Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.

Feb

23rd

good life – by jenny meyerson

Part of cultivating a good life is being grateful despite our circumstances.

My daughter Emily was only 18 months old when I was first diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, she has no recollection of that time. After a few scares of recurrence over the last two years and finally clean scans, our family has slowly returned to the normal routine of life. Emily, however, found that transition difficult. She struggled to understand the fairness of the disease and this led to some understandable feelings of fear and anger.

My husband Jeff and I sought to comfort Emily and answer all of her thoughtful questions. We found that we weren’t always able to give her the perfect “everything is going to be ok” answers she craved. We did, however, tell her over and over that we were grateful, despite everything we had endured. We were grateful to be able to have tough conversations with her and grateful to have such a passionate, 10 year-old daughter who desired to right the world of disease and injustice.

Jeff and I started to practice the act of daily gratitude with our four children. We desire a life for our children filled with gratitude and hope for the future, not being enveloped by the fear and bitterness that difficulties can bring. Every night at dinner we stated what we were grateful for. And despite a lousy day or a bad test result, we could always find multiple things.

  • “I am grateful for Cocoa Puffs. They make my belly button happy.”
  • “I am grateful for new art supplies.”
  • “I am grateful for the huge, dead tree in the front yard. Some people aren’t lucky enough to even have a dead tree.”

Soon the fear started dissipating and the joy of Emily’s infectious grin returned. Emily and I started writing our daily gratitudes on tags and hanging them from the brittle branches of our dead tree.

Emily’s grateful tree is beginning to blossom with over 400 tags. Hopefully the tree will hold the other 600 tags we have left to hang. And I have never been so grateful for second (and third…) chances for our family and our tree. Working on this project has convinced me that gratitude is a choice, requires consistent practice, and is contagious.

Since hanging tags from our trees, we have met many of our neighbors. Unfortunately, all of us seemed too busy before to really take the time to get to know one another. A simple tree, pieces of decorated paper, and a 10 year-old girl with a grateful heart has changed that.

Life is good.

 

Note from Becky

Don’t worry – I’m drying my eyes, too, over here. I am deeply moved by what Jenny has shared with us. I have been personally affected by cancer in many ways, as I know many of you can relate also. My dad and one of my brothers have triumphed over cancer’s threat, but another brother lost that battle just a year and a half ago. One of David’s brothers is currently fighting the battle. One of our very best friends is in the ICU right now with a brain tumor that keeps coming back.

Cancer sucks. (And so many other diseases of course.) I know we all feel that way. But I have an intensely strong testimony about gratitude and the role that it plays in helping us to cope, endure our trials with grace, and even thrive as we get through the hardest times.

Jenny is a remarkable documenter of life and a scrapbooker. She takes phenomenal everyday photos (you’ll see this in her social media) and has a gift for telling stories – not only in words but through the lens. I am honored to have met Jenny a few years ago (she’s local to me and lives right here in the Phoenix area) and I have felt a connection with her ever since. We’ve seen each other in person probably just 2 or 3 times, but I absolutely call her my friend.

Oh – and if you want to see something that will make you love Jenny even more, watch this. It’s a very happy way to spend 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Be sure to gather the family around to watch, too.

Other links to check out if you want to see more from Jenny:  blog  |  instagram  |  facebook  |  twitter

 

COMMENTS

12 Responses

  1. Laura G. says:

    I remember when you lost your brother to cancer, and now I am in the last few months of treatment from breast cancer…yes, cancer SUCKS….too many family and friends have to deal with this…I lost my mother to colon cancer…she had THREE types of cancer: breast, uterine and colon cancer, but she was a perfect example of being grateful for every moment she had…my prognosis is good to be “cured” of breast cancer, but it s been a long 16 months …I look at others with this disease and realize I am very lucky…some have been battling it for years…and I am grateful…:)

  2. Laura Z. says:

    I can surely relate to Jenny’s story. My girls were three and six when i was diagnosed…seventeen years ago. Ten major surgeries later, I am still fighting but still here! When I was diagnosed and we told our six year old at the time (now 23 and going off to grad school for her Phd) she said to my husband and I ” I have one question…are you going to die? Like Jenny, we were not able to give her the answer that she wanted. We wanted to be as honest as possible so we simply said “Mommy is going to do everything possible not to die”. She looked at me and said “okay mommy, i will help you”. Through my entire process of fighting this disease I have been grateful for so many things, but mostly that I could watch my children grow up. My heart went out to you Becky when you lost your brother. And to you Jenny- I say Bravo!!! And I loved the video!

  3. Laura Z. says:

    Becky, I forgot to add how much i love project life and have used it to document my children’s lives going back 23 years! Their first five years are finished…Yahoo!!

  4. Robyn G. says:

    Love this and followed Jenny’s blog for a long time. I really miss her entries and her cupcake recipes!

  5. I have been a huge fan of Jenny’s for a number of years now, and her blog and life lists have been a major inspiration to me.
    So very sad to hear there have been some recent setbacks to her health. But so very glad to see she hasn’t lost her fighting spirit. She’s not so active on her blog any more but you should definitely check out her Instagram feed, awesome to see people relish life so much. Much love xx

  6. Sarah G. says:

    Such a great message for our children, for US. Jenny is an amazing writer — thanks for sharing this post, Becky.

  7. Kathy Wittlock says:

    Yep Cancer sucks…. it was not the plan when we closed my LSS, the past two years as I follow my husband from doctor to doctor… Kidney and Prostrate Cancer Survivor is the story I want to tell! I sneak a picture in the waiting room, physical therapy, or just because…. lets keep sharing the stories!
    as a scrap booker it is always so good to read a uplifting post ,
    thanks for sharing!
    Life is good! I
    am grateful for each new day !

  8. Cindy says:

    What a beautiful testimony of love and hope. Thank you Jenny and Becky for sharing with others. Your spirit is contagious.

  9. Thank you Jenny for sharing how the dead tree with four hundred tags came to be. You are an awesome writer and a wonderful inspiration.

    And yes Becky, cancer does suck. It runs in my family as well. I’m still praying for a cure. :)

    Mary from NH

  10. Joy Shimabukuro says:

    Becky! Thanks for sharing! I lost me best friend, my older sister, to cancer two years ago, it still hurts. But you’re right, Jenny’s video was just right on! Power to all those who keep beating cancer!

  11. Lovette Thompson says:

    What a beautiful way of bringing yourselves and your community together through a simply project. I’m inspired to continue documenting my journey and I wish you all the best!!!

  12. dawn says:

    What a beautiful story you’ve shared today. I’m so happy that you get this chance to show your daughter how to turn a scary thing into a gratitude thing. This is how I love daily, thankful for every little bit that happens and showing my kids the same thing. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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