Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.
– Doris Day
Seriously, it’s already the end of 2017? Not that that is a bad thing. It just seems like yesterday when I was spending the prior holiday with my family, feasting and fellowshipping, laughing and crying. It’s funny how, as life goes on, time seems to move faster and faster. Where we once spent our lives looking forward, we find ourselves casting our eyes and memories to the past.
To help stay grounded in the present moment, I practice a daily morning meditation where I incorporate gratitude. This isn’t a half-thought, or a token spiritual gesture. It’s a spiritual requirement for me to be thankful for the people, experiences and belongings we share. Gratitude journals come in handy here (I document my thankfulness on electronic sticky notes but to each her own.).
A Place to Call Home
You only have to look around at what you have versus what others have to see how truly blessed you are…only to be humbled by how little some people may look like they have when, in fact, they feel just as blessed. For years, a homeless woman has walked up and down the main streets of my beach town, pushing her few belongings in a wheelchair. When she gets tired, she sleeps in her chair. Local vendors give her food and drink. She rewards them with the most beautific smile and a thank you. She never seems to be concerned about her situation. I hear her mumble to herself at times but even if she’s disoriented, she’s always clean and seems to know where the services are in town so that she can eat. I’ve never seen her take the bus. She trudges resolutely everywhere. Over time I’ve watched her go from being a robust, heavy-set human to a thinner older lady, still pushing her mobile ‘home’ around town.
I don’t remember her name although she may have told me once. Occasiionally I would get gas at the crack of dawn before going to work and here she would come, rolling down the street with her sweet, round chocolate pie face. Then she would wave and say, “Hey beautiful!” Never asked me for a dime. One day I happened to be at a 76 gas station as she was strolling past. I said “Hey beautiful!” and ran up to her. I probably gave her a couple of bucks. She smiled widely and asked, “How old are you?” I told her. She said, “I’m 56 – you’re a baby!” I am most definitely not too many years behind her. “Thank you baby!” And off she went, gratitude in action.
Thank You For Being A Friend
In recent months, I’ve spent a lot of time with my family, mostly due to illness and aging. One of the most humbling aspects of caregiving is the gratitude expressed by the friends and extended family members for my efforts. In my view, it’s a no-brainer: My family takes care of me in difficult times and I take care of them when it’s their turn. Yet it is amazing how many people say, “You’re a good daughter for taking care of your parents” or “I’m so glad they have you and your brother”. I’m just thankful I’m in a position to do it. The most satisfying and rewarding praise came directly from my parents. They have been so happy I’ve been there for them, even until the day my father left us. In fact, it was only a couple of weeks ago that my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, looked at me and said, “I’m glad you’re here.”
If you knew my mother, you would know that is high praise indeed.
The Universe Will Provide
Having faith in good outcomes is a muscle I try to flex everyday. When life becomes too much or too overwhelming and I can’t make a decision in any direction, I’ve learned to throw up my hands and say, “You know what? I don’t have an answer yet. I’ll place this in God’s hands and let him take the wheel.” And while this may seem like hocus pocus religious folly, I can guarantee you it works pretty much every time. All I have to do is ask the question, for example: “I don’t have any money in the bank. How will I pay this bill?” Then mysteriously a check or a refund shows up in the mail that I wasn’t expecting. This practice was extremely effective when I had a life threating illness. I was told I was probably not going to live. As a result, I became extremely grateful for the time I had left. – so far it’s been about 23 years and counting. A few years later I was stranded in a foreign country and I had no idea how I was going to get a place to stay, return home, etc. Miraculously, a key to a vacant apartment was produced. A return airline ticket was found (after more than one attempt – all the flights had been booked and were sold out). I made it back to the USA safely. That lesson taught me the value of trusting that things will turn out alright and allow me to develop an attitude of gratitude in response.
What I’m Grateful For Today
This holiday season I’m grateful for many, many things. I’m thankful for the time I was able to spend with my father, mother and brother last year as that was our last holiday together with my Dad. I’m blessed this year to be able to still have our mother with us so that we can spoil her rotten, not with presents she doesn’t need, but with love, laughter and affection. I’m deeply appreciative of the fact that I’m in good health and can look forward to many more years spent with my beloved friends and family members. I have hands to write, eyes to read, feet to walk. I can clean and cook (not by any means my favorite things to do but I can’t imagine not being able to do them). I can sing and make music and frolic on the beach. I can play and work at my leisure.
Yes, there are a lot of things I don’t have. But today, life is pretty damned spectacular. May your own life be exceedingly bountiful, beautiful and blessed.