Some days it’s hard to feel grateful. Why is that? My life has not changed dramatically since yesterday. Granted, today is Sunday, which makes tomorrow Monday, as opposed to yesterday, which was Saturday with the promise of Sunday still on the horizon. I enjoy my job and do not have Monday doldrums, so the days of the week should not matter. Sure, I’d rather stay home and putter around the house any given day of the week, but my husband goes to work so it would be lackluster puttering at best. It’s always more fun when he’s around. We don’t have to be doing the same thing, or even be in the same room. Having his warm presence permeating the house is enough. The same with my kitty. Knowing she is sleeping somewhere in the house, her face free of fear or concern, is enough for me.
And so it is with gratitude. It is a see-saw ride, as I suspect it is with you. Some days I am bursting with thanks for all the blessings in my life, big and small. They parade before me in a conga line of blissful thoughts, each taking their bow in turn as I shower them with thanks. I couldn’t forget about them if I tried. Other days, a milky cloud moves in and obscures the obvious, leaving me to flounder for even one grateful reflection. Like happiness, gratitude is not a given in life. It has to be worked at. Feeling grateful is as much an effort as not feeling grateful, so when gratitude eludes me, I make the effort to give the see-saw a push, back to a place where gratitude comes more naturally.
An easy path to gratitude for me is to look back over my adventure with breast cancer. I survived! Surviving breast cancer treatment comes to mind more often than one would think. There are dozens of ways that adventure could have gone south, and that’s before even taking cancer into account. I went through chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation therapy, and I’m still standing. I’m very, very, super, uber grateful for that.
Then there’s me in the aftermath. I feel great and I look pretty darn good flat. I feel comfortable, natural, attractive. My husband finds me attractive. I am the love of his life, as he is mine. No physical blemish can diminish that for either of us. I’m pretty darn grateful for that, too.
Then there are clouds. What is life without a peek at the clouds from time to time? They sashay across the sky in a Rorschach test of white blobs. If there is ever a way to turn the tide of gloom, it’s a session with the sky. No matter what the outcome, delving into my psyche to chase the meaning of fluffy cloud images is always a hoot of a time. I’ve seen a menagerie of animals parade across the Florida sky over my backyard, as well as the occasional knight, gnome and super hero, and they always leave me with a grin on my face and joy in my soul.
Bird songs are another fan favorite for me for seeking gratitude. The nuances of the songs bandied back and forth pull me out of myself, switching my attention from somber internal notes to the flighty whimsy of my feathered neighbors. I wonder what they say with their happy songs? Are they looking for a mate, sharing information on a tasty treat, or maybe just celebrating the day? I think they celebrate the day more than we think. They open their eyes to the rising sun, maybe the warm rays on their feathers nudging them awake, and burst into song, the bird version of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” It’s hard not to sing right along with them!
Then again, I’m a morning person. My husband stares in wonder at the stars! They don’t move me the same way, but I’m learning. Maybe it’s because I like the here and now and the twinkle of the star I see happened thousand of years ago, or longer. I know, I am seeing the light now, but somehow to me it doesn’t quite feel like the present moment.
So, here’s an interesting notion, I actually burst into being in the past just like the star. We are both a culmination of the events that got us here, to this point in time, when the pinpoint of light that is the star completed its billions-of-mile journey taking thousands of years and I completed the 56-year of my life journey and decided (realistically, at the urging of my husband) to tip my chin up to gaze at the stars, and we met, that star and I.
When I put it that way, it is pretty darn cool. I guess it’s time to spend some time outside at night and expand my gratitude horizon. It is just an attitude, you know. What you are not grateful for today you can turn into a blessing with just a thought. Give it a try. For example, I’m grateful, in many ways, for my breast cancer. I have grown more as a person, become a better wife, friend and daughter, and learned to appreciate the gifts in my life more as a result of a disease I chose to call an adventure, and that is one heck of a thing to be grateful for. Now it’s your turn. Turn your lemons into lemonade!