Day 26: Grateful to Wait in Line

An entry by Candice Davenport, The Gratitude Graffiti Project:

Gratitude Graffiti from the Hair Chalet.

Our nation and region showed great courage and determination yesterday to mobilize ourselves and each other, to get to the polls and take advantage of our civil right to cast a vote for our governmental leaders. We walked. We stood in line. Not for gas. But for something that meant something to us.

Some of us without power, some of us transported far from our homes, we overcame such things and made our presence known and our voices heard.
Maybe reflecting on this election day, in the wake of response and recovery from Hurricane Sandy and hunkering down for another pounding by a Nor-Easter, we can be grateful that we are made of a stronger will than we thought we were. Grateful that we are a resilient family. Grateful that we are a community that does care for its own. Grateful that we have the means to lend a hand. Grateful that we can cry and then pick ourselves up and move forward. Grateful to wait in line so our voices are heard, and know in a sea of people, we are not alone. We are here. We matter and that today could be our greatest day yet.

Sometimes our greatest day can start with a personal practice of thankfulness.

Day 23: A 6 year old with a message

A simple message by Tiago, 6 years old: “I am grateful for peace.” at The Maplewood Public Library

I agree with Tiago.  I am grateful for how peaceful our town has dealt with this disaster.  Peace is visible in all the stores in our village who miraculously did not lose power and continue to offer a cup of coffee and a place to charge our phones.  Peace is visible at our neighbors’ homes, helping each other with food, warmth and a place to sleep.  Peace is visible at the library where thousands of people have gathered throughout the last week to stay warm, re-charge and connect with each other.

What are you grateful for in your own neighborhood?

Day 21: When everything seems out of control.

Expression of gratitude at KnitKnack

“As long as we structure our lives in a way where our happiness is dependent upon something we can not control, then we experience pain.” Tony Robbins

By Lucila McElroy and Sonia Tamaroff

We have been one of the lucky ones.  We have power in a town where 90% of our homes are still without it.  We have extra rooms for our friends to stay with us and we have plenty of power outlets to help our neighbors charge their electronics.

Who knows  if I will continue to have power today or if a tree will fall on my house.  Nothing is permanent and we can can’t control anything out there, yet we want to, don’t we?

I know I  have been lucky to have a moment to pause and ponder a bigger picture.  We live our lives “making rules” that determine what NEEDS to happen for us to feel good.  Think about it.  Do you have to have someone “respect” you to feel good?  Do you have to make ‘X’ amount of money to feel happy?  Do your plans have to go exactly as “planned” to not feel stressed?  Do you have to achieve all your goals?  Do you have to be spiritually evolved or wait until you achieve total enlightenment to feel good?

Today, I invite you to see that absolutely nothing has to happen “out there” in order for you to feel good right now.  A challenge in these difficult times, I know.

What does this mean?  It means that today, when you experience a “tough” moment, you “see” things through a different lens.  Not one that determines your peace of mind  by what happens to you from “out there” but one that is within you to CHOOSE how to act or react moment by moment.

I am grateful to have power and running water.  Our house is open for anyone who needs it!

Day 18: Post hurricane thoughts from my 10 year old…

We are so lucky.  We are safe and with power.  After a night hunkered down in the basement, my daughter knew I was tired and she also knew that I wanted to reach out so she came up with her own thoughts to share…

Okay, Hi everybody! Today is a little different on the Gratitude Graffiti Blog- Your author here is Anabella, daughter of Lucila, (co-founder of the project), and your average, everyday crazy girl.  So. Gratefulness. I am going to start off with what I am grateful for. First off- Power! After hearing 2.4 million other people lost power due to Superstorm Sandy (Including many of my friends) I felt EXTREMELY grateful for light and heat.

Second of all: A safe trampoline! Of course, like my younger sisters Coco and Amelie, I simply looooove my trampoline, and with the power of cinder blocks I can still love it! Now, that is what I am grateful for.

In the midst of a hurricane, or superstorm (whatever you want to call it) there are so many things to give thanks to.  Do you have a shelter to sleep in tonight? Access to the internet to read this on? Are you in that 1/5 of Maplewood that still has power? Think of those things, keep thinking, a little longer… I mean, even if you aren’t in the middle of a hurricane right now, be grateful you are not! Just stop and think.

Of course, today may not be a great day to go out and write on windows and share what you are grateful for that way, sharing gratefulness isn’t just that. You can express what you are grateful for in SO many ways in this modern world we (so luckily) live in. Go out and talk to that one person you haven’t hugged today!  Comment on this post! Just yell it out and tell the world that way! It will raise someone’s day- I 100 percent promise you.

Okay, now, I guess this article is about sharing your gratitude.. Well that worked out better than I thought! Now the closing- take my advice! Sharing your gratitude won’t just raise someone else’s day- It’ll raise yours too! You just made somebody truthfully happy! How’s about THAT! Now, I will end with simply….  Goodbye!

Day 14: Don’t bang your head against a window.

A mother son moment of gratitude at Pro Elite Nutrition

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
~ Zig Ziglar

By Candice Davenport

As we have been going through this project, part of the practice is seeing things through a different lens. One that looks at the great and little things that make our lives pretty special and rare. So we get the pleasure every once in a while to be there, either behind the window or right next to a person staring at an open canvas of window and they laugh embarrassingly and say, “I don’t know what to write!” Suddenly there is pressure to perform, pressure to write something profound and epic. And a wave of disappointment may wash over their face for one second, disheartened that they really have nothing to be thankful for.

But wait…it’s coming.

Some people put it down. Walk away from the experience. The moment creates too much ‘thought’. I am here to say, ‘folks, come back. You just have not been given enough opportunities to practice! Try again.’

And then, we see it. That moment, where a grateful thought comes into the person’s head and they start to smile. Not only are they smiling but they are radiating joy. Pure energy. And as we watch them we are watching the concentration of a child as they write down as best as they can, “I am grateful for my mommy” or tears in their eyes when they say “I am grateful for a roof over my head”. We hear the laughter when someone reads a child’s entry, “I am grateful I can fart and my family” and we see the joy when a person seizes the moment to acknowledge: “I am grateful for my life (with a heart)”

So as you walk by one of the participating store fronts or by our library or cruising the web and find our blog (which is like a virtual window), consider this an invitation.  Don’t bang your head against the window. Don’t turn away.
Just wait.  The inspiration is coming.

Day Twelve: Can the whole world change?

“I understand that others carry burdens I do not see – including burdens I have placed on them by my own self-betrayals… Seeing now with compassion, my view of others changes whether they change or not.” Arbinger Institute, The Choice

  Yesterday, I went to one of our local Gratitude Graffiti Project participating businesses, Strawberry Fields, to take a picture of their window of gratitude.  I was happily met with a window that was so saturated with gratitude you could barely see through it.

So, after one last expression of gratitude on the crowded window, Ben, the nice young man working at the store, helped me to clean and clear the windows so we could allow for more participants to express their gratitude.

And it got me thinking about my own mind and how sometimes I too have to clear my mind, just like we did the window, to be able to create anew.

When my mind is crowded with my to do list, my thoughts  and my irritations, I can’t think clearly.  I can only see the world through the jumbled, hurried and packed mind.  All this without even realizing it.

We can apply the Windex to our mind.  We can sit for a moment, perhaps close our eyes and take in what is there first.  We can notice and observe like we would a window full of graffiti.  Then, we can gently clear it away.  We can make room to create.  Just as the young ladies at Strawberry Fields did yesterday, today, we can create a mind of gratitude, love and compassion.  By so doing, moment by moment, our view of the world changes.

Day Ten: In one minute, you can make a difference today…

Making a difference in our community at Maplewood Karate

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  Albert Schweitzer

Could you be the one that rekindles the light for someone else today? Your words of gratitude can turn someone’s day around.  They have the power to make an ordinary day become more meaningful for someone who reads them.

Last week I received an email from someone  to tell me that after reading some of the gratitude posts  she had experienced a richer day, one where she noticed and appreciated some day to day conveniences she hadn’t before.   She was then inspired to post her words of gratitude with a thought: “Perhaps my words can make a difference in someone’s life today.”

What are you grateful for today?  Gratitude if practiced, has the power to change the ordinary into the extraordinary not only for you but for others.

The Gratitude Graffiti Project Makes a Splash on the PATCH

Maplewood: How Grateful Are You? Say it in Writing !

Wow- what a great article. Thank you Carolyn at the PATCH! The Gratitude Graffiti Project is just starting so keep on the look out for more coverage, more hidden messages from the project throughout town, go and visit our libraries on Monday and check out who is participating so far and stop by their stores and write down just 1 thing that you are grateful for!