Submitted by Asli Tamer Vestlund
2020 seems to be now classified as the 'year from hell' by popular culture. However, for me, it was one of the best years of my life. A year when I changed my perspective on life (almost) completely, went through rapid personal and spiritual transformation, and grew more into who I really am. Daily gratitude and meditation were two of the most important tools that helped me with my journey. But let me set the scene a bit better for you first.
I have always been a high achiever and a perfectionist. Some of the reasons for this come from my childhood and external sources. My culture (I am originally from Turkey), being the only child of a middle-class family in that culture (hence the expectations that come with it), and then just the realities of 'survival' in my country of origin were factors in this disposition. Then I went into the life of an immigrant at the age of 17 (I continue with this journey 25 years later and am now living in my 3rd country) and that strengthened my high achieving and perfectionist tendencies. I think this is quite common in many immigrants. But if I didn't have these tendencies in myself, to begin with, I wouldn't have become a high achieving perfectionist. So, it's important to acknowledge that they primarily came from within.
My high achieving perfectionist nature served me well in life, especially in the systems and culture we now live in. I excelled in my education, found good jobs, achieved a Ph.D. by the time I turned 30, found a great life partner, had 3 amazing children, had a busy social life, had a high standard of living. But I also felt stressed, anxious, drank too much, was on antidepressants, and just felt that I constantly had to move onto the next big plan. Didn't feel gratitude for what I had, certainly didn't live in the moment, or was mindful. I was just very busy trying to live up to my own high expectations of myself.
Then in 2019 I had a breakdown and realized that I needed to make some changes. I decided to take time off work and just try to 'be' instead of 'do' or 'achieve'. I had always been interested in spirituality and meditation but never seemed to find the mental space to really work with them. But the space created by having some time off work and allowing myself to just 'live' eventually made it easier to incorporate meditation into my daily life. I also became very interested in spiritual topics, practices, and knowledge - anywhere from shamanism to Buddhism to parallel universes to 5D living to countless other revelations. Once one gets into that space of being, gratitude practice turns into second nature. Because I truly believe that our thoughts turn into our reality and why would I, or anyone want to live in a life that wasn't full of gratitude and love? I have also really understood that we come from the source and are connected to each other. So, by practicing gratitude and keeping my vibration as high as I can, I feel that I am able to better help and serve others as my state of being affects others too.
I have tried to keep an actual gratitude journey which also has its space and time, but I found that I wasn't consistent with using it. Then I came across your app last autumn and really enjoyed it. Started doing the challenges, created affirmations and it has really helped me to be consistent with my gratitude practice. Now I spare 5-10 minutes every morning with it so I can feel that I am starting my day in the most positive way possible. Your app really comes across as very genuine and heartfelt and I think that's what speaks to me, so thank you!
The picture I want to share with you all is of my late beloved dog Bailey, a tribute to his memory. This was taken on his 16th birthday last year and he passed away at 16.5. His loss was huge for us all, but I am grateful for him, all the years we had with him and the love he gave us, and we gave him. I am also grateful that he died suddenly and without much suffering. So, thank you Bailey for helping me and my family find a million other ways to be grateful in this magical journey called 'life'.
All the best and in gratitude,