I know there probably isn’t anything new I can write about gratitude. It’s a topic covered by many, and we are constantly reminded of how much we benefit from acknowledging our many blessings. But as we wrap up the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to pause for a minute and simply feel a deep sense of gratitude for my past, my present, and my future. I invite you to do the same.
Our past has brought us to the very place we are at today. Sometimes we have deep regrets for things we’ve done, or perhaps for things we’ve failed to do. The reality is we can’t change the past. We can only look for the lessons and the blessings that have come from our actions. Remember the good and let go of the bad. Cherish the special memories. Repeat the good decisions, try to stop making the poor choices. But never dwell in the past. Feel gratitude for the journey you’ve traveled thus far but keep your eyes forward.
Our future is a beautiful mystery. No one can know what the future holds. We may have years and years ahead of us. Or we may be near the end of our life’s journey and not even know it. Any future at all is a blessing. Looking forward to our own future with a sense of purpose and optimism will make all the difference. How you think about your future will help shape it. Your thoughts are setting the foundation for your future. Build it strong.
Since the past is behind us and the future is unknown, the present is where the magic happens. What we have right now, at this very moment—all those things that make our hearts sing— deserve our gratitude.
I’m thankful for the laughter of my child, a conversation with a dear friend, and a photograph with a loved one. I’m grateful for the leftovers in the fridge from our family’s Thanksgiving Day meal. I’m thankful for my lengthy gift-giving list because that means my life is full of extraordinary people.
Feel gratitude but don’t be afraid to take it a step further and tell people ‘thank you’. If they’ve given you joy in your life, give a little of that joy back to them by letting them know how you feel. Tell them while you still can. You’ll never regret doing something so simple yet so powerful.
So please allow me to take a moment to thank you. If you are reading this post, thank you for coming along on this journey with me. Your support means so much.
Being thankful can be as simple as pausing for a moment to feel joy in the little things.
Life can be hard. Life can be beautiful. Life can be crazy. Life is often all of these things wrapped up in a single day. The point is to focus more on the good than the bad. To focus on the gratitude we feel for having enough.
Today I’m keeping my message short and simple. Practicing gratitude isn’t complicated. Being thankful for all the blessings in our lives is one of the most powerful things we can ever do. Try to make it an integral part of your life, and your blessings will compound. My goal is to practice gratitude, every day.
Do you enjoy the holidays? For many people, long-held family traditions give joy to the season. And aren’t traditions nothing more than routines? Routines followed through the years that now evoke special memories when we experience them again?
In our household, Thanksgiving is the “official” kickoff to the holidays. But truthfully, it usually starts a week or two before the turkey and all the fixings make it to our table.
Yes, I am “one of those.” The tree is up before Thanksgiving. When I was younger, Mom would spend days decorating our home for Christmas. It wouldn’t have felt like the holidays without rooms full of festive decorations. So, needless to say, the routine or tradition of decorating followed me to my own home. Years ago, I’d spend the weekend after Thanksgiving decorating. But over time, we’ve figured out it’s easier to get it up a little earlier. My daughters help with the creative process and together, we transform the house for the coming season. I’ll be sure to share pictures here in my posts closer to Christmas.
Now that the house is ready, it’s time to focus on the food we’ll enjoy on Thanksgiving. I need to make the grocery list, and we should get the turkey into the fridge to start thawing.
Up until a couple of years ago, Mom did all the heavy lifting in regards to our holiday meals. It wasn’t until she began to pass the baton to me that I truly appreciated all the work involved. As was her practice when preparing for significant events, she made a list for me. A simple menu scribbled onto a piece of notepaper that I intend to keep forever and pass it on to my own kids.
We’ll work together over the next week to stay true to Mom’s traditional Thanksgiving meal. I’ve never mastered the art of gravy making, but my sister-in-law has it down to a science. My daughter will make the pie. There will be lots of teamwork to get it all on the table. Over time, I hope to get as efficient at it all as Mom was, but for now, wish us luck!
The one part of our Thanksgiving meal that I have happily “owned” for many years is making the cranberry ice. It’s a sherbet made from lemons, cranberries and lots of sugar. Preparing the cranberry ice used to be Great-aunt Mary’s duty. Eventually, someone new had to take it over, and I raised my hand. For the first few years, results were questionable. But, as with so many things, practice helped (since this dish is only served in our family on Thanksgiving and Christmas, practice can take years!). With any luck, the pretty, frozen concoction will again grace our table on Thursday.
Years ago, once we finished with the feasting of Thanksgiving Day, our holiday weekends often switched to shopping and more decorating. Mom and I used to get up early, put on our holiday sweatshirts and snowflake earrings, and hit the sales. No, we never waited in the massive lines, waiting for doors to open on Black Friday, but we would join the crowds at a more reasonable hour. We’d have our lists in hand—ideas for our family and friends and the gifts we hoped to find for them. As our family grew through marriages and babies, our shopping circle grew, too.
These days, shopping holds less appeal for me. Our kids are older. I’ll still get the shopping done, but not all in one big push before the calendar even turns over to December. We’ve tried to temper our spending and the related stress over finding “the perfect” gift. We’re blessed to need little in the way of material things and find more joy in time spent together.
My best piece of advice to you for the upcoming weeks is don’t forget to make your lists! Get all the "to do's" on a list, chip away at the tasks, and enjoy. Knock a few things off, grab a peppermint mocha or a Christmas cookie for a break, and then get back to it. Preparation helps holidays happen and can reduce the last-minute stresses that so many people complain about in the weeks to come.
There is much to love about the upcoming holidays. It’s often the simplest of things that make us smile.
The beauty of twinkling lights, both inside and outside, chasing away the dark of early evenings and the cold of winter. The scents of our favorite foods, cooking in the oven and candles glowing on the hearth. Nothing says December to me like the smell of pine. Even when I walk by a particular grove of pine trees in the middle of summer near our cabin, the light fragrance they give off takes my mind back to Christmases past. The holiday tunes we know by heart. The clear chiming of bells.
Life means things change and evolve. Holiday traditions are no different. As our children grow, we’ll have to share them with others, making our time together even more precious. Those around our tables will change. But the real joy of the holidays can be found in the memories we’ve made in the past and the new ones we're making now.
This year we will count our many blessings when we gather around our Thanksgiving table. My heart breaks for so many facing loss and tragedy this year, knowing they won’t be able to experience the same joy of routine and traditions. We’ll also wish the people ringing our table would still include those we’ve lost, but we’ll be thankful for the many memories we will always hold dear.
If the turkey is a little dry or the cranberry ice isn’t properly frozen, it won’t matter. Because that’s not what the holidays are really about.
I wish you the very best for this Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. May you find joy in the little things and find ways to help others less fortunate to feel the light of kindness. Kim
We all benefit from the assistance of others as we make our way through each and every day. Life is not a solo endeavor. Even though we often feel alone as we go about our daily routine, I invite you to take a step back and think about how many people helped you yesterday. On the flip side, how many did you help? I suspect it’s a significant number. We just tend to take much of it for granted.
A large portion of our days consist of routines, and because of this, we tend to miss the little random acts of kindness people do for us. Helping each other is integral to our nature. Today I challenge you to keep your eyes open for two things.
A friend has been toying with the idea of starting her own blog. She is a gifted writer with a warm heart and wisdom to share. She’s cheered me on since the beginning and I knew I wanted to do the same for her. As so often happens, when you keep your eyes open to the possibilities, we found a way to help each other.
Today I’m delighted to share a guest blog post with you, written by my friend Carla Torgerson:
Ten letters strung together to make one word. Simple enough, right?
For some of us, acceptance comes easily. For others, the process is like being dragged along an unfamiliar path that is uncomfortable, and at times, almost unbearable.
Like most, I have had to accept many things in life. Sometimes I’ve been able to do this with grace. Sometimes, quite the opposite.
A few years ago, I heard the words YOU HAVE RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS for the first time. Those four words have drastically changed my life. They shook me to my core, dropped me to my knees, and took the wind out of my sails. They significantly altered how I thought of myself as a person.
I was once a very strong and vibrant woman, but as the disease took its toll on my body, little by little pieces of who I was began to disappear. The list of things that I can no longer do is long.
Saying goodbye to the woman I once was has been grueling. It truly has been a difficult grieving process of letting go without a safety net in place that assured me of who I was now going to be.
I found myself wishing, wanting, and hoping for things that were no longer possible. Daily I wasted my emotional and physical energy in a state of denial, bargaining with my inner self. Trying to make it all make sense. Attempting to calm my heart and settle my broken spirit.
It seemed like it took forever to wrap my head around the news. I passed through each stage of grief. Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. I glided through some of them swiftly but camped out in others for way too dang long.
After days, weeks and months of struggle, I think I have found myself in the acceptance stage. I won’t lie. It’s not easy and I can’t pretend that it is. I have a feeling acceptance is an undertaking all its own.
What I have come to realize is that we all must learn and grow through experiences that life throws at us. Each of us has our own story to tell. Every one of us has faced challenges and have needed to accept the things we cannot change.
For myself, it’s important to embrace life and all that it has to offer, instead of dwelling on what is no more. I am now hopeful of the endless possibilities for me to grow into a new person. The person I am meant to be. Because after all, isn’t that enough?
I am so excited for Carla to be starting something new and look forward to reading her words of wisdom in the future. I invite you to check out her new blog at the link below.
If you can find some little way today to help someone else pursue their dreams, do it! Support their small business, visit their restaurant, or read what they’ve offered to share. Nothing will make you feel better than providing someone else with a helping hand. Kim
Committing to something you’ve never done before, especially for a full year, can be scary. A year sounds like a long time. Today I’m at the tail end of one such year and thought it would be fun to share my learnings with you.
On November 5, 2017, I posted my very first blog entry. I had no idea what I was doing or if anyone would bother to read it. But I saw it as an opportunity to share my gratitude for the many gifts life has to offer. I’d use the chapter titles from Whispering Pines, my first novel, as my prompts to write and post an entry to my brand-new website every Sunday morning.
How likely did I think it was I’d actually stick to it for 52 consecutive Sundays? If I'm honest, I’ll admit I had my doubts.
But I’m happy to report I kept my head down, decided I’d keep my promise, and I did it. Today’s post is my 51st and tomorrow it will have been one year.
So why not 52? Because life happens. And that’s OK. We need to leave room for grace in our lives. I gave myself permission to pause when I lost my dear mother. But I didn’t quit. I kept at it and found some healing along the way.
What else have I learned through a year of blogging?
I’ve learned that sharing positive messages has many unexpected rewards. The introspection I do while writing each week helps me feel gratitude for the many blessings in my own life. I also hope I’ve managed to remind us all of one essential point— we are not alone in this crazy journey through life. We all have many things in common, regardless of where we live, how old we are, or what we “do.”
I realized that if I kept showing up, week after week, I’d be exercising my “commitment muscle” (is that really a thing?). Staying true to our commitments can be hard. Quitting is easy. It’s also easy to fall into the habit of quitting many things once we start. But I promise it’s also easier to keep your word if you practice doing so. Along the way, you earn the trust of others.
Of course, one of the more practical benefits of posting an article for “the world” to read every week is I get to practice. We all want to be good at those things we are passionate about, but just like with anything else, writing can get better over time with lots of practice. Thank you for letting me practice on you!
My most sincere hope in all of this is that I’ve inspired a few of you along the way to also take more chances and chase your own dreams.
What if I’d never taken that first step? What if I’d started out saying I’d blog for a month? Or a few months? Wouldn’t that have been easier? A year sounds like a crazy long time when contemplating something like this. I’ve learned there is value in setting the bar high for yourself. Set the bar too low, and attainment of your goal doesn’t mean all that much. It doesn’t boost your confidence. But when you accomplish something after having to push yourself hard, even on those days when you didn’t feel like it, for an extended period of time, you know you’re ready to tackle something even more significant next time. Teach your kids this and the world will be theirs.
Lots can and will happen in one year’s time. But what if one of those things that happen is you start living out one (or three) of those dreams you’ve held close in your heart? Never doubt the magic in that one question.
Again, I’m sending a huge thank you to all of you out there that take time out of your busy days to read my weekly blog. Readership has grown over the months, but many of you have been with me since the beginning. Your support and encouragement keep me coming back to the keyboard.
I never know which posts are going to strike a nerve. Instead of fretting too much about my topics, I sit down and write from my heart. Most of the time it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s no different than so many other things in life.
Now that I’ve hit the one-year mark, it’s time to reflect. Practicing reflection means taking an honest look at something you’ve been doing to determine whether or not you should continue to do it. If you decide to keep going, should you tweak anything or perhaps even do a massive overhaul on it? I’ve been doing some soul searching about that in regards to my blogging.
My dilemma comes down to the same thing we all face—the time it takes to see it through. There is no doubt in my mind that time is one of our most valuable resources and how we spend that time will have a massive impact on the quality and joy we get out of life.
Despite my intent to not “overthink” my posts, some weeks my brain struggles to come up with ideas I feel are worth sharing, and then it takes time to get those thoughts onto paper. Is it time I should instead be spending on writing my novels? My big, audacious dream is to someday become a full-time author. I honestly don’t know if blogging is the “best” use of my limited time.
As I already mentioned, I do feel writing is one way I can reach a broader audience in my quest to help others live a happier life. If I can encourage one, or ten, or one hundred people to take real action in areas of their lives that make their souls sing, I’ve accomplished more than I could have hoped.
It isn’t easy to open up to people. Do I cringe when I admit to some things here? Absolutely. But I don’t know of any other way to be truly authentic. Why do so many of us tend to keep quiet about crucial parts of our lives when so many others are experiencing the very same thing?
When we hold things tight inside, it can make us feel alone. But here’s the thing. We aren’t alone. So many other people are going through the same things we are, and there is beauty in helping each other through the hard times and celebrating together during the good.
An example can be something as simple as our age. There’s no shame in growing older. Yes, I know age is just a number, and it doesn’t define us. But I promise you, I’ve personally learned many life lessons in my 52 years on this earth that someone half my age hasn’t yet had the opportunity, be it good or bad, to experience. Maybe something I’ve learned along the way can help someone else start achieving their dreams a decade sooner than they would have without my encouragement and insight. That’s a humbling thought but therein lies the beauty of opening up to others.
I’m here today with one mission: to remind you that you can accomplish a surprising number of things in one year’s time. You can completely change your outlook on life. Take that one step today. Put all the excuses to the side. Anybody can take one step. And then tomorrow, take two steps. There will be snags along the way, and even if they knock you back a few steps, all the progress you’ve made means you are so much further ahead than you would have been if you failed to start. I don’t care if you are 20 or 80. I know there are things you want to do. Figure out how to start and …start!
I’ll end today with a confession – despite the title of today’s post, I’m not much of a wine drinker. I love the idea of sitting down to relax over a lovely glass of wine but seldom do so because it tends to give me a headache. Bottles of wine often become decorations in my house (if you’ve read Whispering Pines this will sound familiar to you).
Sharing about my very limited wine drinking reminds me of a hilarious story centered on an old bottle of champagne and a summer bridal shower. I’ll save that one for another day, but it’s a simple reminder that our lives are filled with tidbits worth sharing. So I’ll keep sharing my hopes, thoughts, and encouragement with you. But I may need to get permission to share the champagne story!
Now, think one more time about this. If you started something today and kept at it consistently until 11/4/2019, what will you have accomplished? Remember, the time will pass whether you start or not. Make the most of it! Cheering you on, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!