the gratitude jar…2020

A few years ago I started a gratitude jar. It’s about positive affirmations. It’s about being grateful.

It’s nothing complicated. You write down little things in your life you’re grateful for onto little pieces of paper and you put it in the jar. Some people empty out the jar on an annual basis and start fresh, others let the little slips of paper accumulate. I don’t add to it as often as I should, but I have let all my little slips of paper accumulate and once in a while I read them.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu

Feeling grateful as a powerful emotion. An hours a time where as hard as it is we also have to be grateful. Grateful that we are alive. Coronavirus and COVID-19 is separating so many people from their families. Coronavirus and COVID-19 are killing people in our communities every day.

Our new decade has started with a global pandemic and that has a lot of negatives to it. But if we’re doing our part and we’re staying home and we’re with our loved ones, that’s something to be grateful for. Even if we’re all separated and we’re all OK it’s still something to be grateful for.

Small things matter. Giving thanks matters. Do you keep a gratitude jar?

reaffirming the gratitude jar

I have mentioned for years now that I have a gratitude jar. I had read about it a few years ago and it was just a simple thing to make us as human beings focus on the positives and the good things in our lives.

Sometimes when a bunch of negative things happen all in a row, it’s hard to stay positive. I find it hard to stay positive because I do not think by my very nature I am naturally positive. I have to work at it.

I think positive for me has been learned behavior, and it’s something I have to relearn and reaffirm again and again. Hopefully, someday it will be second nature to me.

A quote I found on another blogger’s post about gratitude jars is something I would like to share:

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

I think that’s a pretty powerful statement. In the instant gratification social media-centric world in which we live, this quote which is pretty damn old is still current, isn’t it?

Lao Tzu was known as the father of Taoism. Mind you, many modern writers feel this is NOT a real person at all, but a legendary figure whose writings were actually created by many different people. And yes I got off on a tangent, so back to the gratitude jar.

Having a gratitude jar is a simple reminder that life is not all bad or all difficult. Having a gratitude jar helps you focus on the things that are wonderful in your life. Even every day little things are wonderful.

Having a gratitude jar helps us reaffirm the many positives in our life. Life can be hard. I am not trying to be Pollyanna and say everything is always wonderful with fuzzy caterpillars that turn into magical butterflies. I am more of a realist than that.

I just think we live in a completely crazy world at times and a simple thing like a gratitude jar is a great way to keep us honest and keep us thankful and keep us grateful.

Here is an old post from girls on the run on how to make a gratitude jar with your children (click on the hyperlink).

Some people empty their gratitude jars on an annual basis and re-read everything at the end of the old year or beginning of the new year. I don’t do that. I intermittently check out what I have written in the past and add a new note to the jar. I don’t add notes every day. Sometimes I go quite a while without adding anything. This morning I added two notes.

I will close with something I learned as a small child while attending Saint Peter’s School in Philadelphia. We used to learn songs seasonally for lack of a better description, and in the fall around harvest time or what would’ve been harvest time since we were at school in the middle of Society Hill, we used to sing a song called Simple Gifts. It was a Shaker song / hymn written by a Shaker Elder named Joseph Brackett in the 1840s.

Even Yo Yo Ma has recorded a version of it. It’s a classic in my opinion and it’s very beautiful. And I am not a particularly religious person although I have my faith.

The song was largely unknown outside of Shaker communities until the composer Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring (Shakers once worshipped on Holy Mount, in the Appalachians), first performed in 1944.

Mr. Copland also reportedly used “Simple Gifts” a second time in his first set of “Old American Songs for voice and piano”, which was later orchestrated

Here are the lyrics and thanks for stopping by:

Simple Gifts Lyrics

Joseph Brackett (1797 – 1882)

(Shaker dancing song)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

  ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

  To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

  Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

happy new year!


Yes January 1 definitely means winter things, so today I have been applying new patches to an old quilt.

How do I make an American quilt? Well truthfully I do not because I am not truly a quilter.  Quilting is an amazing folk art form. I have taught myself how to patch and restore old and vintage quilts. 

I have written before about my love of old and vintage quilts and that I use them in my home. Quilts are a happy thing to me. 

Very cheery.

That is a lot of what I have been doing this weekend. Not very exciting to New Year’s Eve party enthusiasts, but I have never been a big New Year’s Eve person. So yesterday, I patched a really cool depression era lap quilt that was made out of old wool suits.  It will be a quilt to snuggle up with and watch TV.

You could say finishing the three quilts I have come across in various stages of now  last year is my first New Year’s resolution and one I can keep!

It’s 2017. Let’s make the best of it. Make it your year to be better. We can’t control what others do, we can only control our own actions.

Pay it forward. Do something nice – you know like helping the family made homeless by the Frazer Christmas fire next to the WaWa?

Or attend municipal meetings where you live and stand up and be counted. Tell officials how you want your community to look and stop allowing developers to do the dictating.  Pick a township and pick a developer. In January I am told Bishop Tube in East Whiteland will go to zoning. 

If you live in East Whiteland bear in mind what has now happened in Lower Merion with the Rockhill Road site. Basically Lower Merion Township officials spent years jumping through hoops at the expense of residents to benefit the developer and many years later a shovel has never hit the ground and a decrepit site is still decrepit and now for sale. Same developer as for Bishop Tube site – O’Neill.  

Bishop Tube is a toxic site. Not to be crass, but it’s a flipper baby site and they want more zoning relief. Steep slopes and such.  East Whiteland had said in late November, 2015 that the meeting was postponed until January 23. Zoning means the people with true standing who can make an impact are people who reside in the shadow of Bishop Tube.  Also they haven’t finished site remediation yet have they? 

Other items up in January would be yes more meetings in Westtown over Crebilly. Meetings are subject to change so if you live in Westtown, keep an eye on township agendas and thus far please mark your calendars for the upcoming January Planning Commission meeting dates:

Tuesday, 1/10, 6:30 Rustin High School Auditorium

Tuesday, 1/24, 6:30 Rustin High School Auditorium

There is a chance locations may be changed. Mindy Rhodes and others will keep you posted or (which I wholeheartedly suggest) you can sign up for direct notifications from Westtown Township by clicking on ‘Get Email Alerts’ at the top of the website: westtownpa.org.  

Also, Chris Patriarca, Township Planning and Zoning Officer of Westtown Township, encourages people to reach out to him directly with questions: (610)692-1930 or cpatriarca@westtown.org.
 

And remember there are all sorts of communities suffering from Toll Brothers  plans. Take a drive down Little Conestoga Road in Upper Uwchlan. Google the debacle down on Jewelers Row in Philadelphia.

Politics as in national politics? Not going there. Look we need to change the tone in this country, so yes we need to be more active, but the ugliness has gotten us all what? Nothing but more ugliness.

This New Year’s I am grateful. Grateful for my friends and family and to still be in the breast cancer survivor category.

2017 marks my third year with a gratitude jar. It is a simple thing.

The gratitude jar is a private reminder to you. It’s a sweet and simple thing. I read my year of thoughts and have already added to my jar for 2017.

Creating the jar isn’t rocket science, but the home craftiness of creating the jar isn’t really what the jar is about. If you hang with the jar throughout the year you will find it is not just a bit of ribbon, lace, a jar, labels and itty bitty bits of paper.

Yes, something so simple can teach life lessons.

You don’t have to be perfect. Don’t write something for your jar just to fill it up with little slips of paper. Every once in a while (and how frequent is up to you), sit down for a moment and pause. Let the words come to you. They will. On good days and not such good days.

Some empty their jar each New Year’s Eve. I don’t. I let the little thoughts accumulate.  I don’t put something in my jar daily, so it’s fine.

Happy 2017!  Wishing all my readers a happy and healthy 2017.