Ep 13: Is Gratitude Dead in 2020? Six Gratitude Guideposts for Moms with Crohn’s and Colitis

Are you finding 2020 as challenging as I am?

Covid-19, racial injustices exposed, a chaotic presidential electioneach one of these crazy events would be enough to shake you to the core, but we experienced all three of these sucky life events this year.

How do we find hope, optimism, and gratitude in challenging times?

This episode explores several ideas about gratitude with the hope that these gratitude guideposts will help you find your center and your peace and help to heal your IBD in these unprecedented times.

We’re talking about:

  • The reason why IBD flare-ups are at an all-time high right now
  • The six gratitude guideposts that will keep you calm, centered, and healthy during these uncertain times
  • Giving yourself a chance to create your own thankful moment with the small daily experiences of life

And so much more!

After the episode, you’ll feel grateful for the positive aspects in your life (big and small) and use this information to calm your IBD in a time of chaos and uncertainty.

Episode at a Glance:

  • [01:36] Have you downloaded your IBD Foodie Thanksgiving Table Cookbook yet? It’s free and you can get it at karynhaley.com/thanksgiving
  • [08:29] Research on gratitude is promising, especially for those of us with IBD.
  • [11:28] The one small thing you must do before you go to bed that will change your life.
  • [13:38] The power of the written word when it comes to gratitude, and it doesn’t have to be in a gratitude journal.
  • [15:57] The meditation app that will help you quiet your mom brain.
  • [19:02] The “Do it Like a Mom” Gratitude and Gripes practice that will get the kids into the attitude of gratitude too.
  • [21:56] The gratitude list that keeps me going during this sucky 2020—and you’re on it!
  • [24:54] The best way to take your IBD healing journey to the next level.

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Episode Links:

Get my free IBD Foodie Thanksgiving Table Cookbook with celebration foods for any holiday you celebrate.

Episode Transcript:


INTRO: You are listening to The Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD, a safe space for moms with Crohn’s and colitis, connect, explore powerful tools for healing and transform our lives to thrive in motherhood and in life. I’m your host, Karyn Haley, IBD health coach, integrative wellness enthusiast, and mom to three outstanding kids. After having Crohn’s disease for 30 years and working as a health advocate exclusively with IBD clients for the last 10 years, I know it’s time to bring the types of candid conversations I have with my clients out into the open. It’s our time to go on an IBD healing journey and do it like only a mom can. Let’s do this.


Did you get your free IBD Thanksgiving Table Cookbook yet?

[01:25] Hey there my dear one, welcome, welcome. It’s Karyn with you today and welcome to the Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD. I know this is a busy week for you if you live in the U.S.  And if you’re listening to this episode when it comes out, it’s actually the day before Thanksgiving. You might be working in the kitchen, making pies, stuffing the Turkey, listening and sharing this time with me as you bake or cook… and by the way, if you’re still struggling to figure out what to make that’s super tasty and awesomely good for your gut, be sure to download my free IBD Thanksgiving Table Cookbook. There’s still time to do that. It’s packed with recipes that have a gut healing twist on your traditional holiday favorites. I’ll put a link for the cookbook is in the show notes but you can also grab it at karynhaley.com/thanksgiving.

But, like I said, if your listening to this episode at the time it airs, I know this is a busy week for you so I’m here today with a shorter than normal episode to break into the mom craze of your week with a quick message of hope and gratitude in trying times my friend. Man, this has been a horrible year hasn’t it? 2020… it sounded so promising. Double 2-0’s… 2020, it’s got alliteration, it’s got a groovy cadence, it just sounded like it was for the cool people didn’t it? Who knew 2020 was going to suck? The uncertainty and the chaos of it all has walloped all of us over the head with a big old “HA, TAKE THAT! Thought IBD was enough for you to handle? Well, take this and that and let’s heap on some more! And this constant hammering into our soul has left us stunned and reeling, and pretty much walking around, although not too far from home and not too close to anyone we love and all masked up, in a daily fog of “is this really my life?”

What a horrible year 2020 has been!

From Covid-19, to opening our eyes to racial injustices, to the mayhem that was the presidential election this year. It doesn’t matter where you stand on any of the issues or where you fall politically. This election season had us all on edge—especially in my family where we politically debate for sport. Whoo-wee it got fiery.

[4:23] Each one of these events would be enough by themselves, right, they would be major life events by themselves, but we’ve dealt with all of these major life stressors in 2020. And we did it all with IBD on our back… or should I say IBD on our gut. IBD flares are at an all-time high for moms this year. The gut brain connection is strong. You’d have to be Wonder Woman to not feel this level of stress and rancor in your gut.

It’s times like this when my first instinct is to pull my covers over my head and hibernate like a bear… not come out until spring. Will it all be over then?

But it’s also times like these that thankfully my eternal optimist peeks its little head out too and asks, “what can I do?” And if you’re struggling to find your eternal optimist, let me carry you just a bit dear one. Let me carry you over the hump until you find yours. She’s in there. I promise, she’s in all of us. She’s quiet at times and in those quiet times we struggle to hear her, but she never leaves us because she knows there’s always hope. There’s always light. Sometimes we just need to ask little miss optimist to turn up the volume and speak a little louder.

Where is your optimism and hope in this moment?

Can you find her with me now mama? Can you see her and feel her around you in this moment? Everyone feels little miss optimism differently. Maybe for you she’s an external warm feeling like a warm blanket that’s wrapped around your shoulders on a cold day. Maybe she’s a gush of calm and peace in your belly. Maybe you hear her whispering in your ear, telling you in her soft melodic voice, everything is going to be OK. Possibly you see her, actually see her, in ethereal robes as an angel or spirit looking out for you. For me, optimism is a light source, a bright goldeny white light that shines through the top of my head and pours through my whole being—always stopping for an moment at my gut to give me extra love and support. But then she continues her light flow through me into my toes and she grounds me and comforts me in times of stress. She reminds me that even in the darkest moments, what I need most is to give gratitude out into the world. For those I know and for those I don’t… gratitude is the road home. The road to peace in these uncertain and complicated times.

[08:29] And it’s not just me saying this about gratitude. I just read an article from Harvard Health, which is a publication from Harvard Medical School, talking about a recent study where this very thought I have about gratitude also played out. Researchers took a group of people and separated them into 3 groups. Each group was asked to complete a weekly writing assignment, but group 1 was told, write about anything that affected you this week, while group 2 was told to write about their gripes of the week, and group 3? Well, they were told to write about something they were grateful for. For 10 weeks, each of these people wrote weekly. I’m sure you are not going to be surprised at the findings.

There’s one finding in the research that might surprise you.

The researchers found that Group #3, the gratitude group, they left the ten weeks feeling more optimistic and better about their life in general. Not only that, but here’s the really cool part, this group also reported exercising more AND they had fewer trips to the doctor during this time. That’s incredible for us isn’t it? If we extrapolate this research just a bit and think about how this affects us, IBD moms, we see that gratitude not only affects our outlook on life, but it can also have an impact on our health in a positive direction. When we find a way to feel gratitude, even in sucky circumstances, it will actually affect our health (and hopefully your Crohn’s or colitis) for the better.

Yes, I love that. I hope it feels just as powerful for you to. Helping you’re IBD is reason enough to try to bring a gratitude practice into your life.

Whether you have an attitude of gratitude (as the cool kids like to say) or you’re feeling a little skeptical at this point (and I know I used to feel this was all woo-woo too), I want to share with you a few thoughts I’ve learned along the way when it comes to gratitude. Hopefully these gratitude guide points will get your juices flowing or spark some new ideas if your gratitude practice needs a little refresher.

[11:28] Here’s 6 ways you can make gratitude work for you even in times that suck:

#1- Schedule your gratitude

Just like anything else in your mom life, it doesn’t happen if you don’t schedule it. My favorite time for gratitude is at the end of the day as I get into bed. Thinking about 3 things I’m grateful for from that particular day gives me a feeling of calm and peace before I drift off to slumber. Some people have a gratitude journal they like to write in, that works too. For me, it’s about giving each thought of gratitude a moment to resonate and create a happy memory for me.

Moving on to gratitude idea #2

Gratitude doesn’t have to be about big moments, the small ones might be even better.

I love being thankful for the smallest of pleasures in life, especially in the current moment we’re living in. The teenier the better. Like last night, one of the 3 things I was grateful for was a smile my hubby gave me as we passed each other in the hall—we like to call each other “ship” because in our busy lives we always feel like we’re like that saying “two ships passing in the night.” Have you heard that expression? So, yesterday he walked by me, smiled and said hey ship. The moment lasted about 1.5 seconds, but it gave me happiness and peace as I remembered this moment at the end of a difficult day.

Gratitude idea #3

[13:38] The power of the written word creates gratitude.

This idea goes back to writing your gratitude. Some like to do this with a gratitude journal. Truth be told, I’m not much of a gratitude journal writer. I’ve heard from lots of moms in our Gut Love Community talking about the benefit of the gratitude journal. I wish I was good at this. I’ve even purchased beautiful “made for gratitude” journals and never committed to them. Maybe your different. Maybe the written gratitude journal is the right path for you. If it is, go for it.

The way that I use the power of the written word with gratitude is by writing handwritten letters. Short ones. Handwriting letters is a dying art, isn’t it? How often do you get a handwritten thank you note from anyone anymore? I love to write a good thank you note or a note to a friend saying, “hey, I’m thinking of you or hey, I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time, or hey, that small thing you did really made my day.” I have cute little stationary I bought especially for my short notes of gratitude too. They’re never long, just a few sentences, but when I’m saying thanks or I’m thinking of you to someone else, it makes me happy and thankful they’re in my life.

We’re making our way through 6 ideas about gratitude and we’ve made it to # 4.

#4 Gratitude is more powerful in the form of prayer or mediation

Whether you’re religious or spiritual or grounded in philosophy, using some form of daily prayer or meditation can help you feel connected to something bigger than what’s going on in your world. It helps you reach outside your universe, think of others and their needs, and think of your connection to all beings everywhere.  I often recommend a free app to IBD mamas called Insight Timer. It’s got great meditations for those of us who can’t quite quiet are mom brain. They’re active and engaging meditations with a theme like healing, grief, grounding, or gratitude. I remember Jill, an IBD Mom in our Gut Love Community who had just given birth to twins. She told me that she loved Insight Timer. Jill told me that spending 10 minutes in the morning with one of their gratitude meditations helped her be more compassionate to her older child and more forgiving of herself throughout the day. I love that story.

#5 Be gentle with your soul

This tags on with what Jill was saying about forgiving herself when she wasn’t as stellar a mom as she wanted to be. Gratitude is never about perfection. It’s not only OK to faulter when it comes to being grateful, it’s expected. It’s OK if you have one day when you can’t muster any gratitude. We all have down days. We all have days that are just crappy.

 Enough with the mom guilt over this. Sometimes we need to have a pity party for ourselves and be ok with that too. I remember when I was a teen dealing with IBD and I’d say to my mom, why did this happen to me or uggghhh, I feel awful… my mom would always remind me that I should be grateful because there are those who have it worse than me. While that may be absolutely true, I learned over the years that it shouldn’t take away my pain. My pain was real and some days it was intense. It’s OK to feel sad for what’s going on in your life. There are times that it does suck. It’s OK if we’re not jumping on the gratitude train every day. As long as you’re living, trust that you will find those small moments of gratitude around you on most days.

Lastly, it’s time for idea #6.

[19:02] #6 is my Do it Like a Mom tip for today

You can do gratitude like the badass mama that you are by sharing gratitude with your kids. Maybe they have their own gratitude journal. Maybe they mediate with you or say their prayers at night. One way I like to share in gratitude with my kids is to have a gratitude and gripes moment at the dinner table each night. Each of us goes around the table and says one thing that happened to us that day that we’re grateful for. I love this moment of the day because each person’s moment usually starts a conversation and as each person tells their moment of gratitude, it fosters a happy feeling lasts for the entire dinner and beyond. I can even see it in the kids after dinner. They’re nicer to each other, if only for a moment…

Gratitude and Grips is for kids too.

You probably noticed I said gratitude and gripes, and yes, at the dinner table, we do gripes too. Like I mentioned with idea # 5, no one should be expected to pull off gratitude all the time. Sometimes a little venting or talking about something that’s not going so well can be beneficial. We use gripes as a way of getting the kids talk about something that’s not going so well too. We can then all show our support and lift that family member up with their struggle. We’ve added on this part to our gratitude practice after the first quarantine and it’s become a safe and supportive place for us to vent. Sometimes we need a place to vent and supportive people to listen.

So there’s my 6 thoughts on gratitude. I hope these ideas get your wheels turning, whether you’re looking for more ways to add gratitude into 2020 or your thinking about adding in a new spark to your already existing gratitude practice.

What are you thankful for today?

Today, as we are so close to Thanksgiving, the official day of thanks, I hope you are able to find some peace and thankful moments to celebrate with your family this year. I’d like to close this episode by telling you what I’m most thankful for right now. The things I’m thinking about today during this sucky time in life for most people of the world.

[21:56] I’m thankful for Zoom dates with my besties who inspire me to be a better wife, mom and friend.

I’m thankful for star gazing night walks with my hubby.

I’m thankful for movie nights with the kids- something we never had time for before Covid.

I’m thankful for every day I have with my mom. Her time on this Earth may be fleeting, but her spirt will go on for eternity.

I’m thankful for warm cups of fall soup—especially my 15-veggie hot soup smoothie.

I’m thankful that 2020 gave me a break from my role as the constant mom chauffer shuttling kids to soccer, piano, dance, clubs, and playdates, and taking teenagers who don’t have a drivers license to work…

I’m thankful for my dog who gives the best hugs on the planet.

I’m thankful for our selfless and dedicated first line workers, nurses and doctors who are doing all the heavy lifting for our country during this pandemic.

I’m thankful for you dear one, for all you’re doing on your IBD healing journey and for joining me each week on the Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD.

And maybe most of all, I’m thankful 2020 is almost over. Now that I think about it, 2021 might just have an even better ring to it. Time will tell.

Just saying my thankful list out loud made me feel gratitude today. It lifts my spirits and makes me happy for the goodness in my life. What would you put on your thankful list today? Take time to think about it before the moment passes. Think about what your thankful for right in this moment. Whether it’s a handwritten list, a memo on your phone, or just a thought in your head. Go for it, I know it will make you smile today.

Happy Thanksgiving dear mama. Until we chat again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy IBD journey.

Chat soon!

[24:54] Thank you so much for joining me today and for listening to today’s episode. When it comes to IBD, I know there’s a lot of resources out there, and I’m truly honored that you chose the Cheeky Podcast to get your IBD information today. If you found this information helpful, please give us a rating and review. It helps other moms find the podcast and see what we’re doing over here to help IBD moms everywhere. And if you feel called feel a call to do it, share this podcast with an IBD mom who you know could really use an uplifting message today, ’cause that’s what we’re all about over here at the Cheeky Podcast.

One last thing, if you’re still with me, and if you are, you’re definitely my kind of gal. We have to get to know each other better. If you’re tired of living on the hamster wheel of IBD with all the ups and downs between flares and remission, if you’re struggling to get control of your abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and other troubling IBD symptoms, go to my website. It’s karynhaley.com, and my mom had to be just a little bit different, she spelled my name with the Y. So it’s K-A-R-Y-N H-A-L-E-Y.com and schedule your very own free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble-shooting session with me where we discuss the challenges you’ve been having, we set goals to help you move forward, and we talk about how we can work together to help you get your life back. It’s a power packed 30 minutes. You don’t have to live in IBD status quo. There’s so much that can be done to transform your life so you can thrive in motherhood and thrive with IBD. I’ve seen my clients walk this path and it gives me so much joy to take that journey with them.

My entire coaching practice is run online, so you never have to leave your house and you never have to get out of your jammy or yoga pants for us to work together. You know I’m wearing them to. If you’re ready to take your first amazing step towards healing, I’m ready to chat with you. Schedule your free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble shooting sesh today at karynhaley.com. Click on the work with me tab and I’ll see you soon. It’s important to note that the information in this podcast and in this episode is for general information purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The statements made in the Cheeky Podcast for moms with IBD, either by me or my guests, is not intended to diagnose, treat, to cure, or prevent any disease. Before implementing any new treatment protocols, do yourself a favor and consult your physician first.

Thank you so much for listening, for being here, for saving this space for us to spend some time together. Until we chat again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy IBD journey.

Leave a Comment: