the list that changed my life

I am out of the office celebrating our first wedding anniversary (woot!), so I'm posting some gems from our archives! This post was originally published on November 14, 2015.

The life of a business owner and writer is beautifully messy.

In my life, to do lists naturally overlap. Coaching follow-ups lead to writing submissions which bleed into plans for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's workout. There are emails to send out, blog posts to write, laundry to do, bills to pay and pets to feed. On any given day, I could do a dozen different things, all of which weave through and bleed into and support one another.

It's a beautiful, messy, wouldn't-have-it-any-other-way, complicated and sweet, sweet life. My to-do lists and calendaring keep me organized.

But there's another list that keeps me alive.

In this beautiful, messy life there lurks a dirty, shadowed underbelly: a culture of scarcity, lack and fear. We see it every day when we turn on the news. It's littered all across our social media channels and imbedded deeply into our political language. We witness it in our relationships, our finances, our education system. 

All that scarcity, lack and fear? It fuels shame, unworthiness, unattainable perfectionism, and disengagement. It leaves us swirling and disconnected, trapped in our patterns of not-enoughness, overwhelmed with wanting.

It's global. It's familial. It's personal.

A few weeks ago, I was... swirling. My new husband was out of town for almost a month as a part of his annual fall business travel, and I was feeling alone and overwhelmed. We live a beautifully busy life together, and I nearly crumbled attempting to keep the pace on my own. Add that to a bout with a stomach bug, and I was... on edge. 

In a former life, my go-to coping mechanism would have been to self-medicate. With the powerfully potent and delicious drug known as the refined carbohydrate. I craved cookies and candy and bread. All the bread

But despite their deliciousness, in the long term, the refined sugars are, just like their other fear-fueled counterparts - the wine, the weed, the unhealthy relationships and late-nights binge-watching reality TV... deeply unsatisfying. 

You know what satisfies? The sweet, sweet reality of cultivating a practice that bypasses the swirling and leads to wholeness and abundance and enoughness.

If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.

— Brene Brown

A few months ago, I created my first official gratitude journal. I have always known, intellectually, about the power of gratitude. I had read the studies, done the research, and utilized gratitude as a part of my coaching practice. My sweetheart and I had created a gratitude practice before meals, and I had cultivated the intention to speak gratitude to those around me. 

But it was time to up my gratitude game

It started as a personal challenge. Each morning, I would scribble down a list of the ten things that I was most grateful for at that moment. It grounded my morning in enoughness. My baseline was gratitude

Cue expansion.

That gratitude list has saved my life, shifting it in the direction of enoughness. Not only have my daily 10 moments of gratitude turned to 15, to 20, to 30, but the swirly, twirly overwhelm leads me back to its pages. The ritual comforts the repeating negative thoughts and the gratitude, the awareness of enoughness, leads me back to center. 

Now, two months since our wedding, my sweetheart and I began a joint journal together. Our gratitude weaving together, creating a common foundation of wholeness. 

When the fear and the lack and the shame sneaks in, cultivating a gratitude list provides a pathway to return to enoughness. 

This month begs for us to return to gratitude. Thirty days of thanksgiving and joy and abundance. It's also, for many of us, the beginning of a season of loneliness and family drama, of unsatisfied expectations and stress. This is where the rubber meets the road, where practice leads to progress, where gratitude leads to abundance and joy.

Right now, in this moment, what are ten things that you're grateful for?

Be specific, intentional. Write them down or share them here!