From the health benefits of opening the sunroof of your car and letting the sun in, to turning shoeboxes into treasure troves of memories to cherish, Jaime L. Mathews shows you the positive side in the things of every day life.
Seeing the beauty in the mundane goes a long way towards leading a happy life. But the daily practice of gratitude is a muscle that needs to be flexed regularly. Jaime teaches you to look at life with a brand new set of eyes, every day. Eventually, you won’t even need to think about it, and you will start to see opportunities in the biggest challenges, see the extraordinary in the most ordinary things, and your outlook on life will be changed for the better.
So flex those muscles now, and take a deep dive into the unbridled enthusiasm and contagious optimism of Jaime L. Mathews.
A Journey of Unexpected Health and Gratitude
grat·i·tude. The dictionary defines gratitude as, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
When was the last time you heard someone say, “I am so grateful,” and actually mean it?
When was the last time you felt grateful? Not just a time where you felt lucky, but a time where your whole body and mind felt genuinely grateful and blessed all at once.
The word “grateful” is thrown around so much in our society. We send up our yogic prayer hand and bow our heads, which seems to have become the universal display of gratitude; much like the peace sign is the known signal of its meaning. But gratitude is a two-way street. It is not only the appreciation for the kindness shown to us; it is also the reciprocation of good to others. It is more than just giving thanks. It is returning that thanks so that others also have something to be thankful for. It is in these moments when we experience being grateful and in turn, our lives feel more fulfilled, healthier, and we ultimately feel happier.
So, how do you start feeling genuinely grateful?
Within these pages, you are about to read nearly a year’s work of intentionally looking for health and gratitude in situations, scenarios, and during times when you might least expect it. Do you think it’s possible to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic and find something to be grateful for? Can you eat pizza and feel so good and healthy that Paleo diet followers everywhere would be utterly stumped? What about losing your pet? Can you be grateful when Fido goes missing? You can, because sometimes we have to go through a lot of gunk to be able to see the good. Each challenge or hardship offers a gift. The gift is being able to see new gold that you would have otherwise ignored. Remember, the good and the bad exist together. You cannot see one without the other.
Sunroofs & Shoeboxes shares some (actually a lot of) stories that I hope will inspire you to know, feel, and then practice seeing that gratitude, which is one of the only things we can control in our lives. When we grab hold of what our mind thinks about, we empower ourselves to experience greater health, increased happiness, and gratefulness. Are you ready?
WHAT MADE ME WRITE THE BOOK AND WHERE WAS I IN LIFE WHILE WRITING IT
I wrote Sunroofs & Shoeboxes as a way to see hope, good, and gratitude, in my own life. I was frustrated by where I was in life. I was thirty-one years old, and I always thought that by then, I would be married with children, living in a white house with a picketed fence (or something like
that). Instead, I was living with a roommate, my dog, and two cats, working at my dad’s business while I was also growing the hair salon I had purchased (and already disliked). Some of my friends were married, most had serious boyfriends, and I, on the other hand, had a hard time finding a date! I was so tired of being the third wheel, the fifth wheel, or even the ninth wheel at times. Not that living with roommates and animals or being single is a bad thing—it isn’t! But it was not where I pictured myself in my early thirties. If I’m really honest with myself and with all of you, I was envious of my friends who had already figured out their career, and found their fella, and were playing house for real. I also knew I wanted children and the fertility clock seemed to start ticking for me around that time. I felt stuck, I felt unfulfilled, and I felt powerless to know how to get myself out of my predicament.
So as I had often done from the time I was a teenager, I started writing. Well, let’s be honest, I can type way faster than I write these days, so I picked up my laptop and started typing. I decided that since I was having a hard time seeing all of the blessings I really did have in my life at that time, I would force myself to. I committed myself to writing every day for six months about the things I was grateful for. You see, I knew about the power of mindset. I had studied it constantly during my master’s program in holistic health education and nutrition. I knew the power of focusing on something in order to see it. But I wasn’t practicing what I preached, so I gave myself a challenge—a challenge to see good, health, and gratitude every day, even if I was having a horrible day, even if I was hung over, and even if nothing seemed to be going right in my life.
I decided to write for a hundred and seventy-seven days straight. I began writing on January 7 because beginning on January 1 seemed way too cliché for me. And most New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past the first month, so I wanted to set myself up for success right away. What’s funny about this is that when I counted a hundred and seventy-seven days, the final day of writing landed on my only sibling’s birthday. That was it! I knew I was meant to write it and I was meant to start that day. Because there’s no time like the present, right?!
WHAT HAPPENED WHILE I WROTE THE BOOK
What transpired as I was writing the book was nothing short of exceptional! Opportunities started coming my way. Doors started opening while other necessary windows started closing. I was getting more and more clarity because I was focusing on seeing what was possible every day instead of what was missing. Here are a few examples:
On what I thought to be a random trip with my mom to Boulder, Colorado one weekend (laptop in hand because I did not allow myself to miss a single day and catch up later—everything had to be present day), I stumbled on a magazine. Now it’s not like I found O Magazine in the bathroom and thought, “Oh cool, Oprah’s favorite spring décor is here.” It was Healthy Living Magazine that I was instantly gravitated to. I picked it up, read it cover to cover (and loved it!) and put it in my laptop carrying case to read again on the flight home. But it wasn’t until the flight home that I discovered the advertisement for the franchising opportunity. What the what?! Me, who had a background in journalism, a background in holistic health, and loved both almost as much as coffee, could own my own magazine? It sounded too good to be true, right? Well, about eight months later, I built and launched the local edition of that magazine. And I’m telling you, I would not have been receptive to the opportunity that was staring me in the face if I hadn’t been focusing on looking for what’s going right in life instead of what’s wrong.
Here’s another example: One time during my gratitude journey, when I was eating at my favorite raw vegan restaurant, Café Gratitude, in Berkeley, California, I noticed a flyer about a three-day workshop in San Francisco that the owners were hosting. So of course, I signed up. One of the perks about not being married with children was the freedom to spend my money on whatever I wanted instead making sure the kids had plenty of school shoes. At that three-day retreat, I met some amazing people that I am still in contact with today, and I learned about a yoga retreat in Hawaii. Well, guess what? A few months after this gratitude journey ended, I was on a plane to Maui, about to embark on one of the retreats that would change my life.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER I WROTE THE BOOK
So many things in my life began to change during and after writing the book. As you know, I found one of my business adventures with the magazine, which I sold a few years after launching. I experienced retreats that have been life changing. I have traveled to places I always wanted to see, like the Omega Institute in upstate New York.
In fact, within fifteen months of completing Sunroofs & Shoeboxes, I had launched and grown my magazine, I had traveled to New York City for a wellness retreat at the Omega Institute, followed by a wild and whacky girls’ weekend in New York City. I hopped on a plane with my brother and then-four-year-old niece and went to Ireland to visit our godmother and travel the country, which was a trip that I will truly never forget. And the cherry on top of all of these amazing adventures was that I met my husband Damon. We met, fell in love, got married the following year, and had our twin baby girls a year after that (followed by another baby and lots of farm animals).
But let me talk about our home for just a second. One day, after Damon and I got hitched, we went for our Sunday drive. We liked to see what neighborhoods we might want to buy a house in, which schools we wanted our kids to attend—you know, married people stuff. That day, he told me he wanted to take me to one of his favorite streets. He knew I wanted a country property (even if it was a total fixer), a little slice of dirt to call our own. When he turned down the street, I was totally unimpressed. I immediately thought, “Dude, have you been listening at all to what I’ve been saying?” It was a cookie-cutter residential neighborhood, which was beautiful, but not what I was hoping and dreaming for. He said, “Just wait.” As we turned the corner, the street completely changed (and we found out later that it was indeed built in two totally different time periods). The second part of the street was country as far as you could see. It was farm fencing and horses, flies and farm animals. I was hooked! We went to the very end of the street and on all the side streets, trying to look for any sign of possible home sales. Nothing. So we drove home to the house we lived in and knew we were already outgrowing.
Fast forward about a month and Damon and I drove to that street again. We now knew that we were destined to live on that country part of the street. As we turned the corner again, we saw it—“For Sale.” We stopped the car, I grabbed a flyer, looked it up online and saw that it had everything we wanted in our home—the home we would raise our kids in and the home we would make all of our sweet little memories in. We went back home, and I grabbed a post-it note and wrote, “Let’s get here.” I posted the home flyer with that saying on it, and I looked at that thing every single day. And guess what? After several months and a little financial help from family, we got there! I still drive into my home every day and think, “Man, I am one lucky girl.”
Nearly nine years later and three babies, I am still living and making memories in that home and I am grateful every single day.
In addition to marriage and babies, I finally made the tough decision to close the hair salon that grew increasingly toxic for me. This was a hard one because financially, it was not a bad business. But emotionally, it was making me sick. But the unexpected health in making those kinds of tough decisions in life is that when we choose health, it chooses us back. My husband and I decided to open a fireplace retail store and remodeling business and within five years, it has grown to a seven-figure business—a business that has enabled me to grow wings and fly, to share with all of you that the health, the joy, and the gratitude that are waiting for all of you. It might be one sunroof or one shoebox away.
Thank you, Jaime L. Mathews and Lola’s Blog Tours
About the author
Jaime L. Mathews is the author of Sunroofs & Shoeboxes, a collection of the little nuggets of wisdom she has found in the little things of everyday life.
Educated as a journalist and an educator in holistic health, Jaime has had an eclectic career path which included journalism positions at the Orion and Natural Awakenings, being the wellness director of an exclusive fitness resort and the business owner of a hair salon and a fireplace retail store.
But between the many hats she has worn throughout her life, the one she is most proud of is that of mother and mentor to her little ones. Jaime, her husband, and their five children live on a farm in California.
– 5 winners will each win a paperback copy of Sunroofs and Shoeboxes (US Only)
– 10 winners will each win an ecopy of Sunroofs and Shoeboxes