How Women on Fire are giving thanks!

I just love, love, love Thanksgiving week!  Do you?

Today I’ll tell you what three Women on Fire in my life are doing to make this year’s Thanksgiving holiday in the United States fun, meaningful and extra special for their families!  And, I’ll share with you a simple technique I use to overcome tough times in my own life. It can help you, too, especially if you hit a rough patch during the holidays.

But first…

Turkey Flock State Road Martha's Vineyard
A very common scene all year long on Martha’s Vineyard where I live: traffic stopped for turkey crossings!

It was a year ago already that I wrote you about My Terrible Scare.  And, today, I am filled with even more gratitude to be healthy and living a life overflowing with opportunities to expand women’s success.

My life was not always been this joy-filled.  In the early 1990s, my life had gone kind of haywire and I needed relief.

One of Oprah’s many great contributions was popularizing the importance of keeping a “gratitude journal.”  I started using this technique myself nearly 15  years ago when author Sarah Ban Breathnach published The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude.

Back then I often felt pulled below the waters of grief — from divorce, despair and a move to a new city away from my closest friends and deepest relationships.

By keeping a journal, I quickly discovered if I could feel gratitude for what was good in my life, it was impossible to be depressed!

So no matter how I fought it or how discouraged or unhappy I was, I would force myself every time I was upset to write a simple list of what I was thankful for.  And, each time I did I could feel my heart open — and hope slipped in.

Then and now, for me, writing a gratitude list works like a charm to release my upsets and get my booty in gear!  I even use it when I’m mad  or irritated with my husband.  I quickly grab a piece of paper and write down the 10 things about him I love and am grateful for.  (So glad he never gets mad at me. LOL!)

Even scientific studies show gratitude’s effectiveness.

Dr. Robert Emmons, the world’s most prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, has conducted studies with Dr. Michael McCullough showing that people who are consistently grateful have been found to feel better about their lives as a whole, meet their goals more often, are more energetic and more hopeful, and they are less likely to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious or neurotic.

Grateful people also experience a greater sense of feeling connected to others.

And, the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie of this story is that a 2008 study shows children who practice grateful thinking have a more positive attitude toward school and their families!  The next time you feel the stress of life I invite you will write your own gratitude list.

And now as promised, here are Maritza Parra, Rosemary Nickel and Margie Warrell sharing Women on Fire-style inspiration of their own Thanksgivings:

Maritza: I have Thanksgiving catered because I can’t cook at all! But I like to write my favorite gratitude/appreciation quotes on parchment paper and put a pretty bow on them and scatter them all over the Thanksgiving table. They’re fun to help everyone get into super-gratitude mode and can open great conversations, too!

Rosemary: Our gift exchange is the best part of Thanksgiving!! This tradition was started by my aunt. We find odd things at yard sales during the year and wrap them up for the exchange. We laugh so hard at some of the stuff. Every once in a while there is a really great find and the exchange gets heated because everyone wants it. It’s hilarious!  And, it’s fun for the kids to look forward to as well.

One other tradition my aunt started is a book that everyone writes down what we are grateful for. Sometimes we write down the funny things that are being discussed in the room at that time or that happened on that day. I LOVE coming back each year to read it!!

Margie: I’m heading to Florida to spend Thanksgiving week in the sunshine (I’m hoping).  After nine years living in the U.S. (from Australia), I’ve finally mustered up my courage to take my four kids to Disney World. And while we are there we’ll check out Kennedy Space Center and wrestle alligators in the Everglades before heading on to Key Largo to celebrate Thanksgiving (with beef tenderloin) with friends.  Needless to say, a fun week awaits. And the opportunity to create wonderful memories with my family that I’m very thankful for.

Margie, the turkeys on Martha’s Vineyard thank you!

Whether you live in the United States or in one of the many countries where women read this blog, I hope you will comment below about some of the fun holiday or gratitude rituals in your life!

I am grateful for YOU.  And, I send you much, much love this week.