Monday, November 24, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

Late last week a friend posted the following on Facebook: Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling ungrateful.

Sadly, when I read that, I was feeling ungrateful that my day wasn't going as well as I had hoped.  In all honesty, I've always tried to live life this way - but have needed the reminder more often.  So, I was thankful to that friend (even though she had no idea I needed to read that) for sharing that reminder.

I've been using this phrase and replacing the word ungrateful in different circumstances.

Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling angry.
Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling depressed.
Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling impatient.
Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling sad.
Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling guilty.
Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling weak.

The holiday season is approaching and many of my friends are preparing for "firsts" with their new babies.  I would be lying if I told you that the flood of holiday photos with sweet little babies wearing Santa hats and darling dresses didn't make my heart hurt.  I'd be lying if I told you that every time I "liked" one of those photos on Facebook that it was an automatic click of the thumbs up button for me.  Truth be told, I often have to scroll through those statuses/photos a couple of times before I go back and like them.  It's not that I don't actually like them, but envy begins to set in and I have to remind myself that the baby is really cute, the picture is really sweet and it's no one's fault that I don't have a baby of my own to post pictures of.

Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling jealous.


My husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving for quite awhile now. It has become my favorite holiday and I love having my whole family together.  Growing up, since my parents were divorced, I often had to spend my holidays traveling back and forth - from one side to the next - only getting a short amount of time at each stop.  Between my parents, my grandparents, my step-parent's parents - there were so many people to visit! It truly brings me so much joy to have my whole family under one roof!  It's the only holiday I get this, and I live for those moments.

I love the week preparing for Thanksgiving.  I enjoy doing all the shopping for the meal, preparing the meal, watching holiday movies, starting to listen to Christmas music, getting goodies for the service project we always do and then ending the week trimming the house for Christmas. When I was pregnant I would try and imagine what this holiday season would be like with a baby. 

Would I finally allow people to bring side dishes so that I wouldn't have to do as much?  I was secretly excited for an excuse to sneak up to the nursery to rock the baby to sleep in the midst of the holiday hoopla. I pictured myself sitting in the rocking chair, the door closed but the holiday chatter still loud enough that I could sit back and enjoy the laughter from a silly joke that my grandpa told or hear the roar of the group when someone scored a touchdown. Then, after everyone left and the house was quiet again we'd build a fire, put on some music and watch our little one become mesmerized by the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree.

No, the holidays won't be anything like I imagined it to be this year. Being thankful can take some effort sometimes, can't it?  I've struggled quite a bit these last 4 months to find things to be thankful for.  Yet there are many things, right in front of my eyes - each and every day - that I have to be thankful for. It's often just remembering to "stop" long enough to reflect on them!

I am thankful for the support of so many family and friends - the constant outpouring of love is still so appreciated.  I hope you all know how very much I love each and every one of you and keep you in my prayers.  I am thankful for a supportive work environment - co-workers who understand that Mondays are therapy days and I'm still a work in progress.  I am thankful for my amazing therapist, who I look forward to being with and feel a thousand times better after I leave her office.

I am thankful for this incredible group of mothers I found on Facebook - women who were strangers but a year ago and today have become one of my greatest support systems.  Mothers who respect me, encourage me and give me hope for the future.  I am thankful for my midwife - a woman who took care of Olive and I for 40 weeks and kept me calm (and still keeps me calm) in some of my most difficult moments.  A woman whose door is always open to me (what other practitioner would invite you to her hospital room after SHE had surgery so that you could just come hang out and vent?). 

I am thankful for the network of parents we've met through Children's Hospital, other bereaved parents that have reached out  and new friends that I'm certain will become lifelong friends because of the bond we share.  I'm thankful for my church family - especially our incredible pastors who remind me weekly (sometimes more) that they are continually praying for my husband and I.

I am thankful that I've got the energy and motivation back to start taking care of myself again - and for special people in my life who are helping to keep me encouraged in my physical needs. I am thankful for my sweet neighbor and her friends who have welcomed me into their bible study and keep me encouraged in my spiritual needs. I'm thankful for a God who looks past my weaknesses and the "what's in it for me" attitude I so often have -  a God who loves me and reminds me that things don't have to be so complicated.

I am thankful for my husband.  I am more in love with him today than I ever thought possible.  He is patient, kind and forgiving.  Lord knows I haven't been the easiest to live with the last 4 months (4 years?), but he understands that we grieve differently. He doesn't bat an eye when I don't know what I need, what I want or what I'm feeling.  He's doesn't change my radio stations (even though I know he'd rather listen to rock than Christian rock), even if he needs something he doesn't interrupt me if he sees I'm reading my bible and he only rolls his eyes once when he comes upstairs and sees I'm watching a cheesy Hallmark holiday movie (hehe).  I am thankful when he opens up about Olive or shares a song that reminds him of her.  I love how many date nights we have set up in the next month and that whether we're out in public or hanging out at home we find ways to reconnect and prioritize each other.  He truly is my best friend.

I am thankful for our little lovebug that made us parents.  Olive was a baby who was in our hearts and on our minds long before she was even conceived.  She was the perfect answer to our prayers and I am so thankful that she is our firstborn.  Her life has taught me more about myself than I ever knew possible.  She brought my husband and I closer and our families closer. Her life helped make friends out of strangers, and God continues to amaze me at the beautiful miracles he's allowed from both her earthly and heavenly life.

Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling happy.
Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling strong.

So whether I find myself sitting in my car screaming at the top of my lungs, laughing with my husband, feeling green with envy as I scroll through Facebook or feeling accomplished after a hard workout - I'm trying to stop and show gratitude in each of those moments.  It doesn't happen every time - (remember when I said I was a work in progress) - but it's happening more frequently, and I really can see and feel a difference in my attitude.

Stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment you are feeling anything.

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