Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Passing it on

Today, I spent some time with some ladies that live in a residential rehabilitation home - there's 18 of them that are living in a big ol' house in downtown Birmingham. They are all newly sober - and as usually comes with that many women in one house, new in sobriety, there's a little drama going on. OK - there's a LOT of drama going on - gossip galore.

My intention in going to the house was just to spend time with them and have a little pizza - maybe play some games, bring a little sunshine and distraction. As always, when I go, I brought "prizes" - journals, puzzle books, sweets - because who doesn't like a treat, right?

Well, with all of the grumbling going on at the house - I knew it wasn't going to work to just eat some pizza and dive into some games. There was some serious animosity going on - physical tension when certain people walked in the room, certain girls refusing to even hang out in the same room where we ate the pizza (now, THAT is a serious issue! Who doesn't want to be near pizza??). I hate tension - and so, my little brain struck with an idea! "What if I taught them how to do my handy dandy gratitude list exercise in these here journals, and explained how gratitude turns my grumpiness around?" Ta da!

They were into it! Everybody was able to pick their own journals out - and I walked them through the process. I explained that my lists varied from very simple things like "air" or "being able to walk" to very specific things like "the way the moon illuminated the backyard and made it so bright that I could see the way the dogs were spooked by the little baby frogs on the back porch". Once I gave them some examples, they were off to the races - some of the girls even put ME on their lists! Bonus!

All of the sudden, there were smiles on faces and the mood in the room lightened. They were actually having a good time trying to brainstorm things they were grateful for, and despite their extenuating circumstances, they were all about to come up with at least a page full of people or things they felt lucky to have. Just to add a little sparkle to the moment, I even handed out stickers that said things like "Well Done!" or "Wow!" - just because it was fun.

When everyone was finished, we moved on to how to write the prayer at the end. I told them that the formula I try to follow is three fold:
1. Thank God for all of the blessings in my life.
2. Ask Him for help to not mess it up and try to find a way to be of service that day.
3. Include a request for a friend.

I told them there was no right or wrong way to write the prayer - that mine varied every day, but that I use that formula as a way to get started when I feel stuck or don't quite know how to talk to God that day. (It happens - some days, I feel like God and I speak different languages.)

I encouraged the girls to use this as a tool - when they find themselves getting cranky or feeling discontented, this was an action they could take to turn their attitudes around. Moreover, it was something they could (gently) suggest to the other residents as a way to stay positive - instead of resorting to gossip and complaining. They seemed into it, and I am excited to have been able to pass it along today!

Here's MY list for the day:

Today, I feel gratitude for:
- Being able to pass it along and have it be received so well
- Someone on the board that's willing to step up and try to FIX some of the issues that are wrong
- Trying a new tilapia recipe that S and I both actually like!
- New books to read on my Kindle
- Plumbers that can fix things when they break

Dear God, thanks so much for the wonderful things You've graced me with, today and every day. Thanks for the opportunity to pass along this fun gratitude list tool. Help me to continue to practice gratitude in my every day life - and to be an example of how You can work through someone if we let You. Please keep an eye on the girls at the house - it's crazytown there right now, and they are scared. If I can be of service in another way, please show me how. Amen.

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