A long time ago I wrote a post called Good Things Jar, in which I explained that I had heard about this project and had successfully completed my first year of recording good things in 2014. I never wrote about it again.
The idea is easy to find in many versions on the Internet. And as blogger friend at Contented Crafter mentioned in my first post on the topic, it’s been around for years. You find a container to hold notes, and simply drop in your “good things” thoughts all year long. Then at the end of the year, you review them. It helps you remember how much you’ve come through emotionally in the year, and it gives you perspective. It also allows you to feel joy for those things again, even if they happened months ago.
The good news about the good things jar is that Tara and I have kept it up ever since! I’ve saved all the little slips of paper because I knew that some day I would do another post. Tara and I kept up the tradition of reviewing the notes together in January of 2016. However, this year, with Tara staying at college more and more, the only notes in the jar were from me.
I still use the original jar, pictured here. It’s an antique glass canning jar of my mother’s. The lid says it was made in Canada, and that makes sense, since Mom spent nearly her whole life in Idaho, close to the Canada border. Back in the old days it was easy and common to cross the border without any fuss, planning, or paperwork because all the authorities cared about was whether you were bringing in cheap cigarettes to sell. She may easily have picked it up at a shop in Creston or Nelson, BC.
In the spirit of looking back on New Year’s Day, I reviewed the good things we’ve been thinking about during the past 3 years.
In 2015 we both wrote a lot about the new house, since it was the biggest thing going on that year until Tara started college in the Fall, which itself earned multiple notes. Tara wrote about Disneyland multiple times. Macaroni and cheese made it to Tara’s list again, to my amusement! Oregon’s wild daffodils made it to my list again. I think seeing items repeat year to year says something about us. We both repeatedly mentioned our friends, and I included my brother Ian twice. We both also wrote down self-affirmations, like mine that says “I am beautiful.” The power of statements like this can’t be denied.
The parts in parentheses are comments I added today that were not on the original pieces of paper.
- Your own room and bathroom again
- I met awesome and relyable and relatable people at OSU (Oregon State University)
- Finding the perfect squirrel gifts for Mom for Christmas (I agree that squirrel things are good.)
- Steam! It’s great (I have no idea what this is about, but it’s hilarious)
- Sudden cookies 2-21-15 (again, don’t know what this means, but I think we can all agree that sudden cookies are a good thing)
- Friends that you remain friends with even after separation 8-31-15 (the date shows that Tara was still connecting with friends after starting college)
- Making cosplay is awesome! (costumes for Tara’s favourite annual anime convention)
- I managed to keep my spirits up while trying to buy a house 6-20-15 <– still no close
- Stand up paddle! 4-24-15 (this was in the top 5 of best first dates ever)
- Ian is an awesome brother & I got to visit twice in March and April 4-9-15
- My blogging community is filled with real friends 6-20-15 (I love you guys)
- I was born white in America 9-8-15 (I do not know what prompted this comment. It is a good thing, but saying it publicly makes me flinch a little. I wish I remembered the context.)
- I had the courage to ask for help 8-7-15 (a pack of friends came and helped me at my house)
- I am beautiful
- I have the confidence to apply for the DRO position 10-1-15 (Not only applied, but got the job!)
Tara only dropped three notes into the jar in 2016, due to hardly ever being at home. They had the idea to start up a Good Things Jar while at college, but I don’t think that has happened. 2016 was a transitional year for both of us, while Tara reconciled a new self-image that included successful college student and let go of the comforts of being a kid, and I learned to take care of my new big property and got used to living alone.
- Snow! 2-15-16
- U-cuts when forests let you down 12-14-16 (ha ha, this pretty much explains itself. We couldn’t find a good tree in a national forest, and on the way out of the mountains we came across a U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm, whipped in and found a gorgeous 10 foot spruce tree for only $28.)
- Kahlua 12-15-16 (Uh, methinks someone was into the liquor cabinet… But at 19 years old, I’m not concerned.)
- I get to watch Spring happen across my land 2-17-16
- My employer allows me to take the time off that I need 8-3-16
- Tara has embraced being a student 11-18-16
- Genevieve! 9-17-16 (I had this same exact one in 2015, but this year there was an exclamation point. Three cheers for best friends.)
- I can forgive 8-31-16
- I love my chickens 1-6-16
This past year had the fewest contributions, partially because Tara was gone, but also because I am growing more accustomed to seeing the Good Things Jar on the countertop among the other jars, as you can see in the photo above.
- I always rise back up. I smile. I laugh. I see beauty 6-28-17
- Tara is brave and strong 5-31-17 (You only know half the story, but this young person… is so brave and strong.)
- Sometimes, when I least expect it, I find out lots of people love me. 11-18-17 (I made a purely casual facebook post that said only cryptically that both good and bad things happen in a person’s life and it’s up to us to choose which things to focus on. Blam! In 24 hours I had been contacted by fb messenger, text, phone, and email by eight separate people checking on me. It was not at all my intent, and I was startled by the reaction. And then… I was touched.)
- I became a squeaky wheel, and it worked!! 11-24-17 (Speaking up about injustices done to myself is hard for me to do. I am overly concerned about being perceived as acting whiney and entitled. But finally, I was convinced that people needed to get off their butts and do right by me, and I started rattling cages and calling in favors and talking to people up the chain, and viola! It got done.)
- Romain and I love and appreciate each other 4-21-17 (Romain is a Rwandan priest I met in school in 2005. He has a tough time every April, the anniversary of his personal tragedy. Note, I underlined the date.)
- My blogger people always make me feel better
My cards to Suz worked exactly as planned 3-15-17 (Susie was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of the year. She lives on the East coast and I live on the West coast. I couldn’t think of what to do for her. So I began writing cards and postcards in which I talked about only non-cancer related topics. I never expected a response, but she took the time to tell me that’s exactly what she liked about my correspondence: no cancer for just a moment.)
I have a hunch that writing this post places this tradition squarely into my conscious mind once more, and when I see it I’ll act. Because, you know, I can always think of something. Every single time I look at the jar and ask myself, “What is a good thing, right now?” There is always an answer. And that’s probably the best good thing of all of them.
17 thoughts on “Good Things Jar – 2015, 2016, 2017”
I love the jar idea. Not sure I’d keep it up but I do keep a daily gratitude journal where I write the thing I’m most grateful for that day. I usually write in my daily journal all that happened that day but the one thing journal helps me review and really focus on the one thing. I’ll give the jar some thought though. I like it. I’m spending lots of time looking at all the good these days. Happy New Year, Crystal and Tara. Got your letter and loved all the news. Lets hope this is a good year. Tonight’s moon is AWESOME.
Marlene, I hope you noticed my shout out in the Christmas letter. I love you dearly. Happy New Year to you too. I’m planning a visit to you soon. Maybe January 9th, my birthday? I had to make the jar as easy as possible, or I wouldn’t do it. So, if you look at the photo at the top, you’ll see I screwed on the lid without the glass insert inside. I set the glass piece on top. Then I cut up pieces of paper, and keep them with pens, inside the drawer just below the jar. When I think of a good thing: viola! supplies are right there, and it takes half a second to lift up the glass, drop in the paper, and set the glass back down. Seriously, the only way I get myself to do stuff most of the time is to use some psychology or make it easy. ha ha!
I did notice, Crystal. Thank you. I have to get a lot better organized and decluttered to pull that off. Give me a heads up if you decide to come by. I have embroidery group on the 9th but I can cancel if I know ahead of time. Talk to you soon.
Excellent use of a lovely idea. The ‘born white’ comment made me think of your Cherokee ancestry – anything to do with that?
Oooh, clever thought Derrick. You know, I honestly don’t recall, and your idea doesn’t trigger a memory. I was probably mad or scared about how someone else had been treated, and recognizing that I was born privileged …through no effort of my own. It could have been with regard to Indians. Oh, you know what? It could have been the U.S. Presidential elections campaign. I was afraid of how much worse things could get here for people who appear different than stereotypical whites, if Trump was elected. So maybe that’s what prompted it. I had a lot of fear of him then. Now I just smack my head and roll my eyes because he says and does frightening things almost every day. The true consequences will come out years from now I believe.
You are right, Crystal. Whatever your reason, it displayed empathy
I very much remember the Good Things jar and am glad you offered us a glimpse and an update. Happy New Year, my friend!
Glimpses and updates are a common theme around here, ha ha! I hope you have a wonderful 2018.
how fun and I liked seeing the pile of notes and individual ones. and very cool that this is a Canadian canning jar – and I recall in the 80s when crossing was the border was rather easy as well – which years were you saying your mother went back and forth?
We lived in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint, Idaho from 1972 till about 1990. Then I was grown up and moved out, but Mom lived in Moyie Springs, Idaho from 1990 till her death in 2011. So I recall crossing the border as a kid, but my mother pretty much did it all her life till the last couple years when it required a passport, and she didn’t have one.
oh thanks – and sounds like she was in Canada a lot.
and we sure have come a long way in security – I was crossing the rainbow bridge in June and had dogs smell my car!
Wow. I’ve never had dogs greet me at the border. These days, though, I do have to get out of the car while it’s searched about 50% of the time. Where is the rainbow bridge?
The rainbow bridge is near Niagara Falls.
and I have not had the car searched in a long time – since the 80s? but we do not go very often – and it was interesting to read that you have yours searched 50% of the time – wow
You know, I get the sense that it’s merely routine there at the border crossing I use most frequently: Porthill in Idaho. Here’s a post with a funny border crossing story near the end: https://crystaltrulove.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/coast-roadtrip-vancouver-bc/
Beautiful tradition and how you go about it. ❤ I noticed that as soon as I started my first blog, in 2014, I stopped writing affirmative stuff on my fridge. As long as it's somewhere…
Yes, that is a good point. Where it happens is not so important, as long as it’s somewhere. Even if you’ve got someone around you, providing some affirmations too.