Count your blessings

I have a stack of small notebooks next to my bed, each page of every one containing the date and a single sentence. The first entry in the notebook at the very bottom of the pile is dated 5 September 2005, and reads “Had tea with a good friend in the late afternoon sunshine with my darling baby girl playing under the table.” The second entry, dated the following day, reads “Delivered a great presentation”, and the third, dated the day after that, reads “watched a flock of birds doing aerodynamics over the house”.

These are my little books of gratitude, on each page a simple expression of thanks for something that has given me joy that day. Every day, for the last five years, before turning out the light, I reflect for a few minutes on my day and then I pen one line that describes the day’s “blessing”. In these notebooks is the evidence of five years of happy memories.

So often, when we are elbow deep in washing and still have homework to do and a ton of reports to write, we forget to stop and take a moment to enjoy the things we’re working so hard to protect. Our children, our family and friends, our homes, our careers and our amazing planet.
And the amazing knock-on effect of literally counting my blessings, is that I’ve become more perceptive to receiving them – more ready to surrender to the moment in which they occur. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I even find myself having a few potential entries – I enjoy weighing them up, thinking how lucky I am to have a few plum candidates to choose from. But always I write down only one.

I picture myself on my deathbed, surrounded by the people who love me and all my many notebooks… and as I make my way toward the white light, the wonderful memories on those pages will come to life before my eyes.

– Single-again Samantha

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 30

Every day during the month of January we took the time to set an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about something to be grateful for.

This has been a lesson in discipline for me.

Thank you to all shared their gratitude publicly. Your words inspired me.

Day 30

As I write this last post about gratitude I look at the date and remember where my life was at this time last year. I was laid off from my job, and every step forward from that moment felt as though I was barefoot and stepping on broken glass. Every step forward was a lesson in discipline, with my time, with my finances, the list goes on.

We look at discipline as a chore, a burden. I don’t think we see how self-discipline creates space for us to focus and dedicated time for us to practice whatever needs that attention. It was the discipline of constantly saying that “something spectacular is just around the bend” that brought “spectacular” into being after I was laid off.

Today I’m grateful for discipline, for the space and focus it creates to pursue all of the juiciness that life has to offer.

– Aunt B

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 29

I’d like to invite you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me. Every day during the month of January join me in setting an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about one thing you are grateful for. Hopefully our new attitude will last beyond January and carry us throughout the year. Email your gratitude to me at AuntB@MamasHealth.com or write below in the comments.

Day 29

We screened “Leimert Park” at work tonight, it’s a documentary about an area in Los Angeles that is home to poets, writers, artists and dancers. The World Stage, founded by jazz drummer Billy Higgins and poet/performance artist Kamau Daood and Kaos Network, founded by Ben Caldwell.

When I was just cutting my teeth as a writer I found the World Stage and the Anansi Writer’s Workshop or better yet, they found me at another poetry venue and folded me in. Kamau was a tough mentor who challenged us to be honest on the page, and whenever we stood in front of the mic. He constantly admonished us to read, stretch, love, grow, write, and listen. We were young, talented, honest and hungry. We loved and laughed hard, listened to pure jazz at 5th Street Dick’s on All Night Jazz Friday nights, drinking espresso and riffing with the hip hop heads from Kaos. It was the Renaissance all over again, and we wore the burden and blessing of our creativity like capes and crowns.

Today I am grateful for the elders, those who encouraged our talent, reminded us that the goal is authenticity and when we do our art we connect with others when we tell the truth.Life lessons.

Light and love to my mentors who have transcended, Billy Higgins, Horace Tapscott and Richard Fulton.

– Aunt B

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 28

I’d like to invite you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me. Every day during the month of January join me in setting an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about one thing you are grateful for. Hopefully our new attitude will last beyond January and carry us throughout the year. Email your gratitude to me at AuntB@MamasHealth.com or write below in the comments.

Day 28

Sometimes I’m afraid. Meeting new people throws me into a shoulder pinched panic. Reading my writing out loud to anyone makes the butterflies in my stomach do back-flips.

What I’m grateful for today, are the awkward conversations that begin new friendships, the soft applause at the end of a reading.

I’m grateful for beginnings and all the nervous energy they bring.

– Aunt B

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 27

I’d like to invite you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me. Every day during the month of January join me in setting an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about one thing you are grateful for. Hopefully our new attitude will last beyond January and carry us throughout the year. Email your gratitude to me at AuntB@MamasHealth.com or write below in the comments.

Day 27

Mama asked me not to show her the “Full Monty,” so I’m searching for a graceful way to say this.

There is something wonderful and magic that happens when two people love each other. The energy between them becomes magnetic, velvet, anxious and lyrical. We orbit those we love, circling them, drawing them closer with music, a soft heart, flowers, sweet things to eat, an open ear.

It is the physical connection we desire and that propels us forward through time. The expression of love between two people is what I am grateful for today.

How’s that for not showing the “Full Monty” Mama?

– Aunt B

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 26

I’d like to invite you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me. Every day during the month of January join me in setting an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about one thing you are grateful for. Hopefully our new attitude will last beyond January and carry us throughout the year. Email your gratitude to me at AuntB@MamasHealth.com or write below in the comments.

Day 26

I found this site that talks about the last meals of famous and infamous people. It made me think about just how pleasurable food can be, and of course, what my last meal would be if I had to choose.

What the heck Aunt B! What’s all this last meal stuff got to do with gratitude?

By the way, you sure do talk about food a lot!

I thought first about éclairs and tiramisu, sweet potato pie, fudgy brownies, pistachio ice cream, yeah, I’d have desert first, I mean on my way out right? What does it matter? Then I thought about the pastrami from Oinkster’s in Eagle Rock, the grits with sausage and tomatoes from Auntie Em’s, the curried chicken from The Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park, my mom’s gumbo.

This is all nice and nostalgic Aunt B, but can you get to the part where you talk about what you would have as your last meal.

And for the love of all things good, what does this have to do with gratitude?

My last meal though and the food I’m most grateful for is:

Finally!

Brown rice with almond milk, butter and honey
Seedless grapes
Raspberries
Watermelon
Home fried potatoes with peppers and onions
Hot buttered sourdough toast

Pretty simple eh? Yep.

– Aunt B

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 25

I’d like to invite you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me. Every day during the month of January join me in setting an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about one thing you are grateful for. Hopefully our new attitude will last beyond January and carry us throughout the year. Email your gratitude to me at AuntB@MamasHealth.com or write below in the comments.

Day 25

I have a friend who documents everything. He takes pictures, saves menus, and every “first” anything for his son.

One day I was over his house and saw the collection of notebooks he has, there’s one for every year of his son’s life.

He pulled a book from the shelf and placed it in my hands, “Open it,” he said. I slid my fingers between the pages and the notebook opened to a birthday dinner. And there I was, holding what was then a squirmy toddler, as we all looked into the camera. Written underneath was “ J’s first dinner at a French restaurant, Bistro de la Gare, Aunt B was there along with….” You get the picture.

Today I’m grateful for the photogs, the folks that capture us at our best and worst moments and sometimes the moments in between. I’m grateful for the people with the cameras who remind us to witness our own lives.

– Aunt B

The Gratitude Challenge – Day 24

I’d like to invite you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me. Every day during the month of January join me in setting an intentional attitude of gratitude by writing about one thing you are grateful for. Hopefully our new attitude will last beyond January and carry us throughout the year. Email your gratitude to me at AuntB@MamasHealth.com or write below in the comments.

Day 24

Some people spend a lot of time pursuing it. Others hold onto it to so tight that Benjamin Franklin needs a Botox treatment by the time they let go. We tend to worship those that have a lot of it, because having a lot of it means having a lot of power and freedom.

If I had more, maybe I’d take a real vacation. I’d definitely give substantial amounts to Girls On The Run and Facing History and Ourselves, my favorite non-profits. I’d buy nicer shoes too.

Today I’m grateful for money, cash, the Benjamins, the bucks. I’m grateful for knowing that it’s a tool to use and not the prize at the end, and that as long as I give it away, it’s always coming back to me.

– Aunt B

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