I’d imagined this next post would be filled with snippets about our trip.
Most likely not too many personal details, but a smattering of photos and surface-type stories about our time in Guatemala.
This isn’t that post.
Less than 8 hours before we were to depart–we were faced with a decision which forced us to cancel our trip.
For reasons I wont share, but for reasons which resulted in a despondent child and a wholly unprepared to handle the situation mama.
I guessed at what to do (we went in here for a w-h-i-l-e).
I left lots up to her (this really really helped).
I reminded myself G-d doesn’t give me wisdom or strength. G-d provides opportunity to see the wisdom/strength I need is already inside me.
Needless to say, the past few days have been rough ones.
Opportunities I didn’t desire to show The Child the importance of embracing feelings (no matter how icky) and chances to practice not preach with regards to the fact if we choose to avoid an emotion it’s always there waiting for us later.
Feelings are neither good nor bad. They simply are.
Resisting emotions serves to make life and our path back to happiness that much harder.
After a day or three of wallowing, both she and I were ready for action.
We’d each squashed sadness/disappointment like a grape against the roof of our mouth (thank you Keats).
Not only were we able to again see what we had to be grateful for–we were ready to pause, identify and name all of it.
Instead of returning to our usual gratitude-routine, I suggested we try something new.
An approach to gratitude I’d learned in graduate school and one which had previously felt a bit childish/simplistic.
Five finger gratitude.
The practice was simple.
While seated/reclined in a dark, quiet place spread one hand out like a starfish.
With eyes closed take the other hand and softly touch each starfish-finger.
As you gently tap each digit, focus on one thing for which you’re grateful.
With each touch spend a few moments immersing yourself in the feeling of appreciation which surrounds the thought.
Focus your mind entirely on gratitude for the place/object/person/experience.
Completing 5 Finger Gratitude takes approximately one minute (a bit over 10 seconds per finger).
60 seconds which can wholly reframe a day.
The thing is, being the duo we are, we couldn’t resist tweaking this gratitude-approach to better fit our…humor.
In fact, the moment I said the name aloud I knew, even in her current less-than-silly state, the Child would also recall the memory which sprang to my mind.
The refrain/chant from one of our fave picture books which taught younger-Child the difference between the 5 ‘appendages’ which extend from our palms:
Hand, hand, fingers, thumb. One thumb, one thumb drumming on a drum.
We don’t have five fingers, she clarified. Remember that book? One thumb one thumb drumming on a drum??
And a new, tweaked-from-how-we-learned-it-in-grad-school, nightly thankfulness-ritual was born:
I don’t struggle with finding moments/things/feelings to be grateful for each day.
Still, I’ve discovered committing to this new practice has served to heighten my awareness for small stuffs I possess/experience and for which I need to pause and express gratitude.
Five Four Finger No Thumb Gratitude reminds me to consciously choose to scan my world for gratitude moments in anticipation of sharing them at night.
I may have always possessed ‘thankfulness,’ but 4 Finger Gratitude has reminded me to pay attention.
- Do you have a daily gratitude practice?
Bea saysMarch 20, 2017 at 4:35 am
We loved that book when the twins were little, too.
I wonder if boys would do this 4 finger gratitude? Mama definitely needs it.
Laura saysMarch 20, 2017 at 4:43 am
Oh, such a bummer that you had to cancel. I’m sure that was so frustrating. Yet you amaze me with how you use every opportunity to teach- and all the lessons around how to handle unpleasant emotions are so needed! Especially this generation that doesn’t like to hear no and has less opportunity to persevere and develop grit.
I’m also excited to use the fingers gratitude exercise, that’s a new one for me.
Allie saysMarch 20, 2017 at 4:57 am
I am so sorry you had to cancel your trip. I cannot imagine how that felt but, once again, you faced it head on and with gratitude, something not everyone can pull off my dear so you can bask in that!!!! And yes, I am grateful every single day for my health and my family and definitely find some specifics to focus on, one day at a time. xoxo
Angela @ happy fit mama saysMarch 20, 2017 at 4:58 am
This reminded me of something we did in yoga last week. We closed practice seated with our eyes closed touching our our thumb to each finger and saying Sa Ta ma na…I think that’s what it was. It was about gratitude for the past, present and future. I really liked it! And I like the 4 finger idea too. May need to try that on the kids.
Coco saysMarch 20, 2017 at 5:57 am
I love this so much. Especially that you introduced this practice and then went with her four-fingered modification. I think I can still recite that book.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysMarch 20, 2017 at 6:23 am
This reminds me of all the yoga mudras we do–each one has a meaning. Pretty amazing.
I wake up with stiff, achy hands now so yes, I am grateful for all my hands can do.
Pennie Nichols saysMarch 20, 2017 at 6:31 am
Beautiful lemon to lemonade story. Thanks for sharing.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysMarch 20, 2017 at 8:07 am
So sad you had to cancel at the last minute, but Carla I love how you always find the positive in every situation and how you are passing that on to your daughter. You are such an inspiration to me on remembering to look for the silver lining.
Haralee saysMarch 20, 2017 at 8:20 am
I really like the 4 finger, no thumb gratitude idea!!
gynecologists in Lahore saysMarch 20, 2017 at 8:51 am
4 finger gratitude, no thumb is great
Janet saysMarch 20, 2017 at 9:57 am
Sorry about the trip but fingers crossed for a re-do sooner rather than later. Kudos on embracing WYC WYC and turning a disappointment into a learning experience. I need to incorporate the four-finger gratitude concept on a regular basis, great idea! ~xo
Paula Kiger saysMarch 20, 2017 at 10:05 am
I don’t have a daily gratitude practice but right at this moment, I am grateful for YOU and your spirit that got you past/through/around (?) this change in plans.
Roxanne Jones saysMarch 20, 2017 at 10:11 am
Thank you for sharing yet another teachable moment, Carla! You can’t help but raise a wise and caring daughter–look at her mama! My gratitude practice? I end each day giving thanks, as I lie in bed, waiting for sleep. It’s a nice way to slip off into dreamland.
Anna R Palmer saysMarch 20, 2017 at 10:24 am
This is so lovely. I worry that my boys might turn it into one finger gratitude 😉
Nancy Fox saysMarch 20, 2017 at 10:26 am
So sorry you had to cancel your trip Carla. Making sweet lemonade from lemons is just what I try to do. Being grateful is my favorite way to feel! And feeling grateful goes a long way!
Sandra Laflamme saysMarch 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm
Oh how I love this. I could so use doing this with my anxious child to help her to find the positives. Thank you for this!
Susan Bonifant saysMarch 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm
Oh, thank you Carla. I have been practicing daily improvements on yesterday, but I like this better. I just did a little inventory and it made me smile to see those “gratitudes” jump right out.
And I’m sorry about your trip, too.
Tamara @ Parenting 2 Home Kids saysMarch 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm
This is a great variation on a gratitude journal. Thanks, I will definitely use it and share it with other.
messymimi saysMarch 20, 2017 at 6:45 pm
There’s a website i frequent which has a gratitude list, and i post a gratitude daily. It keeps me looking for good things all day.
Tracy saysMarch 21, 2017 at 11:51 am
Thank you for the reminder to breathe and seek gratitude – and to be able to have a little fun with it, too. I’m sorry you had to cancel your trip.