The year 2020 will surely make a mark in the journals of history. Not a time of blissful glee, but one of change, anguish, and uncertainty. The Corona Virus has affected the way the world will live.
As all responsible members of society must practice “social distancing” and “shelter at home” principles of living, it would be easy to fall into self-torment. Naturally, we are developing an appetency for all former sources of happiness. ---This is uncharted living. We are all learning how to cope.
I decided to choose “happiness” over grief. The route I chose to achieve this is by keeping a Journal of Gratitude. A bit of research revealed the benefits of keeping such could lead to: better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, & more happiness.
Thus, for four consecutive Fridays, I am going to create a list of (5) items in which I am grateful for during that previous week. The results will be interesting.
Friday, April 3, 2020
1) Spring is upon us. I am most grateful for the longer days and warmer temperatures. I relish the sunshine and the way it makes me feel. There just seems to be a smile attached to it. While I am not able to see others, just knowing that they, too, might be feeling these same rays makes me happy. It is like an absentee hug. I hope they feel the same way.
2) Good health is never to be taken for granted. I am most thankful for being able to walk and see the beautiful renaissance that nature is making. This week I was able to walk in a local park. Just seeing the trees and blossoms budding was a shot of energy for me. It even smells like “better times” are ahead. Perhaps, “hope” is on the horizon.
3) Slowing down life is not necessarily a “bad” thing. This week, I was able to dig through some old CD’s and found my prized “Donna Summer” album.-- Oh, how that made me smile!-- I am so thankful for music. It is simultaneously a retreat and a magic door into memories. In no time, I was dancing across the floor and singing to the top of my lungs. I hope my neighbors didn’t mind!
4) While the onslaught of social media has its negative points, it also provides us a means of staying connected. This week, I saw a post from a dear friend of mine in New York City. She had videotaped a sing-a-long that occurs every day at 7:00 PM. On the block she resides, a neighbor opens the window to blast a song. You could hear other windows opening and the chorus swell as additional neighbors began to participate. At the end, they all cheer. A means of confirming their existence and a need to feel connected. It was most humbling. For a brief moment, I, too, was a “New Yorker”. I am thankful for social media.
5) I am thankful for those who are still able to work and keep the wheel of life turning. This includes: the sanitation department, the security department, the fire department, the mail system, the medical system, grocery/pharmaceutical stores/restaurants/and gas stations. Without the willingness of these fellow Americans to put their lives at risk, we would certainly be in a direr situation. I am thankful for the courage and strength of others who provide me a better form of life.
Friday, April 10, 2020
It has been quite a week! Spring’s spectacular display outside my window is in strong contrast to the constant flow of burdensome news. Over 17,000 American souls have now perished due to the pandemic without any end in sight. It is so very difficult to wrap my mind around. Thus, I continue to write my list:
1) It seems that my “Grab ‘n’ Gulp” form of eating has cheated me from enjoying the taste of food! While life continues to roll, I have actually been able to slow down enough to chew my meals. This has given me such a new outlook on eating! I even treated myself to a homemade peanut butter cookie (or two). I am thankful for the food at my table and the ability to enjoy it.
2) While it seems to be a fading art, I enjoy writing notes and receiving them. Today’s technology has retired the pen for the peck of a text. In my estimation, it is not nearly as hearted nor worthy as that of a greeting card or letter. I save the cards which I have received. Yes, I even revisit them at times. It is a way of feeling close to a friend or family member---even if just for a split second. Just knowing that someone took time out of their life for me, is priceless. I am thankful for handwritten notes and those who have not forgotten their significance.
3) Early this morning, the news wailed with a current job loss for 17 million fellow Americans. That is 10% of the U.S. population! Many of my colleagues are beginning to feel the pinch of this mess as well. I am thankful that I continue to have projects which I can manage from my office. While it is not as easy as “former” days, I am still able to meet my clients’ needs. I am thankful for continued work.
4) Interior design is an exceptionally “visual” career. That said, I enjoy looking through magazines for inspiration, insight, and trends. Presently, I subscribe to over 15 shelter publications. Although much of the printed periodicals have shifted to online viewership, I am very old school. I enjoy holding the magazine and viewing it at my own leisure. I am thankful magazines continued to be published. I am thankful for the inspiring souls who are shared within them.
5) I grew up in a household which respected God. Therefore, I hold my faith very dear to my heart. Today is Good Friday. This day is usually marked by attending the Holy Tenebrae at my church. For me, it is the most emotional service of the year. Beginning at sunset, the nave of the church is lit with a series of 8 candles. Seven of these represent the last 7 words spoken by Christ as he died upon the cross. After a scripture and song are shared for each, a candle is extinguished. Alas, once the seventh is darkened, a loud roll of thunder (a tympani drum) is heard to signify the earthquake which coincided with Christ’s death. The eighth candle (Christ’s candle) then slowly leaves the space. All sit in darkness to reflect upon the humility, suffering, anguish, and unconcealed love Christ endured and shared with us. Although I have attended this observance for many years, my heart swells every time. While the fugacious light seems to parallel hope, Sunday will prove differently…. I am most thankful for my faith.
Friday, April 17, 2020
Quite a paradoxical week it has been! --While the joys of Easter and the spring season surrounded us, the death toll from the Corona Virus doubled in the United States. Now, nearly 35,000 have perished in America alone.
With a heavy heart, I write this week’s list of gratitude:
1) Easter. It is God’s promise for better days. The occasion was experienced in a most exceptional manner this year. As it was deemed unsafe to congregate, I attended church via a live stream ceremony. I was up before dawn for sunrise service, then attended traditional service. Although it was all very unique and out of “the norm”, I still found it very compelling. It is a matter of getting one’s heart and soul in tune. I am most thankful for Easter and what it means.
2) This week witnessed some turbulent weather. The windows shook and the night sky was ablaze with light and roaring thunder. While several trees collapsed and damaged other homes, a roof remained over my head. It is rather easy to forget what one’s own home provides: Shelter and security. For this, I am most thankful, indeed. Others are not so fortunate.
3) While cell phones and other communication devices have their pitfalls, can you imagine life without the ability to connect? --What a nightmare it would be! I am most thankful that we have the ability to communicate with such ease.
4) Art. While searching for the most appropriate selection of wall art for a client, I realized art should be something more than a space filler; but rather, something that speaks to those who view it. How it connects with one viewer may be different than how another reacts to it. This characteristic is why art can be so distinctive for the home. It can be a provocateur for the eyes and mind. I am quite thankful for those who have the skill to produce fine art.
5) The birds have returned. Spring is the season when I am awakened every morning with their banter and song. --- No alarm clock necessary. The cantata begins at dawn. There is comfort in this repartee. Nature is continuing its cycle of life, even though the peril of virus is all about. I am thankful I can hear this.
Friday, April 24, 2020
Dismay and distress continue to flood the news. Over 50,000 fellow Americans have now perished from COVID-19. With unemployment rising to over 20% (26.5 million), people are quite restless and fearful of what life may soon become.
This is my final week of journal keeping. I have now been in quarantine for over 6 weeks. Here are this week’s thoughts:
1) During an evening walk, I came across a fragrance that stopped me. It was that of a white wisteria. Its beauty was equal to its perfume. Simply heavenly! I am thankful for the sense of smell. It has been said that the memory of smell lasts longer than any other sense. I believe that is true, fore I can “smell” those sweet blossoms now!
2) I believe in the importance of exercise. I think it is the best way to keep one’s body and mind fit. Now, having said such, I have never reached the euphoria that many do who put this practice as a priority. Frankly, the only moment of rhapsody I ever experience is when I finish exercising! With all the gyms and workout centers closed, it was most apparent that I had to do something. I feared becoming America’s Next Top Model for dirigible slipcovers. Thus, I found the perfect app on my phone. At the push of a button, a husky-voiced commandant belts out orders for stretching, skipping, etc. When the 18 minutes are complete, you simply lay on the floor and moan. --- I really hope this is working. I am thankful that I can exercise.
3) Technology has provided us a path for learning. While in quarantine, I have been able to attend several live-streaming classes. It has been the ideal way to stay connected and increase my portfolio of knowledge in my chosen career. In addition, I am able to earn additional continuing education units (CEU’s). I am thankful how technology has abetted the educational experience.
4) I have never had a “green thumb”, but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about a wonderful garden. Spring always sparks the fever for planting and I have it bad….Even if I can only do a small potted garden this year, I will do it! I am thankful for the growing season and the beauty nature provides.
5) The USA. --No place would I rather be. Living here has afforded me opportunities and a life that I might not have had elsewhere. I am thankful for the many freedoms and luxuries this country offers. I am thankful that I call America home.
The keeping of a COVID-19 Journal of Gratitude has been an exercise in self-understanding. Although it would have been quite easy to succumb to the frustrations this mayhem has wrought, by looking towards the positive aspects, I have stayed sane.
I am learning the power and importance of Patience.
I am learning the power and importance of Kindness.
I am learning the power and importance of Positivity.
For all of this, I am very thankful.
But above all, I thank God for the gift of life, itself.