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30 Days of Thanks

There are a lot of times I can get caught up in the day-to-day and the tedious little things that take the shine out of my life. I think we all can. We let the not-so-great cast a shadow on the many, many blessings we all have in our lives. Like our sometimes-stinky-but-usually-snuggly-and-adorable cats. Or our family members who are ohmigoshsoannoying but mean well and love us very much. Or our jobs that bring added stress into our lives but still give us the opportunities to grow and learn and create and challenge ourselves every day.

If we spend time focusing on the little things in life that are SOOOOOO ANNOYING, we miss the big things in life that make every day worthy of a smile. Essentially, we’re just making it harder on ourselves.

I don’t want to live like that. I want to rediscover the joys of waking up on the right side of the bed because … well … I’m waking up and getting to live another day. Because I have love and joy and peace and hope in my life. Because there’s no way that every day can be that bad.

So, for me, tomorrow begins “30 Days of Thanksgiving.” My pledge is to spend some time each day in November reflecting on all of the blessings and love in my life.* Because my life is so full, and it’s important to me to remember that — to truly appreciate that. Actually, 30 days may not even be enough, but it’s a start.

Care to join me?

*This doesn’t mean I won’t have bad days. Because I will. We all will. But, if I can find the good among the bad, and work really hard to focus on that good and appreciate it, I’ll be in a better place. A happier place.

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The Art of the Thank You

Too many people overlook the importance of saying thank you. They see it as just another item on their ever-growing wedding to-do list, one more “chore” to cross off. Writing thank you notes gets pushed to the bottom of a lot of lists as brides — and grooms — go about planning their weddings and moving on with their new lives, waiting weeks (or more!) to say thank you to the people who have not only given them gifts, but given of their time and love. But to me, showing my gratitude is extremely important, and it makes me very happy to do so.

And the best way to do that is with a personal, handwritten thank you note. (For a stationery lover like me, this is just an added bonus.)

thank you note

Maybe part of what makes some people dread writing thank you notes is that they don’t really know what to say or how to say it without sounding trite or cheesy. But writing thank you notes can be an enjoyable experience! I promise.

Try these tips next time you have a stack of blank thank yous sitting in front of you and all you can think is “Dear Person, Thanks for the nice present. Love, Me.”

  1. Buy yourself some nice stationery and a special pen. Like anything, writing is a lot more fun and doable if you have the “write” tools (see what I did there?). It doesn’t have to be expensive; there are a lot of really great options out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
  2. Give yourself a deadline. Once your event is over, give yourself a deadline. While I don’t think it’s ever too late to send a thank you note, I try to get mine out within a week or two of the event. For my bridal showers, I gave myself five days after each one to get them out because I had so much other stuff going on. You do have a little longer for a wedding, particularly if you’re going on a honeymoon. But, my personal goal is to get them out within three weeks. If you wait longer than that, maybe try to add a personal story about the gift, something along the lines of: Thank you so much for the wine glasses. Janet and I were just enjoying a glass of our favorite wine and talking about the wedding, and we’re so happy you were able to come celebrate with us.
  3. Make a date of it. You may want to block out some time on your calendar to make sure you make time for it. Then pour yourself a mug of tea or a glass of wine, turn on some distraction-free music and cuddle up in your comfiest chair.

    thank yous

  4. Picture the person you’re writing to when you write the note. If you can see Grandma Sue’s smiling face as you thank her for the lovely quilt, it’s a lot easier to put a little love into the note.
  5. Always use a salutation and a closing. “Dear” and “sincerely” will work fine. It’s an easy way to show you care. But don’t just put the person’s name at the top of the note and your name at the bottom and call it good — that’s lazy.
  6. Don’t be generic. Make sure you’re specific about the gift you received. If the gift had many pieces to it, make sure you remember to thank the giver for each piece. For example, try something like:
    Dear Grandma Sue,
    Thank you so much for coming to my bridal shower. It was really nice to have you there to celebrate with me. I just loved the quilt you made Jim and me. The green is perfect for our bedroom, and it’s going to be so nice to snuggle up under it in the winter. The throw pillows will be a perfect accent, too.
    Love,
    Sandy
  7. Put your personality into it. One of the gifts Mr. B and I received was a nice set of mixing bowls and an air popper for popcorn. My thank you note, in part, said something along the lines of: I can’t wait to sit on the couch and eat delicious fresh popcorn while Mr. B whips me up some cupcakes in the kitchen. Because Mr. B is very clearly the baker in the family, I wanted to put a little bit of both of us in the note — and a tiny bit of humor.
  8. Remember that your thank yous are a reflection of you. You wouldn’t neglect to thank someone in person for something, so you shouldn’t do it by not sending thank you notes, either. Show people you care about them and the time they took to pick out a gift and, in most cases, attend you shower or wedding.
  9. Send a thank you note to everyone. If you receive a gift from multiple people, make sure you send a thank you to everyone — especially if they live at different addresses. There’s no such thing as “pass my thanks along to …” in thank you writing.
  10. Have fun with it. While writing thank you notes is important, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Maybe throw in an inside joke or personal story. Just be wary of sarcasm — it can definitely come across wrong when written.

Thank you note writing may be one of the “smaller” tasks you have to do as you start your happily ever after, but it is one of the most important — at least in my opinion.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

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This Mile Goes Out To …

Eating breakfast

Feeling thoughtful over my last bite of oatmeal pancakes, my pre-race tradition.

… as I sit here letting my breakfast digest, preparing to put on my race
gear, I can’t help but think how far I’ve come as a runner and as a person over
the past year. If you’d have told me a year ago (heck, six months ago) that I’d
actually be running a half marathon, I might have looked at you like you were
crazy. But, you’re not and, contrary to what several people have told
me, neither am I. Instead, I’m someone who has put in a lot of long hours and
hard work preparing myself mentally and physically for this challenge.

I do know, however, that I couldn’t have done it alone. Without the support
of my family and friends, there’s no way I would have been able to do this. So
today, I’m dedicating my run to them, mile by mile. They have, in their own
ways, helped me out and given me the encouragement (and courage) to do this.

They’ve taught me things along the way and listened when I griped. They pushed me on and slowed me down (when needed). Most of all, they’ve reminded me just how very important each one of them is in my life.

So, these miles go out to you:

1. Mom & Dad
2. My brother Clint & his crew
3. My sister Toni & and her family
4. My sister Charity & her guys
5. My brother Jeremiah & his gang
6. Grandpa Keith & Grandma Jean
7. Grandpa George & Grandma Rose
8. Aunt Lorrie
9. Aunt Gloria
10. Sara & Scot
11. Abby
12. My most beloved friend and darling sister, RB2 (because, honestly, this it he mile I think I’ll need you most)
13. Me (lucky 13 is dedicated to hard work, passion and the pursuit of something sweet)
13.1 Joy (this one’s for the pure and utter joy of running)

Really, there are other people I’d love to dedicate some mileage to as well,
like all of you who have supported and encouraged and advised me. Unfortunately, that’ll have to wait ’til the recap. And October.

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