I remember as a child sitting at the dinner table and pushing Mums lamb stew around my plate. I battled with stew and lamb stew was the worst!
“Gaynor, there are people in outer Mongolia that would be grateful for two spoonfuls of stew! Now would you please eat it up. All of it! It is Friday and you are not leaving this table to listen to Squad Cars until that plate is finished!”
This was a very dire threat. Squad Cars was on the radio every Friday night. To miss it was unthinkable! I held my breath and swallowed my food. That way I didn’t have to taste it.
“Grateful,” I muttered coming up for air, “grateful!”
…………..Fast forward about 48 years……..
I missed my friend, Gorvs, and I needed to hear her voice. I picked up the phone.
“Sorry, I know it’s late on a Sunday. Were you getting ready for bed?” I asked.
“No,” she replied, “I was in the middle of my daily ‘Grats’. I needed a break.”
“Daily Grats? What on earth are you talking about? They sound fairly ominous. Like press ups or planking!”
She laughed. “Each day, me and my friend in Australia, Linda, write ten things that we are grateful for and send them to each other. We’ve been doing it for ages. I will send you a copy of todays Grats.”
This is what I received:
- I’m grateful for the gentle rain and the birds in their heaven; the patter of drops onto leaves and drips and little gurgles amidst the chirps. Still air. Glorious, drenched green.
- I am grateful for the giving-ness of strangers, and what it teaches me about life in general.
- I am grateful for my early to bed, early to rise rhythm which feeds my love of exquisite early morning light, air and atmosphere.
- I’m grateful for unconditional friendship offered by people who have very few material possessions, yet are richly blessed with loving, gentle and giving hearts.
- I am grateful for learning from Linda how to be gentle and patient with myself, and the wonderful spaces it can take me into.
- I’m grateful that I’ve considered today Friday, which it’s not! (chuckle)
- I’m grateful for the regular reminder that life is not a sprint, but a journey of seasons. I must remember that they are not necessarily in the order we plan, or with the limits we’d like to set. Sometimes a lesser loved season is found back-on-back with itself….Sigh…
- I’m grateful for the simple pleasure of that first cup of coffee!
- I’m grateful for achievement when it starts out as no more than an unachievable dream.
- I’m grateful that the image of my world is changing. It’s a more acceptable place to wake up to each morning. It could perhaps be because of the kindness I’m learning to offer myself through writing daily grats!
These lists had been exchanged between Australia and South Africa for months on end. They were often intimate and personal. These ‘Grats’ began to cast their spell and induced a change in both Linda and Gorvs.
“Writing these gratitude lists each day has changed my outlook on life completely,” said Linda. “I have moved from an attitude of overall pessimism to one of optimism. For 55 years, my negativity was ingrained – towards myself. Suddenly casting my eyes outwards, looking at what there was to be grateful for, enabled me to dredge myself out of a deep pit of despair and pain. My whole mindset changed. I have written and shared over 6,000 positive statements.” She laughed. “Something was bound to rub off!”
“They have given me a wider perspective on life,” affirmed Gorvs. “Your life becomes more balanced. Added to the challenges contained in life, I am able to see a more satisfying depth of good. ‘Gratitudes’ are a way of placing oneself in the present tense, and are a natural way of being mindful without even trying. My senses feast on simple bird calls, the patter of raindrops on leaves, the touch of fingertip on keyboard, a calmly beating heart.”
I looked at Gorv’s list of gratitudes and I was humbled. It reminded me to treasure everything that life offers. Life appears pretty bleak at the moment. There is war and devastation in Syria, earthquakes in Italy, the threat of Isis, chaos has erupted throughout South Africa . The universities are in uproar. Zuma sits on his throne smiling. Corruption is rife. And yet the sun still sets every day behind my George mountain. Life goes on.
We are part of life.
So often we are discontented. We haven’t got enough and want more. I think that we must wear our skins with satisfaction. At the same time, we must acknowledge all of our blessings. There is so much to be grateful for.
- I am grateful to be alive.
- I am grateful to share my flat with my two children. Perdita, my wire-haired dachshund, and Spencer, my lively cockatiel.
- I am grateful that Mums lives just around the corner, just half a kilometre away.
- I am grateful for the companionship and delight my two special friends give me.
- I am grateful for the joy I am discovering in learning to hit a golf ball.
- I am grateful for the security and exhilaration that comes from knowing that God is always there.
- I am grateful that I have the magic of music back in my life.
- I am grateful that I have words whizzing around in my head. So many to choose from!
- I am grateful for things that make me laugh.
- I am grateful for the bliss of going to sleep at the end of the day. Spencer in his cage at my side and Perdita spooning with me!
I have a picture that I have wedged in the side of my mirror so that I see it each day. That picture reminds me of what it is to be grateful. It is a photograph of a young child. She must be five or six. She comes from a poor background. You can see tin shanties in the distance. It is pouring with rain. Indeed it seems to be coming down in torrents. This little girl is crouched in the mud with her face tilted up towards the downpour. She is almost smiling as she tastes the delicious drops of rain. She seems to be glorying in the deluge. That child experienced riches that day. The treasure of water!
So, I am going to start each week with a ‘Gorv Grat List’.
It will be my way of getting my life in perspective.
I know that I am never grateful enough.
And……I still battle with lamb stew!