one thousand gifts

one thousand gifts.

We are always in a hurry.

We rush. We over-schedule. We are busy. And then we die.

And when we die, every little thing that we filled our schedules with probably didn’t matter as much as spending time with our family & friends and appreciating the little things in life — which we usually fail to do. Not always, but usually.

I don’t want my life to pass me by. I don’t want to live with regrets. Who does?

This is why many people are now turning to minimalism, simple living, and churning out articles like this. This is why I dream of living a simple life and take small steps each day towards that goal. This is why I try to stop, slow down, and be in the moment as much as I can. This is why I say no to  many commitments and just focus on a few. This is why I care so much.

Almost six years ago, I joined Blipfoto, a photo-blogging community based out of Scotland where members share only one photo a day, every day. I loved the website because it encouraged me to stop and notice little details in my daily life before photographing them. I never noticed them before! Stopping to examine a crack in a brick wall with my camera annoyed some of my friends (and probably caused strangers to stare), but what it gave me a few extra seconds to stop and marvel at things that people are too busy to notice. I did this photo journal for about four years straight.

Then… I kind of became ‘busy’ and stopped doing it every day. Not too long after I stopped taking photos daily, I got into minimalism, read a lot about tiny houses, and started creating time in my days to just be. My focus on photography switched to enjoying the little things without taking pictures. I felt like I was so focused on capturing the perfect picture that I was missing out on just enjoying the moment and using every other sense to take it in.

But then at some point this year, I got ‘busy’ again and started to lose appreciation for life as I’ve struggled with trying to accept that it’s OK I’m not quite where I want to be in life just yet. The job needs to wait. The tiny house needs to wait. The open country roads needs to wait. I need to be patient. Because I am struggling, it has left me feeling less than joyous lately.  I needed to do something about this feeling again. I looked around and reached out. I found out that I was not alone.

Thanks to Tracie’s recommendation, I came across Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are. In this faith-based book, she talks about the pain that has been repeatedly present in her life and how she struggled with finding joy among the pain. She takes readers on her journey and challenges them (and herself) to find joy in her life by writing down a list of beautiful things she is thankful for — one thousand things. One thousand gifts.

My Little Things series kind of started off as a list of items that were like these ‘gifts’ in my life. Then it turned into a photo-journalistic record of things I did within the week or two. I’m going to change it again into what it should have been all along: a list of gifts. One thousand gifts, to be exact.

I started writing down these gifts in a journal today. It was just what I needed as the morning started off a little rough. As I focused on the series of gifts through the morning, I already noticed a small change: gratitude. Gratitude for everything, even the storm. I’m looking forward to how this little exercise will transform me. I’ll be sharing the gifts periodically here.

Can you list one thousand beautiful little gifts in your life?

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