Every year at Thanksgiving, I make an apple pie for Shane. I suppose it isn’t really a traditional Thanksgiving pie, but it’s Shane’s favorite and he really doesn’t like Pecan or Pumpkin, so it’s something special I do for him every year. The cool thing about it is that he helps me prep the ingredients and we get to spend some time together, talking and bonding.
My Facebook “Memories” feature reminded me of Thanksgiving three years ago when Shane was twelve. We were busy making our apple pie and talking about things we were thankful for. Out of the blue, he says to me, “I’m really glad Dad married ‘M’ before he married you.”
I’ve spoken previously about the fact that we are a blended family and we actually get along pretty well with our older kids’ Mom. It’s not unusual for us all to spend holidays and birthdays together. Shane has never known any different. We are all just family.
When he made the statement about Dad marrying “M” before me, though, it took me a little by surprise. We rarely talk about “before and after” The Husband Dude and I were married. It isn’t that it’s an off-limits topic. It just honestly doesn’t come up very often. He piqued my curiosity and I asked, “Why is that, Bud?”
“If Dad didn’t marry ‘M’, I’d be an only child. Ben and Kim wouldn’t be my brother and sister and I love them. We’re all different but we’re also kind of the same. And James wouldn’t be my brother-in-law. We have a lot in common because we both like WWE and we’re both Boy Scouts. It just makes life sweeter.”
The moment surprised me a bit. Shane has always been a sweet-hearted boy, but I don’t think I realized how much he had considered the circumstances of his family and extended family and how much it had affected him in a positive way. Sometimes it takes our kids to remind us of things we take for granted.
My main point in this story is to talk about gratitude. If a twelve year old can be grateful for something that happened more than twenty years before his birth, and he can make the connection between that event and something that makes him happy now, then what can we learn to be grateful for?
I get that it isn’t always an easy thing to feel gratitude, especially in the world we live in now. That’s exactly why we need it now, though. When we feel like we’re surrounded by negative news all the time, it’s important to remember the things that have made us who we are and to remember how fortunate we are. There’s always something to be grateful for.
I’ve been someone who keeps a journal for the majority of my life, starting when I was gifted my first diary when I was about eight years old. It was the kind that had a little lock on it, which my brother promptly learned how to pick. I guess I’ve always been a writer because I started writing in that little diary every day and kept some kind of diary or journal continuously until I was in my twenties.
When life got busier, I got away from journaling as much but I’ve always written in one form or another, up to and including this blog. But there has always been something about journaling that I’ve missed. There’s something about those little notes you jot down for your eyes only that allows you to open up new ideas and realizations about yourself.
That’s why when I read that Facebook memory of Shane and his gratitude, it clicked that I have really let that side of my life, where I just slow down and take a deep breath, kind of slide. As I began to think of ways that I could take a few more minutes each day to reflect and be grateful, something else popped up on Facebook.
A friend and former coworker of mine was advertising a journal that she created a couple of years ago. I don’t believe in coincidence, really. I believe things happen for a reason. I really do think that the combination of Shane’s gratitude moment and Paige’s journal was a definite message to me that I needed to take action on this gratitude thing.
I met Paige over ten years ago when she came to work for the same company I still work for. She’s a wife and mother who ran an online boutique for a while but ended up starting the Little Journal Company after noticing people constantly stuck to their phones instead of interacting with each other. That’s when My Little Gratitude Journal was born.
When she first introduced the journal, I intended to buy one. Being who I am, though, I quickly got distracted by life and being busy. Probably all the more reason I need this journal! It’s time to slow down a bit. I know that now. That’s why I went ahead and bought this.
You may be asking, why not just pick up a notebook and start writing? I’ve certainly done that plenty of times in the past, but this time I wanted something a little more fun and creative than a plain notebook or blank journal to just write in. I write from scratch on this blog and I don’t need that kind of outlet. I need somebody else to jog my brain and make me reflect on things I might not otherwise think of on my own. This little book looked like it would be perfect for that.
Another aspect I love is the size and weight. It’s a paperback, approximately five inches by seven inches and it’s very lightweight. I can slip it in my already too heavy handbag and it doesn’t weigh it down more. Carrying it around gives me more opportunities to journal rather than stare at my phone.
The pages are not dated so there is no pressure to feel like you have to do something in the book every single day. I don’t know many people who have time for that anyway. But I can definitely take a few minutes here and there to complete the entries.
I’m not going to lie. The first thing I did was open the book to the first mandala and I broke out some brand new colored pencils and I got to work. I love to color. It’s so relaxing! You’d think as a writer, I would’ve been drawn to the writing prompts first, but no, I just wanted to color and not think about anything. It was perfect and I felt some of the day’s stress melting away as soon as I started.
On a side note, if you think you’re too “grown up” to color and that it’s for kids only, you are seriously missing out. You don’t have to be artistic to color and it really does relieve stress. I never would’ve believed it until I started doing it a few years ago. I need to do it more often. The best part is, nobody is grading you if you accidentally go outside the lines!
The book consists of blank pages for free writing, writing prompts to get your brain moving, doodle pages, mandalas to color, and quotes by the likes of Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein. It is intended to be a year’s worth of journaling but the great thing about it is that you could complete it all in less than a year or take much longer to finish and it doesn’t matter. There are no judgements or guilt! That’s right up my alley!
Here are some pictures I took of my first entry and the mandala I colored. I’m looking forward to moving through all the pages!
Overall, I’m quite happy with the journal, and because I like it so much, I’m recommending it to you all. I want you to understand that I take this blog seriously (even though the topics are not often serious) and I take you as my readers VERY seriously. I will never recommend anything to you that I don’t think is a great product. Although I will get a small percentage of the sale if you buy this book through my links on Amazon, I am not being paid or sponsored to write this review. These are strictly my opinions and recommendations. Paige doesn’t even know I’m writing this and I hope it isn’t an unpleasant surprise to her that her cute little book is being featured on what is usually a sweary, snarky blog.
It’s just a little under two weeks until Christmas, so if you order with Prime now, you can have this little goody well before the New Year and start 2018 right! They also make great stocking stuffers, so you might consider getting a few!
If you would like to read more about Paige and her story, you can find her site here. She’s a great lady!
To order from Amazon, I’ve got the direct links right here:
If you do buy this little gem, send me an email and tell me what you think! Happy Journaling, my friends!