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How To Be Grateful

When I write a how-to post, I usually feel relatively confident that I actually know how to do the thing I'm teaching. In the case of gratitude, it's a process of constant self-revision, so I can't quite claim to be an expert at "How To Be Grateful". However, because of my years and years of working towards everyday gratitude, I'd say I'm only an expert on the process of trying to live a thankful life. In the good times, it's easy to celebrate your joys. Everything is wonderful! My breakfast tastes great! My new shoes make my feet look cute! I saved someone from getting a parking ticket! My husband/boyfriend/partner is thoughtful and caring! My child is exceptionally smart and lovely!

In the harder times, it's... well, it's hard. In the rougher seasons of life, I find it all too easy to let loose a torrent of complaints every time a friend or loved one inquires on how I'm doing. But I know all too well that nobody likes hearing about all of the things that keep me up at night and give me chest pains. Because everyone has stuff going wrong in their lives. It's exhausting to try to slap a smile on and remain cheerful despite how hard we each have to struggle sometimes. What right do I have to heap my own sorrows onto anyone else's already weary shoulders? Unless it's a therapist that I'm paying to listen to my woes, really, why should I torpedo someone's good day with my dark storm clouds?

It's tempting to downplay my problems for you, say how thankful I am for A, B, and C, and wrap this post up with a neat bow. But lately, the stress wears on me so much, it makes my left cheek twitch. (Not kidding. I'm not grimacing at you, I'm just quietly sitting here stressing the eff out.) While there is a relative scale of stressors and yes, there are definitely things that could be much, much worse in my life, the problems that keep me awake are the ones that I am facing. The ones that seem insurmountable - to me, in this very moment. And y'all, I'm someone who's lived through A LOT. (There was also an eating disorder and an abusive first marriage. I know, I'm mere millimeters away from my own Lifetime movie moment.) I used to laugh in the face of stress, thinking I was immune.

I'm not.

So after tramping around the wild, overgrown underbrush of my own stressed out head for LOT longer than I should have, I'm giving up and returning to the basics. I'm going to harness all of that energy that was going into trying to SOLVE my problems, to FIX them, and I'm going to channel it into reminding myself of the joys I'm lucky to have in my life. The things that are so wonderful and lovely, it makes me startle and bite my tongue that they actually exist in my life.

*my husband, the best of all men and my hero. Truly.  *sweet, sweet Elsa Emmaline. She who searches for worms, snails, and caterpillars; catches fish and sings to them; laughs like a maniacal fairy; and just when I'm ready to throttle her, looks up at me with cerulean eyes and asks to me to snuggle. She who requests lobster for dinner. Her. *twelve glorious, eye-opening, wonder-filled years sober. *eyes that see, ears that hear, nose that smells, tongue that tastes, fingers that feel, so I can soak up all this world has to offer. *friends that show me how to explore a city clear across the country on a sprinting, girls-only long weekend the RIGHT way - one step and one bite at a time. *slow walks through the woods with old friends and the passel of children we've had along the way. *family that supports us, no matter what. *the job of my dreams, with clients I can scarcely believe pay me to produce work for them. *a Willy Wonka-esque white studio and plenty of crafty nonsense that allows me to concentrate fully for hours at a time, ensuring my brain stops obsessing for a small window each day. *the luxury of being able to contemplate stress and chose to count my blessings instead. *the ability to understand that the world is a very large/tiny place where terrible, atrocious things happen to better people than me.

Today, I am grateful for these things..

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