Creating a Gratitude Diary

What is a Gratitude Diary?

A gratitude diary or journal is where you write down things that you are grateful for on a daily basis. They help you to focus on the positive things in your life, sometimes they can be just small things that we can easily forget.

You can decide how long you want your list to be and also how much detail you want to write down. I personally like to write down three things that I am grateful for and 1 that Is the best part of my day.

Gratitude means the feeling of appreciation.

Gratitude Diary

How to start a gratitude diary

It’s hard to easily recall small moments in your day that may have brought you joy or laughter. Writing them down at the end of a day into a journal will help you to reflect on those moments that you are grateful for – big or small.

  • Choose a book/diary/journal. I found that a small notebook is ideal if you are to be carrying it around with you.
  • Set aside some time to write in it; just 5 minutes a day will be enough. Once you get into a routine it will then become a habit.
  • Focus on what has made you grateful that day. It can be family, friends, food, work, a stranger, a change in your life or an accomplishment. It really is what works for you. It is your diary, your interests and what makes you happy.

Reflection

After a few weeks think about how keeping the journal has improved on your happiness.

Do you interact with others more?

Are you more positive about your life?

You may find that your daily entry into the diary is too much and you decide that you will only do it a few times a week; that is fine. Do what feels right to you.

Finally

Write down in more depth one thing that has made your day/week. Focus on that thought just before you go to bed. This will hopefully help to declutter your mind, which will help you to think clearer.

The gratitude diary will help you become more mindful, live a peaceful and balanced life. It is a great way to remind yourself of things that truly matter

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Guilt: A Lasting Side Effect of A Cancer Survivor

That Guilty feeling

After a cancer diagnosis it is natural to go through many different feelings; It is like an emotional rollercoaster. Some people feel angry, sad or anxious whilst others may feel depressed or guilty. Myself, went through all of these and many more but the worst one was the guilt. Cancer turns your life upside down and you can just about experience every emotion there is, you have your ups and downs. I blamed myself for becoming ill. I looked for reasons why I got cancer.

Blame

I blamed myself for lifestyle choices that might have led to my cancer. Could I have done something differently? When I was in University I had many late nights; some nights where i had no sleep at all, where I was out drinking and dancing. Boy, I drunk! If I didn’t do that, would I have still fallen sick? Was it because I starved my body of a certain nutrient, that I didn’t eat the correct food or have a balanced diet? Did I compromise my immune system? I’m not really a junk food person, but we’ve all been there when we have had a takeaway on a night out. Could that have been the cause? Was my job too stressful? Was I working in the profession and putting too much strain on my health? Did I not give my body enough rest? Maybe, I didn’t exercise enough! Maybe, walking daily or doing a 10 minute excerise at home just wasn’t enough to keep my body fit and healthy.

Media

The belief that cancer happens for a reason can be an attractive line of thinking — where there’s an effect, there must be a cause. Right? That’s what we’re led to think.

“Don’t smoke, you will get lung cancer”

“Obesity is the cause of cancer too!”

“Exposure to carcinogens increases the risk of getting cancer”

“Too much sunburn can give you skin cancer”

“CT scans in childhood can triple the chance of developing brain cancer”

The list is an endless blame, causing us to feel guilty about the lifestyle that we lead. And, that moment when you get your cancer diagnosis you begin to question your life; you begin to lay blame on yourself.

I even read recently that drinking hot tea can cause Oesophageal cancer. Social media is to blame for the guilt that cancer patients suffer. What we read and what is shared around on the internet causes us to believe that we have put our own lives at risk by cleaning our houses with bleach or that we eat too much processed foods.

Companies lead us to believe that there products are anti-cancer by claiming that the ingredients help to fight off cancer cells, making us feel guilty that we enjoy eating our favourite foods.

Fault

Guilt and blame go hand in hand with cancer. More often than not we don’t know what causes it, Cancer is caused by so many factors – yet, we still blame ourselves.

Not only did I feel guilty that I got cancer but I also felt guilty that I had to take time off of work to have the treatment and operations; guilty that I was putting my family through such misery and worry; guilty that my young children had to experience such a horrible thing and even survivor guilt – why have I survived and my friend didn’t?

I felt that I was letting people around me down; family relied on me to be strong and I couldn’t be that person anymore.

Nobody was judging me but myself.

Warrior

I was constantly told that I was a warrior; that I had kicked cancers butt. But, I felt ashamed to be called a warrior as I didn’t see myself as someone who had won a fight or someone who had courage or a skill.

I just didn’t want my life to end; I didn’t fight and I certainly wasn’t brave. I cried every day, I was weak and I beat myself up for becoming so ill.

I did what everyone else who gets cancer does and that was to get through each and every day a day at a time. I attended my appointments; took the daily cocktail concoctions of drugs that was prescribed to me; laid in a machine daily for 5 weeks and had operations to remove the tumour

Cancer weakened me. It played with my emotions. It played mind games with me. I was psychologically and physically beaten.

Goodbye Guilt

I don’t want to feel guilty anymore. I don’t want to look within me for blame.

I want to look to the future now because that Is what I have. A future with my family.

I need to acknowledge my feelings and let go of the guilt. I will now focus on the positive and good things in my life. If I could fight the cancer then I sure as hell can fight the guilt.

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Mum, I don’t want to be different!

Attending Secondary School

It was my sons first parents evening since starting his secondary school and, like all the other parents, I was looking forward to finding out how he was getting on with his studies but also how he had settled into year 7.

He doesn’t attend our local school, instead he travels to the next borough. His older brother had attended the same school and he wanted to follow in his footsteps and go to the same school. My son started school in year 7 whilst his older brother was in year 11 – his final year at school.

Dyslexia screening

Although, I had appointments with his subject teachers I really wanted to talk to the SENCO.

Back in junior school – year 4 – I had been told by his optician that he was showing signs of dyslexia after they had done an intensive eye test on him. I had mentioned it to his school, but nothing was done about it as his reading age was beyond his years.

In the first couple of months of starting secondary school they put the children through a few tests including dyscalculia and dyslexia screening. I was eager to know the scores because of the previous test he had done, but every time I called the school I was informed that the results wasn’t through yet. A few months had passed and I received a letter from the school regarding the results. It had come back that my son was showing signs of dyslexia and they wanted to put him into intervention groups to help him with it. Of coarse, I wanted all the help he could get so he started to attend a special programme called Alpha to Omega and had extra Literacy lessons.

The struggles

As I mentioned before, you couldn’t fault my sons reading. At the age of 11 he has a reading age of a 17 year old. You could have a very intelligent conversation with him and his choice of wording would be very detailed, he was articulate and detailed. He would use a wide range of vocabulary when explaining things to you but this was not evident in his writing.

He struggled with his handwriting, spellings, taking more than one order, tying his shoe-laces, confusing his direction, forgetfulness and mixing up letters and numbers, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’ and ‘9’ and ‘p’.

He found it hard to get to grips with the times tables, recalling the days of the week and months of the year in order and remembering mathematical facts.

Learning to adapt

As the years have gone on, my boy has learned to deal with it himself. He has been persistent and resilient in his learning. He would choose the easier way out when it came to writing – simplifying his sentences omitting difficult words with easy words.

He wears his watch on the left wrist so he knows which is left and right, without it he can be lost -literally!

We have spent years practicing his times tables and we spend at least an extra hour a week just going over sums. He has learned to love maths and this has helped him.

He is given chores around the house to do, telling him to do one thing and following it with another order. For example; asking him to go upstairs to find a book and to put it back in another place.

Back to Parents Evening

Even though we have always believed him to show signs of dyslexia we have never actually been told by someone in education that he does have it.

My son has been attending two sessions a weeks for the past 4 months in school, missing out on subjects that he really enjoys to get the extra support in specific areas of need.

As we sat down with the SENCO and she went through his scores from the tests taken earlier in the year.

Mild in Dyslexia

Scored very low in Dyscalculia

We sat and talked about his struggles or signs and she agreed that he needs extra support, but what has been given to him may need to be at the next level as he says he is finding it too easy within the group.

Dyscalculia test

We are not sure that the results reflect his ability. As part of the test he was asked to answer by pushing the right or left button for the correct answers but obviously not being able to identify his left and right didn’t reflect the true answers.

SENCO have agreed for him to sit the test again in October with the new year 7’s coming up into the senior school and this time they will label the buttons with L and R to help him.

I don’t want to be different

It was the first time that my son had been told he was dyslexic and had dyscalculia. We had discussed it before but it had never been confirmed by a test.

As we walked out of the school, my son turned to me and said

“I don’t want to be different!”

My heart broke.

I told him that he isn’t different. He is still him. Nothing has changed.

I reminded him that we are all different and that the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. We all have something that makes us different from one another, but now we can work on his as we now know what he is struggling with.

Nothing changes for us, we will keep encouraging him to achieve and we will keep on spending time with him going over his spellings and times tables.

I understand that he just wants to fit in with his friends, that he needs to feel secure and safe within his environment. He reassures me that no one is picking on him for attending interventions, but it’s just painful to him to finally hear that he has different educational needs to his peers.

It’s time now for him to shine as now he is receiving the support that he deserves. I have reminded him that he has already acquired and developed skills to get him to where he is now. He is already in top set for Maths and English. We just need to be positive about this, I want him to know that it’s Ok to be different!

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