40 Days of Giving Thanks

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heartGratitude is the best place to begin and end, isn’t it? No matter the circumstance, gratitude is always a good idea. Right around my 30th birthday, the idea of birthdays changed for me. The “me-centered,” gift giving, party-driven theme just didn’t fit. What felt more true was to use the date as a time of reflection to look back and give thanks, learn from mistakes and look forward to coming goals, dreams and ambitions.

This year, I have the blessing of turning 40, and how do I feel about that? A overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for a really great life, bumps and all. Grateful for where I am. Grateful for dreams and reflections. To celebrate the occasion, I am committing to 40 days of giving thanks. My actual birthday is Aug. 12, but I’m using Aug. 1 as a kick-off point. I’d be humbled and honored if you join me.

Here are a few things I am thankful that 40 years of life have thought me:

  • There is no “me.” We are all connected and one can not flourish alone. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to live a life, and, most definitely, no one succeeds as a island. Every great person I know has a team along with them to champion them, encourage them, believe in them — and sometimes carry the load. Thank you to all my champions.
  • The present moment is all there is. It’s been said so many times before because it is true. Yesterday is history and tomorrow hasn’t happened. Come back to today. When you make art, this becomes even more apparent: You have to be so present with the process. Art isn’t math; it’s not about a formula to achieve a predictable result. It’s more a dance, and improvisation becomes important. So does not judging yourself.
  • Art changes lives. It has that power, and it embodies the miracle of creation all at the same time. While it is greatly undervalued in our culture, I feel lucky — no, unbelievably blessed — to live a life dedicated to art: making it, educating in it, and generally promoting its joy and depth.

All of this gratitude doesn’t turn a blind eye to the struggles and hardships of life. Life is indeed hard. It’s also as hard as you make it. It’s filled with ups and downs. While the making of art is my passion, I would be doing you, my readers, a disservice to pretend it flows out of me like a fountain. Sometimes it’s an all out wrestling match, and I don’t win. Every day, in fact, there are struggles with the paint/canvas and myself. We argue, I get distracted, check my email way too often, worry about the “business”  side of things. I try really hard to not judge this and just accept it is the way of things.

While I am committed to 40 days of giving thanks, I will do my best to share some of the struggles as well, because I think all too often, we are not honest with each other about the difficulties. We are all left feeling alone, and like perhaps we are the only ones who wrestle with this or that. Let’s together also give thanks for the struggles.

With humble thanks, I invite you to join my journey here and on Facebook, and together we will give a whole lot of thanks! I invite you to share with me what you are thankful for, and let’s see if we can start a mini revolution of gratitude!

About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

2 responses »

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