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38 things to be thankful for

At about 3pm today I realised it was my half birthday. As in, six months since my last birthday. I’d been yearning to be outside all day, so took myself off in celebration to walk by the river. And then to a cafe to eat cake.

reflective writing with cake
coffee, cake, notebook: how I like to party

It got me thinking – birthdays and anniversaries are always a good time to take stock, I reckon.

I used to walk that walk when I was in my old job. I remember it being Autumn and looking at the orange, yellow, browning trees just as Red Tree Writing was taking shape in my mind. The red tree you can just make out in the picture above was one of the regular nudges I had to actually do something about it.

I remember dreaming about working for myself, about earning my crust writing. And now I am! This is worthy of celebration in itself. I’m so grateful to get to work on my terms, and spend my time playing with words.

What it didn’t occur to me to wish for back then, though, was the community of people this work has brought me. People with the bravery to go after what they want, the humility and vulnerability to take off masks. The deep sense that if life is to be lived well, it better be lived doing the things you care about, with and for people you respect.

I meet these people all the time – they are my clients, my mentors, members of my online and local networks. At some point every single day my thoughts go to them, the bridges they are building, the challenges they’re facing and the people they are helping.

I started writing a list of 38 things to be thankful for as part of my half birthday reflections. And these people showed up. I won’t share the whole list with you, there’s some personal stuff on there (including a baby due in February!) but I did want to raise a coffee cup to these people, woven into the fabric of my business and my self-employed world, who show me the way everyday through their stumbles as well as their triumphs.

Crikey, this is a bit sentimental. But it’s my (half) birthday, the sun is shining, I’ve been showered in autumn leaves and I’ve taken on a lot of sugar. Lots to be thankful for and I’m not apologising one bit for that.

Oh – and a final word on lists. They’re magic. The longer the better. I chose 38 this time because I am 38 (and a half). Here’s a bullet list of the brilliant things about lists:

  • they’re short-form: no pressure to write beautiful prose
  • you can’t get them wrong
  • you can create them quickly
  • they untangle thoughts without you even trying to
  • themes often appear that you’d never have spotted
  • you can tick things off them (satisfying)
  • you can repeat yourself – it just means that thing’s important to you
  • you can reflect on them in all sorts of ways
  • they’re jumping off points for further writing/action
  • they’re easy to read and digest

So if you’re feeling reflective, muddled or overwhelmed (with joy, sorrow, anger, excitement or anything), I invite you to grab a notebook and a coffee and write a list.

And if you want to join a wonderful community of values-driven people, much like the ones I’m eulogising about here, come and join us in The Copy Kitchen. See you there x

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