It is 31 December 2020, and time to empty my jar. My gratitude jar, that is, the one I started early in 2020 after seeing it somewhere in a Facebook post. When I began my jar, Covid was still a virus far away in China. I anticipated my trip to the Netherlands and the convention in Curacao on my way back to Dominica. I feel that being grateful is essential for a happy life. And in hindsight, especially in 2020, the year that turned out to be totally different and more challenging. Being grateful for what we have seems more critical than ever before. Far too often, we quickly forget the little miracles that happen to us every day of the week. We remember the significant events, yet in general, the small daily bits of luck we forget, while those tiny bits of good fortune far outnumber the big ones.
So, on this last day of 2020, I made myself a nice cup of tea, prepared a little snack (ok, it was chocolate), sat down at my desk to open the jar, took out everything, and started reading. I purposely use colored pieces of paper to make writing more fun. And when the jar begins filling up, it is also visually appealing. At the beginning of the year, Sunday was the day I wrote everything down. I soon noticed that I forgot even the things that happened that week. And the whole idea is to make sure that did not happen; this meant I had to change my strategy. From then on, I keep my little piece of colored paper on my desk every day, and whenever I think something is noteworthy, I write it down. Sunday is still the day I ‘switch’ to the new week; the past week goes in the jar, and I choose a new color for the week ahead.
Pass it on and paying it forward.
I want to show the children that I work with for the ‘Tell your stories program’ with the Breadfruit House the practice of feeling grateful. In our, ‘Things I am grateful for” session, I always ask them to tell me what they are thankful for. And I give examples of even the smallest things that can bring you joy. Whether it is a cuddle with your new puppy, your favorite breakfast that morning, a good grade in school, or attending our program, I believe that when we pass on the habit of being appreciative, eventually, it will come naturally to them.
That is one of the ways I am paying it forward. There have been, and fortunately still are, so many occasions where people show their kindness in my life. Like buying banana bread from a lovely neighbor, and instead of having to pick it up, she brings it right to my doorstep. And I am happy that I am able to show kindness to others as well. Being conscious of those small things adds so much joy to your life.
Random acts of kindness
And that brings me back to my gratitude jar, filled with big and small acts of kindness. I want to share some of the things I was grateful for, from the big stack of cards that make up 2020. The list is entirely random and by far not everything, but let’s go. No hurricanes this season; finally going on a whale-watching trip and seeing many; several ladies night outings, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Skype calls with family and friends. Lunches with our Dutch ladies on the island.
Meeting so many new and wonderful women during a 2-day workshop on trauma and art by Anne van den Ouwelant van de Traumacompany, the leadership course of Female Wave of Change, and the Inspiring Ladies of the Caribbean convention. The many insightful sessions with my coach Justine Dorhout, getting good results from my mammogram, receiving “I love you notes” from the program’s children. The excellent job our VA Suzan van der Sanden, does for the Foundation. All the donations we received for the Foundation, packed and ready to be shipped to Dominica.
Pedicures in the comfort of my own home, the monthly call with the Breadfruit House Foundation board, receiving encouragement from people that the Foundation’s program makes a difference in children’s lives. Kind people, whom I have never met, offering to start a successful GoFundMe page to raise funds like Simon Gilbert. Someone who offered me a ride home in the pouring rain, unexpected meetings in town. My trip to the Netherlands, spending good times with my family and friends, and eating my favorite Dutch treats.
Writing it all down is so worthwhile.
I have finally started writing my book and co-writing for two other books. Unexpected Christmas gifts and cards and an enjoyable Christmas staycation with great food and lovely company at Hotel the Champs
So, here we are on 31 December, the day I read all the cards, reliving and smiling about all those memories. Feeling thankful for and content with my life and looking forward to the many extraordinary meetings and events 2021 will bring me.
To anyone I did not mention, I am sorry; the list would have been too long. I have not forgotten how you helped and supported me; that is one of the advantages of writing it all down.
Maybe I have inspired you to do the same; I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I do.
That’s it for now, and I hope you enjoyed reading this Blog. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you. Hope to ‘see’ you on the next one, until then take care,
With love Marieke