I hated technology. Until, like kindergarten, it gave me friends.
On my first day of kindergarten I remember the way I clutched at my mother’s hand and how she wiggled her fingers away. Then I sat down with those cuisenaire rods. I fell in love with the colors of the rectangular rows. I sorted and sorted some more.
Then came Christopher C. He liked to sort as well and I don’t remember looking for my mother’s hand again. I remember red juice and sitting in a circle listening to stories.
This is the same distant love affair I’ve had with technology.
I’ve clutched at the postal box when email beckoned. I held onto those envelopes from Target that delivered my photos when everyone else was sharing pictures in cyberspace. I viewed each introduction with suspicion while people’s “friend” list grew and grew.
But all the while I was trying. TRYING. Because, like my mother who was urging my 5 year-old self, I knew it was good for me to be out there connecting.
Then my daughter invited me to join a Facebook Group called We Appreciate. The premise of the group is stop by and mention something for which we’re thankful.
People say they’re grateful for inner-tubes – for floating down the river, or slow epiphanies- for mental meandering. “I appreciate poorly executed morning yoga in the sunny grass,” says another appreciative person. Here’s a brief list of some of the things that have come up this week:
- sprinklers and swimming pools
- singing in Winchester Cathedral
- my legs
- organizing and little bottles
- summer dance classes
- courage to say the thing I wanted to say
- the smell of suntan lotion
Sullivan Mackintosh started the group because a friend of hers was feeling unappreciated. I’m enthralled by a girl who would begin a small movement rather than merely shower the momentary compliments on her friend and move on.
So I am drawn in.
Just like I was by the cuisenaire rods and the circle of stories.
When the appreciating groups takes a left turn Sullivan intervenes with a positivity tutorial,
It’s okay to share in this group if something in your life is not going swell. A lot of us connect over those moments. But think about phrasing and respect. For example, if you have had a really hard time with your parents lately, I would recommend posting something like, “I appreciate my friend, Bobby Sue, who is always there to listen to me.” Let’s steer away from things like, “I appreciate when my stupid parents go away from the weekend so I can escape from their tyranny.”
Initially I was put off because technology felt cold and distant, a voyeuristic life. Perhaps it is, in the same way I was sitting in that circle at 5 years old, hearing stories about animals and far away places.
But I’ve come to see that the internet allows me to learn from others in a way I simply cannot from a book. I’m not reading about how these people are grateful.
I’m joining the circle.
When the post went up, “I’m grateful for blueberries,” my heart was flooded with remembrance. I remembered reading Blueberries for Sal to my little ones each tucked under the covers of my big bed. I remembered picking berries in the furthest reaches of Montana one summer long ago where my daughter learned to swim in a lake. I remembered blueberry pancakes in the big deck chairs next to my sister on the back porch in Pennsylvania.
I was grateful for so much more than blueberries.
Mostly I was grateful I’d let go of my mother’s hand, grown up and learned to trust that something new might bring with it a glass of red juice and a new friend.
What is the one thing for which you are grateful today?
It is my belief that gratitude is more than a thankful heart at the end of the day. For many, like Sullivan, it begs action. I’m offering a class in November that studies gratitude and a host of people who practice it. Want to know more? Join me and listen to the We Appreciate Team as they discuss the benefits of a gratitude forum.