A Time to be Grateful

New Year, Same Me

On 1st January 2020 I sat at my dining table with the Canon Zoe Mini printer my Mum gave me for Christmas, my phone, a piece of card and some sparkly coloured pens.  I was fed up, fed up that Christmas was over, fed up of being told I was supposed to be a new me, fed up of feeling that I was supposed to be dissatisfied and reaching for something more. 

I decided to do something different.  I thought about what I might do if I were actually enough just as I was, if my life were actually pretty amazing without a private jet, Range Rover or Caribbean villa, if instead of reaching for something outside myself I could find peace with what I already had.

Gratitude Board

This led me to create a Gratitude Board.  I went back through my photographs for 2019 and printed off the ones of people, places and things that made me smile and remember the good moments I had enjoyed, either alone or with those I love.  I included my TEDx talk, holidays, my favourite tea cup, sunset over the mountains in Kaprun, May blossom, my manicured nails, my Mum and my studio. 

As I put the pictures on the page I realised I could have chosen much more.  I ran out of space on the card before I ran out of pictures of wonderful moments.  Lifted by this realisation I carried on and made another card for the decade 2010-2020.  This one included my grandfather and my father-in-law, who both died during that time, and the birth of my son as well as my graduation, my first novel and amazing family holidays.

Life in All its Fullness

Looking back in this way, rooting myself in the people, places and things that really do bring me joy I realised how full my life already is, how blessed I already am, how glad I am to be living the life I have.

Can You be Grateful for 2020?

My daughter saw these cards up in my studio at the end of December.  She said, “You’re not doing one for 2020, are you?” 

I looked back at her, “Yes I am,”  I said.

The Joy of Being Alive

Now 2020 may be one of the most challenging times of my life, it certainly had more than its fair share of anxiety and concern, its dark moments.  But through all of those, running like a bright gold thread throughout each moment of my life, was joy.  Many of the challenges were there because I love: because I care that my children are having a good childhood, because I want to take away the pain and struggles of those I love, because I love the life I have been gifted with.

And however hard done by we may feel, life is a gift.  We may have never lived at all, but here we are, with the struggles, the hardships, the anxiety and with the love, the joy, the gratitude for every moment.

Creating Together

So I did make my board.  I also invited a few other actors and writers to join me and we virtually worked together over Zoom, putting our own boards together. There was something lovely about sharing the moment of creation with others working alongside me.   Some used card and paper, some used Snapfish, some simply wrote things down; all finished smiling.  Creating from a place of gratitude brings joy and shines a light that diminishes the darkness.

Will you make a Gratitude Board?  What would you put on it?  Let me know.

Esther X 


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