Tag Archives: gratitude journal

A Time For Gratitude

Reblogged from Starting With Some Gratitude:

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I’d share one of my favorite blog posts from the past about gratitude and family.

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This holiday is always special to me and my family because we’ve tracked our ancestry back to two of the pilgrims that crossed over on the Mayflower. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. John Howland came from England as an indentured servant to John Carver, one of the Leiden Separatists (AKA: pilgrim). John Carver was Plymouth colony’s first Governor and the first person to sign the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote.

Me, standing in front of the Mayflower II - an exact replica of the original 1600's ship

But John Carver and his family did not survive the first winter in the new world. In fact, most of the original passengers on the Mayflower did not survive that first winter. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, who was in his 20′s at the time, now found himself a land owner and became a prominent member of the community. He would later become quite a reputable fur trader, working with Native Americans along the coast of Maine, and ending his days as a farmer in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth was only a teenager when she made the voyage across the Atlantic with her parents. Her parents did not survive the first winter either.

Eventually, John and Elizabeth married in the new world, and over their life together, gave birth to 10 children! What is so remarkable about their story is that they all survived! The Howland line is the most common bloodline for pilgrim descendants to belong to because it was so rare that these people lived as long as they did. Elizabeth was in her 90′s when she passed!

Me standing in front of the Jabez Howland house in Plymouth, MA - one of only two houses still standing where a pilgrim (John and Elizabeth) actually lived.

I am fortunate in many ways. I’m fortunate that I know where my people come from. I know their story, or at least as much as I can know. And I know we are survivors. I’m also fortunate to have visited the land and place where they walked. The first time in 2010 with Joe, who was patient and understanding with me while I took photos of everything and felt like I was walking in a really good dream. The second time in 2013 when I took my parents to tour Plymouth and watched my mom have the same journey I did three years ago.

Mom and Pop outside Plimoth Plantation

So Thanksgiving is a meaningful holiday for me. It’s a reminder of who we are and what we’ve been through. What we can endure, with hard work and family, in order to achieve our dreams. It’s a reminder to change for the better by learning from others and seeking understanding more than being right.

This month, I’d like to focus on thanksgiving. I’ve kept a journal since I was 13, but for the last few years I’ve turned it into more of a gratitude journal. At the end of each entry, I write five specific things I’m grateful for.

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Here’s what I’m most grateful for today…

  1. My family. I’ve had a year with an immense high (my marriage) and an extreme low (the passing of my brother in law), and through both events my family rallied together and supported one another with love, patience, and grace.
  2. My spouse – because he lets me ignore him to focus on writing this month and supports my dream of being a published author.
  3. Tacos. Joe made them and they were delicious.
  4. Writing friends. For the many critique groups, write-ins, and classes I’ve been able to attend this month.
  5. Coffee. And blankets. (it’s cold outside)

What are you thankful for today?

and

for more Thanksgiving stories to impress your family at the dinner table,
check out my other Thanksgiving posts!

The First Thanksgiving: It Happened in 1863

The One That Fell Off the Boat

The Baby That Was Born on the Mayflower

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Starting With Some Gratitude

The house seems extra quiet this week since Joe took down all the Halloween decorations already. No ghosts or ghoulies to keep me company anymore. We’re still on our scary movie kick though. We spent Halloween watching The Lost Boys and The Exorcist! Classics. We still have a few in our pile to watch yet (Psycho (the remake), The Ring, Village of the Damned, The Prophecy…)

Even though Halloween is over, it’s the beginning of another favorite holiday for me. Thanksgiving.

This holiday is always special to me and my family because we’ve tracked our ancestry back to two of the pilgrims that crossed over on the Mayflower. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. John Howland came from England as an indentured servant to John Carver, one of the Leiden Separatists (AKA: pilgrim). John Carver was Plymouth colony’s first Governor and the first person to sign the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote.

Me, standing in front of the Mayflower II - an exact replica of the original 1600's ship

Me, standing in front of the Mayflower II – an exact replica of the original 1600’s ship

But John Carver and his family did not survive the first winter in the new world. In fact, most of the original passengers on the Mayflower did not survive that first winter. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, who was in his 20’s at the time, now found himself a land owner and became a prominent member of the community. He would later become quite a reputable fur trader, working with Native Americans along the coast of Maine, and ending his days as a farmer in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth was only a teenager when she made the voyage across the Atlantic with her parents. Her parents did not survive the first winter either.

Eventually, John and Elizabeth married in the new world, and over their life together, gave birth to 10 children! What is so remarkable about their story is that they all survived! The Howland line is the most common bloodline for pilgrim descendants to belong to because it was so rare that these people lived as long as they did. Elizabeth was in her 90’s when she passed!

Me standing in front of the Jabez Howland house in Plymouth, MA - one of only two houses still standing where a pilgrim (John and Elizabeth) actually lived.

Me standing in front of the Jabez Howland house in Plymouth, MA – one of only two houses still standing where a pilgrim (John and Elizabeth) actually lived.

I am fortunate in many ways. I’m fortunate that I know where my people come from. I know their story, or at least as much as I can know. And I know we are survivors. I’m also fortunate to have visited the land and place where they walked. The first time in 2010 with Joe, who was patient and understanding with me while I took photos of everything and felt like I was walking in a really good dream. The second time, just this year, when I took my parents to tour Plymouth and watched my mom have the same journey I did three years ago.

Mom and Pop outside Plimoth Plantation

Mom and Pop outside Plimoth Plantation

So Thanksgiving is a meaningful holiday for me. It’s a reminder of who we are and what we’ve been through. What we can endure, with hard work and family, in order to achieve our dreams. It’s a reminder to change for the better by learning from others and seeking understanding more than being right.

This month, I’d like to focus on thanksgiving. I’ve kept a journal since I was 13, but within the last year or so, I’ve turned it more into a gratitude journal. At the end of each entry, I write five specific things I’m grateful for.

Here is today’s list:

  1. The opportunity to travel to Plymouth this year with my parents.
  2. The chance to tour my ancestors’ home and see artifacts used by them.
  3. The sound of my mother’s voice, telling John and Elizabeth’s story at the dinner table on Thanksgiving day.
  4. My mom’s dairy potatoes.
  5. Knowing my family is full of survivors. If they can cross an ocean with only the stars to guide their way, then I can publish my damn book!

What are you thankful for today? What does Thanksgiving in your house look like?

We’re Taking Over WordPress: Life List Club – New Blog, New Prizes!

Big news!  Huge!  Spectacular!  Extra, Extra! 

The Life List Club Launches Own Blog!

That’s right guys and gals!  The Life List Club has decided to launch their own blog site and make things easier ON YOU!  Instead of trying to bounce around between 8 or more blogs on one day, we’ll be able to space out our plethora of viewpoints and encouraging ideas over the course of a month at our site.  We’re posting on Wednesdays and Fridays all about achieving goals, and using Mondays for any announcements or guest posts that may occur (hint, hint – Who’s interested?)  Please give a round of applause to my co-founder, Marcia Richards who worked doggedly on setting up our site.  You can visit us at our new blog, and we’ll officially transfer there the first wednesday of April!  Don’t forget, we hang out at the hashtag #LifeListClub too, so you can always give a shout out there!

And Now a Word from our Sponsors:

Ok well not sponsors, I don’t currently have any of those, but if companies like Bath and Body Works, Lush, Target, Barnes and Noble would care to make a contribution, I’m sure it would only do wonders for the ol’ Witkins’ Happiness Project.  😉

It’s time for our Milestone Party!

You can’t have a party without dancing!  Previously you’ve raved to Ce Ce Penniston’s Finally, you’ve jammed to Ke$ha’s Tik Tok and here to teach you how to boogie is the Bingo Boys featuring Princessa singing ‘How to Dance!’

The point of a Milestone party is to celebrate the strides you’ve made on your life list.  A few months ago I condensed my list to the core necessities, and here’s where I’m at with my progress:

1.  Write Everyday – My minimum goal was to write at least 5 things in my gratitude journal each day, with a long term goal of scheduling time each week to get writing done on my book.  However, in the last month, I changed projects.  Instead of the paranormal young adult novel I was working on, I switched to memoir.  Pretty drastic switch there!  I got some good tips from my Warrior Writers Boot Camp gang and will be starting to piece together this project in the next weeks.  I’m also attending the DFW Writers Conference in May, featuring guest author James Rollins.

(My favorite items to have made the Gratitude Journal lately)

  •  Writing a letter home
  • Crossing paths with 7 young deer while hiking in Hixon Forest
  • Reading the fun comments on my Musicalpalooza blog
  • Watching the finale of Season 2 The Walking DeadOMG! What is about to happen??!
  • Feeding the ducks down at Riverside Park
  • Discovering Joe Lando (Yes!  As in Joe Lando who played Sully on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman) is playing Cassie’s father on The Secret Circle

2.  Read Two Books a Month – I’ve excelled at this goal!  In February I read four books, and hope to complete that same number by the end of March.  My upscale in reading led to two author interviews for Shifting by Bethany Wiggins and The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund!  It was an absolute treat to get to chat with these phenomenal women!  I also felt a big push to get to that “To Be Read” Pile and cut out costs of buying more and more books before getting to the ones on my shelf, so I joined the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge.  I’ve completed 5 out of my 12 books so far, two more in progress, so I just need to finish writing the reviews.

3.  Save Money – I was amazed at how much money I could add to my savings after using my ridiculous star stickered chart to track when I didn’t spend money frivolously!  I was able to save up funds to ensure my trip to South Korea is a go!  (I leave in a week and a half!)  I have yet to meet with a personal banker to find a better savings account and finish Suze Orman’s book, Women and Money. 

4.  Work out at least once a week – I’m probably most behind in this goal, but I have stepped it up nutritionally.  I started keeping a food journal along with my gratitude journal so everything’s in one place.  I track what I eat each day, and just writing it down keeps me accountable enough to make sure more fruits and veggies find their way onto the plate.  I’ve made some new recipes including CM Stewart’s Green Smoothie!  And I’ve definitely been buying more produce instead of junk snacks at the grocery store.  On days off, I’ve been good about doing some hiking or walks because I read an article about how even 10 minutes/day  in nature can do wonders for anxiety and fatigue  issues (which I’ve been battling as of late).  The next step is to go full swing with some consistent workouts!

That’s what I’m up to!  How ’bout you?  Do the Bingo Boys inspire you to take dance lessons?  How’s your writing going?  Your workouts?  What dream vacations are coming up?

AND…any time the Life List Club has a Milestone Party we give away prizes!  Drop me a comment below sharing your goals and you’re entered to win a blog swap and I-Tunes Gift Card!

More fabulous prizes to be had!  Visit each contributing writer of the LLC for a chance to win:

Marcia Richards Guest post swap and Amazon gift card

Sonia Medeiros A guest post from Sonia or the winner’s work featured on Sonia’s blog

Jenny Hansen A Margie Lawson lecture packet and a $10 Starbuck’s gift card

David Walker A free download of his “Web Wisdom: Inspiration from the Inbox”

Gary Gauthier A choice of 3 eBooks

Lara Schiffbauer A $25 Gift card

Happy Friday Everyone!

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