Several years ago, I started a gratitude journal. It helps in time like these, times when I have the American Beauty dad and son’s conversation in my head, almost every hour:
Son, this country’s going straight to hell.
And I truly feel that way, sometimes.
Well, a lot of the times, these days.
Starting and ending each day with my gratitude journal is incredibly helpful:
- We’re not at war (not yet)
- Our most sacred lands are still sacred (for a limited time only)
- Our public schools still offer art and music education (don’t get me started on this one)
- Women still have access to safe and affordable birth control (I can’t even begin to talk about this one without all the veins in my forehead popping out)
- We’re an accepting nation that offers chances to every one, regardless of where they’re from, because we’re all strangers here (this one, too, I can’t begin to talk about).
The gratitude journal, to be serious now, it does help. It makes you recenter, refocus, realize the people around you are strong, that our citizens of the United States are good people, that our small businesses are making this country excellent, that there’s truly so much good going on. It’s so hard to focus on the good in times like this. And the journaling helps. Trust me.
It’s also important to remember, our government is corrupt and only cares about money in their pockets and is completely full of greed and disgust, but for the most part, our people are not.
And that many other countries are in similar situations: their governments are completely corrupt, but the people are good. The citizens are good.
There’s so much good in this world.
So refocus. Recenter. Look at your community, the people in your circle, the teachers in your schools, the baristas in your coffee shops, the woman who knows your name at the grocery store check out line, and know that good is happening every single day. And think of all of the people in this world, and how much good is coming from them.
And then write this down in your gratitude journal. Record it. It’s nice to be reminded, daily, that you’re surrounded by good.
Last year, when I wanted to quit my job, I prepared by doing many things. And one of them was opting out of every single marketing email, catalog, and social media option available to me. I thought, if I don’t spend a dollar on anything that isn’t absolutely necessary, and we continue to save, I can leave corporate America and try going out on my own. And so I did it, for over twelve months, I completed that goal. I called every catalog to stop them from coming to our house. I stopped following fashion on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. I opted out of all email marketing campaigns. And I think not having the influence of skinny women and cute clothes and hair color and who knows what else in my face every single day helped me tremendously. Aside from about $200 that went to a pair of jeans and some souvenirs while traveling, I didn’t spend a dime last year on anything other than books. Most of those books were to help me start this marketing and design business, and better my yoga teachings.
I decided I need to do the same this year, with politics. Because I’m sad every single day. And mad, and frustrated, and bitchy, and distracted. And that’s not healthy, or good, or any way to live a life. So, I’m opting out. I’ll stay educated, because we have to, with the most non-biased news I can find, mostly what is coming from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the person who should be made a saint, or a hero, or a god, Dan Rather.
And even then, I am proceeding with extreme caution.
It’s how to stop drinking alcohol, or stop eating sugar, or stop the processed foods, or anything else you’re trying to accomplish: cut that thing out of your life.
And then, this is the most important part: replace it with something good.
If you don’t do that, if you don’t replace sugar with salads or alcohol with tea or processed foods with a prepared grocery list to start your week, believe me, you’ll fall back. You’ll get off track in about a week.
In 2015 and 2016, the time I would have spent on social media and looking at email marketing and buying things I did not need was spent reading yoga textbooks, and marketing books, and acting on those things: taking on any side project I could get my hands on, and saying yes to every single yoga teaching gig, no matter the hours or the pay. That was the absolute best decision I could have made.
In 2014 and most of 2013, I didn’t drink a sip of alcohol, and the only way I got away with that, was replacing it with teas and sparkling water, and avoiding most situations where I’d be tempted, or letting everyone know in advance: I will join you, but I am not drinking right now.
In 2011, when I switched to a vegan lifestyle from most of a lifetime as a vegetarian, I replaced every single meal where I would have eaten cheese with avocado, until I could learn to branch out and try other things. I loved goat cheese. I lived off cheese. I never thought I could live without it. And I will be totally honest here: I have never, ever missed it.
This year, the time I would have spent reading will hopefully go to the things that are most important to me: our business, my teachings, this blog, my family, friends and dogs. My negativity of our country can be turned into positivity around everything that I write in my journal and everything that truly matters: the people and the businesses that make up this beautiful community I get to live in.
So think about the time you are spending, and how you are spending it. And I suggest if you’re not already doing so, to sit down and take 5 minutes twice a day to write what you’re grateful for. Get off social media and any distraction you need to, for a short time. It can be as simple as the sunrise, the weather, your dogs, your kid doing well at school, your spouse doing the dishes, you having the time to call that friend or parent or sibling you haven’t been able to connect to in weeks.
Replacing the negative things in your life with positive ventures is very simple. You just have to dedicate your mind to it, and then do it. Starting with the gratitude journal helps set this journey in action. And then, begin to go from there. See if there’s other areas in your life you’re having a hard time re-centering, and focus inward, look at what is working, and what you can do to replace the parts that are not working with something healthier.
And be nice to yourself. This is a long journey, and we’ve only just begun.
I had dental surgery two weeks ago and have been on a liquid diet. The liquid diet was supposed to last for 4 weeks, but yesterday, I was given permission to eat soft foods. I am so freaking excited. BUT I’ve been excelling at soup and smoothie recipes these past two weeks, so this is what I am presenting to you today: the most delicious potato soup I have ever tasted. Seriously. It’s so damn good, and creamy, and fully vegan, and healthy. Next week, you’ll have plenty of smoothie recipes to dive into. And then the real cooking will start back up.