Alright, y’all. Gratitude and Abundance and The Crafty Memory Jar.
I’ve been toying with the different ways I could explain these words and the jar without seeming morose, and after a while, I just decided to keep it real and blunt. That’s my normal, and the point of this blog was to connect with people, so I’m keeping it that way. I’m know that somewhere out there, someone gets this and could use a hug or a memory jar of their own.
SO- I have the worst luck. If Murphy’s Law could be a corporeal being, it would be me. That doesn’t mean my life is ONLY Bad Luck, but it does seem like I have always drawn the shortest straw. The Shannon Straw, if you will. Example?
- Customer service: “Oh, Ms Allen. It is SO odd that all of your student paperwork was lost and your graduation plan was calculated incorrectly! That almost NEVER happens! Only once in ten years of digital planning!”
- Insurance agent: “Oh my goodness, Mrs W.!! Did your windshield seriously get another chip, only a DAY after repairing the last one?? This paperwork is hilarious!”
- Utility rep: “Ma’am, you were right. The system WAS billing you incorrectly. I can’t even imagine how that happened… a mistake like that is very rare.”
- Shan, always: “You don’t say. I am shocked that I was the one exception to the rule. SHOCKED, I say.”
Those are a few of the lighter examples and are basically a weekly, if not daily, part of my life. It varies from ridiculous to actually bad, and that’s just how it works with me. My dad always giggles a bit and tells me “That’s life, Shan. Welcome!”
I know that life is life and annoyances and set-backs are part of the ride, but I used to try to plan for the bad things and find a way to avoid the one-in-a-million-chance bad luck that is my second shadow.
That kind of life is AWFUL, y’all. After a while, you start losing sight of the good around you because you’re obsessively anticipating the next bad thing, planning how to fix it, and feeling a grim sense of satisfaction it does happen.
Life IS life and bad things DO happen, but there is a difference between letting the Bad dictate your actions, giving it permission to control your habits, and being okay with the Bad when it happens, learning from it and then letting it go. I want to rid myself of the habits of the former and stick with the latter.
I’m always grateful for what I have, but my logical mind is busy busy busy trying to improve the situation and make a better plan for next time, instead of just enjoying the moment. I am quite terrible at letting things be. VERY terrible, if I’m being honest.
I want to balance my gratitude for the good that DOES happen and remember that I do have abundance in what is made available to me. I want to quit searching for More and Better and to quit obsessing about the Shannon Straw. I have enough. I am enough. I don’t know if this new plan will eliminate my Murphy’s Law Shadow, but I do know I won’t drive myself crazy thinking about it.
(Is there one word that encapsulates the true goal of the above paragraphs? A word that is not “positivity”? If so, let me know!)
To help my little family take note of the Good, I decided to make a 2015 Grateful Memory Jar. Isn’t it lovely??
Full disclosure: the jar looked this perfect for 7.3942 minutes because I am SO GOOD* AT CRAFTS. Now it looks like this and I am going to have to resort to using my neon houndstooth duct tape and making do. It is what it is, folks.
I saw this idea on Pinterest a few years ago and I wanted to make it a family tradition from the start, but with one thing and another, it didn’t happen. It’s here now, though!
Basically, the idea is that you write down all the good or fun or sweet or delightful things that happen during your year, and then on New Year’s Eve, you read through what is in the jar. Husband and I are very excited about this jar and are already looking forward to reading the memories at the end of the year. Not only will it kickstart a good habit, but people are right: time moves SO FAST as you grow up. This will help us remember what happened in the whirlwind.
These are the first three (but not only!) memories I wrote down:
1.) My mother-in-law got me these earrings for my birthday this year. Well, she got them for my sister-in-law, who then handed them directly to me. And they were actually a Christmas present. Oh, alright! I’ll explain as best I can.
On my very first (maybe second?) Christmas with my in-laws, my MIL told the girls she had gotten us earrings, but in the craziness of the holiday, she lost the tiny packages. This was two or three years ago.
Since then, I’ve seen my SIL wear a pair BEAUTIFUL silver earrings with birds on them. They aren’t my go-to style, but I always admired them. After a while, I realized that, go-to style or not, I wanted a pair. I asked her where she bought them and then immediately started searching. However, the earrings are no longer available. Years had passed, after all!
“I shall love them from afar,” I told myself “and it will be a glorious star-crossed love.”
This year, my SIL and I had a joint birthday celebration, and wouldn’t you know that the first present she opened was that same pair of earrings? In a gorgeous bronze color?? My MIL found the lost earrings while wrapping gifts and forgot that she had already given Sister the silver pair and that the bronze pair was meant for me! (At least, we think so. Years have passed people!)
Voilà! First fun memory! The second is from that same night…
2) For the birthday meal, my MIL made chicken spaghetti. Everyone at the table was enjoying the food, the conversation and the togetherness. Then, my MIL told us that, while making the spice cake dessert and the chicken entrée, she had switched the seasoned salt and the cinnamon, and that we were all actually eating Accidentally Cinnamon Chicken Spaghetti. Now, if she hadn’t said anything, I doubt anyone would have noticed. But as soon as she told us, all we could taste was cinnamon chicken! The dinner was still great and afterward we all had a good time sharing our own stories of kitchen disasters.
Annnnnd now the third. Possibly my favourite. (So far.)
3) First, you should know that I LOVE giving and planning gifts. It is one of my Things. Quite unabashedly, I know that I am great at it.
I have a DEAR friend, Katelyn, whom I lovingly and nonsensically call Dorito. Katelyn has a brain remarkably similar to mine and we often joke that we have just one soul that has been split between us.
Well, my dearest Katelyn just went through a hard season of life, conquered it like a champ, and is now starting the next chapter. It is a fun chapter, but also tough. So I thought I’d put together a fun little Texas/Birthday/Christmas/Season Conquering care package for her, as a surprise
And then my DEAREST DORITO tried to use our shared brain against me and figure what I was doing. (HOW DARE SHE.) She tried so many times, you guys. Sneaky questions, reverse psychology, Freudian slips, unsubtle hints, logic puzzles… This girl, man. I’m also pretty sure she tried to keep tabs on Santa as a child.**
However, I have the benefit of being sneaky AND a Gift Ninja soooooo… I won this round. Last week, Katelyn got her Surprise!Care Package and absolutely loved it. It was so fun to listen to her shock (don’t mess with the Gift Ninja!) and delight as she opened each silly gift.
I got a fun “gift” out of all of it, as well. Aren’t these long-distance mugs just lovely?
I got them custom-made from this Etsy shop and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. Perfect for long-distance people who share an intense love for coffee and tea! Or any beverage, really. Hot or cold. No one is the boss of your mug. Let’s not limit beverage love, people. Unless you have to. And then that’s a whooooole other post entirely.
WHEW. This was a long one! Thanks for sticking around. Here’s to new plans, conquering bad luck, and new family traditions- Cheers!
*Bad. SO BAD at crafting.
** I may not have any hard evidence that this is a fact, but she basically put me in an interrogation room to find out what her surprise was. So my gut tells me that Santa had to plan around this one, too.