Image available under Creative Commons through kylesteed on Flickr

Image available under Creative Commons through kylesteed on Flickr

Since January my mother and I have been emailing back and forth to each other a daily gratitude journal, picking three things from each day to tell each other that we are thankful for. Our emails stack up upon each other, creating one very long string of the best things going on in our lives.

I got the idea about having a gratitude partner reading something inspirational, immediately emailed Mom about it and we jumped on board. We have missed a few days here and there, and the entire time recently that we spent in Ontario together (it seemed silly to email each other while I was staying at her house!), but over the last six months altogether we probably have tallied up over 300 things that collectively we are grateful for.

So far. And just since January.

I’ve found the practice eye-opening. Each evening I sit and review the events of the day and have a reflective moment about the kind of life I’m leading. What went “right”? What didn’t? What stood out? How do I feel about it? The joyful days have been the easiest of course, the days when a training event went well or I had a great time with a friend or a date night out with my husband. The hardest days have been those that I felt I didn’t have much to say that was interesting or exciting, or when reflecting on the day meant realizing that, well, the day actually kind of sucked. On those days I’ve worked the hardest on coming up with something to appreciate, but they’ve also made me go a little deeper. I mention something simple about my husband or daughter, having a warm roof over my head, or even just that I had a wonderful meal that night. In this world of “gotta have more”, engaging in the practice of daily gratitude has given me the gift of knowing that I am so very lucky with everything that I have right now. That everything I have now is really actually pretty great. It’s so easy to get off track on that. This keeps me somewhat grounded.

An unintended result of our gratitude emails is that Mom and I both feel more connected to the “little things” that the other is experiencing, stuff that we wouldn’t necessarily remember to tell the other during one of our many phone calls. Since she’s in Ontario and I’m here in BC we had been missing out on this simple connection for many years, not seeing each other in person. Our gratitude journal has helped us recapture that and strengthen our relationship.

It excites me to think that our journal is also a record of the past for the future. Just like with the blog(s) that I’ve kept for a total of almost eight years, at some point I’m going to look back on our gratitude journal and reminisce. I’ll have totally forgotten that cute thing that my daughter said, or the long walk on the breakwater that we took or the birthday present that I received. I’ll have forgotten the details of the palpable excitement Mom showed over the publishing of her first book, the small daytrips she took with my Dad, or the brain-stirring coffee meeting that she had with a friend. But it will be there.

Grateful.