After 30 days of logging and intermediate posts, I have completed the last part of the 30 day Gratitude project.
I have thoroughly enjoyed making these little notes each day, it causes you to reflect intently on your life and literally count your blessings.
For me, it was a great way to ensure positive thoughts and give thanks. It takes about 2-5 min a day and I promise you’ll get something out of it! It is also the season for thanks! In case you need a reason!
The touch of fresh cash in my purse. I don’t care what people say about money not buying you happiness, those people have never paid for ramen noodles in pennies they’ve dug out of a couch.
#20 Who in your life are you grateful for?
My girlfriends. They have sat with me in the dark, holding eyeliner, vodka and power drills. Friendships like ours are rare and beautiful, I truly wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world. Not a job, not a man, and not even cash in my purse!
#21 What song are you most grateful for?
Hunger Strike – Temple of the Dog
This song was the first time I ever heard Eddie Vedder sing, it saved my life. It set the foundation for my love of music. I was 7.
#22 What story are you grateful for?
#23 What tradition are you grateful for?
Dressing up on Halloween even when you are an adult. I mean IF you need a reason…
#24 What challenge are you grateful for?
Studying for the SHRM – SCP. For those not in HR it’s kind of a big deal. Its the driver license of the HR world and this will get me a brand new car! ( price is right voice )
It involves classes after work twice a week on top of my already packed schedule. I have to give up a lot, say No a lot and study when I’d rather be sleeping, but I can’t wait to take this freaking test! Bring it!
#25 What moment this week are you grateful for?
Coming home to clean dishes, a freshly made bed and my mountain of laundry put away after a 13 hour long day, and I didn’t even ask him to.
#26 What form of expression are you grateful for?
Gratitude! Being able to do this project has reminded me how much we have already to be grateful for. It’s been an eye opening experience that not all things are perfect, but they all have something to offer if you are willing to look deeper.
#27 What small thing do you use daily that you are grateful for?
My toothbrush. I know that’s silly but it’s an oral b electric toothbrush and whenever I travel I miss it terribly. I don’t take it with me because I have anxiety and I’m terrified it would turn on mid flight and power it’s way through my suitcase. Taking the whole plane down and landing me on LOST.
Did I mention I have anxiety…..
#28 What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?
Walking into class to see my instructors switched nights, and she’s my favorite! #score🤓
#29 What friend/family member are you grateful for today?
I recently was able to really meet and talk to a sister I didn’t get to grow up with bc our birth father is a complete idiot. I’m so glad that we are able to build a relationship today and she’s not an idiot at all! She’s a photographer, a wonderful mother of 2 and wife. She’s smart and beautiful too, runs in the family!
#30 What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?
I can fall asleep anywhere. On a plane, in a car, on a moving boat with high waves, in an elevator!
I would like to thank a long life of sleep deprivation developed by not having parents to help me with college and therefore having to work 2 jobs and go to school full time for 6 years. I have 2 degrees before you ask why it took me so long.
Only 2 things will wake me suddenly other than my alarm, babies crying and someone snoring. I usually sleep alone and I don’t have babies…..so both are equally alarming.
To see more days of Gratitude before this post, view previous blog entries.
Day 11 – What holiday are you grateful for?
Day 12 – What texture are you grateful for?
What a strange question…this is one I definitely had to think about, but what I came up with is the texture of my own sheets!
Whether I’ve been traveling or just had a really long day, there is a consistent amount of satisfaction in the familiar texture of one’s own bedding. It’s hard to leave each morning and the best to come back to. It’s a dependable kind of comfort, the way your legs and arms resume their favorite spots. A cocoon that’s actually reversible.
Day 13 – What abilities are you grateful for?
The ability to complain about being able to get out of bed everyday when so many cannot.
Day 14- What sight are you grateful for?
The face of friends walking through the door of a restaurant to join me for dinner. There are few days in life that cannot be rescued by good friends, conversation and wine.
Day 15 – What season are you grateful for?
Fall! We visited Portland for a long weekend and while Alaska is already moving steadily into winter, I wasn’t quite ready to let go…although, I could have done without the rain.
The ability to adapt and recover. I ate everything I wanted ALL 4 days of my weekend, and I didn’t gain 10 pounds! I’m grateful it was only 1.
The difference between existing and living. Without this knowledge you understand nothing.
Day 18 – What piece of art are you grateful for?
The kind that’s least expected and randomly placed. Both of these were taken in downtown Portland area and brought me much happiness.
While I have been following and completing the 30 day gratitude project, I have sucked at posting about it. I’m 5 days behind…. so brace yourself!
- Day 5- What sound are you grateful for today?
After a long day of traffic, elevator chatter, the sound of heels clicking against the floor, the fax machine beep that gives you that same jolt each time (because you never expect it), the hellos, the have a nice days, the car door slamming, the rattling of keys in the never ending bottom of your bag, and tupperware from a questionable date hitting the sink to soak… after all of that, if you are lucky…there’s a bit of silence. A fragment of quiet in a world of chaos. Silence is both a luxury and a response. It is efficient and powerful either way it is received.
- Day 6 – What in nature are you grateful for?
The way the seasons start and stop. It’s “fall” for about 2 more weeks in Alaska before it will snow. Even though Alaska has a significantly unique climate schedule separate from anything else in the lower 48, it still makes an effort to start and stop seasons.
Everything changes colors all at once. From the leaves to the clothes we pull out of the back of our closets. Nature has a way of leading us forward with a bit of magic in the air.
- Day 7 – What memory are you grateful for?
This was a difficult one because I have a lot of memories I’m grateful for. Many pleasant and many painful.
If I have to think of one memory I’m grateful for, it would be living in my first apartment with inflatable furniture and eating ramen noodles. I thought I could never be happier, with my Jim Morrison poster tacked above the doorway and my rolling stone magazines spread across the carpet. It was my very first place. It was my own.
It is essential to have a piece of yourself locked away somewhere, and for me it would be there. In that apartment, with not much, but everything I needed. In that moment of my life, I was enough. I knew that I would always be enough.
- Day 8 – What book are you most grateful for?
The Bible. It is the only book written by men that I can truly appreciate. It’s got politics, religion, sex, miracles, inspiration, and a great self help section.
- Day 9 – What place are you most grateful for?
I have lived in 7 different states including California, and Alaska is the only place that has ever felt like home for me. You either love it or hate it, either way, you must experience it at least once in a lifetime.
- Day 10 – What taste are you grateful for today?
Leftover French fries microwaved and a chocolate strawberry protein shake. The taste of I’m not cooking or doing dishes, and I have class in 30 minutes. The combo of salty and sweet is also pretty amazing. Sometimes it’s ok to give in to what comes easy.
Day 4 of Gratitude – What food are you most grateful for?
I’m not just talking about fried chicken and cornbread y’all, although I am from Mississippi and could eat my weight in both!
The term “soul food” originates from the Southern days of slavery. Whatever the masters of the house or farm did not want or deem edible for themselves would normally have been thrown out, but instead, these random animal parts and shady looking vegetables were given to slaves for nourishment.
One of the most famous dishes that was created from these times is known as “chitterlings”, or as I like to pronounce it…chitlins! Yes, you have it right, it DOES sound like shitlins and for a very good reason! “Chitterlings” are actually the intestines of a pig.
Yes, a pig. These are not cute like bacon either, it looks exactly how you are imagining it in your head.
Before you could even think about serving these for consumption, you’d want to douse them in some kind of vinegar and water mixture for sanitary reasons. Then, you must boil them or fry them up and your kitchen starts to smell like…..well, I’ll let you guess that one or find out for yourself!
They don’t look half bad once cooked.
Served next to that might be some overly boiled “weeds” known as collard greens. Usually seasoned with some kind of ham hock or meat fat and cooked to death. This is the kale of the south. Then of course, cornbread. Maybe Mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and fried chicken if you were really lucky!
After working as hard as a slave had to work all day, being treated like less than an animal and thrown scraps for survival, these amazing people took that and made it into what we crave today and refer to as soul food.
They cleaned the food themselves, prepared it from nothing, fried it and listened to the sound of the oil popping out of the skillet! Trying not to burn themselves and laughing at the smell together, talking about life together, the good and the bad. Then, they sat down to pray and eat it together. This wasn’t just the act of preparing a meal, but to prepare their bodies and souls to receive it.
That’s the kind of food we should all be grateful for. The kind which we have the opportunity to prepare and share together. Not just the holiday dinners that so often are commercialized, but the kind of meal that after any long day or week, you can sit around with your loved ones and take peace and comfort in with every bite.
Even if it’s 9:00pm, and there’s a strangely terrible smell coming from the kitchen….
Day 2 of Gratitude (yesterday)
What technology are you grateful for?
What did we used to do before cell phones? I think it involved a boxed phone shape object with a long cord, leg warmers and telling siblings to get off the other line!
I’m grateful for my I-phone and I’m not ashamed to admit it! This technology allows me to remain connected 24/7, and I honestly have no idea how to summon a cab or find a new restaurant without it. It’s a co-dependent relationship, one I’m willing to accept and embrace. While the convenience of our smart phones can sometimes be overwhelming, they definitely make our fast paced lives much easier.
Day 3 (today) What color are you grateful for?
Call me shallow, but whoever said money can’t buy happiness should transfer theirs right into my bank account!
Money isn’t everything, but it provides shelter, gas in my car, food on the table, trips home to see family, and a sense of satisfaction and stability that all the yoga in the world can’t get you! Thankful for my green and that I’m able to work hard for more of it.
It’s been a long week so be sure to claw away some fractions of time this weekend or on your other days off JUST for you. Even if that means sitting on the bed and staring at the wall for hours; slow down, let it happen!
Living a life of gratitude can reignite your passions, your interests in getting out of bed each morning, and your overall engagement in all aspects of life. Today, I’m starting a new project of 30 days of gratitude.
Thank you Pinterest for being cheaper than therapy.🙏🏻
Day 1: The smell of my hot, black coffee. It’s a Guatemalan blend, freshly grinded each morning and I was able to stock up on it at Costco. I’m grateful for this everyday because without the smell of black coffee, I’m certain my day would never truly begin.☕️
And this 👌🏻
To say I’m sentimental would be a massive understatement. I’m a writer, I hoard the details. Especially the small stuff!
Such as the way a sunset breaks so perfectly into the clouds, like a yolk in slow motion escaping it’s shell. I stand there wondering to myself if it hurts to be torn into with so much beauty, and then I also think to myself….”..isn’t it worth it?” My friend and I just stand in awe, arms and hearts wide open, high above the hills.
In an average day, I photograph about 50 or so moments just like these. It can be something small, like the steam rising from a fresh cup of coffee at 7am, or rain drops clinging to flower petals without waiver. Each drop transparent and perfectly still, as if they are merely an extension of blooming.
I even try to capture the sunlight on my face or legs, but I can never quite capture the warmth or the serenity of that exact moment. I have no intention of appearing vain. I simply crave the opportunity to capture as many of life’s moments as possible.
I believe that moments shared like these make their memory even more powerful. It’s the same as sharing a story, it means more when someone else understands it. When we say something out loud, it makes it all the more real to us. This can also be the most difficult thing to actually do, because if no one ever says it out loud, it’s not real. Right?
That’s the illusion of silence, the empty magic of denial so many of us bury ourselves in day after day. Regardless, when the day is over and the curtains close, the loudest truths are the ones we never acknowledge because they end up controlling us like puppets on a string.
We photograph things I believe to enhance the experience. Memories of experiences are such powerful triggers that they can change a life forever, especially the ones we never want to be reminded of, the bad ones don’t need any souvenirs. They leave their own scars, both unforgettable and transforming.
Terribly inconvenient isn’t it?
If your mind is that powerful in memory, just imagine the data storage that must exist within your heart. The way we make people feel on a daily basis is constantly being uploaded. Your voice, your smile, attitude and actions can create a life changing moment.
This year for me has been a great deal about confidence. Learning to love myself for myself, and that includes ALL of the parts.
They say if you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind wanders when you lay your head down to sleep. These are the things that matter. I’m not talking about the initial anxiety of ” did we lock the door?” Or ” … busy day tomorrow, let me spend an hour counting the list “, but those moments right before you go to sleep. The thoughts that bring you peace, or the thoughts that weigh you down until you surrender. Both are significant.
As these thoughts wave upon you, do try to let the beauty of everything, every moment, break into you perfectly. Cry if you need to. Laugh at the same time. Learn to forgive, even if you’ll never forget. Learn to be honest with yourself, even out loud, especially when it’s an inappropriate truth!
These are just a few things I’m learning to do more of, and I have to admit it’s not all sunsets and rose petals. Sometimes it’s a storm of daggers without any shield, and that’s ok. We can survive the war within ourselves as long as we aren’t the enemy. As long as we wake up and fight, as long as we don’t back down from life. There’s beauty in all of it.
How often do you talk to strangers, or people you see every single day but have no idea who they are?
They travel among us! Elevators, trains, sidewalks, lines at the fair, the grocery store… and yet we almost never have an actual conversation with one another. Sure, there’s the occasional “Good Morning” and my personal favorite, the over enthusiastic “How are you!”. Once upon a time, an actual question, now a 2 second greeting with no actual intention of inquiring as to how you are.
Go ahead, I dare you just once to tell someone how you REALLY are at 7:54am in the elevator as they reach for their cell… You: “I spilled coffee on myself already, but at least I’m not late! Although… I just realized this is a diaper bag I’m carrying and not my purse or briefcase… how are you!” Them: ……………… *shock*
“How Are You” is now a commonly used phrase simply meant to acknowledge your presence as another human being who seems to also have a pulse, with hidden rules of the following limited responses:
- Ignore them (with the exception of a nod)
- “Great!” – In the event you really are feeling great! That worked out well.
- “Good” – automated response ingrained in us by social etiquette; you are good, I am good, we are always good no matter what! Don’t you dare be less than good.
- “I am well, how are you…” *insert half grin*(again, no intention of an actual inquiry here and that person probably won’t respond before they exit your presence moments later…
- “Outstanding!” (For my military peeps) Sometimes I like to use this one just to stir things up a bit. It catches people off guard because it’s way too loud and enthusiastic and almost always makes their eyes pop as if to say “Whoa! Calm down!”
The point is we don’t even know HOW to talk to each other. We know how to Facebook, text all of our problems and feelings, some of us even blog! I know, it’s ridiculous.
What language is this? How can we do a better job to connect with each other when social media is our most common form of communication?
This was on my mind a lot this week with all of the things going on in Houston after the hurricane and flooding. People were doing this strange thing where they reached out to strangers in need. Communicating through volunteerism, monetary donations, compassion, kindness, team efforts. I was impressed, and inspired.
I started thinking about starting a letter project of some sort… and then I discovered that several of these projects already exist!
One that really captured my heart is the “To Love Ourselves” letter project. This particular project is women writing letters to other women of all ages that provide support and encouragement. The way it works is that someone who knows a woman that could use a little extra love and support submits a request for her. The person requesting the letters are asked to tell a little bit about what’s happening to their loved one, what they love most about the person and a few details about their personality. In turn, that request becomes an “Open Request”, and their registered writers or members can send that woman a letter from anywhere in the world.
The letters are addressed to the project directly first for a little proofreading. They actually send the letters to the recipient so it’s anonymous and doesn’t risk that individuals identity. It is a good deed, and it’s well organized.
Yesterday, I sent off my first letter. It was strange at first to hand write something, even stranger to be looking for stamps. What are those?! I usually only have a use for these around the holidays! Still, it felt great! To know that I have the opportunity to brighten someone’s day, to connect with another human being and hopefully let them know they aren’t alone. It’s one of the reasons I continue this blog.
The letter project encourages you to post a picture of your letters and tag them on instagram or other social media to increase awareness, but don’t show the recipients name or crop it out. Here is my first of many:
I would like to start a group that works directly with this project. If you are interested, please e-mail me at email@example.com. If you know my digits, use them! This could be a great excuse for us to all gather around the table once in a while and start a real conversation, the kind that travels the world. The kind that inspires and encourages people who need it. The kind that maybe even despite all odds, makes the world a better place.
If it’s not your thing, that’s okay. This might be a little touchy feely for my fellas, but do the world a favor and pick up your phone and call someone tonight. They will probably ask if everything is okay about 20 times, because we rarely call each other anymore, but I think it should be the next retro-trend! Bring it on back like bell bottom jeans or guys with long hair and guitars… (ok, maybe not the bell bottoms!) Although, I hear suede is SO IN right now!
Whatever works for you, try to find your way back to the lost art of conversation, connection and leave a small shadow of hope in someone’s life. Don’t wait to get started, this life is a shorter trip than you think.
More Letter Projects you might be interested in:
Over 2 million people live in the city of Houston, TX recently affected by Hurricane Harvey. My parents grew up here and I still have a lot of beloved family and friends there. Luckily, everyone I know is making it ok. Thousands are not.
Don’t ignore the opportunity to help just because it doesn’t directly affect you. Here’s a great article from The New York Times on how you can help.
You can donate money to go fund me’s page or The American Red Cross. Links are attached in the article. You can also donate blood, supplies and food if you are near the area and want to help. Don’t have any money or items to spare? You can donate blood in any state to help future disasters. Find a donation center near you:
If you aren’t a fan of Red Cross and are hesitant about the Go fund me donations, call United Way Helpline at 211 and find out how you can help them. If you have a boat and can get there call 713-881-3100 to find out how you can help with rescues and evacuations. You can also make donations to help displaced animals at http://www.spca.org/give.
The Texas Diaper Bank is accepting Diaper and wipe donations that can be mailed to:5415 Bandera Rd. Suite 504 San Antonio, TX. 78238.
Donate cash or supplies to charity organizations in your area who may have a way of delivering the supplies out of state. The opportunities are everywhere!
Remember, it may not be your home and you may not know anyone there, but it’s moments like these that make up who we are as a country. Don’t just sit back and watch the news, get involved.
I’ve got SO much to be happy about today!!! Insert Sunshine and Rainbows here please!
For starters, I’m sure you’ve noticed the blog has received a little bit of a makeover and it’s very own real estate on the world wide web! You can now visit my blog via WordPress as usual, or simply by visiting: livingoutloudagain.com. This is the part where I remind you to save it to your favorites or hell, go ahead and make it your home page!
Just kidding about the home page, that would be borderline stalkerish of you. Let’s make a pact right here and now to never reach that level of friendship. Agreed? Fantastic!
When I first started this blog several years ago, it was just a blank canvas to store a few pieces of my mind and soul. The blog was intended for self healing and sharing my story with others, as well as keeping me focused on my goals and bucket list. Living Out Loud has definitely served that purpose! Oh, the miles we have traveled together… THANK YOU!!!
Lately, I’ve felt myself fading back into the shadows again. I haven’t been writing very much (Yeah.. you noticed). I can admit that I’ve been falling in and out of depression, and it is a real life struggle for me. I am under construction, aren’t we all? I’ve had some health issues arise that I’ve been working on as well, and I’ve gained about 30 lbs that I use to beat myself up with every single day. I’m not saying I let it define me, I don’t. But, I still want to lose the damn 30 lbs! Today, if you count water weight… I’m down 6.1 lbs since the first of August. YAY!!! That’s my second happy. Woot! Woot!
Living Out Loud Again is taking on a new look and a new sense of purpose, this is obviously my first happy. With the world in the shit storm that it is these days, everyone could use a little more happiness, inspiration and good news. This is also an extension of the original blog. We are still going to work on Bucket List goals and opportunities, rest assured! We are also going to open up and focus on things I feel could inspire, heal and challenge people. We’ll look at some things I’m doing in the world that I think make it a better place and things I’m doing within myself to enhance my inner space too.
In summary, it’s a bit of starting back over with the girl in the mirror, and turning her into the girl living out loud AGAIN.
I think you’re going to like it. I also want to hear more from you. Let me know what you’d like to see more of, what’s on your mind, what’s fueling your heart these days?
For me, I know it. I’ve got to write more. I get so caught up in everything being important all day long that I lose sight of the blog and other personal goals. Even now, I was exhausted 2 hours ago, but I wanted to get the site up and running and get an update out before the weekend. As I’m yawning into the sofa, I’ve made it happen!
My third happy is I had a good convo with my mom today! My fourth happy is I finished paying for my SHRM SCP certification classes in the fall, so I can finally get that under my professional belt! I don’t take the test until December so I haven’t passed it yet, but trust me, you’ll be the first to know!
My fifth happy is that I’ve been in a healthy romantic relationship for over a year and a half. You guys… he actually has a job, a car and his own place. I’m just going to drop the mic right there.
I hope tomorrow is your Friday and you are excited about that, and if it’s not, I hope you know the rest of us are just that much closer to Monday! Either way, I hope you are well.