daily entry. The one I’m using right now has a list of by date and title I’ve given to each entry, and then I can click on it to read what I wrote. Some days it is harder than others, but those are maybe the most important days to find something to be grateful for, the simplest thing. This is my first year doing it and I’m excited to look back through the year.

I also keep a running list of new things I’ve done in the year or “big” things I’ve done…no rule here, what makes the list is just according to me. I think it’s both important and fascinating to see what you’ve done, how you’re spending your time, what your priorities are, what goals you accomplished. It can point you to your passions, dreams, challenges, and new goals.

“We write to taste life twice.” ~ Anais Nin

If you like this post, you might like the big project I’m working on now. Please check it out: Let’s Go on an Adventure!