The creation of this blog is a culmination of years of pain, joy, self-discovery, and reflection. After the birth of my fourth child, I began a journey navigating life with Post-Partum Depression and an anxiety disorder. The constant feeling of being too much and not enough all at the same time was exhausting and debilitating. Therapy, meds, and support from my husband, family, and friends, were lifelines that kept me afloat when I was unable to do so for myself. Slowly over time I began to heal. Often the journey felt like one step forward, two steps back. Amazingly, I sit here reflecting on my life feeling empowered and grateful. I believe that every experience led me to this moment. Every success, failure, choice, and mistake… all the pain and joy molded me. I am so grateful for it all because a small piece of all those moments have become a part of who I am today.
I started journaling again as I soon as I started to feel better. I realized how much I missed writing during those early years with babies in the house. I rarely found the time to write back then. Whenever I did have free time, all I wanted to do was sleep. As I began to sense joy again, I felt led to do something that would help me stay on my path towards mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. So, I wrote a letter to my husband. I wanted him to know how I felt about him and the life we have created together. As you might imagine, doing life with a man you are raising 4 young children with can be hectic and sometimes chaotic, not to mention adding mental illness to the mix. And I wanted to share with him how grateful I am for him. I needed him to know that I saw him and that I appreciated everything he has done, and continues to do, in supporting and loving me. I felt so much closer to him as I was writing that letter. I felt grateful, which put me in a happier frame of mind.
After I did that, I began to brainstorm for weeks on what I could do to help other people find healing like I have. I realize that I have the enormous privilege of time and money to meet my needs. Not everyone has the resources to get the best possible care they may need. It is important to me that my idea be impactful and widely available to others. I wanted everyone to have access to whatever it was I was going to come up with…I dug deep to identify the most fundamental elements that supported me in my climb out of the depths of PPD and anxiety. I realized the turning point was being able to feel grateful again. At the height of depression and anxiety, I experienced little gratitude. It was not a feeling I was able to connect to. My brain would know I was blessed, but I didn’t FEEL grateful.
It was suggested to me that starting a blog for the letters could serve to support my healing as well as be the platform that could help me share gratitude with others. Gratitude letters might also resonate with others, I thought. I already had a list of people, places, experiences, and emotions that I wanted to process my feelings through writing.
So, Project: Gratitude Letters was born. This is a space for me to share my letters and, hopefully, to inspire others to write gratitude letters too. As I was working on putting this website together, I found myself gaining a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of myself. Which, in turn, has continued to foster profound healing and growing. It feels like I am emerging out of a chrysalis that no longer fits. I have grown and healed. I love finding peace in my own heart and mind. It inspires me to reach out and share gratitude with the world. I pray that these letters find you exactly when you need them most. I hope you choose to join me on this journey towards creating a more grateful world where we can all connect and share the power of gratitude with vulnerability, love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and authenticity.
With deep gratitude,
“A thousand-mile journey starts with one step.”
-The Tao of Pooh
On the surface, I am…
A married, middle-aged woman, of Cuban-Irish heritage, stay-at-home mother of 4, earned a Masters of Social Work degree, raised Catholic, oldest of 4 in my family of origin, middle-class childhood, mother of twins, former elementary school teacher, former flight attendant, former server, FSU grad, grew up in Boca Raton, FL, lives in Jacksonville, FL.
Under the surface…
Suffering with and healing from anxiety and depression, recovering perfectionist, friend to Bill and Bob, struggled with infertility, years of anxiety meds, countless therapy sessions, former rehab client, lover of romance novels and self-help books, life-long student.
As long as I can remember, I have been striving to find a way to connect and help others. To make a difference to people I meet. To take the time to be courteous and kind, compassionate. To do the right thing. To admit when I was wrong. To do better next time. To learn and to be open to being wrong.
What I learned this year was that I can be imperfect and still be able to change my world. I will not always express gratitude, or always be loving and compassionate. There will be times I will feel angry and resentful, even towards people I am grateful for in my life. And still, I will write and share my insight into gratitude, and how it has changed my life when I let it. I can still share my perspective with others even though I don’t perfectly live my own advice. I can still launch a gratitude letters blog even though some may say I may not always seem grateful to them. I can do this because I am radically changing the way I want to live my life. I am surrendering to the truth that I will not always be perfectly grateful. I will do my best. I will be introspective and make amends where needed. I will reset. I will try and try and try again. I will be persistent. I will have the audacity to be authentic.
I believe there are many other imperfect, wounded people out there who may be inspired to write their own letters. I want to be a part of creating a more grateful nation. I refuse to allow the critics inside and outside my head to control the narrative of my life any longer. That isn’t to say I believe myself to be a paragon of grateful living. But rather, I am an ordinary middle-aged woman in the process of actively learning to live in gratitude. I am inspired by those that struggle and share vulnerably about their most painful life lessons. I am inspired by their imperfect paths towards self-actualization. Frankly, I trust those spiritual warriors more because I can see myself in them. I can witness their ups and downs; the ebbs and flows of their spiritual growth. My inner critic likes to continuously ask me, “Just who do you think YOU ARE to try to do this?” I am someone who hungers for more gratitude in my life because it has been a healing balm on my personal pain and struggles. Sharing gratitude has the added benefit of allowing others to feel seen and loved. I know I am not alone in desiring love and connection. Even though I am imperfect, I know that I am worthy. I know I matter. I know I am enough, exactly as I am. And, I know that you are too. Join me on this journey. We are better together. Connecting, sharing, inspiring, comforting, and empowering each other is our legacy.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”