Every time I go on my quarterly personal retreat I pack this cozy plaid flannel shirt my friend Jeff gave me a few years ago.
Jeff and I met at “Life is a Verb Camp” which is a creative camp for adults. Jeff always wears these great flannel shirts and I joked with him once that I wished I had one. The next year he brought me one! It was kind of a joke and yet also just the sweetest gift.
I wore that shirt during bonfires and dancing on the beach all week at camp. Now, whenever I wear it, it reminds me of the smell of s’mores and laughing with Jeff and other friends.
I take that shirt with me on my retreats because it connects me to creativity, love and joy – the things I want to feel while I’m writing a book, planning out my year or brainstorming business ideas.
While on my retreat, I always take a selfie of myself in that shirt. Sometimes I’m sipping my coffee. Sometimes I’m walking on a dirt path among the oak trees. Sometimes it may be just my hand holding an inspirational book, only the sleeve of the shirt showing.
When I get home I send Jeff a note: “Jeff, I LOVE this shirt you gave me. When I am on retreat and I put it on, it feels like a hug from you!” I attach the photo and send him off this re-appreciation.
It is a simple gesture, but it does three things:
- Reconnects me to Jeff.
- Gives Jeff and me the chance to share a little joke or a memory from camp.
- Helps me remember the joy of loving something – and someone!
I call this “re-appreciation” and it has been very powerful in my life.
Here’s another small story: Just yesterday I was wearing these really comfortable and pretty blue socks my mom had sent me about six months ago. (My mom has a philosophy that comfy new socks are one of the paths to true happiness, so she is always sending everyone great new socks!)
I looked down at my feet and felt so happy in my pretty socks. Then I thought of my mom and felt so happy thinking about her because I love her so much.
On a whim, I pulled out my smartphone and pointed it down toward my feet and snapped a photo. Next, on a better whim, I went and stood on the small woven multi-colored rug she had sent me a few years back for my then-brand-new work studio. Even though the colors have faded over time, I love that she sent it to celebrate my new workspace.
Within a minute of thinking of it, I emailed that photo to my mom and told her I was wearing the socks she sent me a long time ago and they still make me happy. I thanked her for sending them – and for all the socks she sends.
Pretty simple. Not something that will change the world. And yet…that photo and those socks strengthened the bond between my mom and me. It was an unexpected silly connection for us. It was an affirmation that the love she offers via socks is truly felt and appreciated – over and over and over, even on the many days I never think to send a re-appreciation.
What can you re-appreciate?
We’ve all been taught to say “Thank you” or send a note when we receive something. But what if we re-appreciate gifts that mean a lot to us?
Look around your house. Are there some items you received as gifts years ago that you still cherish? How about wedding gifts? Maybe a photograph someone took of you that captured an important moment? Did a friend show up for you when you were grieving and you still remember the feeling of love?
Write a card or send a text message right now and let that person know you are still grateful! Or, you can do what I do and take a photo of yourself with that beloved gift item and send it to them.
One of my mantras to help me remember to express my love is: “Say it now.” Thanks to re-appreciation, I’ve got a new helpful mantra: “Say it again!”