It is December, and I survived my 30 Days of Thanks challenge. I’ve had a few days to think about the challenge, and what I learned. Some of you have shared your thoughts and insights with me, which I appreciate. Your comments are honest and they serve as an important tool for me as I continue to develop as a writer.
At the start of the challenge, I explained how I completed this in previous years using my Facebook account. Since I have been working to develop a daily writing habit, I decided to try using my blog this year. In 2013 when I was recovering from surgery and a near death experience, several people sent me cards and notes describing why they were thankful for my presence in their lives. These stories not only buoyed my spirits, they also filled me with purpose and gratitude. I wanted to use my blog to return the gift and offer essays of gratitude to people who have made a difference in my life. I share my own thoughts with you now after completing the challenge, because sometimes my take-away reflections are not the same as yours.
- Writing is emotionally exhausting. Writing these blog posts revealed emotions I was not expecting. I felt it was important to be honest and did my best to be as authentic as possible. The tears I shed at my keyboard were mostly tears of gratitude, although there were tears of sadness when writing about friends and family no longer with me here on earth.
- Sometimes your special memory about a person is better than the story of your friendship they think you will share. I enjoyed surprising friends with memories they were not expecting. And it was fun to share a laugh with my friends as we remembered fun times together. We don’t do that nearly enough.
- Creating content daily is difficult – particularly for a writer who likes to edit, edit, edit, edit and edit again. Even with a calendar and a plan, I never felt as prepared as I wanted to be. As soon as I decided to participate in the challenge, I sat down to organize my writing and plot it out on a timeline. I had to discipline myself to hit “publish” on work I felt was not truly finished just to meet my daily deadline. But I didn’t miss a day – and stuck to my goal of 30 posts. For someone who is prone to hesitate before sharing her writing, having a deadline was a good impetus.
- Everyone has a story, and sharing these stories can help spark understanding and acceptance. When I selected my “subjects” I tried to find something specific to highlight about each of them, not knowing how readers would respond. I always asked permission before sharing anything personal. I wrote about my friend Kelly hoping for a positive reaction. Her story was one of my most active posts! Many of you contacted me on and off the blog to ask about her progress and express your support for her transition. I shared your sentiments and comments with Kelly, who was very overwhelmed and thankful. She wants me to share her appreciation with all of you. I am glad her story resonated with you and happy her journey has inspired some of you, particularly in light of some awful media stories about violence towards transgender individuals. Kelly is currently recovering from facial feminization surgery but she has agreed to let me write a follow-up post about her in 2015. Look for more about Kelly’s journey to authenticity next spring.
- I am blessed and grateful to have such a wide circle of friends and family who support me and care for me. A new friend of mine often comments, “You have too many friends!” Really, I think he’s just jealous, and I also tell him it is impossible to have too many friends. It did make selecting people to profile one of the most difficult tasks related to this challenge. I cheated a bit by putting my five sisters all on one day, and my brothers-in-law on another day. But I know I did not include people I wanted to. Perhaps this means I’m well poised for next year?
I have to admit, I’m proud of myself for actually declaring my intention to participate in the challenge and then seeing it through. I am grateful all of you played your part in the process, offering encouragement and comments. I enjoyed the opportunity to offer those I care for a glimpse at why they matter to me. These wonderful people would never seek recognition but they have glorious stories. What a privilege it was to be able to share some of them with all of you.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of my 30 Days of Thanks challenge? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.