In 2009 I lived on a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. For three months, I slept alone in a safari tent and every night a pride of lions gathered outside my tent and roared. I was lonely and scared. I made sure not to drink any fluids with dinner, so I wouldn’t have to walk to the bathroom hut after dark.
Last week I published my first official newsletter, and the topic was Gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d take the chance to expand on that a bit.
After a month of sleepless nights, the lions moved on and my terror subsided... Until one day I had to take a trip to Nairobi, by myself, on public transit. For non-getting-eaten-by-lion reasons, people traveling between cities didn’t move around after dark: car-jacking at gunpoint. An actual, for-real threat. Crazy, right? Again, I was scared. I left in the early morning; took my trip and was greeted at my destination by a friendly face. All went well, and at the end of my third month, I came home to Toronto.
What does this have to do with Gratitude?
Sometimes, when my mind is racing with the to-do list, current events, irritations, or worries about the future, I get out my journal and do a simple activity: I write five things I’m grateful for, and five things I appreciate about myself.
Ten things is a lot, and sometimes I run out of ideas. And it’s in that moment, I find myself writing, “I am grateful for living in a safe city where I can move around freely, without threat.” Even though it’s something I hardly ever think about, when it comes up on my list, the feeling in my heart is an overwhelming WOW. I am so lucky.
So what does gratitude have to do with weddings & family photography?
Getting there! You see, it has to do with life. In my attempt to be proactive about emotional health, I got into this little gratitude ritual and discovered that it actually works! It’s great for any time… But if nothing else, times of stress are when it’s most helpful. And let’s be real: holidays, family time, and big life changes and events (i.e. weddings) are both WONDERFUL and STRESSFUL.
Try This Out:
Grab a piece of paper and write 1-10 things you’re grateful for
If you can think of 1, 3, 5 or 15, that’s okay
Try this at night right before you sleep.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to go to Kenya. Despite the fear and loneliness, I learned what I was made of that summer. My eyes were opened to issues ranging from global poverty, cutting edge environmental and community development projects, to what it means to have white privilege. At the same time, I made interesting friends and had indescribable adventures exploring the savannah.
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