Monday, November 6, 2017

Thankful Author 2017- Judy Meadows

The Gratitude Journal

I (and millions of other women) first heard about the idea of a “gratitude journal” from Sarah Ban Breathnach, who wrote about it in the late nineties in her book Simple Abundance. She tells us to take a few minutes each day to write down five things we can be grateful for. She says, “You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”

I started keeping a gratitude journal as soon as I read about the concept. I have to admit I haven’t kept the practice up continuously since then, but I’ve returned to it often when stresses mount and negativity gains a foothold. There are little notepads, spiral binders, and clothbound journals hidden here and there in my life (mostly in my underwear drawer) that record my bouts of “journaling gratitude” over the years.

In between, when I’ve allowed the habit to slip away, I still remember at moments when I need it most to look for things to be grateful for. And I always find something. Finding gratitude moves me to a place of greater serenity. I’ll be walking along in the charming small town where I live, obsessing about some injustice I read about on Facebook that morning (or rehashing a dispute with my husband or worrying about my cat, who is old, or bemoaning the junk food I ate the previous night…) and I’ll remember the simple tool I have always at my disposal: “Look for gratitude.” As soon as I start looking - voila! – I notice that leaves are falling around me, and the beauty of it fills my heart, taking the place of obsession, worry, and self-pity.

I just dug out my original gratitude journal from 1997. I haven’t looked at it since I wrote in it. Here are some examples of things I was grateful for back then:
- My daughter had a new friend.
- I threw up. (Apparently that created relief after days with a bad headache.)
- My young-teen daughter liked her new haircut.
- I found a favorite, but forgotten, old T-shirt in the back of my closet.
- I bought flowers at the grocery store, and the young man bagging my groceries asked who they were for, and I said ME. (I was as grateful for the ability to indulge myself as I was for the actual flowers.)
- My dog and two cats. (All have since died.)  Orange juice. Sunshine. A clear conscience. The branch of the maple tree outside my bedroom window. A brisk, cool day in early autumn.
- Old friends. New friends. A warm house. My blankie. My dahlias. A good night’s sleep. Comfortable new shoes. A beautician who understands my cantankerous natural curl. My perennial bed and all the roots in it. My fruit trees.
- and so on…

Sarah Breathnach was right. I was not the same person after a few months of keeping that first journal. The journal is a record of my progress as joy became more of a habit. The insights that came while writing in that journal are still with me.

Sometimes in my gratitude journals I note the big things (husband, children, grandchildren, nice house, clean air and water, books…), but I get a great benefit by noting the little things. It puts me in a frame of mind to be on the alert for things to be grateful for - which is a lovely frame of mind to be in.

My most recent efforts at journaling gratitude were made in June of this year. I made entries for three days and then forgot about it.
So I will start again.

The first entry tonight will be:
I’m grateful to Angela for reminding us all to focus on gratitude and for jogging me to resume the valuable practice of keeping a gratitude journal.


Just released Nov. 1, 2017 - Midwife in Behruz
Rating - spicy, Length - 223 pages


She was outrageous—with her ponytail, her jar of semen, and her T-shirt that proclaimed, "Midwife at Your Cervix."

Layla's trip to Behruz is meant to be one last adventure before she joins her dreamboat fiance in Texas. But Behruz casts a spell on her. Her knowledge as a midwife is needed there. Serving women's health in a country where no one talks about "such things" is a challenge.

Majid, an American-trained doctor, is ready to settle down, but because of an old family bias, American women are forbidden to him. That's no problem until Layla walks into his clinic with a sassy smile, a jar of semen, and a blond fiance back home.


“Does it bother you when I say vagina or uterus?”

“No, but those words come up when you’re talking about your work.”

“Well the word penis comes up in my work too, and I do use it. As you know, I wouldn’t have any work if it weren’t for penises.”

She smiled a challenge. Her eyes held his as she tucked hair that had come loose from her ponytail behind her ears.

He gulped back his astonishment and laughed. He’d never experienced a bawdy exchange like this with a woman. It was fun. He laid down a challenge of his own. “You use that word in your work? I kind of doubt that. Give me an example.”

She was adorable with her cocky little smile and her face scrunched in concentration. “Oh, I know. I’m looking at a three-month ultrasound with a patient, and I point to the nub below the umbilical cord. I tell the woman, ‘That’s the little penis.’ ”

“Yes,” he said. “I can see how it would come up in that context. Is that all?”

“No. Let me think. Oh, I know: women ask about how to wash around their babies’ penises. They wonder about spots and splotches on their partners’ penises. And…”

“Okay, okay you win. I see this is an important word in your vocabulary. And do you use words like that when you talk to your American fiancé?”

“Hmmm. No.” She fussed with loose tendrils of hair again, and then, apparently giving up on the ponytail, she pulled off the band that held it and let her hair fall free around her shoulders. “I don’t suppose I do. He uses a wide assortment of words to refer to the male reproductive organ himself, but I think he’d be a bit uncomfortable if I started talking about penises.”

“I’m glad to hear that. It makes me feel less backward.”


He straightened a stack of papers on his desk. “I’m aware that people in your culture are more open than we are about matters related to sexuality. People of my culture must seem quite inhibited to you.”

She settled her hair behind her shoulders. Glints of auburn shone from the thick waves. “No, not to me. I don’t think inhibited is the word I would use. I’d say people of your culture are more respectful of sexuality. I imagine more of the mystery and sensuality of sex has been retained.”

Mystery and sensuality. That brought rather disturbing images to his mind. He saw a seduction scene as she might imagine it, a scene in which his culture was exotic and mysterious. And sensual—with incense and brooding music and silken robes—maybe in the desert in a sheik’s tent, with rugs and cushions and clusters of grapes.

A dreamy fever clouded her eyes and a fresh bloom crept across her cheeks. Was she imagining that same scene? Was he in it?

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Author bio

Judy grew up in a small town in Minnesota but now lives in a small town in Oregon. Between then and now she's lived all over the world, including two years in the Middle East and over a year in Mexico.

She's had a few careers--computer systems engineer (New Jersey), fruit farmer (California), domestic violence advocate, doula, and childbirth educator (Oregon).

She's a wife, mom, grandma, cat lover, gardener, embroiderer, traveler, and now (yay!) writer


  1. Journaling is good on so many levels, and I'm thankful for little reminders. Love your blurb!

  2. Judy, Such a beautiful post and wonderful reminder. The FIRST thing I do every morning after I get up is write down five things for which I'm grateful. Funny, but I've NEVER run out of things, even in the difficult times. Have a lovely day!

  3. Gratitude journaling sounds like an effort worthy of the time commitment. Maybe I will give it a try! Love the excerpt--sounds like my kind of book! Good luck to you and keep up that journal!

  4. What a beautiful post, Judy! I love gratitude journals, so maybe I should re-visit the idea. All the best!

  5. Hi Judy,

    I've never tried a gratitude journal before. I think I'm going to start one today. These days it's so easy to focus on the negative. It's time to break that habit. Thanks for the wonderful reminder about all of the little things there are to be grateful for in our daily lives.

  6. Thanks, friends, for taking the time to say you enjoyed the post and to Angela for jogging us to remember to be grateful.