How wonderful to have a dedicated season to feeling grateful. Gratitude has the power to transform us. Science is showing more and more benefits to be reaped from intentional gratitude. So, cliche as it is the week of Thanksgiving, here’s a fraction of the things that I am grateful for:
This blog. It has been inspiring and exciting and invigorating for me to publish something and put it out in the world (most) weeks. I write this for me, but hearing from others how some of my rambling thoughts have helped them is a cherry on top.
My husband. I hit the jackpot and got so much more than I even knew to ask for. My husband is an egalitarian feminist, a supporter of human rights, a passionate champion of the little guy, an intellectual overthinker who keeps me on my toes. My parents have a traditional division of labor (Dad took care of the cars, yard, shoveling etc, Mom cooked and cleaned and kept the house running), so to watch my husband do it all is so amazing to me. We both try to do 100% of the work around the house, and to show each other appreciation for it. He makes me feel so loved that it gets annoying. He’s such a good father to our kids, getting up in the middle of the night, giving them their bottles, changing their diapers, dealing with potty training and temper tantrums, “flying” them around the house, building EPIC forts. I’m so reassured knowing that they are being raised by such a studly example of what a man/husband/father can be.
My children. We got lucky twice, to conceive easily and have healthy babies. Even luckier to get babies of sweet, happy dispositions who have made this all pretty easy. I joked to my friend that my son is my “sweet angelic cherub baby” and I’m not really kidding.
My parents. It’s been really fun to enter adulthood and become friends with my parents. I’m grateful for their parenting example, as they did much that my husband and I are seeking to repeat. I’m grateful for their unconditional love and support, for never putting me in a box, and for being such a solid bedrock for me to grow on. I’m grateful that they’ve allowed me to grow and find my own way, without reigning me in or resenting me for wandering from some of their schools of though. We are able to stay loving and close, even within religious and political differences.
My curiosity. I am always reading, always listening to podcasts, always learning and I’m so grateful for the ability to grow. I’m grateful to have a curious mind that is able to seek out, integrate and absorb new ideas, and to then try to improve my life with those concepts.
The Pacific Northwest. My chosen place to settle as an adult is so beautiful. I have started camping, hiking and snowshoeing my way around this beautiful country, and there is a lot more to see. I’m so excited spend the future taking my kids camping and exploring all over the region.
My job. Yes, the actual job that just last week gave notice they are laying me off. Despite that little hiccup, they have been a good place to work, to get my feet wet in my first job out of school, and to grow. I had access to more than enough funds to take continuing education, and was able to fly around and take some really interesting classes all over the West. I had coworkers I’ve truly enjoyed working with and learning from. I was left on my own to treat patients as I saw fit and never once felt pressured to bill more or do anything unethical. I’ve gotten better and better contracts each renewal, gotten more pay, more vacation time, separate sick time. I was supported in my maternity leaves and had support and no guilt to take time away from patients to pump for as long as I wanted (could). So yes, I am thankful for this job (may it rest in peace, lol).
My career. Wherever I work, I am so grateful to be a physical therapist. I get to meet thousands of people a year, to get to know them on a fairly intimate level, and to use my hands and my brain to improve their lives. I’ve had patients become friends, I’ve had patients open up some of the deepest parts of their lives to me, I’ve had patients that were sad to meet their goals and get discharged because they wanted to continue. I’ve had plenty of frustrating, boring and flat out rude patients too, but by and large they’ve been great. I’m so grateful to be able to meet and connect with so many people. I’m grateful to have an understanding of the human body that allows me to fix people’s pain, or to improve their function. I’m grateful to have a job that it interesting – always a new person to meet, a new problem to tackle, with pretty decent variety to keep things interesting.
My church. I am really beyond grateful for New Community, my local church. My faith journey has been a steady but curvy road with questions, doubts, and explorations. I am in a very different place, spiritually and religiously, than I was as a child, certainly, and even as a young adult. I’ve been learning a lot about God, the world, the Bible, humanity, etc etc, and I’m so grateful to have a church that encourages questions, encourages doubt, encourages digging deeper and taking another look at things we’ve grown up assuming, questioning “cultural Christianity” and asking instead, “What does it truly mean to love God, to follow God and to work for the Kingdom of Heaven?” I’m still on the journey, and I’m grateful to have a church that I trust to keep walking with me on that path.
My friends! How did that not come up yet. I have been ridiculously blessed with amazing friends all my life. I still keep in touch with two friends that I’ve known since I was a baby, with my two best friends from the junior high and high school years, and with several friends from undergrad and my Physical Therapy program. I’ve made some pretty fantastic new, adult friends since moving to Spokane. My friends have supported me through so much in such tangible, loving ways. We all need a tribe, and I’ve got a great one.
My body. I’m thankful for this little 5′ 1 – 3/4″ body of mine. She’s been through 3 years of 23hrs/day back brace wearing (the worst!), two major spinal surgeries, three pregnancies – one molar and ending in an emergency D&C, and another ending in a healthy birth but hemorrhage situation also involving emergency surgery and blood transfusions. She’s brought two healthy babies into the world and supported them with breastmilk for 5 solid months. She’s hiked up the Continental Divide, walked across glaciers, white water rafted, kayaked down the Murray River, sky-dived in Fiji, ran the longest distance she will ever run (7.5miles) for Bloomsday, and SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef. She continues to allow me to live my life as I desire.
For failure and suffering. Just as the short, dark days of winter make spring that much more exciting and summer that much sweeter, suffering makes our joys richer. Suffering has brought me clarity, maturity, growth and a deep, deep appreciate for life. It’s hard to truly “live every day as if it’s your last,” but suffering can highlight our priorities and show us how we really want to live.
I could go on. I’m grateful for laughter, grateful for books, for authors, for poets (I just signed up to get a poem a day in my inbox and it’s opening up a whole new world for me!). I’m grateful for cuddles, for strangers who smile back, for random acts of kindness (thank you whoever paid for my coffee at Dutch Bros!). I’m grateful for a sweet, supportive in-law family. I’m grateful for blue skies, for broody dark skies, for the colorful leaves of fall and the beauty of springtime. I’m grateful that my state is supposed to start staying in Daylight savings time soon (wahoo!). I’m grateful for wool socks, for sundresses, for wine, for craft beer (yes, I’m a beer snob), and for cheese (duh). I’m grateful for my daughter’s imagination, for comedians, and for do-gooders. I’m grateful for paid vacation time.
I’m so grateful, knowing full well that all of this is not the norm. At every level, none of this is guaranteed. The majority of humans, I believe, do not have it this well. That humbles me, and makes me want all of us to do better, and deepens my gratitude.
I am grateful for this joyful, messy life.