It happened again. This time, I thought I was prepared. I went into it lightly –  there would be no surprises. I did all the usual things first. I built a fire and lit the candles. I had beautiful music playing in the background and I made a pot of my best green tea and filled the beautiful teacup. I sat in front of the fire and emptied the contents of my Gratitude Jar.

This was Year 5 of committing to filling a jar with something I was grateful for each day of the year. I knew the routine and I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong in the biggest, best way. In years past, I zoomed through the entries, consuming the words as fast as I could take them in, feeding off the memories. This year was different. It was a slow-motion version of seeing something for the first time – something I thought I had been feeling. It was as if the sun began to ever-so-slowly rise and as it dawned, I realized I was opening one of the greatest gifts I’d ever received. I gave it to myself but it had been there all along.

That’s probably the summation of it all. I could stop here. One of the greatest gifts that came from the Gratitude Jar came from something I already had inside me. Just like all the books and memes, the religion of choice or practice of the day tout…happiness, heaven, peace of mind – however we want to describe it, is within us.

As I look back on last year, some could have said it was a rough one. There were broken bones and broken things, an end of a job, the death of my precious 18-year old cat, and the loss of two horses who had in all certitude, given me a sense of purpose and deeper meaning. It was a year that I conscientiously shifted toward a life of intention and shifted away from a life of obligation.

Like many of us, I could list dozens of things why 2019 could be labeled a bad year. Yet the jar, my magic jar didn’t label the year good or bad – it was simply a year – I gave it no more power than that. There was gratitude for being helped when I was hurt and in need of a doctor, for the time my vet spent on the phone talking with me at no charge, the lightness I felt in distancing myself from someone else’s anger, the resilient beauty of nature, and my response to the heartbreak I felt when Max and Sunny moved away. Neither bitter nor angry, my cracked heart overflowed with the gratitude for all that I had experienced rather than what I had lost. My jar was full of examples of the compassion I had received day after day after day all year long.

As I sat reading the entries and the cards and letters – words I wrote to myself throughout the year, I saw evidence of the peace, acceptance, and contentment that emanated from me regardless of the outside circumstances. Sitting there surrounded by the little pieces of paper, it occurred to me. Perhaps the jar isn’t really a jar at all. Perhaps it’s a mirror. The thing that holds me accountable for not succumbing, not reacting, and not taking the bait of the day. The thing that sits prominently in my home to remind me that by feeding the jar, I’m feeding my heart. Perhaps it represents the notion that if we take care of our inside, the outside will fall into place.

It may just be a Gratitude Jar, but perhaps it is a Magical Mirror – one that allows me to see what’s on the inside.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven