Monday, 18 January 2016

Days of Gratitude - Eleven Days, Ten Nights.

To continue where I left off last time.  These are more daily posts in the Sunday Assembly Newcastle Gratitude Group on Facebook.  The more awake among you will note that I missed a day.  Not because there was nothing to be grateful for but because of a combination of busyness, not remembering to take a photograph, and just not being disciplined enough to do what isn't a compulsory thing in the first place.

I've been enjoying looking back at these pictures.  And I enjoy seeing what other people post too and smile at the things for which they are grateful.

This post covers 8th to 18th January.  Ten nights away from home staying first in Manchester and then on the Fylde coast.  Many of the days could have included gratitude for so many things, large and small.

In 2001 I was part of an online support group for people who self harm.  One of the regular challenges there was to write lists of positives.  Some days I could sit for an hour writing the list before it contained one item.  My head could not see the positives because of my terrible mental health at the time.  Objectively though, there are many positives every day for most of us, many things for which we can be grateful.

8th January

Grateful that I have love in my life. For everything this picture represents. And grateful that by the end of today I get to hold the hand in the picture again and be with the person whose hand it is.

 9th January

Grateful for this lunch yesterday in a new Thai cafe in Bury.

Also grateful to the Manchester transport official who said I could ride on the tram for free even though I have the wrong concessionary pass for that.

11th January

Grateful for the sweet alpaca in Heaton Park.

This may confuse those who wish to point out the lack of alpacas in Heaton Park.

But I was in a different Heaton Park.

12th January

Today included illegally taking someone's meds to get through a panic attack.

It would be easy to focus on that and call it a bad day.

But there has been so much good today. So much. I could write a blog post about all the good. So many good things to be very grateful for.

A big one: The photo is of us at the theatre tonight after seeing Into The Woods. And bonus - half price tickets because of disability.

13th January

Grateful that there are at least three good things in Fleetwood and to have experienced them all in the last few hours:

Scallop barm cakes.
The Eccles Cakes from Home Bakery.
And this very friendly, cuddly cat who lives in a tiny charity shop.

14th January

Grateful for spotting street art on the bus into Blackpool, getting off, and finding enough of it to fill a blog page when I get back to Newcastle. And finding a really cool 3 floor antique and junk shop across the road from the art.

Three photos from twenty-seven were posted in the gratitude group.  Only one is here - because there will be a full blog post of the photos. Grateful for my little phone too. Amazed by technology.

15th January

Grateful for this gadget that I am finally using having been given it probably two years ago.

Also grateful to have been introduced to the most excellent Skulduggery Pleasant series last year (or bullied until I agreed to try the first one) and for my set of signed books in paper version.

16th January

Grateful for an extra bonus day with the wonderful Amanda. Tourism and just being together in Blackpool. A verandah moment: Holding each other on the beach, in the snow, as the tide came in around us.

Yeah. Very grateful that today was possible.

17th January

I went here this morning. Fifteen years ago I was a deacon at this church and was a very sound lay preacher. They loved my words. And I was masking misery, and self harming before leading services. No real solace in the old, old story.

I am very grateful indeed. Very grateful.

Because my faith, whatever it may be, is completely different the one I used to preach. That I am not that miserable self-hating guy any more. That there is so much hope and freedom outside of the exclusivity I proclaimed so fervently. That there are so many great possibilities that I no longer reject.

Simply, grateful because life is so much better now.

18th January

Here goes. Grateful to be home after 10 days. Grateful the journey was good and the views contained snow. Grateful for my own duvet.

And for memories of the time away.

So there we have it.  Ten days away.  Now I am home and life can get back to normal, if it was ever normal to begin with.  The grateful days will continue and there will probably be as many surprises this year as last year.  I have so many struggles and the challenge of getting through the days is often immense.  But gratitude is a healthy habit to have in the struggles.

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