Friday, May 7, 2010

Gratitude.

How did I learn how to be grateful? Until recently, it was a rare day that I would celebrate the absolutely mundane gifts I received on a daily basis. I did not even view them as gifts. I expected them - a roof over my head, food in my belly, transportation, clothing, the love of my family and friends. I rarely ever stopped to think about what gifts each of those are.

I know I am lucky. Where as life has not always been easy breezy, it sure has afforded me some rich wonderful experiences. I have two amazing parents who have spent their lives doing the very best that they could to make mine and my brother's lives happy and healthy. This doesn't mean they were perfect. This doesn't mean there weren't times when our life as a family didn't feel desperate or painful. It means that life was complicated and my parents did their best.

One of the amazing gifts they gave me was the gift of gratitude. My parents struggled through out my childhood financially. They came from very different backgrounds and life experiences which gave them differing ways of looking at and managing resources. I remember their struggles and how each thought they were doing what was best. As someone who now shares financial responsibilities for a family with my parter, I have great admiration for what my parents were able to do for us and each other. Never during their struggles did I get the message that we didn't have enough.

No matter how financially burdened they may have been, my parents created an amazing life for us. They got us involved in our community. They challenged us to take our education seriously. There was never any question that if we wanted to achieve something, that we could. They taught me to be creative and think outside the box. They encouraged me to dream big, work hard and to never give up. Never give up on my family or my friends. Most importantly they modeled gratitude.

Daily we witnessed how truly grateful they are for each other and the life they have created together. They show us continually how grateful they are to have us as children, and now our partners and children as an extension of the family they created. I am truly grateful to have had such great examples of how to live in the world and am now trying to pass these examples on to my step-son.

I have kept a gratitude journal off and on for many years. Recently, I had started writing in it again. I was feeling burned out and stuck, so to help me reset my thinking I dug out my journal. It was so great to go back and look at some of the amazing events, emotions, thoughts and even recipes that I had been grateful for over the years. It felt kind of silly to be inspired by my own self, but I was.

As a family, Alan, Gage, and I have been trying to look at amazing gifts we are to each other, what we have to offer and what we have been given. I think sometimes in the rush of the day to day we lose site of those gifts. We began last week by purchasing Gage and Alan their own journals to start writing in. Then we spent some time together before Gage went to bed writing down - and in Gage's he also drew some pictures - what we were grateful for that day. It could be anything, the dinner I ate, the shower with lots of hot water, the fact that I got to cuddle with both my boys while watching a movie together. Then we shared one of our thoughts with each other.

I am so glad that we started this as a family. It has been such a great gift to sit with our little family and really concentrate on what we are thankful for. I know it helps me. I go to bed thinking about the good things going on in my life. I feel like Gage is trying really hard to figure out what gratitude means for him and it's fun to get to be apart of that. I also think Alan is enjoying the process as well. I am grateful for this.

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