An exercise in gratitude

I’m doing a year-end series on how to overcome feeling like a failure; click here for last week’s installment, in which I share 4 ways to overcome those feelings of failure.

A few newsletters ago, I shared my own feelings of failure, professionally, personally, and in my family life.

I shared one thing that was making me feel so much better: bringing my feelings to a very positive and wonderful group of friends.

And I shared about how they made me feel SO much better.

One of those friends is Audrey Monke. Not only did she share words that made me feel so loved and supported, she shared a blog post she had recently written containing some positive and fun year-and family things to do.

Audrey discusses an exercise that has to do with gratitude, which dovetails nicely with one of the four ways I shared last week in this space, on overcoming feeling like a failure:

Name five things you are grateful for.
Whenever I’m feeling down, this is my go-to.
I do have so much to be grateful for!

“What better time than December to reflect on things that make us feel happy and end the year feeling positive and grateful?” – Audrey Monke

Today I’m trying  Audrey’s exercise (from her blog post which you can see by clicking here), and reporting my findings here, for you!

The exercise is called Write a Reverse Bucket List, and the idea is that you write out all the things you’ve accomplished, rather than looking ahead to all the things you want to do but have not yet been able to.

“Although there are still things I’d like to do,” Audrey writes, “mine has already been an amazing life, and I have so much to be grateful for.”

So, here’s mine!
(I’m abbreviating it here… Giving you the highlights. In hopes of inspiring you to write your own : )

Karen’s Reverse Bucket List:

– Learned to twirl spaghetti with fork and spoon, the way my Grandpa did, as a little girl

– Studied for a semester in Florence, Italy, where (among much else) I learned to get along in a place where I didn’t know the language; learned the language; walked past the beautiful Florence Cathedral and heard the bells every day; figured out the trains and other public transit, and how to protect myself living in a city, and made great friends, and just had a ball

– Journeyed to my grandpa’s home village in Italy, meeting many of our relatives – by literally walking into a tavern in town and asking if anyone knew anyone with Grandpa’s last name – and learning about my grandfather’s life as a young boy. It was AMAZING.

– Earned both a bachelor of science, and a master’s degree

– Helped bring a wonderful, enlightened preschool program into the world (and it’s still going after 26 years!)

– Skied the glaciers of Mont Blanc, from Italy into France

– Skied in the Italian Alps, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Laurentians in Canada, and in all kinds of weather and terrain in my own part of the world, New England

– Skied with: my husband; my brothers; lifelong friends; my children; and (my favorite) with multiple generations of us at the same time

– Hiked Mount Washington, one of the tallest and most rugged mountains in the eastern United States, multiple times and in crazy weather

– Witnessed double rainbows, one in particular over the Lake in the Clouds on Mount Washington

– Both skied and hiked above timberline, which feels so cool and otherworldly

– Married the love of my life

– Brought two children into the world, with the love of my life

– Watched those boys grow into the beautiful, empathic, and amazing young men they are today

– Sang in the University of Connecticut Women’s Choir (which came about because the professor for a class I took in the music department, Music for the Classroom Teacher, specifically asked me to join her choir, I felt so special being invited in this way)

– Sing each year in a friend’s Fall Jam

– Started a podcast (my husband Ben and I, when driving past a radio station, used to joke about him being the producer, and me being the person on the radio… which is kind of what has happened : )

– Won the first Moth-style competitive story slam I ever entered

– Have told some funny, difficult, and emotional stories, to live audiences without use of notes or props, in both a competitive and professional capacity

– Got to tell a story as part of the WGBH Studios Stories from the Stage series

– Get to walk in the same park nearby, with my husband Ben, each week in all seasons and at every time of year

– Built a website and private coaching community for parents of young children

– Learned to cook some favorite childhood dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs, my mom’s incredible zucchini bread, and also her oatmeal raisin cookies

– Overcame my fear of chickens, raising five of them, one of whom is still with us after 10-1/2 years!

So, that’s my list : )

As I wrote, I remembered, which led to lots of smiles and tears of joy as I wrote this list.
I’ve really done a lot over the course of my life!
I feel so privileged to have had all these experiences.
I know there’s lots more that I can write, but I want to sit with these for the time being.

So I’ll leave off with the question:
If you do this exercise, how did you feel as you got started, and then as you wrapped up?

(Honestly I started off feeling a little bit silly, and a little bit braggy. But I’ve ended by feeling so grateful that I have such good memories to look back on. Is that how you felt, when you did this exercise?)

Wishing you a wonderful week, one that’s filled with both good moments in your life right now, and lots of good memories of the past.

Thanks for reading!

Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/In the Facebook group/in NPC…
Wishing you a wonderful parenting week!

What’s up on the podcast this week:
Big ideas from our little kids:

What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:
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