Good Things

In the past I’ve reported the contents of my Good Things Jar. The first time I wrote about it was January 2015. Any time there is something good, it gets written onto a scrap of paper and tossed into the jar. Back then, Tara was living with me and we both contributed. We had intended a tradition of reviewing the good things to start off our Januarys, but we skipped a couple years, then Tara moved away for college.

I’ve continued to contribute to the jar. It sits on my kitchen counter, and one thing I like about it is that just seeing the pretty glass jar reminds me to think of something good. It’s a healthy habit.

The second time I wrote about the jar, it was a collection of three years of good things from both Tara and me. Today my post will be the same thing: three years’ worth of good things. Only…I did not put a single slip of paper into the jar in all of 2020. And there were good things in 2020, really good things. But in general the year was tough, and I’m not surprized that of all years to let the tradition slip, it was last year.

I want to motivate myself to use the Good Things Jar again. The first step, then, is removing all the old notes and getting it ready to receive in 2021. I will list what I found. There was so much self-affirmation, ha ha. Sometimes that’s my response to misery, and sometimes to joy. I am sure there were both during the past couple of years.

2018 good things:

  • 1-1-18 Gorgeous weather and a bright outlook!
  • 1-1-18 In 2018 I will not have to spend a single day worrying about money (not sure if that ended up being true, but I do recall this relief after I paid off some debt)
  • 1-5-18 Exercise makes me feel great
  • 1-16-18 I am painting (I pulled out my oil paints and started learning to paint again)
  • 2-3-18 Massage (As a treat to myself, I began seeing a massage therapist every two weeks. It was blissful.)
  • Myanmar made me smile
  • 3-8-18 I have the best ADP on the team (I don’t even remember what ADP means, and I’m glad my self-worth is no longer determined by statistics)
  • 3-9-18 I am beautiful and smart
  • 4-11-18 I have options
  • 4-25-18 I am filled with passion and hope
  • 5-10-18 Compassion is one of my great strengths
  • 5-26-18 I like hard work
  • 7-29-18 I grew up in New Meadows and we all love each other (One of my favourite things about my tiny Idaho hometown)
  • 9-27-18 I have options (I wrote this twice. I can tell I was thinking about my future.)
  • 10-21-18 I can afford to leave my unhealthy job

That last remark was clearly the most profound thing I wrote all year. On 10-25-18, I had a nervous breakdown at work and never went back. It was almost as if I realized I didn’t have to stay there and kill myself anymore, and once I realized it, my body gave up trying. I didn’t put another piece of paper into the Good Things Jar for six months. I spent those six months in a fog, as I told some friends: “walking into walls.” But that is what I needed to decompress from my tough job.

At Faerieworlds in 2019 I was brave enough to have a whole conversation with puppeteer and fantasy royalty, Toby Froud. I am the kind of fan that gets paralyzed like a deer in headlights when confronted with someone famous that I admire, but this time I completed sentences and did not pass out.

2019 good things:

  • 4-23-19 I am strong
  • 7-6-19 My hard work paid off
  • 8-24-19 Got a photo with Toby Froud! (Yes, I am a nerd)
  • 9-8-19 I am a catch! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • 8-14-19 I got hired for a super cool job (teaching in Annapolis for employees of Veterans of Foreign Wars)
  • 10-13-19 I’m always excited to spend time with Tara ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 11-23-19 I am good at teaching
  • 12-31-19 Eggs! (ha ha. I remain grateful for the eggs from my fat and sassy Hussies)

I feel hopeful about this year. Do you feel hopeful? Not that it’s going to be great, but that we – as a global community – are no longer sinking but beginning to rise. It feels so good to be hopeful after such a long, hard slog through fear and death and loss and not knowing what was ahead.

It makes me want to get all ambitious about turning my life around in the new year. I want to make Resolutions!! I used to post – instead of New Years Resolutions – New Years Fantasies, because it allowed me to hope, but without all the pressure.

Another idea I have is to do a series of One Year Later posts. You see…at the end of March I began a COVID journal. I was thinking that the world was changing and with time we would grow accustomed to what was different, and it would seem normal, and we would stop noticing it. I titled my journal “Noticed,” and I tried to capture the things that caught my attention, that were different because of the pandemic. I think it would be kind of cool to take a single interesting thing from each day I wrote in 2020, and post it on that day in 2021 – to remind myself that we came through Shelob’s lair and here we are still. Stronger. Wiser. Maybe a little quieter after our lesson in humility. And we should be proud that we did it, and honor those we lost.

25 thoughts on “Good Things

  1. Interesting idea. Not sure it would work the same for me (mostly because I never forget how good we have it).

    And, yes, it’s sometimes difficult โ€” while amid a changing world or situation โ€” seeing and differentiating the good from the bad or even that there’s good to be had.

    Really, all I’m hoping for 2021 is to see the world “stabilize”. There’s no way we’ll “get back to normal” as some people keep hoping. These kinds of events change us, change society, and change the world. Trying to recreate the world we had before misses the point that we weren’t ready to handle the stress of the situation. Hopefully, we’ll take this for the learning experience it is, and end up in a better place going forward. We’ll see.

    While, like you, I hope for stronger and wiser, I’ll have to see some evidence that we can learn, gain wisdom, become stronger.

    Individually, many are doing just that . . . collectively, I’m not sure. Still too much division, resentment, even hatred. That a long road to come back from, but one can hope.

    1. Such a thoughtful comment. Thank you for taking the time to give your take on it all. Wishing for stabilization is a good place to put your wishes. BREXIT, Trump, Iran, all these topics of unrest that have people up in arms. Yes, if only we could have the stability that allows us to calm down. I believe people have learned, and have become wiser. Just think of how many people have personal knowledge about pandemics now, compared to exactly one year ago. But we remain flawed human beings, as we always will be. I still love us though.

  2. I think the one year later idea is fantastic. I wished that I had kept a journal about the flu and all the political, social, economic and personal effects it had on our country, my city and my life.
    Unfortunately, all the things I wanted to do, especially with my mother, would not occur because of my motherโ€™s illness and subsequent death. This more than anything else, destroyed any creative ambition I had.
    But now, with the new year, Iโ€™m going to start the good things jar and start my own history project.
    Thanks for this great idea, Crystal.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that your mother died. When my own mother died, it was a blow to me. I can understand how living through an illness, and then a death, of a parent, would wreck your creative ambition. I’m glad you are now inspired, and I hope you find something like the Good Things Jar that works to prompt you to acknowledge the good things. There are always good things, in every life, but I find that recognizing them is the challenge sometimes. One of the first good things you can write down: you are a creative person! That is wonderful! It can be your medicine.

  3. 2020 was a lost year. There were some good things about it but even collectively the sum of these cannot compensate for being separated for so long from my grandchildren.

    Let’s all keep hoping for a better 2021.

    1. Oh Andrew, I am so sorry you’ve been separated from your beloveds for so long. Saying Hi on the phone or over video is just not enough. For me, 2020 has often felt like waiting. Waiting…waiting… for when I can be with my own family. And my dear friends whom I love like family. There was a period in the summer when it felt better and I saw a couple of people, and now we’re all locked down again. The year was a neverending trauma. This year must be better. Happy New Year, my friend. Here’s to hugging grandchildren, and traveling to distant lands, and cramming around a table at a restaurant with all your friends.

  4. I’m so glad to see that you’ve emptied the jar and made it ready for all the good things to come. It’s also a great idea to look back a year to see what you saved from that day one year ago. I’m kind of doing this with my calendar posts. And also: Eggs!! (Hahah! I love it!)

    1. Yes! I’ve noticed that with your calendar posts. You are one of the bloggers I follow that typically does a really good job of end of year reviews. Andrew often does that, but I admit I have been remiss in visiting his blog lately, so I can’t say about this year. I have fun following your favourite images of the year posts, and hearing the stories that go along with them. Sometimes hearing a story a second time, but usually getting a fresh story in the process. I also seem to recall images better than words, so it is so much fun for me to look at your old photos and recognize them. And to recognize people, and places in them. Oh gosh, seeing Amore in the birthday post was so fun, after meeting you two on your birthday call and then the other visit recently.

      I think “Eggs!” was one of the best good things of the whole jar. I’m so glad you liked that one. When I read it, I laughed out loud. Eggs are a good thing.

    1. Thank you Derrick. I might just do that then. My daily journaling didn’t start till March, so I have a little time to begin. But…the news stories did begin trickling in to my world in January. I just talked with Tara’s dad on the phone yesterday, and he said, “Do you remember that it was in January last year when you asked me ‘hey, have you heard of that new virus in China?’ ” I didn’t remember that I knew it that early. Anyhow, it does mean I could start writing about One Year Later, just based on old news stories, till I caught up with my own journal.

  5. I love the Good Things Jar idea, Crystal. I hope your jar will be filled to the brim by the end of 2021. ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus I’m looking forward to your One Year Later post(s). I’m sure they will be very interesting.

    1. Glad you like the idea Jolandi! I actually got the idea from another blogger friend! My jar is an old antique canning jar from Canada that my mother had, and it’s decorated with some of Tara’s artwork, so the jar itself is special to me now. I hope to put a lot more notes into it this year. Boy, if I could get into a habit of anything to help shake off the awfulness of 2020, I’d like it to be a habit of thinking of good things.

      Thank you also for your input on the One Year Later posts. Derrick liked it also. I’ll have to give some thought about how to do them. Since I usually do not post very often, I could do short posts for OYL, with the journal comment, and my reflection on it. Then do separate posts as my actual blog posts. Or maybe for each regular blog post, I could start with an OYL bit. I’ll think on it.

  6. What a good idea, Crystal. It’s a way of capturing the best of the best. It’s far too easy to focus on the negative, to wander down dark paths. And there is so much beauty in the world, so much to be enjoyed and appreciated. And often they are simple things. Here’s to a full jar in 2021. โ€“Curt

    1. It’s a good strategy for me, Curt. As Emilio said at the top, he is able to remember how good we have it, but I don’t always. I get so sad and lonely sometimes, and that’s exactly when I wander down dark paths, as you put it. Once I get on a path, sometimes my brain wants to stay there. Here’s to a full jar!! It’s the simple things I love the best: a rainbow, hearing a new bird call, collecting eggs from my hens. These kinds of delights are in every single day. I hope to have lots more good things in my jar when I report back in 2022.

      1. I’ve been down dark paths as well, Crystal. And I know a bit about how hard it is to get off of them. Like you, I learned to center the bad things with the good things, even if I had to make a list. And the good things were always in the majority. The other thing I have always done, since I was a tyke of 6 or 7 was head for the woods, which has always calmed my soul and healed the hurts. You are far too good of a person to let the bad parts get you down for too long. You are loved. โ€“Curt

  7. It seems many people like the idea of a good things jar. Emptying it and looking at all the good at the end of the year is a great way to keep things in perspective. I’m so glad you have decided to expand this idea and do the year later post. You have inspired many to follow your example. Lots of love and hugs.

  8. Your good things jar is such a beautiful thing, especially when doing it with another person. What an inspiring gratitude practice. Also, you are right about the past year. It was hard, but good things also happened. This year, I suppose I am hopeful – for a vaccine, for healthcare workers to get some reward for their efforts, for society to get itself together – there are so many things that could improve, no doubt. Happy 2021!

    1. “Hopeful for society to get itself together.” Oof, I wish for that, too. After what I saw on the news Wednesday, I’m afraid we in the U.S. have a desperately long way to go. And yet, I remain hopeful. I suppose hope is one of my coping mechanisms, ha ha. Happy New Year to you!

      1. Something we should inspire our children to think about when they experience troubles.

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