I love journaling. It’s part of my Peace Practice. As I record my thoughts, it helps me focus on the gems of the previous day– the connecting, the insight, and what I am supposed to be learning on this mortal journey of mine. The author, Julia Cameron, calls it “spiritual windshield wipers.” She said,
“Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.”
It just happened to me today. The spiritual windshield wipers came on and reset my thoughts about this year’s Thanksgiving.
Oh, it started so promising! Our three daughters came the day before and we went Christmas tree hunting in the mountains of Central Utah. We had permits that cost $10.00 per tree, and high hopes as we dressed warmly to protect us from the cold and the snow that had just fallen. We laughed and joked, examined trees critically and finally found the three we needed in 45 minutes. The last 5 minutes our eighth-month-old grandaughter wailed and we felt triumphant that we timed it so well.
Then our second tradition, the day of Thanksgiving: making varied and unusual pies for the feast the next day. That too went well, without a hitch, everyone teasing that their pie would eclipse all others.
The pressure mounted the next day as expected guests called in sick, unexpected company came and stayed for an hour while cooking still needed to be done. Suddenly it was a half hour before showtime, and there was an untended baby left while the parents were napping, and big gaps in the food prep. I thought I had told another daughter that she was in charge of the stuffing, when she had no idea. The turkey was overcooked, another daughter burned herself, too many people were in the small kitchen and then the dishwasher decided to start to leaking.
At one point I said to myself, “I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!!!!!!”
I kept dwelling on that hour before our big meal, and what a disaster the day was, throughout the day.
This morning, as I was writing in my journal, the Spirit started helping me see what a successful day it was. Five travelers that came in the morning made it safe and sound, despite the threat of a big winter storm. My sassy mother-in-law was picked up from her care center by this group, and she regaled them with story after story on the drive down. Even though she is wheelchair bound, we were able to successfully manuever her around the house throughout the day and back safely that night. We had probably the most tender moments of the day, as we went around the table telling what we were thankful for. Eyes were watery, and much gratitude was poured out upon us around the table. Sharing like this created a wonderful intimacy– that was a highlight I had completely missed. The food was magnificent, with everyone taking a part and contributing. The earlier unexpected visiting family, I realized, was such a blessing that they wanted to connect with us. We had more company that night, who we also loved being with. Our missionary son called in the morning, and we missed him so much, that later we looked up old videos of him, and laughed and hooted.
I didn’t realize any of this until I started writing about the day, and as this dawned on me, that so much more went well, than badly, I was able to let go of the small amount of stress and angst. A new mantra for me is: It’s worth the work and the effort to keep our family gathered. As Greg McKeown says:
- “Almost everything is unimportant, but a very small number of things are extremely important.
- You can do anything, but not everything, and not at the same time. Acknowledge and accept the reality of trade-offs.
- Make is frictionless to execute the essentials.”
I need to figure out what is vitally important on these days we gather and then make it frictionless to execute the essentials. These times of family togetherness is so essential! The Adversary would love us to get discouraged and stop getting together. There are so many moving parts– people traveling, weather conditions, and breaking appliances. That is normal. Writing helped me see the better parts and realize the small stressors are just…small.
Yay for journaling! It helps me figure out what is going well in my life, over and over again, those wipers going back and forth, back and forth, so I can see more clearly.