I only do this occasionally now, but for a while on this blog I had a regular feature called What Went Well Wednesday. It was based on a gratitude practice also called Three Blessings, in which one lists three blessings, or three things that went well, and sometimes WHY they went well. The idea is to refocus one’s attention on what is going well in life and how that happened, including one’s own agency.
Tonight is Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving here in the US, so I’m counting my blessings.
- I am so thankful for my husband and three children, who are all happy, nice, healthy people; and I’m thankful that my children get along so well that they are currently out, just them, having a “sibling bonding” dinner and movie together. Because they are good people making good choices, becoming young adults who make us so proud!
- I am thankful for the rest of our extended families: siblings, siblings-in-law, nephews, nieces, and one elderly father-in-law, who is the only surviving parent of the original four parents of myself and my husband. Because they are also good people, doing good things in the world, living their best lives as best they can, living conscientiously in the world.
- I am thankful for the daily blessings of good health, a loving spouse, a pretty home, a garden to enjoy, a temperate climate, an interesting and well-paid job (even with its many challenges), the opportunities to keep learning, and the privilege and safety that come with being an American citizen.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it, and blessings to all of you who don’t. I’m also thankful for all of you who do me the honor of reading this blog and offering your own thoughts here. What makes you thankful?
“What Went Well” is a gratitude exercise also known as “Three Blessings.” The idea is that on a regular basis, daily or weekly, one lists three things that went well, and why. (Adding “why” allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well). When I started this blog, while recovering from a broken bone, and during a very stressful period at work, I posted my three blessings weekly, on “What Went Well Wednesday.” I still pause regularly to count my blessings, but I no longer post them. However, a reader recently suggested that I do so again, so here is the year-end wrap-up of “what went well” in 2017! Please feel free to chime in with your own!
- I was able to avert a dreaded change in my workplace, that would have had me report to a colleague who has been undermining me for several years, thereby putting my job at risk. This was possible because a new chief executive arrived before that change was made, who had known me, my good work, and excellent reputation for many years — and because I mustered the courage to speak to him candidly about it, so he reversed the plan of the outgoing leadership. My work life now feels less stressful and insecure than it has for several years.
- In the face of loss, this year’s deaths of my mother and my husband’s, our extended families were drawn together and supported each other better than might have been expected. Because we made the effort to recognize each adult child’s different experience and grief, and responded to each other with gentleness and empathy.
- Our three children continue to delight us with their growth, resilience, gifts, and love. Because all three have faced various challenges endemic to adolescence and young adulthood with grace, humor, kindness, and perseverance.
I don’t normally post much or speak much about faith, because that is such an individual matter for every person: whether or not one has faith, and how one chooses to honor or express it. In the Lord’s house, there are many mansions. I am also frankly horrified at the misuse of religion to justify the unjustifiable, such as cruelty to others and a domineering will to power regardless of others’ beliefs. It often seems that those who are most outspoken about their own religion are most intolerant of others’, and I want no part of that. However, I pause now to note that my own faith (progressive mainstream Protestant Christian) and our family’s worship community, filled as it is with kind, intelligent, thoughtful, decent people, who try to make the world a better and more beautiful, charitable place, have been especially important to me this year. I take comfort in knowing that our mothers’ long illnesses are over, and that they have been restored to their best essence. So I’ll wrap up my year-end three blessings with my favorite prayer, from the end of each Sunday’s service:
Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May we all enjoy a peaceful, happy 2018! What went well for you this year?
Like many of you, I’m sure, I spent most of yesterday (Thanksgiving) in the kitchen, happily cooking my way through a number of favorite recipes. One of them is a fragrant chutney I discovered a few years ago, made with cranberries and an excellent replacement for the ubiquitous cranberry sauce that lingers, uneaten, on too many Thanksgiving tables.
Cranberries are considered one of the quintessential Thanksgiving foods, probably because cranberries are native to North America and were known to have been eaten by the Native Americans, and by English settlers in North America as early as the first half of the seventeenth century, according to Martha Stewart. They are highly nutritious, a true superfood with a lot of nutrient bang for the caloric buck as they are low in sugar. However, traditional cranberry sauce recipes tend to add a lot of sugar to this otherwise healthy fruit. As a lover of Indian food, I was happy to find several different recipes for cranberry-based savory chutney; the version I make includes much less sugar, and one of my favorite spices/fragrances, cardamom.
Cranberry Chutney recipe (adapted from Food and Style):
It has been a while since I posted my weekly “three blessings” on What Went Well Wednesday, but I feel the need to do so in light of the tragedy in Orlando last weekend. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by the evil and anger that prompt such an act. But it is better to remember to light one’s candles in the dark. My three blessings this week:
- I go to an amazing church that rallied quickly to hold a beautiful service of remembrance on Monday night, to mourn and honor the victims in Orlando. And it was straight clergy who did that, understanding that our LGBT congregants were so grief-stricken that they needed our community’s love and support.
- At that service, our extraordinary Bishop spoke eloquently, lovingly, passionately, inclusively, about how evil is real but God is much, much more real.
- I have been reaching out to students and getting very appreciative responses, which reminds me of what I enjoy about my work.
Do you have “three blessings” to ponder in this week of sadness?
What went well this week?
- My husband and I went to see the most glorious display of daffodils — literally millions of them in full bloom, at a place called Gibbs Gardens. Because I told him a while ago that I’d like to do that, to give him time to process the idea, and because when I reminded him, he sweetly said right away, “Let’s go!”. The flowers were spectacular, winding through the woods and up and down hills.
- We spent last week at the beach! Because we decided with a lot of travel planned for the summer, we would have a more relaxed spring break. We are so lucky to be within driving distance of beautiful beaches.
- We shared the city of Charleston with dear friends, and they loved it. Because, after all, what’s not to love in Charleston?
Have a great week and count your blessings!
This week’s three blessings:
- Vacation with my family! Because I am overdue for a restful break from an often stressful job, and my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family.
- Seeing old friends. Because two dear friends from our grad school days came and spent part of this vacation week with us; and no one understands you quite like the friends you made when you were young.
- It’s really spring! Which makes me very happy because there are more and more flowers blooming every week, including some of my favorites like daffodils.
My “three blessings” this week:
- My dear husband is coming home tomorrow from a long business trip instead of having to extend it for several more days! Because he misses us, and we miss him.
- The daffodils are starting to bloom. Because I took the time to plant a few dozen bulbs of early-blooming varieties to add to the ones already in the garden.
- The massive international event my husband helped run this week went very, very well. Because he and his colleagues are creative, experienced and very hardworking.