Updated: Apr 25, 2022
By Susan Poulin as Ida LeClair
Sometimes setting yourself up for success means planning ahead. We’re told to do this when we’re dieting, like cooking and freezing healthy meals ahead of time, or having small bags of car- rots and celery sticks ready for snacking. But did you know that planning ahead also nourishes your inner spirit? If you schedule some personal re-energizing appointments or put them on your calendar, you won’t forget to make time for yourself. Set aside fifteen minutes when you get home from work to sit and have a cup of tea before you start supper. Or take an adult ed class in rug hooking, scrapbooking or Crock-Pot Magic—whatever floats your boat.
I love my weekly appointment down to Hair Affair with my friend Patsy and the gang. The Saturday morning crew doesn’t really spend time together outside of Hair Affair. But still, we know quite a bit about each other because having your hair done with friends creates a bond, kind of like the wonderful Southern ladies in the movie, Steel Magnolias (us Mainers call ourselves the Sturdy Pine cones).
Despite my efforts, sometimes reconnecting and re-energizing gets lost in the business of everyday life, especially during the holidays. I always try to take January 2nd off from work to recharge. I wake up with that wonderful feeling of starting fresh, like I used to get as a kid after going to confession at church. My goal for that day is to make a list of all the things I’m grateful for in my life.
I keep a gratitude journal all year, just like Oprah. Every day I write down at least five things I’m grateful for. You know—like I’m grateful for how pretty that cardinal looked on the bird feeder this morning, or that I didn’t have a second brownie at book club. But on January 2nd, I make a big list, and I work on it throughout day. When I’m fin- ished, I take that list, put it in an envelope, and write on the outside, “To be opened in case of an emergency. Love, Ida.”
Then I go into my craft room and tack the list up on my bulletin board in place of last year’s version. I always read that list to see how I’m doing on the gratitude front, making sure I didn’t forget anything on my new list, before retiring the old one to my gratitude file. I have lists going back about ten years. That’s a lot of gratitude. Just seeing that envelope on my bulletin board perks me up. It’s comforting to know it’s there. If I’m running low on gratitude and in need of a little re-energizing, I can go into my craft room, read my list, and top off the tank anytime I please.
Writer and performer Susan Poulin is the author of The Sweet Life and Finding Your Inner Moose: Ida LeClair's Guide to Livin' the Good Life, as well as ten plays, five of which feature her alter ego, Ida LeClair. She also writes a blog, with posts like this one, on her website!