The irony is that I'm more grateful than I've ever been. When things are going well, my focus is not so much on what I have, but what I can acquire or do next. After hitting several low points this year--emotionally, physically, mentally--I can now appreciate the parts of my life that have been solid, for so many years, and which I've barely given a second thought to over the course of my lifetime. Photo by juliejordanscott
Tonight, the night before a holiday designed to express thankfulness (and you thought it was all about food!), I am filled with gratitude.
I am grateful for my health, after experiencing days when I could not get out of bed without back pain, was ready for a nap by 9am, or didn't have the energy to exercise. My body has served me well over the course of five decades. It heals itself, despite being neglected or worn down over long periods of time. It does (mostly) what I want it to do, whether it's standing or sitting or walking or biking or yoga stretches or bending down or reaching up. Photo by BozDoz
I am grateful for my husband, who supports me in the work I do, and never second guesses the professional path I've chosen. We both work out of home offices every day, and 99% of the time, we are each other's best friend and confidante. Our home life is largely peaceful--filled with joking, thoughtful conversation, and laughter. I have friends for who this is not true.
Recently, I re-connected with someone who I had met at a conference in April. A few weeks after the conference, her husband died suddenly. He was 48 years old. She spent the summer grieving. Her story makes me remember to be grateful for every day that I wake up and see my husband's face.
I am grateful for my sons. Tonight, my older son flew home from Dallas. He is home for the holidays, the first time since he left for college in August. I have experienced the longing that comes when a mother sees a bedroom that has not been messed up in months, a bed still perfectly made, an empty chair at the dinner table, a shoe rack with fewer shoes. I am grateful for time with him over the next few days.
And my younger son? He, too, is growing up far faster than I ever expected. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to see him sing in the school choir or compete at a robotics competition. I am grateful that he is mature enough to tell his dad to stop buying soda, because he knows drinking water is better for him, and that he cheerfully pitches in with household chores when asked to. I'm grateful for our time in the car, while he logs hours for his driver's license. Photo by aussiegall.
I am grateful for friends and extended family, having experienced their love and support through a challenging year. I tweeted a few months ago, after hitting bottom, that being vulnerable means allowing yourself to be loved. I am grateful to be loved. I know people who have outgrown their friends and who dread the family tensions that come with the holidays. I am grateful that I truly enjoy the company of those around me, day to day, on the weekends, during the holidays. I'm grateful that the friends I've chosen are ones who nurture me, who I admire and respect, who help me be a better person. Photo by Lel4nd
I am grateful for clients and colleagues who have the highest integrity and who value the work I do. I know people who yearn for appreciation and respect at their workplace, disappointed and frustrated by interactions with those they serve. I am grateful that my clients and colleagues often become my friends.
I am grateful to live at a time and a place where I am free to pursue my dreams. I live in a country where formally starting a business is as easy as applying for a credit card, in an age when sophisticated technology and tools, previously only available to large companies with IT-sized budgets, are now accessible by individuals, for next to nothing. I live in a state known for beautiful landscapes, sunny days, and clean air. I live in a city rated by Money magazine as the best town to live in for its size.
I am grateful to have come back from burnout, now living at a pace that is nourishing, instead of draining. Throught personal challenges, comes wisdom. I know people who are on the brink of burnout and those who are in denial, forever tired, irritable, and frenetic. I am grateful for those who I've connected with through shared experiences--friends and strangers alike--and the clarity and focus that comes from going to the edge, stopping, and returning to firm ground.
Recently, I started re-reading the book, The Power of Now. I received it as a gift, nearly a decade ago. The premise of the book is that the only real thing is this moment. Now. Thoughts of the past or the present are just that, thoughts in our head. They are no more real than the thought of aliens landing on Earth or the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Photo by sarniebill1.
So whether it's a hurt back, a longing for my son at college, discouragement or frustration around my business, it helps me to think about the Now, this moment and what's here. I may have a lower back that is volatile, with temper tantrums of pain throughout the day, but in this moment, I'm pain free. I may be missing my son on a daily basis, but in this moment, I know that he is safe and sound and that my love for him will endure, wherever he is. I may wish that my business results for the year were better, but in this moment, I'm able to pay my bills, I have a well-stocked fridge, and I am comfortable and warm in a house that has plenty of room and is paid for. On some days, I may wish that I was still in my forties, before my eyes got worse and my hair was not full of gray, but in this moment, being 50 feels just fine.
There is nothing I need or want in this moment. For that, I'm grateful.
For my US-based readers, enjoy our national day of Thanksgiving. For everyone else, create your own day of gratitude. Ground yourself in the only thing that is real, this moment.