Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The State of Gratitude

I've been giving my resolution to find gratitude every day some thought. How have I done, mainly? It's time for a status update.

It's gone fairly well. It's one of the hardest things I've challenged myself to do. My day starts painfully. Arthritis has settled into my hands and the mornings are very bad for mobility. Even getting up a half hour earlier does not mean I make it to work on time. I struggle to open the milk container and pour milk on my cereal. Brushing my teeth, with the gripping and maneuvering of the toothbrush causes pain in my wrists. Getting dressed takes about 30% longer than it used to and I now have to look at clothing from a "will this hurt to put on or take off" stand point. And opening the car door, if I don't watch the placement of my fingers on the latch, can be painful. I've pretty much resigned myself to the knowledge that pain is a companion. Some days are worse than others but it's always going to be there now.

It would be very, very easy to wallow in that knowledge. When I can't get a bottle of juice open or when I can't grab the top of the litter box and pull to open the box, it's easy to feel sorry for myself. I had to take a small saw and score the box top then rip it off in pieces. At least it can be recycled.

And that last statement is what I am trying, every day, to seize upon. Yes, it hurts and it's incredibly frustrating to realize I can't do what used to come so naturally. But there is gratitude in everything. I'm grateful I can recycle the boxes litter comes in. I belong to the Fresh Step Points Club. When I buy Fresh Step litter, those rare occasions when it's cheaper than Arm and Hammer, I get points. I am really close to getting a cat tower after years of saving and not spending points. I think the girls will love it.

I have a friend who is going through some health problems. I sometimes want to shake him. He's so negative. Yes, life is hard. He's got problems I wouldn't wish on my casual enemy. I know the view from his position. He's looking up and all around him is a hole. It's easy, so very easy, not to see there are things to be grateful for even when the situation looks bleak. But he could stand a huge dose of gratitude. He has a place to live. He can put food on his table and clothes on his back. To use a trite cliche, "Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt."

Not every day is a good day. Not every day can I remember to be grateful for something, anything. A client was angry at a spread sheet we sent him. It was wrong. I had handed off the data to others to do input and they couldn't read my writing or they questioned what I had written and added things that weren't there. I hadn't supervised. I was busy. I trusted when I should have gone back and looked. I was dreading a meeting after he called about the problem. All the way to the meeting, I kept telling myself to find gratitude in the day. It was balmy, for a January. It was mileage and got me out of the office. Yet that little voice, that critical me, kept saying I was a doofus, or worse. The client accepted my apology and we worked together to fix the spreadsheet. It wasn't as bad as my critical side had drummed up.

Practicing gratitude is hard. In the midst of frustration, it's hard to find something to be grateful for. I am very grateful for a mild winter, in spite of the fact that we need the moisture for spring and I kind of miss the snow. It takes me 30% longer to get going in the morning, but I am grateful for oatmeal and Cheerios and a job I like. I am grateful that I can still do cross-stitch. And I am grateful for lap cats and snuggle cats. I have much to be grateful for even if, at times, I don't remember that.

So, where am I in the drive to remove the negative and embrace gratitude? It's coming. I've spent so long with that critical me pounding on my self-esteem that embracing gratitude will take some time. Change is done in baby steps and I seem to be walking now.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


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