Gratitude journals

Day three of 2011, and I still haven’t gotten together with Erin.  In fact, I haven’t done much of anything, since I’ve been working at 4 and 5 in the morning, and am left practically too tired to think straight.  (This is the excuse I’m using for not having called this afternoon to schedule an appointment with an OBGYN.  Because it’s certainly not my general dislike of making phone calls that’s keeping me from it.  Oh no.)  Well, maybe I’ll call tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll see Erin tomorrow, too.

But I am getting myself set up to go meet with Erin, as today I scoured both Target and Barnes and Noble for an adequate day planner to use as a gratitude journal this year.  The gratitude journals were a product of the very first New Year’s date Erin and I had, January 1st, 2001.  We’d had a party at her house the night before, which hadn’t gone as planned.  I’d just learned from my mom that my childhood choir director had passed away the day before, and, even though we’d known it was coming, I felt like I needed to get my head back on straight.  So Erin and I went to our favorite local Mexican place, where, over a shared appetizer, we said fuck you to the year-2000 versions of ourselves, and made plans to do and be better from then on.

“What if we got a book, and then every day, we wrote down something about that day that was worth remembering?  So later, when we think our lives suck, we could look back and realize that it’s not so bad after all.”  I don’t remember which of us suggested it, or whether we came up with it ourselves or one of us had read it somewhere.  In any case, we’ve been keeping these logs ever since, long before the general public knew of gratitude journals or the psychological benefits they can bring.

My entries are occasionally sparse (some years, I’ve abandoned the task as early as February), but whatever I do end up with is nice to look back on at the end of each year, and for years after.

There are compliments:

  • “I don’t know what you’re doing to Doug, but keep it up, because he’s not as grumpy anymore.” -a coworker, 1-4-08
  • “You know, your dad turned out to be a much better parent than I ever imagined he would be.” -Dad’s friend Joe, 6-11-09
  • During a performance review, my assistant manager is telling me to smile more (be less shy).  Then he makes me laugh about something, and grabs his moment: “See?  That right there – that’s beautiful!  Your whole face changes.” -assistant manager, 2-4-10

There are moments of love:

  • [My rabbit] hopping around our truck bed happily, while we have a picnic lunch at a rest stop on our way from San Diego to Seattle, 2-19-08
  • Doug writes “I ❤ U” in mustard on the sandwich he’s making me, 4-25-08
  • Doug gives me the center of his Cinnabon, 3-5-09
  • “I fell in love with this nose, on this face!” -Doug, during one of my tirades about wanting a nose job, 2-18-10

There are things that made me laugh (and still do):

  • After a late night at work, Doug leaves a bag of groceries, including frozen fish sticks and green beans, out on the kitchen counter all night, 3-2-09
  • Doug makes an appetizer involving a broiled brie wedge, fresh mint, and blackberries.  I tell him to write up the recipe so I can post it on the food blog I was keeping for him, and he suggests calling it “Cheese Pie.”  Me: “You can’t call it Cheese Pie.”  Him: “Why not?”  Me: “Because, if you want people to take your recipes seriously, you have to be serious!”  Him: “Ok, how about Serious Cheese Pie?”
  • Amanda wants me to borrow and read Twilight, and I tell her I will only if she covers it in brown paper (as in high school) and writes “SMART PEOPLE BOOK” in big letters on the cover, 1-9-10

There are quotes from books/movies/etc that I want to remember:

  • “A woman was laughing.  ‘Married for five years.  The key is to act like it’s your first date every day.'” -p. 337 of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl, 2-6-08
  • “It’s not about how hard you can punch.  It’s about how hard you can get punched and keep moving forward.” -Heard on the radio (but I think it’s from one of the Rocky movies?), 1-16-09
  • “We will be accountable for all the permitted pleasures we failed to enjoy.” -from the Jewish Haggadah, as referenced in Dr. Judith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing, 6-17-09
  • “Si je voulais une femme ‘douce’, j’épouserais un lapin en chocolat.” -p. 372 of Les Chutes (The Falls) by Joyce Carol Oates.  (Rough translation: “If I wanted a ‘sweet’ wife, I would marry a chocolate rabbit.”), 5-25-10

Mostly, there are brief descriptions of events or moments, beautiful sparks that would otherwise get lost in the day-to-day.  I repeatedly mention drinking tea, taking baths, going for walks, reading, cuddling, and playing board games – and through this repetition, have learned how much I really value these quiet delicacies life has to offer, even though I seem to think I want excitement all the time.

This year, I settled on a small, black, spiral-bound planner, with a black, white, and aqua floral pattern on the inside pages.  It may even be purse-sized.  (Erin and I have both found that size and portability are large factors in how diligent we are about filling out the entire year.)  I’m three days behind, but fortunately my memory is good, and I have this blog to remind me of what my mind and heart have been enjoying the past few days.

And here’s the real kicker: as I was checking out at Target, the cashier handed me an auto-print coupon, and for the first time in, oh, a year, Target’s coupon machine did not decide I’d most like to save money on diapers or baby wipes for the child I do not have.  (It decided instead that I might like to save money on a Glade air freshener.  And I would!)  Whether or not that’s the moment that makes the notebook today remains to be seen, but I definitely thought it was worthy of being mentioned here.

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7 Responses to Gratitude journals

  1. Erin says:

    I like that I can go back and find things of importance or the order of things (ie. did c and I say “I love you” before we’d solidified our relationship status, our anniversary date, when we did it, etc. It’s like the cliff’s notes of my diary that I don’t keep anymore.

  2. Chris says:

    Great idea. The “smart people book” still has me roaring 🙂

  3. runnyyolk says:

    I love this idea. I’m stealing it for my blog.

    PS-Smart People Book is hilarious. I’m smart because I read Twilight right? Right?

  4. mommyodyssey says:

    Ok – I have to admit that when I saw the title of this post I was like – Oh jeez – did oprah take over marie’s body?
    But by the time I was done you had me convinced that I need to do the same. You rock. 🙂
    PS – I second (third?) the hilarity of the “smart people book” line. If it makes you feel any better, I read all four of the books. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make me feel any better.
    I have yet to find a way to make it up to myself intellectually.

    • Marie says:

      I know, I know. I had this great thing going on until The Secret and Oprah took it over and slobbered their power-of-positive-thinking crap all over it.

      Just don’t read any MORE pre-teen porn/vampire books. Then I think you’re safe.

  5. Pingback: 2011 New Year’s list (late and incomplete) | Bakery Closed Until Further Notice

  6. Pingback: Teefies! | Bakery Closed Until Further Notice

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