On my cab ride to 2300 market street today I caught a little NPR on the cabbie's radio and heard a man being interviewed by the dude that assists Terry Gross on Fresh Air. He was talking about "cultivating gratitude" and about the benefits of keeping a "gratitude journal" to remind yourself of all of the wonderful things you have in your life to appreciate. He claimed that keeping a journal like this helps people to recognize good things as they are happening in their lives, and helps them focus on the positives, rather than dwelling on the negatives. (He goes on to claim that people who keep gratitude journals and train themselves to think positively have experienced a decrease in blood pressure by about 10%).
In the spirit of this broadcast, in conjunction with my second-or-third-favorite holiday, I'd like to engage in a little exercise that takes this idea to heart.
#1. My Friends. I have always been lucky in my friends, and always surrounded myself with supportive, generous people who consistently demonstrate their excellence through acts of kindness and witty banter. My friends support me, laugh with me and challenge me, and I believe they have had a better-than-positive effect on my physical and psychological health. Emily keeps my stress levels at a minimum and shares so many interests with me that I rarely have to ask, "do you want to...?". Nicole keeps me creatively motivated and grounded, reminding me of real-time demands and the practicality of my own endeavors. Kristin keeps me smiling, Kathryn keeps me thinking, Jeanette keeps my ideals where they are and Jaimeson keeps me questioning and critiquing (I'm sure he will find this optimistic spiel vomit-inducing). This year, because of Didier, I was able to visit Paris, get my jewelry in a French boutique, and network with tons of international artists and gallerists. This has truly been a year of new opportunities.
#2. My Family. It's far too easy for me to under-appreciate my family. Visiting only 3 or 4 times a year for extended periods of time can make any group seem overwhelmingly insane. My parents and both brothers currently live in the same town, wearing on each others nerves for months on end between my visits, so I usually walk into arguments that have been going on for weeks. Regardless, as uncomfortable as 5 people sitting at a dining room table arguing about one of our cousin's facebook accounts can be, I have a delightful one-on-one relationship with each of the people in my immediate family, and I don't know if many people can say that. My parents have always been a good balance between friend and disciplinarian, they have never imposed their religious or political beliefs on us and always made me feel free to pursue any kind of career and education.
3. My Job. I consider myself extremely lucky to have landed a full-time gig during these rough economic times and try to keep other people in mind when applying for extra classes or hours. Teaching has also allowed for me to learn about the business side of art and craft. Without this teaching experience, I would not have taken my jewelry business as far as it has come. In the winter, I will be taking on an intern to help me with all of the extra work, and for Kathryn and Emily and Jeanette helping me out at Moore, I am extremely grateful. This job has also allowed me enough free time to work on my jewelry, my drawings, and to start painting again. I have learned so much in preparation for classes here. I was not necessarily expecting that when I got the job, but it is a delightful mingling of ideas and information; going from buying at the Mood to teaching at the Art Institute, to making jewelry and drawing and showing my work.
4. My Art. I am lucky in my artistic interests, they keep me busy and entertained. I have yet to get bored with making things, it takes up almost all of my free time, and makes me happy. I am lucky in my varied artistic interests. I need variety to keep me balanced. The book of stories, the illustrated short story, the jewelry, the dolls and the new painting projects have all contributed to what I percieve to be a healthy balance of creative interests. Everything influences everything else, and it all feeds me.
Feel free to post some stories about what you are thankful for. Even if you think it's cheezy, it might lower your blood pressure, or something.