Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Tis the season for having a Daily Gratitude Practice and giving thanks. After all, how many of us had this conversation during Thanksgiving dinner last week:
What are you thankful for?
“What are you thankful for” is the usual question that people have and expect a response after grace. How often were we caught of-guard by such a simple question when the piping hot feast is right in front of us? We typically mumble something about “family and friends,” stop paying attention to other answers once we are done mumbling and dive into the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing! Am I right?
But did we really think about that question? Did you pause for a minute and really think about your answer? Seriously.
In this episode of the Small Scale Life Podcast, I am going to talk about starting my gratitude practice a year after writing Practicing Gratitude for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in October 2020. I’ll finish this episode by discussing
- How I am going adjust (improve) my daily gratitude practice
- Describe a small gratitude offering that I recently did in a special place near our Driftless Oaks Farm
- Giving you 4 Tips for Starting Your own Daily Gratitude Practice
REMEMBER: Snow, ice and subzereo temperatures can hurt you (ie, frostbite). There are MANY ways to ground, develop a gratitude practice and get a dose of Nature. Get outside, be careful and be safe!
Looking Back at 2020
Back in October 2020, I wrote an article titled “Practicing Gratitude for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Looking back at that time, there was a lot happening:
- The global pandemic continued to dominate the news and the world
- The 2020 Presidential Election was in full swing
- The Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) were still reeling after riots and civil unrest
- Julie and I had worked hard to get our house ready for market
- We sold the house and completed our move out of North Minneapolis
I have to say it: 2020 was brutal and emotionally draining.
At that time, I took a break from the Small Scale Life. I needed all of my capacity and resources (time and abilities) to get some serious work done on the house, tear out my gardens (huge tragedy in my opinion), pack our stuff, and move it all.
This was the first show after my break for selling our house and our move. I had good energy, and I was really happy to be back behind the microphone (like I am today). I was truly grateful for the sale of the house, the move and Eagles Ridge. We were moving forward with our plan to leave the Twin Cities and start our new life in Western Wisconsin.
Boy….things changed quickly in the Spring of 2021! I’ll have more on that adventure in a future Small Scale Life Podcast episode with Julie.
Establishing My Gratitude Practice
Looking at the article, I can see my first steps to developing and establishing a gratitude practice. As always, Julie to blame! Julie was reading and studying about gratitude and wellness as part of her own spiritual journey, and we had a lot of conversations about mindset and setting our intentions in our lives. Gratitude was part of that mindset.
Frankly, before this, I didn’t pay much attention to being intentional about gratitude or starting a gratitude practice. Sure, I said “thank you” to people and was generally pleasant to folks, but I never really thought about it too much. I can talk about mumbling during the Thanksgiving Gratitude Round-Up and pushing my face into a heaping plate of food because that’s what I did! Damn that turkey was good!
That is reality for most of us, isn’t it?
So often we are simply going through the motions in life. We mindlessly jump from thing to thing to thing, and we don’t even think about what we are doing, who we are interacting with or what just happened. Things just go on and on and on. It is a mindless shuffle that doesn’t end until we pull up the blankets and close our eyes at night.
We might say “thanks” to someone who opened the door for us or helped us carry a load, but we really didn’t think about it much. Stuff just happens. We move forward quickly to the next thing. The world keeps spinning and life moves on.
Things started to change when Julie put a gratitude block on the 24 Hour Plan Worksheet. We would write down three things that were grateful for daily. Do you think I didn’t just write some BS in those slots at times? You’re darn right I did! I would breeze through it, checked the box and moved on with life.
Then something changed. It is when I started with an interview with Hannah from the Wisconsin Homestead Podcast, and we talked about grounding. Hannah and AJ were grounding in the snow. I took that as a challenge, and I started a daily grounding practice by standing in snow on my third floor deck in the apartment (in January in Minnesota). You can watch the first video below (on New Years Eve 2020) and the rest of the series here on the Small Scale Life YouTube Channel.
When I was standing in snow, I started to realize that going through the motions wasn’t good enough anymore. I wanted to slow down and feel something.
Let me clarify: I wanted to feel something more than snow and ice particles on the bottoms of my feet. I wanted to actually appreciate folks for who they are and for their contributions and let them know it. One way to do that was the Hall of Heroes on the Small Scale Life Podcast.
Hall of Heroes
What is the Hall of Heroes?
The Hall of Heroes is a segment on the Small Scale Life Podcast where I give a shout out to folks who have been a part of our lives, helped us or been active on one of the Small Scale Life platforms. The first Hall of Heroes was on the Practicing Gratitude for the Good, Bad and Ugly episode where I gave shout outs to a bunch of folks.
I decided that the Hall of Heroes was a great way to recognize people. It forced me to really look at my life and who I was grateful for and why I was grateful. For example, Brian and Kori from Happy Hills Homestead, the LOTS Project and the Baby Walter and Company drove from Onamia, Minnesota, to Eagles Ridge in Star Prairie, Wisconsin. They brought some comfrey, rabbit poop and compost, and they helped me plant the comfrey and hung out for a while with us.
While bringing those items was really great (who wouldn’t love rabbit poop), what was even better was showing them Eagles Ridge, hanging out and having a great conversation. We really appreciated spending the time with them! I made sure to mention this in the Hall of Heroes in the Small Scale Life Episode titled “In a Hole? Stop Digging! 5 Lessons Learned from Failure” in May 2021.
Shout outs and mentioning folks is a great start, but I want to improve my intentional gratitude practice.
My Gratitude Practice Going Forward
The Hall of Heroes will continue to be part of the Small Scale Life Podcast. The 24-Hour Plan will continue to have three slots for writing down who or what you are grateful for. Those won’t change; however, I want to improve my intentional gratitude practice by starting the following activities:
- Restart my daily grounding practice. Yes, I will be stepping outside on the ground, even in the snow.
- Start the day with gratitude. Just like the Hall of Heros at the start of each Small Scale Life Podcast, take time each day (at the start of the day) to stop, pause and become aware of someone or something that is unique.
- Be grateful for challenges too. Elevate low vibration energy (reactions, frustration and anger about challenges) by being grateful for the challenge and learning opportunity. Remember: iron sharpens iron. We never grow and learn without doing and struggling. Yes, this one could be hard for me! Even though I am grateful to learn, I won’t stop swearing during tough projects, I promise.
- Expressing gratitude. Make a person or thing aware by expressing that gratitude. We often express gratitude to people for an act of kindness or help, but do we express gratitude to a tree for shade, a bubbling creek for joy, vegetables for giving us nourishment, or the house for providing shelter in a storm? Maybe you should and see what happens.
Putting Gratitude into Practice: Pine Creek Offering
I am putting this plan into practice in my own life already. Earlier this week, I stopped by Pine Creek. The creek is a trout stream that flows through Pierce County just south of our farm, and it is one of my favorite places. It has shown up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds often in the past. Water bubbles over the sand bars and rapids, and it has great sound. Of course, that sound changes depending on what the water is flowing over, and I have several recordings taken along the creek.
As I went on my way for work, I stopped by Pine Creek. I grabbed an apple and a knife (a gift from a young friend), and carefully walked down the rip rap to the small waterfall. I sliced up the apple and arranged it in a wheel on a rock and said a few words of thanks for the peace and joy that Pine Creek has given me over the years.
I stood in silence, listening to the water rushing over the little waterfall and observing the ice along the bank. I looked up at the bluff to the north, and there was an eagle circling over the bluff.
Now, that eagle circling up there is purely coincidence since….
- Eagles migrate down into the Mississippi River Valley this time of year as the lakes and ponds begin to freeze.
- I was just standing there, making this offering expressing gratitude for the positive energy this creek has given me over the years.
- Julie and I love eagles and watch them whenever we can.
- I was there while an eagle just happened to be circling overhead.
If you believe in coincidences, you know. It’s purely a coincidence. Right?
I walked away with a smile on my face. Somehow, deep down, I feel that my message was received, and I went away from Pine Creek feeling great and excited to start my week.
Again, what I did was a small thing, but I felt better for doing it. I feel connected with the land, the creek and Nature. I know it sounds pretty woo-woo, but it worked for me and improved my attitude and feelings!
Give It a Try
Maybe this kind of thing is a little over the top for you. That’s totally ok. You don’t have to do anything like this to start a gratitude practice.
Keep it simple. Remember: less is more! To start your gratitude practice, try this:
- Take some time and think about what you are truly grateful about.
- Make a list of people and things and challenges you are grateful for.
- Keep those lists in a journal (brief bullet points only; don’t write a book – it isn’t sustainable).
- Let someone on that list know you are grateful.
Give it a try. Let me know what you think and how it works out for you. I’d love to know. You can let me know in the comments on smallscalelife.com or email me at email@example.com.
Thank you so much for listening Small Scale Life or reading the article at smallscalelife.com. You are the hero in today’s Hall of Heroes. Thank you for your time and energy!
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