Last weekend, I spent a lovely afternoon with some good friends enjoying a spring festival at a local winery. I’m just so happy that it finally feels like spring! And we can spend afternoons outside in the sunshine! We chatted and sipped wine and ate good food and shopped a little. And while shopping, I got an unexpected gift and a little chain of serendipity.
I saw these really cool re-purposed wine bottle lamps, vases and wind chimes. And I wanted one for my patio. So I bought this one…
And then I got talking to the artists who make them. You can find them on Facebook here. I found out that they host DIY parties and teach people how to cut and create their own bottle artwork. We chatted for a few minutes while they wrapped up my purchase and then the woman told me that I was their first sale that day, and so she was giving me a special gift…
I got a Ling Bling! The artist, Lori Merck Ingwerson, creates these whimsical charmed sun catchers, calls them Ling Blings and gives them to her friends (and customers!) to remind us to be thankful…for what was, what is and what is yet to come. She sends them with people when they travel and asks that they leave the bling somewhere for someone else to find or to give it away and then to send her a picture of your bling out in the world. This kind of thing is totally up my alley! And that’s exactly what I told her when she gave it to me.
I love the idea of giving thanks, of gratitude, and especially of gratitude in action. I’ve written here before about one of my favorite authors, Brene’ Brown. She is also a researcher who studies shame. Which might sound kind of sad, but in the process of studying shame, she has discovered and taught many ways to live courageously and authentically. One of her findings is that people who practice gratitude often feel a deep sense of joy in their lives. She writes in her book “Daring Greatly” about practicing gratitude. She says, “I use the word practicing because the research participants spoke of tangible practices, more than merely an attitude of gratitude or feeling grateful. In fact, they gave specific examples of gratitude practices that included everything from keeping gratitude journals and gratitude jars to implementing family gratitude rituals.”
When I got my ling bling, I immediately thought of this idea and I love how this artist is doing something to spread the spirit and action of gratitude in others. I’ve kept a gratitude journal (because Oprah said to!) on and off for years. During some seasons of life I write in it every night, other times I use it more sporadically, and there have been stretches of time when it’s been almost forgotten. The practice of writing down things, people or situations for which I’m thankful has pulled me through some tough times and helped me savor the sweet seasons of life. What I’ve found though is that whether it’s a rough season or smooth sailing, I can always find something to be thankful for, and in addition, perhaps most importantly, the more I notice the good things, the more good things show up in my life.
Perhaps a little example of this is that one day this week, as I often am, I was thinking of what I might like to write about. This ling bling popped into my mind and I decided I would write about it and thankfulness. So I was scheming up how I’d compose this post, and on that same day I was to teach a lesson to a girls running group that I coach. When I flipped to that day’s lesson in my coaching manual, I got another little gift from the universe…the topic I was to teach to my little runner-girls…gratitude! So we practiced turning our ungrateful thoughts into grateful ones. And then we ran our hearts out!
So I’m holding on to my ling bling for now. It’s hanging on a hook, right across from where I eat breakfast each morning and where I finish up this blog each week, and I’m looking at it and I’m looking for a good time to give it away or leave it on my path for someone new to pick up and carry on.