This is the time of year when lots of folks voice their thankfulness in a very public way. They send cards, buy gifts and post on social media. Hell, some people even take out paid advertising.
Yes, cynics who complain all year long about all that’s wrong in their world are suddenly the epitome of humility and gratitude. (I can say this without enmity because I used to be one of them.)
I am grateful to have a much more positive outlook on life these days, but I think I am most grateful to get a month-long break from these Negative Nancys’ incessant bitching. SIGH.
Nope, I haven’t engaged in any of the public lists of thanks this year. I think I haven’t felt the need because I am privately grateful all year long. I frequently write gratitude lists in my journal, or send short daily prayers of thanks up to my ol’ HP (higher power). I actively count my blessings every day because taking that action plays a major role in keeping me sane, serene and sweet. For realz.
But it being Thanksgiving week and all, I figured that an extra dose of gratitude certainly can’t hurt. So I thought I would jot some thoughts down that might not fall under a typical thank-you list.
Make no mistake, though, I am very grateful for the biggies: a warm and beautiful home, my vastly improved health and well-being, my loving and happy family and a strong start to my new career as a freelance writer and media consultant. Yeah, I am WAY thankful for all of those things. I have everything I need and most of what I want, and that ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.
But here are a few gratitudes of note that have been on my lists lately. Nothing tangible or sexy, just some of the little things that make up the good stuff in my life.
Getting older. Sure, there are certain tribulations that come with aging, mostly physical in nature. My eyesight is weakening, my wrinkles are deepening and my joints are cracking. But the wisdom and acceptance that accompany the accumulating years are worth all the tangible challenges that come along with them.
Today, I am comfortable with who I am. I know my strengths so I play to them, and I know my weaknesses so I work on them. I am a good person with human flaws, and I do the best that I can with what I’ve got.
Others’ opinions of me no longer define me, though I am mature enough to consider those opinions as constructive criticism. (i.e., if someone judges me negatively or is not happy with my work, perhaps there is something I can improve upon.) I am grateful to realize today that if you don’t like me, that’s your shit to deal with, not mine.
I am also very grateful that the maturity switch in my brain flipped to “being comfortable” from “looking cool.” Remember going to the clubs in your 20s wearing skimpy clothes and no coat in the dead of winter just so you’d look hot on the dance floor? Ha!
Would I do that today? Hell, no. That’s why God made coat check at Nowhere Bar.
Change. I used to be thrown totally off balance and freak the fuck out when any change – major or minor – occurred in my life. Today, I am grateful to be able to accept (and even be content with) the fact that nothing ever stays the same.
It may sound crazy, but I believe that knowing everything can and does change is a gift.
Think about it. No matter how shitty something seems at the time, you can take comfort in the fact that it won’t stay that way.
The illness will get better, or bring about peace in death. The argument will be over eventually, and you will either work it out or get a divorce.
Your boss can’t stay mad at you forever. That bad date will be over after you pay the check. What sucks today will be better tomorrow. Every. Time.
On the flip side, knowing that everything changes incites another gratitude – I am so thankful to be able to take a deep breath and stay in the moment. I used to spend most of my time pining away for the NEXT moment (the grass is always greener and all that jazz), not stopping to revel in the one I happened to be in.
Today, because I am OK in knowing that beautiful sunset will fade into night soon, I take the time to truly enjoy it. I cherish happy times with my son and my friends. I dance like it’s my last chance every time I hear music.
I don’t rush through visits with colleagues I rarely get to see. I spend hours playing with and petting my little dogs, grateful for every moment with my furry companions. In the summer, I take breaks from working in my home office to stand in my backyard and eat a popsicle. I'm sure my neighbors get a kick of watching me moan with pleasure after every bite, as I grin from ear to ear. "Must be a damn good popsicle." Oh, it is. It is.
That, my friends, is the good stuff. There is nothing better than those moments. They don’t last, so enjoy ‘em when they happen.
Simple scents, er, pleasures. I’ve always been very sensitive to smells. I associate scents with life events, seasons and people. Always have. When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate that aspect of my body chemistry. I felt like kind of a weirdo, actually. I had a tendency to breathe in deeply at inappropriate times, say for instance, when I would whiff old textbooks in the middle of English class.
Anyhoo, today I am so grateful for the power of memory through that particular one of my senses. I am also grateful for my ability to make new memories with it. I may not remember your face, but I will remember the smell of your neck when I hugged you. And if I ever randomly catch that scent again, I will be transported right back to that hug, and think of you fondly. (I don't care if that sounds creepy. Sue me.)
Because I have such a heightened sense of smell, there tend to be a number of scents that make me happy on the regular. I am grateful for each one, and I try to take a moment to appreciate them when they waft into my nostrils.
Some examples: gourmet coffee brewing, my dogs’ fur right after a bath, fallen leaves, my furnace in those few seconds when it first kicks on, candles (I have a new vanilla/lavender one that is my current fave).
I also love the way my bedroom smells when I first walk in there after it has sat empty all day. I can’t describe it… it must be a combination of clean laundry and all the hair, body and makeup products I use. But it is so comforting and peaceful, (which are great qualities to have in a bedroom.)
That reminds me… I’m very grateful for my bedroom sanctuary. There was a time not too long ago when that room represented a lot of torment and sleepless nights. So glad the opposite is true today.
No matter what is going on in my life, there is always something or someone for me to be thankful for. Yep, I am grateful to be grateful year round these days. It certainly keeps the cynic in me at bay.
And that is something for all of YOU to be thankful for. Trust me.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.