Saying Goodbye to 2021 with Gratitude

Welcome to 2022! Rather than starting off this year with resolutions (or even suggestions), I decided to begin 2022 by saying goodbye to 2021 with gratitude, not relief.

Sally welcomed 2022 by catching a rainbow

2021 might have not been an easy year, but if you take a moment to reflect, I’m sure you can find plenty of good things about it. I am grateful for the opportunities (many unexpected) to learn and grow that the year presented to me.

Overall, 2021 challenged me to exercise greater awareness. I made a point of maximizing intentional, focused interactions with people who are special to me. And not bothering to spend time doing things that I didn’t really want to do. When I actually stopped to write down my 2021 highlights, everything seemed to fall into two categories: 1) connection and 2) boundaries.

Here are a few highlights of why I am saying goodbye to 2021 with gratitude:

  1. I joined a virtual coworking group for writers. We work together on zoom a few times a week. It’s a great way to get some work done and I’ve met lots of interesting people.
  2. I got a bit more brave about asserting my personal boundaries rather than worrying that someone might think I was being impolite. At least sometimes. Specifically, when it comes to obligatory social hugging. I highly recommend the enthusiastic elbow bump.
  3. Having access to COVID vaccines. For me this meant that I felt ok about returning to the gym (even though I still only attend outdoor classes). It also made me feel more comfortable about traveling when the opportunity presented itself. Meaningfully, this meant that I got to spend some time with a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly a few months after our visit.
  4. I had been thinking that it would be nice to have a steady, part-time gig that could help supplement my freelancing and discovered a position that checked all my boxes. Getting into the swing was a challenge, but it has been a positive experience on many levels.
  5. Speaking of freelancing, can we talk about how great it is to have repeat clients?
  6. I didn’t decorate for the holidays. At all. I’m not kidding. I got all the boxes down and then I decided that I didn’t want to. I wanted to preserve my energy for other things and I still don’t regret not doing it.

As I think about how I would like to approach 2022, it will be continuing to absorb/embody/inhabit the lessons of 2021. Like knowing that I have the resources to accomplish things that are important to me. And recognizing that sometimes those resources might be patience or luck.

So rather than dismissing 2021 or scolding 2022 to be better, I’m going to enter this new year with an open mind and an open heart.

How about you? Can you say goodbye to 2021 with gratitude?

Holiday Gratitude Practice

Since Thanksgiving is this week, of course I thought I would do a post about holiday gratitude. Not the most original idea, but something that I think is appropriate to take a moment for. Of course, I did write a post about gratitude last year, so the challenge is to see if I have something new to share with y’all.

In some ways, it might be harder to find things to be grateful for this year. Not being able to travel to visit family or hold big holiday get-togethers might be a real bummer. It has been a tough year for everyone and the anxiety that goes along with this global pandemic is no joke.

But in some ways, maybe all of this turmoil makes it easier to be grateful for all sorts of things that we may have taken for granted before.

When I was reading the post that I wrote last year, one of the things that I noted being grateful for was our local yoga on the bluff. And one of the elements of yoga on the bluff that I particularly enjoyed was being around all the different people from all different walks of life. I’ll tell you what, I would not be grateful to find myself in a crowd of all sorts of people these days. But I do feel grateful that I have been able to cultivate a home yoga practice. In some ways it has been a great privilege to take responsibility for my own yoga practice. I can be very mindful of the way that I move through all the postures; I take more time than I used to in some positions and I am gentle with myself in ways that I wasn’t before. I might not be grateful for all of the new aches and twinges that I seem to be uncovering, but I am grateful for my ability to discern between a discomfort that needs to be worked through and one that needs to be moved away from.

In June, I did a gratitude practice of listing at least ten things every day. The challenge was to not repeat as much as possible. I mean you can imagine what my list would have looked like without that challenge: cats, coffee, sunshine, repeat. Some days were easier than others that’s for sure, but the whole exercise was very centering. Actually, now I’m starting to think that I should take it back up again …

Ok, I’ve just given myself an idea for a holiday gratitude practice and I’m going to invite you to play along with me at home.

Let’s look toward Thanksgiving and this whole holiday season in front of us and find ten things to be grateful for. Maybe write them down. Maybe put them in a gratitude jar and see if you can add one new thing from now until the end of the year. Then on New Year’s Day why not pull them out and read them? Start the new year from a place of love and gratitude.

If you’re not ready to write down ten things, how about just one? Leave it in the comments below and we can help each other to jump start a holiday gratitude practice.

I’ll start: I’m grateful for you reading this and playing along!

P.S. I will follow up with everyone who commented about the book giveaway this week!

Practicing Gratitude


How was your Thanksgiving?  I hope that in addition to enjoying food, friends, and family, you also took a moment to be thankful for the nice things in your life.

For example, I am thankful for you reading, commenting, and sharing this blog.

Gratitude has become a big topic in the zeitgeist these days.  I don’t remember it being such a “thing” when I was younger.  Of course, you were supposed to practice gratitude on Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t a trendy, daily practice type thing. When I stopped to think about it, it is something that seems like it has been building over maybe the past ten years into something that is now ubiquitous.

Maybe seven years ago, I met a neuroscientist who was doing research on the health impacts of gratitude.  I don’t remember all of the methodologies, but the punchline was that there was some sort of measurable, physical benefit.  Apparently, it was a big up-and-coming area of study because now it seems like there is all sorts of scientific research about the positive impacts of practicing gratitude.

I was recently in charge of the impromptu speaking portion of my Toastmasters meeting.  The theme for the meeting was gratitude.  I did a quick google search of gratitude practices and came across the practice of a gratitude jar.  I’m not sure how you’re really supposed to do it, but for my purposes, I cut a bunch of scraps of paper and wrote random things that I would be grateful for.  Then, everyone had to draw a scrap from the jar and speak for one minute about how they are grateful for whatever it was.

I’ll tell you what, I did not expect it to be such a challenge!  I mean there were things like “books,” and “friends,” and “vacation” in the jar.  Two things that really got recipients flummoxed were “apples,” and “cats.” 

I love apples.  I am very grateful for the delicious taste sensation of sliced apple with cheese. But there are so many delightful apple applications to be grateful for – not the least of which is apple pie.  Don’t you agree?  Somehow, this was a stumper.

And cats goes without saying.  If you can’t even pretend to be grateful for cats, I’m not sure what to tell you.

My favorite thanksgiving gratitude practice is taking a yoga class and I have a favorite memory from a few years ago.  It was a usual, beautiful southern California day and I rode my bike down to yoga on the bluff.  I was just telling Mr. Man about how the memory of that day reminds me of so many things that I am grateful for: my pink bike, beautiful California weather, and practicing yoga outside with a whole mess of characters from every walk of life while looking out at the Pacific Ocean.

Like everything else, it is important not to overdo it on gratitude on Thanksgiving and then neglect to practice it for the rest of the year. A moderate amount of gratitude on a regular basis is what is recommended for optimum results.  Try to find one little thing every day, see if you feel a difference.