This is an inner journey. A journey of the spiritual and mundane and about being human. An imperfect journey. My journey.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

From "Um" to "Om"

I purchased a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" date book refill fifty percent off because it was already two months into the current year. All I needed was something that fit into my DayTimer because I'd begun a new job the week before and I knew I would need to start writing things down because they were about to get hectic. The pages were small and the whole thing fit nicely in my favorite purse. It was perfect for my soon-to-be-busy life. It also had an inspirational quote printed at the top of each page, lots of space for scheduling and notes, and at the very bottom, a section to write ten things for which you were thankful everyday. About every ten pages there was a short, spiritually inspired story edited by the engaging Jack Canfield, most of them a cross between A Reader's Digest 'every day heroes' story and the sermonettes in Forward Day By Day. They were syrupy and cloying, but I found I couldn't stop reading them because I wanted to see how each situation ended. I always was a sap for a good mystery story, and these helped pass the time on the commute to the office. Yes, I read a head.

The bus usually got me to work about 15 minutes before my shift, so I would sit in the park across the street and get myself grounded and my head into a work space. Although I loved the job- 15 years after I earned my BFA and I was working toward my Master's, I was finally employed in the external affairs and marketing department of a respected Mid-Atlantic museum, and I loved going to work everyday, but to be truthful, there were times when I wanted just to sit on the marble bench next to the life-size statue of Samuel Banncroft and soak in the warm, gentle breezes and enjoy the flowers blooming in the manicured yards of the homes which faced the museum.

It was on one of those mornings,when I realized that I'd finally read all of the stories in my organizer, that I began to seriously pay attention to to the quote at the top of the page and my eyes drifted down to the section where you were supposed to fill in the lines with things for which you were thankful. I stared at the lines, glanced at my watch, and decided to go to work a few minutes early. I found myself doing the same thing the next morning,and the next. I would go over my daily schedule, make a few notes, and glance down at the ten blank lines at the bottom of the page. There truly were things I was grateful for, and I knew what they were, but I wasn't sure there were ten of them significant enough to warrant being written down. Hastily I scrawled down three or four things and went off to work.

This went on for a few weeks. Everyday, I'd find something else to add, and eventually it became easy to think of many more things than there were lines. I began scribbling them in the margins of the page. They weren't major, earth-shattering things: " Today I am grateful for the roast beef sandwich I brought for lunch" ( the implication being that I was grateful for the fact that I was making enough money to buy a roast of beef, and to have leftovers for lunch)." Today I am grateful for having a job I love ", "Today I am grateful for the unconditional love of  my cat."

The thing about writing your blessings down is that they become concrete, and you can more easily define and clarify them: "Today I am grateful for the unconditional love of  my cat. What a blessing it is to have an animal companion." My ten little lines eventually grew into my first gratitude journal, which i often filled not only with my blessings, but noted what got me through the day, moments that made me happy, and things that made me content. I filled my first gratitude journal in two months with blessings, memorable moments, and everyday events, not  all of which were bright and shiny, but all of which gave me insight of the challenges of my life. Writing all this down gave me a sense of not only control, but mastery over what I was grateful for, what gave me joy, and a sense of how truly blessed I was with what I had. It wasn't the fabled 'a-ha' moment you read about in the self-help books, it was more of  turning an indecisive "Um" into the "Om" of contentment.