|Hope by George Frederic Watts 1886|
It seems like I just posted about all the things that make me happy in writing and in life. Yet, over the past couple months, events have conspired to keep my mind on the idea of gratitude.
We had a lot of challenges over the holidays, nothing truly awful, but not much fun either. The roof over our bed developed a leak (due to low-bid contract work on our addition to the house, i.e. the original builders were not roofers). The roof over our bedroom essentially had to be replaced. The week before Christmas, the timing belt on my car wore out. I'm hoping to upgrade to a new car someday soon, making expensive repairs on this one especially galling. Right after Christmas – the day we were to leave for our family vacation – I broke a crown.
Just before all this happened, a family we know lost their dad. The girls know his daughters, so we all went to the funeral. That's the kind of thing that will really keep your head screwed on straight when facing the stumbling blocks in your own path. We all stepped out of that church with a deep sadness and a sense of gratitude that trumped everything else.
In the weeks between the funeral and Christmas, I thought a lot about what it means to move through each day with a sense of gratitude that is decoupled from the events of that day. This gratitude didn't make dealing with our troubles any more pleasant. I wanted to swim, but it seemed that I was stuck treading water.
We moved some money around to pay for the roof, and when I was at the grocery store that week, I was grateful that I could get our usual groceries and grateful for our pantry and fridge full of good food. I was grateful for my fantastic husband who, with a no-big-deal attitude, paid for the timing belt in my car. I told him to put a bow on it and call it a Christmas present (shhh, don't tell the kids: new roofs and replaced timing belts are grown up Christmas presents). Despite my broken crown, my tooth didn't hurt. Amazingly, one of the dentists at our practice was in on Boxing Day and "patched" it before we headed out of town for our vacation.
Gratitude is like the oil that keeps the wheels moving, especially when you hit a rough patch. It's an attitude that you can arm yourself with to meet whatever the day throws at you. I believe that the practice of gratitude has not only positively affected my life; it has also improved the productivity and depth of my writing. It has given me more stamina and resilience to slog through the challenges, so that I have something left to give to my writing.