Being grateful for the blessings we receive – both small and large – is an excellent practice to cultivate. It’s something I have benefited from greatly… even though, to be honest, grace and gratitude don’t always come easily to me. In fact, left to my own devices, I am a world class complainer; I can be floored by frustrations and mired in challenges – personal and professional – I don’t enjoy. What to say? I’m human.
So, I keep at it. Life goes on.
A few weeks ago I went to a Gratitude workshop, one that I’d heard about through several different people and thought sounded right up my alley. And? It was excellent! Surprisingly so. The thing is, I have done many of these sorts of workshops and classes over the years… some incredible and some, weeeell, some not suited to my personality. However, this was such a good day, and one from which I drew so much, that I wanted to share it with you.*
Toni Powell runs these classes and what an excellent woman she is! Toni spent the day taking us through stories from her life, including practical tales of finding and practicing gratitude, often in incredibly challenging situations. She also discussed the science of happiness and gave us a bundle of tricks for finding more of this in each day. There were some exercises we had to do, some on our own and some with others, but nothing squirmy. It certainly helped that everyone there was really lovely and I enjoyed some great chats.
One exercise required us to take a few minutes to find and photograph something small or overlooked that we were grateful for. I went into this with my eyes-rolling, courtesy of in-built cynicism. Anyway, once I got over that, there were a heap of things I could have snapped!
What I ended up photographing where my shoes, my broken old Cons. I’ve had these for years and have worn them everywhere, everywhere. As a result, they are completely trashed. I still wear them all the time, but I often feel embarrassed by my shitty shoes and make fun of myself for having such broken shodding. I don’t stop wearing them though. Nor have I bought a new pair… due in part to my strong dislike of shopping and habit of rarely getting new things. Instead, I wear and complain about them… even though I obviously love them, find them incredibly comfortable and have worn them all over the world for years and years now.
These well-worn and literally down-trodden shoes deserve a moment of appreciation.
I think I enjoyed the workshop so much because of how honest and real Toni was. She didn’t sugarcoat her stories. Her presentation didn’t spruik the unachievable goal of seeing only positive in every situation. Instead, it focused on seeing beauty and worth in the small and ordinary; allowing for the challenges that invariably come with life, and rolling with them. This was much more something I could relate to.
So. It was a day of listening, interacting, feeling inspired and … taking photos of my shoes. Over the next couple of months there are more of these workshops being run up and down the East coast – you can see Toni’s site to find out more about her and the Gratitude Lifeclasses. Highly recommended!
I follow all sorts of blogs, including those of Toni’s daughters Georgia and Hailey – honestly, I’m not a stalker, they just share such awesome work! Anyway, not only are their images gorgeous, they also provide wonderful examples of finding gems in the every day. Certainly worth a look, if you haven’t come across them already.
* This is not a sponsored post, not by half. I’m just sharing my genuinely positive experience, in case it’s something you’re interested in too.