• Jina Etienne

Journal

I experience moments of gratitude all the time, so I thought I’d share a few in this season of Thanks


I’ve tried journaling several times, but in never stuck as a regular habit. The oldest entry I can find in the journals I saved is dated Nov 22, 1992, and it was an entry in a journal I shared with my husband. In that entry, I wrote “We bought this book to have a space where we could put our goals in writing and track our success over the years.” The shared journal didn’t last long and the focus of tracking goals and success eventually shifted to remembering and reflecting on special moments, aha-moments and impactful experiences.

I eventually shifted from a paper journal to a digital journal. After some searching, I settled on an app called Day One. My first ‘digital’ entry was on Christmas 2014 but the posts were more random than regular (I’ll admit: the last time I posted an entry was January 2020). As I was scrolling through my entries, I found one dated January 2019 where I acknowledge the inconsistency in my entries. I wrote: “…maybe journaling isn’t my thing. I’m not good at it. I chatter. Looking back at my past entries, most of the time it just doesn’t feel substantive.” I also noticed a theme had started to develop over time: reflecting on difficult situations or expressing gratitude.

I thought I’d share a few of those entries here, both to remind myself of some of the things I’ve written. And also to share how I’ve expressed my gratitude over the years.


"Solo Time"

[Aug 16, 2018 while on vacation at Myrtle Beach] I’m sitting on the balcony enjoying a cup of coffee. Just relaxing. G and the boys went jet skiing. I was going to get a pedicure, but it feels too good doing nothing. I can get my toes done when I get home.

We’re planning on driving back tomorrow night. An overnight drive like on the way down. By avoid the traffic, it’s the fastest way to get home. We’ll get back just in time to watch Arsenal lose to Chelsea. 😊 So, I just wanted to get in a little extra relaxation time.

This has been a great vacation. The time off after I left NABA was important. I needed time to recover. This vacation is time to relax and refresh. I’m able to sit here and just be. Not distracted by negative thoughts. Not worrying about what anyone thinks. No second guessing myself. Not even having any negative self-talk about my body (which is kind of amazing it itself!!!).

I am soooooooooooo lucky. Loved by an amazing man. Two wonderful kids. One cute (& stinky) dog. I have so much to be grateful for:

  • my health

  • my job

  • my family

  • my friends

I’m really happy to have this time to relax and be thankful.


"Great Falls Was Beautiful Today"

[June 9, 2016, they day after our 25th wedding anniversary] We went to Great Falls today with a plan to just walk for a little while. We ended up walking / hiking for nearly 3 hours. The weather today was just gorgeous. It was sunny with a light breeze, low humidity and probably in the mid to upper 70s. I can't recall he last time we had weather like this.

We stopped at a great deli on the way home and found some local, all natural cookies that were divine. So, I'm pretty sure I exceeded my sugar and calorie count for the day. Then again, I took over 15k steps, so I also burned a few extra calories. Vacations now are so fattening. 😔😌😏😂

I am overwhelmed with just how lucky am I! Other than petty stuff, I don’t really have anything to complain about. Sure, more money would be nice, but that’s just because I could get more stuff. Stuff can be entertaining, distracting, yummy or exciting. But it wouldn’t be meaningful, at least not at this stage in my life. I have all the important stuff – the love of my life, amazing kids, incredible family and a few very good friends. I’m lucky, grateful and try every day not to take any of this for granted.


"Best Birthday EVER!!"

[April 3, 2015] Wow – it’s late, but I really need to capture these feelings before they fade! 😊🥱 I never really celebrated my birthday. As a kid, I think I may have had a handful of birthday parties. I don't any celebrations as a teenager. As an adult, we could never really celebrate it because it of tax season. Outwardly, I always said ‘that’s fine’. But internally, I wanted to have a fun, heartfelt celebration. Maybe not every year, but could I at least have one? A true celebration, a day to feel good about completing another year, celebrating all that is good in my life and kicking off another year. Kinda like a personal New Year celebration. (Wow – I feel really whiny right now).

Well, this year was finally different. I realized that I could actually take a vacation in April. Too me long enough! I sold my practice in January 2011, but the ‘no time for my birthday’ mindset stuck. This year, I had the time (and money) to do something big for my birthday. I realized I have worked hard, and I earned the right to do whatever I want. So, I did it! Okay - if I’m being honest, I know I would’ve never even thought of doing something like this in the past – it would’ve have felt reckless or selfish, maybe even a little silly.

G was down from the beginning (I'll admit, his acceptance made it easier) so we booked a flight to Vegas foe the weekend. But I didn't want to take a 5-hour flight to Vegas and only have one real day in town. Plus, we've been to Vegas so many times. Then I remembered my dinner at GW Fins and how I thought “G needs to eat here.” And with that, we changed our plans and decided to come to New Orleans.

We flew down on my birthday, took an early flight so we got to spend most of the day exploring:

  • WWII museum (missed it last time)

  • The French Quarter (people watching, not shopping)

  • NOLA was on G's bucket list (who knew)

  • Beignets (because, yes!)

Then there was dinner at GW Fins – I mean, that the inspiration for this trip. I’d been there before when I came down for a tax conference. I knew immediately that it wouldn’t be the last time. I didn’t know when, but I was coming back. I was a little worried that my expectations for dinner were a bit too high. Yeah – no. Dinner was amazing. It started with an incredible martini, they sprinkled confetti on the table, the wait staff was very attentive, the food was incredible (even better than I remembered), that ‘happy birthday’ written in chocolate (yeah, I scraped it off and ate it! HAHAHAH) with my dessert, and they gave me a special version of the menu with my birthday at the top as a souvenir.

Today was a perfect day. A dream day, really. Sooooo much to be grateful for, I don’t even know how to describe how deeply I am feeling it right now – I almost want to cry was I write this. Damn! I am one lucky woman.

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