Gratitude: A Happy Habit to take up for Lent

At the beginning of Lent, I was chatting with a close friend on the phone and she told me that she and her husband planned to give up guilt for Lent, in favour of gratitude. By this they meant not guilt for actual wrongs done, the natural response to sin and hurting others, but rather shame—the feeling of unworthiness or unlovableness that we can sometimes fall prey to when we make a mistake or fail to prevent something out of our control.

Giving up such negative feelings, and looking for ways to turn difficult situations into opportunities to see the good and give thanks for it struck me as a great idea. So in the spirit of practicing gratitude, I will share a list of blessings I’m grateful for with you right now:

1. When my mother-in-law sent me birthday money this year, I decided to put it towards Kindle Unlimited, and have been enjoying reading lots of books on my iPad when I can’t sleep lately. Tonight I’m reading 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, and the first one they don’t do is indulge in pity parties! So I’ve put away the balloons and party hats, and brought out my gratitude list instead. 🥳

2. Various back aches and late pregnancy cramps made the midwives give me an ultimatum: no more vacuuming or carrying heavy things like the laundry basket to your outdoor laundry room under the stairs. What great things to give up for Lent! 🤣 I’m grateful my husband has taken over the laundry, and that he now has more first hand experience of this charming chore. “Is there more dirty laundry already? I feel like I just did a bunch!” Exactly honey. So it goes.

3. I had a nice outing to the dollar store with my daughter on the way home from ballet class, and bought cute socks for myself and the baby to put in our hospital bag. His have tiny blue stars, and mine say on the soles, “If you can see this, rub my feet.” Thought they might make the nurses laugh.

4. I’m also really grateful for Jenn Dean, a parenting coach from the Families Matter Most podcast. I first saw her speak at on online homeschool conference recently, and found her approach to fostering positive thinking though addressing core beliefs which influence our behaviour so compelling that I’ve started doing some coaching with her on Zoom. She’s great!

Jenn encouraged me to journal and keep track of my thought processes, especially when something goes wrong, so I can be aware of what core belief is affecting my response. Sometimes that belief could actually be a lie, such as “Such and such went wrong because I’m useless and mess up everything.” In this case, awareness of the lie is a necessary step to be freed from it and embrace the truth, which is simply that some days are harder than others, and tomorrow is a chance to try again. I liked this journal and got it for myself.

5. I’m also grateful for the sweet surprises my friends have brought me lately, which are such a tangible sign of their affection and support. Isabela and Claudio brought us pizza buns and homemade chocolate chip cookie dough, Lisa brought us tiny red velvet cupcakes made by a talented coworker, and tonight, Sister Corina brought us Purdy’s chocolates and a fruit topped cheesecake! Yes, this baby is destined to be chubby and cute, and everyone is ensuring their part in that! 🥰

6. I could just keep going, but this list is getting long, so the last one for tonight is my amazing neighbour Lorie, a retired nurse who does professional house cleaning part time. She has been a total Godsend, and has been helping us declutter and clean our house, one room at a time. First, we tackled the garage, and after hiring the great guys from Half-Price Rubbish Removal, we now have so much more space to store things in an organized way. Everything is being sorted and labelled, such a bins of clothes for various kids to grow into. We even strung up a rope in the garage to hang extra or off season coats, so I can see what we have before buying new ones.

Sometimes it’s a struggle emotionally to let someone else help me deal with my mess, but in those moments I’m trying to reframe things. Instead of thinking, “I’ll never get organized on my own cause I’m too sloppy,” I think, “Caring for all my kids and house is a big job, and I’m so grateful to have friends willing to pitch in and help.” Lorie does such and good job, and is so cheerful about it, that we call her our “Fairy Clean Mother,” whose super power is making things sparkle. The kids love her, too, and are inspired to help out more, which is a huge bonus!

Tiny super helper!

What is one thing you are grateful for today?

More Happy Headlines

In my last post, Making Our Own Headlines, I wrote about the idea of writing our own headlines for each day, focussing on the little things that matter to us and bring us joy, rather than all the huge world news and depressing statistics. If we can each find more beauty in our days, and be grateful for it, we can bring more hope to the world.

So here are a few more of my “happy headlines.” I hope they inspire you to notice many joyful moments in your own day, and if it’s a harder one for you today, here’s sending you a giant hug, and wishes for a better tomorrow! 🥰

Bees Keep Buzzing, Blissfully Ignoring World Pandemic

There’s hardly ever I time I go into the garden without being inspired by its wild and hopeful beauty. Just keep planting seeds…and so much life keeps springing up. It always gives me hope especially as a parent, that if I keep on loving and learning with my kids, they’ll blossom in ways beyond what I can imagine.

Tired Mom Receives Home Spa Treatment from Tiny Masseuse

I was trying to put this little beastie to bed, but she decided I needed a little love first, and slathered my arm with lavender cream from Lush instead, all the while sticking out her little pink tongue in concentration.

Summer Brings More Family Time For Fancy Baking

My eldest daughter learned this recipe at a girls club; it was really fun to try it out together, and fairly simple for such a fancy looking result. I really want all my kids to be empowered in the kitchen, and to know how to take care of themselves. It’s good for them to learn to cook, and it’s a lot of fun for me not to be the lonely only chef! I really like the extra time we have to do things like this together in the summer. It’s the stuff of memories, and when they’re older, and cook for themselves, they’ll be able to recreate the taste of home.

Mother and Daughter Bring Joy to Neighbour by Sharing Home Baking

My 8 year old and I had such fun baking these mini-apple pies in muffin tins and weaving tops for them. When they were hot and ready, we brought one to our friend next door, who is a recent widow, along with flowers from our garden. She was touched to be pampered in this way, and is constantly showering my kids with yummy snacks as well. We have basically adopted each other, and our Tupperware goes back and forth over the fence filled with little sweet signs of love. “Never return Tupperware empty,” her mother told her. We are both so much enriched by this exchange, especially in these isolated times. My littlest kids love to chat with her from our back porch to hers, and feel that despite everything right now, the world is still a friendly sort of place.

Save-On-Foods Grocery Delivery Service Saves the Day for Car-less Family

Yes, I really do think the save-on drivers, and the people who work night shift to shop all night for morning deliveries, are super heroes! My kids get so excited when they come to drop off the groceries, and they almost always have a kind word for the kids, who like to help carry them to the kitchen to put away. As I have seven kids and no car, you can see why I think the save-on trucks should have capes flying off them!

Well, I realize many of my happy headlines have to do with food…I guess feeding people is my love language, and stocked cupboards make me feel safe. I am so lucky to be able to take such good care of the kids in this way, while my hardworking accountant husband slogs away to earn our daily bread. Thanks, honey.

Making Our Own Headlines

My mom sent me this lovely little story from Facebook recently, and then my mother-in-law called to read me the same thing. I thought it captured both the stress and hope of these difficult times beautifully.

I found it really inspiring. As we each write the story of our own lives, it makes sense to write our headlines, too…so we can focus on the things that matter to us and make our days meaningful. So here are a few headlines of my own:

Toddler takes walk and is delighted by flowers, hugs a rose.

Proud kids learn to make sushi at home: take that, take-out!

Neighbours share bread and laughter over their fence, feel less alone.

Baby with dangerous condition born safely and survives operation, parents rejoice.

Woman reconnects with dear friend after 3 months, makes her day.

Family transforms ugly concrete backyard into beautiful courtyard garden using old furniture and garden pots given by their neighbour.

What beautiful story are you writing with your life today?

To think of one thing you are grateful for is enough, but feel most welcome to share one of your life’s headlines in the comments below!

Happy Easter from the Eastlands

This Easter we are grateful for simple beauties, being together when so many are alone, and for having a garden for our children to play in since we can’t go elsewhere! All of these are huge blessings. Wishing you all many caresses of tenderness and hope this spring! Let’s stay in touch; I’m always so happy to hear from family, friends, and even ‘strangers,’ for who can really be a stranger when we are all in this together…

God bless you and keep you safe and grant you peace of heart! Happy Easter! 🙂

Work Clothes

With coffee-crazed hands

I iron the shirts

I make them smooth

I tremble

I iron the shirts

the ones he wears on the skytrain

to the job he still has

to the office that’s still open

I make them smooth

I tremble

The steam rises up

like incense from my hands

I flatten the hills

make smooth the valleys

make straight his path

I work

I pray

I tremble

Wild and Free

I grow my garden

wild and free

I do not expect

it bow to me

My joy it is

to watch it bloom

Nor do I wish

its beauty to consume

to cut and cull

alone preserve

no longer in the wind and sun

to dance and curve

Not for me it is

to choose the day

nor the colour it shall bloom

So many shades of beauty

wild and free

Though I was the one

to plant the seeds

my garden does not belong to me