It started with an article in a women’s magazine – this germ of an idea to speak more positively, to gossip less. I was on my way to attend a difficult funeral in another state, and there, behind the magazine advertisements for lipstick and wrinkle cream, was the tale of a somewhat cranky writer who gave up complaining for a week.

It started with an article in a women’s magazine – this germ of an idea to speak more positively, to gossip less. I was on my way to attend a difficult funeral in another state, and there, behind the magazine advertisements for lipstick and wrinkle cream, was the tale of a somewhat cranky writer who gave up complaining for a week.


Inspired, I reached over and put my hand on my husband’s leg. I told him I loved him, and I really meant it because he was the only person in the car who was sitting quietly and not annoying me. Then, I tried to ignore the sound my oldest son makes when he is chewing gum. I lasted 30 seconds longer than normal. I counted that as saintly progress.


As the miles slid past and my interest in the magazine waned, I pulled out a small book by Mary Beth Egeling called “Love-abouts: Enriching Your Life and Deepening Your Relationships.” In its 77 pages she explains how her family started a nightly tradition of telling each other one thing they love about each other. Then they share one thing they love about themselves.


For the last couple of years I’ve been shopping around for a bedtime routine that works for all of our boys, who are 13, 4 and 1, so I began to really think about what she had written.


The tradition “forces a paradigm shift in the manner of viewing your day,” she writes in the book. “It causes you to be vigilant, requires your awareness, and makes you pay attention.” Even in the worst days, you still look for something praise worthy and you share it with others.


And somehow complaining and gossip start to slowly fade away – at least they did for me. When I shifted my focus, I noticed that my gum-smacking son never gives up on what he wants. I love that about him. And our middle, wiggliest guy is fearless about trying new things, even in the car.


And so, a bedtime routine is born.


Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who now shares her own journey of faith with readers. She lives in Rochester, N.Y., with her husband, their three young boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. To contact Gregory, email markettagregory@yahoo.com or write to her at P.O. Box 12923, Rochester, NY 14612. You can also visit the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter (@MarkettaGregory).