December Sanity Retreat: Day 1 Gratitude

I’m really excited to be starting the 6th installment of our self-care retreats—the 3rd December Sanity Retreat! (More on the retreat & contests below.) Every year, I always post on the things I want to add or simplify in my life: more movement, more meditation, more mental/physical/quiet space. This time around, I plan to try something totally different and post each day on something I’m grateful for, because that’s what’s calling to me now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To be totally honest, I’m both eager and intimidated. I’ve never tried to post daily, and there are times when I skip weeks! And I also know that it’s easy to think about maybe 10 or so things that I’m grateful for, but 31? That’s a lot. I do tell Mr. Dude the things I’m grateful for on most days but it’s about a 30 second listing, not something where I take a good 5-10 min and marinate in the good stuff.

To me, gratitude is simply expressing joy and appreciation for something. I need to get this out of the way first: gratitude isn’t the same as positive thinking. I remember when I first got sick, and a whole lot of people babbled to me about healing through thinking happy thoughts. What can I say, it seriously pissed me off. The stated and/or not so subtle the implication was that it was my fault for being sick. And it also meant that I was “bad” when I expressed painful emotions of grief and sadness.  It felt like code for painting on a happy face no matter what. While it’s lovely to always look on the bright side, “enforced happy” or some sort of always happy obligation just doesn’t fit for me.grateful

What I did learn is that gratitude DOES fit wonderfully well for me. No matter where I am or what is going on, there is always some silver lining that I can find if I chose to, some gift in the mix. I don’t need to deny any part of my experience, but I can decide which part of my reality I want to consciously focus on. For me, that feels authentic and empowering.

And so, here goes. Today’s gratitude will be short!

I’m grateful for having this space to express myself. I had no idea what to expect when I started blogging—I just wanted to share recipes and ooh and aah over yummies. That was almost 6 years ago. For me, blogging has given me a space to ramble when I wish, an invitation to express my thoughts, and most importantly of all, connect with others. 9 years ago the gluten-free world was small and scattered. Reading blogs, and later blogging, helped me feel connected, supported and inspired. I never would have imagined that I’d see blogging as a community, or develop beautiful friendships. It’s been a blessing to me.

More on the December Sanity Retreat & Contests

The holidays can be a beautiful time of family bonding, celebration and beauty. They can also be an overdoing, overspending, overstressing time of all flavors of excess. For the last 3 years, I’ve been delighted to host the December Sanity Retreat and the July Self-Care Retreat. This is our 6th retreat! It’s been wonderful for me to have an extra excuse to focus on self-care and rein in my natural tendency to need to bake (at least) 18 kinds of cookies.

I know how powerful it is for me to focus on self-care, and I imagine it’s similar for most of you, so as a gentle extra nudge, we’re doing 2 giveaways.

Giveaway #1: Let us hear your voice! big orange flutter

Prize: a $50 gift certificate) they are not sponsoring, I just wanted something with healthy gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, etc. options (US/Canada)

Comment on any of our hostesses’ posts on the Sanity Retreat, like this one. Leave me a comment on how you cultivate gratitude in your life, OR what you’re most grateful for.

Giveaway #2: make the challenge your own!

Blog on your own self-care plans, and a post will be chosen at random as the winner. If you don’t have a blog, contact the hostess of the week and they’ll post for you.

Prize: a box of fun things from me.

As always, self-care is whatever it means to you. So the December Sanity Challenge can be on whatever YOU need to work on to stay sane during the holiday season

Balance around food * Joyful movement * Sanity & stress management * Making space for art, expression, and spirituality * Connection with friends and family

Or whatever else speaks to you along those lines.

The challenge—post on what you plan to do to make your holidays sane, happy and healthy.  Make it specific!  Not just “I’ll get more sleep”, but “I’ll get at least 7 hours of sleep, 5 days a week”.  Not just “I won’t go crazy making desserts”, but “I’ll make a maximum of XX desserts, and space them out over XX time”.  You know what you need to do to keep this doable, and writing it down will help you get there!

I’m delighted to be joined by wonderful hostesses with likeminded blogs:

I hope you choose to join us, too.  Grab a badge and we’re good to go!

We’ll also be meeting up in our Facebook group for extra encouragement and support. You’re more than welcome to join us there.

Posts so far:

My 30 days of gratitude:


About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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15 Responses to December Sanity Retreat: Day 1 Gratitude

  1. pamela says:

    This is a tough one for me at this moment, but I do see the value. I’m a bit hesitant to share because what’s going on in my life is very heavy and very sad, so I write this with an apologetic note.

    Today, I am most grateful for my little sister, Beverly. She has been an inspiration to me since our childhood. She’s laughed with me, played with me, danced with me, and sang off-key with me, held me when I cried and thought my world was ending. She’s is an artist who’s entire life echoed her artistry. And she is not likely to live through this day.

    My commitment for this hour, with an attempt to carry it through the day, is to focus on all that she is and all the she’s done that makes me grateful to have been her sister all these years. There will be plenty of time for grief.

  2. Pamela,
    I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you right now. What an amazing gift you’re choosing to give to your sister and yourself by choosing gratitude, even in the middle of an unbelievably huge challenge. I’m in awe of you! Much love.

  3. Cheryl, I think you will do great with your gratitude postings. Even one line will be sufficient. 🙂

    Pamela, sending all good thoughts and prayers your way. Your choice and words are beautiful, but I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult your situation is.


  4. Linda says:

    I too am saddened by Pamela’s story. While we all know that death is part of life, watching someone we love die is a heart-wrenching experience. Pamela, I pray that the God of all peace and comfort will continue to fill you with gratitude and mercy.

    For me choosing to be grateful has become much easier in recent years. In 2010, I experienced what was called an ‘cancer emergency’. Technically, I was beyond the point of no return when the extremely aggressive lymphoma was found. I knew God was in control, but thinking that I might not live to see my 2 new grandbabies (two of my children were expecting) was hard to think about. However, by the use of some chemo that was equal to the task, some wonderful doctors, a loving family, gracious and supportive friends and most of all the presence of the great healer, I survived. That was three years ago. When I am tempted to be frustrated or frenzied by the day to day stresses, I simply remember, where I could be, and then I remember to be thankful for the day.

  5. Janet says:

    I am grateful for a job that i can see and talk with people. I work in a library and I never know who God will bring to my desk 🙂

  6. Randi says:

    Single Mom caring for my 31 yr. old son!
    I find amazing JOY in seeing my sons SMILE most mornings!lol
    His smile makes me want to be healthier & happier! 2005…my only child was in aMC accident(no helmet)…took me 3 long hours to find him
    Catastrophic TBI…spinal cord injury! He suffers daily…he does not walk or talk!
    His smile makes me a Happier & Stronger woman!
    Stress brought out the an illness that lie hidden for 30+ years!
    The Joy I get caring for my son… that’s what you do when you are a mom!

  7. Linda,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It seems like many people “wake up” after a life threatening diagnosis and start living more vibrantly. What a beautiful thing to see the light that can come out of the darkness.

  8. Shirley,
    Thanks for the wakeup call re: overdoing my commitments!

  9. Janet,
    Such a lovely way of putting it! Librarians are always awesome.

  10. Randi,
    You are one inspirational and strong woman! Much love to you both.

  11. Sending hugs and prayers to all of you! You guys are all so inspiring.
    Much love,

  12. Sarah says:

    I am also grateful to be able to get massages to help balance the stresses. Thank you for sharing and for your inspiration.

  13. Gladys Goodey says:

    I’m grateful to have been diagnosed as a celiac two months before I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer resulting in a doubled mastectomy, chemo and maximum amount of radiation. If I hadn’t found out I was a celiac I probably would not have survived the chemo, and that was 6+ years ago, so I’m doing well. Each day brings a smile on my face, just waking up. And Christmas, heck, the Christmas of 2007 felt like it could have been my last, but now I’m just going strong. So, I volunteer as much as I can and it makes me feel good. I do as much as I can for others, usually behind the scenes, and that is where I want to be. Going Gluten Free has been one of the best things in my life, but my husband is the BEST in my life.

  14. Sarah,
    Massages are teh best!

    I’m so glad you’ve conquered those challenges and are able to give back in powerful ways! I think that’s awesome.

  15. Gladys Goodey says:

    Yes, life is wonderful…today I’m housecleaning(never get it all done!), and giving away things on Freecycle. What a great thing that is, and I’ve met so many wonderful people, many who do good things for others when they have so little themselves, but always think of others first. One can look around and there are always people worse off than yourself.

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