Journal of Gratitude

I have blogged and taught often about the importance of writers keeping journals.  However, this journal may be the most important journal for everyone--even writers--to keep daily.  It is the Attitude of Gratitude Journal.

I know that many of us know about gratitude journals, but I recently got a fresh look at this old idea. It came from my Pastor Reba Rambo-McGuire of Streaming the River Church (streamingtheriver.com).  She suggested that we stop counting our troubles, sufferings and trails.  Instead, she reminded us to count our blessings--with deep gratitude!  Pastor Reba challenged us to write at least three things a day that we feel gratitude. 

Of all my journals, my Gratitude Journals feeds my writer's soul best.

Of all my journals, my Gratitude Journals feeds my writer's soul best.

Counting our blessing is one thing.  Taking the time to be really grateful for them is very different. For example, we can say: "Thank you Lord," in about a word per second.  However, gratitude requires you to take the time to feel thankfulness in your heart.   Gratitude is an action of the heart and not a casual or quick string of words.  Gratitude makes our hearts happy and joyful.  Any daily activity, ifyou repeat it long enough, will become a change in lifestyle.  Imagine having a joyful heart as a lifestyle and not just an occasional, passing moment!

Here is what I wrote on Day 1 of my Attitude of Gratitude Journal:

1. I am deeply grateful for my friends Donnie and Reba Rambo-McGuire who open their home each week for our church services. .Donnie and Reba lead our group in heartfelt singing; tearful prayers; loud laughs; and warm hugs. The church group is filled with talented, Christian songwriters! Yet, their talent does not over-shadow their dedication to use their talents for the Lord! I am grateful for each member of our church

L to R: Paster Reba Rambo McGuire; Me; and Dr. Dony Rambo McGuire (Paster Reba's talented husband.).

L to R: Paster Reba Rambo McGuire; Me; and Dr. Dony Rambo McGuire (Paster Reba's talented husband.).

2. I am grateful for my great friends, and songwriting buddies, Christopher Pernishek and Tery Wayne. One night when I was almost out of gas, they lead me to the nearest gas station in an area of town I did not know well.  Unfamiliar places can be really feel scary after dark. Chris and Tery not only lead me to the station, but they would not leave until they were sure I was OK.  (Hint: Great co-writing begins with building great relationships with co-writers. More on that in a future blog).

My wonderful friends and writing buddies (above) Christopher Pernishek and Tery Wayne (below).

My wonderful friends and writing buddies (above) Christopher Pernishek and Tery Wayne (below).

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3.  My Multiple Sclerosis has taken a heavy toil on my body’s immune system. So every 21 days, I have to be given an IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin Infusion). In laymen terms it is an infusion of donor, white cells. It takes about 6 hours a day times two days. It can be painful, and I often feel like I have the flu, for several afterwards. But I am grateful for my insurance company giving my case a special approval. I have friends with my same condition, some worse than me, who cannot get this treatment, due to the lack of insurance approval and/or coverage.

Why don't you try your own Attitude of Gratitude Journal?  Can you stop with just three things a day?  Please share a few of your gratitudes with me.  Did it made a hard time go lighter?

On My Golden Pond

Memorial Day 2015

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Of all the waterfront views in Nashville, I have a million-dollar waterfront view. My view does not need celebrity status or Music City legacy to give it value. My Golden Pond draws endless value from those who explore it and make memories around it.

On my pond’s banks, a curly-head, four-year-old boy, discovered the joy of his first fish! His two favorite matchbox cars were thrown aside, so he could fully explore his first fish with both hands and both eyes. His mouth, wide open in awe, was larger than the wide-mouth bass he had just caught. Both the fish and the boy’s eyes were caught in the moment of first discovery. In that moment, my fair-headed grandson, Christian, was no longer a baby; nor toddler; nor preschooler.  He had become a fully certified boy—for he had caught his first fish!

Meanwhile his fascinatingly, autistic twin sister, Isabella, was busy trying to talk like the bullfrogs. Without any rules of pronunciation, she found joy in her ability to make a new sound. She was content just to repeatedly walk the circle of the pond’s banks. And each time she circled the pond, her eyes sparkled with amazement. Each time around the pond was like her first trip around it. Every journey filling her eyes with a new excitement of; blades of grass; wild flowers; or bullfrog sounds. She and the pond were one in the same. She could see hidden layers of nature’s beauty that only an autistic child has the gift to see. She didn’t need words to get to know the pond better. The pond allowed her to find wonder in just being a part of nature for that moment. No expectations of each other—just being one with each other. That simplicity of interaction delighted her. And she rewarded the pond’s generosity with the eternal light of her smile! And now, the pond is a little more golden from the light of her of her smile.

The twin’s older sister, Dalayla, uncovered a secret garden under the limbs of a weeping-willow tree. She knows that it is not only a perfect pick-nick place for her; but also, a perfect pick-nick place for a mother bird to feed her new babies. The little girl’s hawk eyes will see and know every feather of each new chick, as they learn to fly. And as she sits on pond’s banks, and watches the chicks learn to fly, her own spirit will learn to soar upward in the same direction!

I look out the window above my writing desk toward my Golden Pond. Tearfully, I realized that my perfect Memorial Day on my Golden Pond has faded into a new Monday morning,  The gardener is here doing his weekly grass-cut. As he cuts round and round the outer banks of my Golden Ponds, my Nana-like heart wants to run out and bravely guard the sacred grounds of yesterday’s events. But then I realize, that cutting the grass on the pond banks only makes room for more growth. That room for growth will be needed for each of my pond-explorer grandchildren to find a new nugget of wonder on the banks of My Golden Pond.

 

 

 

Goodbye to My Dear Friend and Great Songwriter!

Cindy Wilt Colville June 8, 1956 - July 10, 2014 Music Publisher and Friend to Songwriters

Cindy Wilt Colville
June 8, 1956 - July 10, 2014
Music Publisher and Friend to Songwriters

This month my heart said farewell to a very dear friend and fellow songwriter, Cindy Wilt Colville. She passed on July 10th as a result of lung cancer. Cindy and I often shared conversations about writing, and we understood when bad health days interfered with our writing. Even during her darkest days Cindy kept on writing and caring. You may read more of her obituary here.

Many of you will remember Cindy from her guest blog here on Carolana Songs in October 2013. In her honor I would like to reprint her comments about the importance of journaling. 

WRITING YOUR LIFE
Reprinted with permission from cindywiltcolville.com and carolanasongs.com, October 2013
A valuable tool for capturing your life experience is journaling. This week I had a conversation with a songwriter who is in her first year of college. She is taking eighteen credit hours, so her plate is full. She told me she is committed to journaling every day. She is also engaging another tool to capture her life experiences, that is, to document any memorable events by writing them down on small pieces of paper and collecting them in a jar.
One key part of your songwriting life is your own life experience. It is the struggles, challenges and joys, successes and (to quote Bob Halligan, Jr.) the things that bug you that will inspire your songs and give them uniqueness. I believe that the desire to create songs is a gift that comes from God. It is your choice and opportunity to respond to this gift by doing the work it takes to write those songs.
I challenge you to journal: fifteen minutes every day for the next month. Set a timer and write whatever comes into your mind including scriptures, conversations, feelings, and any other details about your day. Do not edit anything you write. You will not have to show this to anyone. At the end of the month go back through your entries and highlight any insights and themes that have potential to be sources for song ideas. I would be very interested to hear if this discipline helps you to listen to your life.
I encourage you to write songs true to your own experience. Your most authentic creative expression will come from this place and have the greatest impact on those who hear your songs.

My dear friend, I will never sit at my writing desk without my heart missing your sweet spirit! Enjoy your new home, and I will see you at the Big House!

Writing with Red Toes of Courage

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Each year I fight the decision of buying my stage clothes or not. As my MS progresses, I am performing less. Yet my heart shouts out a call to courage — and I am able to write and perform another year.

In spite of my courage, the last few months have brought long periods of my being MIA on social pages and performance stages. My Progressive Multiple Sclerosis has caused several health issues since last November. Last week I had to face the reality that I am no longer fighting a MS Battle, but now am fighting a MS War. Excessive fatigue and chronic pain are suddenly my daily companions.

Last month I had yet another hospital crisis that forced me to face the realities of living with advanced MS. For several years I have dealt with mutated white blood cells. Now, my neurologist has found that my red cells are showing signs of mutation. My body is also rejecting protein cells, due to this red cell malfunction. This new blood problem is causing very painful bleeding and hematomas in the deep tissues of my hips and legs. It is like walking around on a broken leg without a plaster cast or crutch.

My doctor says my resistance and ability to heal is growing weaker and weaker. AKA my body has grown too weak from the MS to fight back against injuries or infections. This kind of acute pain in the body makes the brain weaker even without MS. Episodes of deep tissue bleeds and infections will come with more frequency and severity, until my brain just gets too weak to send signals to the vital organs to function. That could happen tonight, or one-night years from now.

My doctor reminded me that my music and writing is the best medicine.  In fact it is better than any medicine that she can prescribe for me. In other words, keeping my passion and purpose alive will keep me alive!

My doctor explained, “You may only be able to perform a couple of times all year. But you will have the joy of tapping into one of your greatest passions! My prescription is for you to get your new stage clothes and look at them twice daily — once in the morning and once at night. Get this prescription filled BEFORE you go home today.”

So later that afternoon, a very frightened and confused me selected new performance clothes for this year. As I gathered the pieces together, I realized that a signature boot had been selected for me this year. How exciting to know that a boot had been designed just for me! The boots are Carolina blue with bright red flames designs on the sharp-toes. WHAT EXCITEMENT I FELT! God winked at me as to say, “This year you will be kicking Multiple Sclerosis’ behind with your new RED TOES OF COURAGE!” Even if I have to wear my new boots 24/7, I will keep kicking as long as my life-clock keeps ticking!

Tell me about how you have shown courage to overcome life’s obstacles. How often do you have to sound the courage call in your life?