Grateful for anniversaries big and small

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Today The Kavanah Life celebrates one month online.

Luckily you can't see through your webcam, into my studio, where I'm doing a happy dance.

As I consider the simultaneously celebratory and reflective nature of this teensy tiny anniversary, I'm drawn to consider the same for anniversaries in general.

We are a family of many celebrations. We recently made our way through a season of significant milestones — our son's high school graduation, our daughter's confirmation and our baby's fifth birthday. (Yes, I realize that means she's officially not a baby.)

We marked them all with celebrations a varying degree.

As our oldest daughter approaches 16, I am reminded how she celebrates her birthday many times over. There's the family birthday dinner, the birthday cake get together with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — and some sort of birthday celebration with her friends. Then there's her half-birthday — which she likes to also mark with cake. (I am not making this up.)

But our anniversary celebrations aren't confined to those traditional. Our everyday victories are equally worthy of recognition and intentioned celebration. Passing a test. Showing off talent dancing on stage with friends. Playing a final lacrosse game on the high school team.

Sometimes it's a milkshake — or meditative — kind of day.

Celebrating simple milestones reminds me to be grateful for experiences large and small and to reflect on achievement — and also the failure — that brought us to this day. Celebrating simple milestones reminds me to consider the future.

Coincidentally (or not), the advent of Tisha b’Av (the somber, mid-summer commemoration of the destruction of the Temple in ancient Jerusalem) arrives at our one-month mark and reminds me that anniversary and reflection are not simply part of our family — they are woven into our faith.

My friend Senee Seale Gilbert, longtime journalist and recent psychology graduate writing about relationships, affirms the importance of celebrating the little things — and how being grateful is part of facilitating change in our lives.

"When we stop and celebrate the milestones, we are taking time to be grateful for how far we’ve come instead of being so focused on how far we have left to go."

Gilbert was diagnosed with a rare eye disease that causes blindness and says she understands what it's like to overcome obstacles to fulfilling dreams and purpose.

She recently graduated from college 23 years after starting that journey.

Instead of focusing on how many more years of school she has left to go to earn her doctorate, she spent the day reflecting on the people who started the journey with her and showing gratitude to everyone who was in her life at the time — and to those who no longer chose to be in it.

"I’ve often heard that gratitude opens the door for God to do great things in our lives and it attracts more of the blessings we are seeking. I haven’t yet perfected being grateful at all times, in all circumstances, but I’m better at doing it than I was before."

I join Gilbert in focusing on what makes me grateful each day, each week and each season — and the tiny victories that add up to our purpose in life.

Today The Kavanah Life celebrates one month online. It's tempting to focus on how far we hope to go — the entire breadth of what we hope to accomplish.

But it's important to take a moment — or three — to embody gratitude for what we've become so far.

B'shalom,

Amy

Amy A. Ritchart hopes Maria Rice McClure will join her for a coffee to celebrate the one-month anniversary of the blog. Comment, like and share this post using the tools below. Write amy@thekavanahlife.com, follow The Kavanah Life on Twitter @thekavanahlife and find The Kavanah Life on Facebook.

Senee Seale Gilbert is a Dallas native who has lived in Germany and various locations in the U.S. She married her childhood sweetheart in 2013, and they reside in Dallas where she is passionate about using her talents and knowledge to help inspire others to make positive changes in their lives. She earned her bachelor of science degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Dallas and plans to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. Follow her on Twitter @seneeseale and read her blog, It's all about R&R (Relationships & Recovery) at http://seneesealegilbert.wordpress.com.