Do you remember your first big trip or move away from home on your own?
Though I'd traveled and moved around to different places within Northern California, the move to Boston in 2013 was my first "I-really-can't-go-home" experience.
I'd never lived so far away that I couldn't go home to see family for the weekend or for a coffee + shopping trip with my friends. It was a huge time of transition. Even though I'd wanted to do this, living it out was weirdly hard.
My first home in Boston was on the outskirts of the city, in Jamaica Plain. I shared the second floor of a three-floor home with two sisters. They often had friends over and the place was filled with happy noise and boisterous conversations.
While the girls talked and made food together, I'd go outside and sit on the front steps and call friends or family in California. It was quieter in the yard with only an occasional child on their bike or couple walking together hand-in-hand passing by.
Often, I'd call Grandma A. One October night when the early evenings were starting to cool down quickly, we were talking. I expressed some loneliness and frustration in wrestling to fit in, find friends and feel at home in Boston.
Sometimes Grandma gave advice. Usually, she told stories. Often, these stories were from the magazines she read and programs she watched. Grandma had her favorite people and authors she followed and admired. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was one of them and she came up frequently in Grandma' stories.
"I heard Jackie Kennedy in an interview years ago. The interviewer asked her what her best year was and what her worst year was."
Kinda brazen, I remember thinking. It would probably be easy to figure out Mrs. Kennedy's worst year based on the tragedies of her life.
"So, what did she say?" I said, figuring I knew the answer already.
"She said they all were." Grandma continued.
"Wait, all bad?"
"No. All the years were bad and the good and you had to take it all together, be thankful, and keep going. It's important to have perspective."
The conversation shifted to another topic before we said goodbye. Grandma had a way of giving guidance without telling me what I was doing correctly or incorrectly.
When I thought about it, I had to see the point and agree. The years are full of all things good, bad, hard, messy, beautiful, wonderful, weird, and perplexing.
It took some years, but I finally figured out a spirit of thankfulness is essential to keeping the right perspective about life, especially during the more challenging seasons and years.
The women in my family: my Mum, grandmothers, and great grandmothers often reminded me to count my blessings and be thankful. "There is always something to be thankful for, Melissa," was a sentence my little Eeyore personality heard.
I'm so grateful they emphasized the art of thankfulness early and often. Cultivating and practicing the art of being thankful might be one of the most important life skills we develop, not only keeping our own hearts and spirits young and beautiful but bringing a sense of joy to others. A thankful heart is indeed a happy heart.
I don't know about you, but I need the reminder to practice being thankful. It doesn't come naturally. Maybe that's why each year in November, I create a "thankful home" journal style painting.
Sketching and painting settles down the chatter in my heart and mind, allowing me to sink into quiet thoughts, recalling the gifts of the year.
After the painting dries, I incorporate what I'm thankful for right into the art, weaving the names of people, events, and gifts up tree branches, around windowpanes and onto the rails of the bench.
One more layer of paint and splatters and the painting is done. Sometimes I write a prayer of gratitude on the back.
It's kept out to remind myself to give thanks each day until Thanksgiving is over. The painting is tucked inside my journal or the fall décor, a reminder next year of this year's blessings.
Create Your Own "Thankful Home" Art
I'm so excited to share this project with you.
If you love to create and your heart needs a rest from the intensity of everyday, daily life, this is for you.
You can do this project in a day or a weekend or spread it out over the next few weeks as we enter into the thanksgiving holiday.
The goal is to allow your mind to settle and rest (the painting part does that) so you can think, remember, and give thanks for the goodness of the year (the journaling part).
In the end, you'll have a beautiful piece of art personalized with the gifts and goodness of 2023.
Sign up below to join. This mini course is my gift to you and I hope you love it.