“Grace??? She died over thirty years ago!” – – Aunt Bethany in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Looking for some fresh reading material this past December as a means to work myself through yet another “funk” caused me to walk out of Barnes & Noble with a copy of “Attitudes Of Gratitude” by M.J.Ryan. It proved to be a light and breezy read with a combination of what I considered flighty ideas and very practical down-to-earth ways to practice gratitude as a way of cultivating more joy in one’s life. I was hooked. So, with the end of the 177-pager approaching a few days later, I decided to go back for more. My next score was “The Gratitude Jar: A Simple Guide To Creating Miracles” by Josie Robinson, a rather newly published writer and also a Minnesotan. She chronicles the 30-day trek of she and her young boy putting a slip of paper into a gratitude jar each night with something they were each grateful for. In Josie’s case, she also gives account of some of the amazing miracles that coincided with her gratitude jar practice. Yes, I started a gratitude jar. Some mighty suspicious coincidental events have happened (more on them a little later) but I stopped at 21 days due to some pressing circumstances. Translation: I got lazy.
The next book that intrigued me was “A Simple Act Of Gratitude: How Learning To Say Thank You Changed My Life” by John Kralik. The common bond between Robinson and Kralik is that each had a life in shambles when they began their process. Serendipity took over for both of them, and granted, both of them had to move their feet a little. But for the most part it seemed like their miracles began appearing “out of the blue.” Kralik was a lawyer in deep debt who started handing out and mailing “thank you” cards for sometimes simple, sometimes complex acts performed not only on his behalf but also on behalf of others that he had the privilege of witnessing. So about a month ago, I too starting handing out and mailing cards. The number of things I’ve taken for granted in my life is staggering.
So, since I started the various processes (I’ve resumed the gratitude jar from day 1 again) I’ve been graced with the following: On New Year’s Day, two days after my gratitude jar began, I was at an AA meeting next to a young lady whose seat had just been inadvertently taken from her. The only other available chair was next to me. We chatted and got to the point where I told her I was going to start looking for another job, to which she replied by casually reaching into her purse and handed me one of her cards. She’s an employment recruiter. Score! She finds jobs for IT folks, which is not me, but she eventually referred me to one of her cronies at another agency with whom I’ve since met and have become quite confident will be the source of my next employment. That’s not all. The name of the woman at the meeting sounded so familiar. It was later that night that I looked at her card and finally placed her. I’ve actually been getting emails from her for the last two years through another agency she used to work for. Yup – it is indeed a small world after all.
Lastly, anyone who’s read this column is likely well aware that I aspire to be a writer when I grow up. (Hopefully before then). So one night I sent a Facebook response to the beautiful poem posted by a friend of mine, and I suggested that she go to magicianstouch.net and check out my work too. High praise was given me, and my friend asked if I wrote for a living, and if not I ought to consider it. It was what she wrote after that sent a chill up my spine: “Take it from someone who’s spent her whole career in publishing.” Wow. So we met a few weeks later and she’s armed me with resources to act on and hopefully get my writing viewed by a larger audience. I’ve know her for ten years and I didn’t even know she was in publishing. Hardly a guarantee of success, but it seems that assistance seems to be dropping into my lap left and right.
Lastly, a miracle has been quietly developing as I’ve gradually practicing moving out of isolation. I went to an open AA meeting last night and accepted my medallion for 27 years of sobriety. In all of the years I’ve been sober, I’ve never been in a room where I’ve known so many people. It was essentially the same group of people I see every month, I’ve just let them in now. A miracle is being presented to me just for the fact of my showing up. And the greatest part of that is something that I didn’t even notice until this morning: that lonely feeling that constantly gnawed at me whether I was in a crowd or by myself until about two months ago – – it’s not there any more. I don’t feel like doing cartwheels all day, but I feel a sense of contentment growing at it’s own pace. All of this started by saying “thank you.”
I vaguely remember the opening scene of a movie in which a man is walking down the street, obviously wrapped up in his own little world as one heavy object after another drops around him, each narrowly missing his body, yet he’s totally oblivious to all of it. I won’t say that’s how miracles work for everyone, but I will say that it aptly describes my last two months or so. I’m convinced that “miracles are normal, (and) when they’re not happening, something has gone wrong” per A Course In Miracles. The “something gone wrong,” at least in my case, is forgetting that they’re already there. They’re all around me. Always. All ways. It’s just a matter of shifting focus. I have life-situations that give me fits. When I can take a deep breath, and notice again and again that Life is actually inside of me, (“The kingdom of God is within you.”) I remember that life situations and Life are not the same thing. Whichever one I focus on will outpicture. So, note to self (or Self): please keep focusing on what you really are. Oh, yeah – and show up. And say “thank you!”