Tis the season to take a moment and remember what you are thankful for. Along with many others, the typical comes to mind first. I know I am truly blessed and I try to remind myself all year long to appreciate the freedoms so many have fought to give me. My loving family and friends, my health and the doctors that help keep me healthy. My job and the amazing opportunities and people I get to work with, my beautiful house and pets. Despite the many blessings I have to be thankful for I have struggled to stay positive and grateful this past year. Many days have found me wallowing in self-pity and frustration. So this Thanksgiving instead of repeating the same list I do every year, I’m Challenging myself to find normal, everyday things that I take for granted. To focus more on how lucky I am each and every day in small ways I never truly take the time to appreciate. Here is the list I came up with over the last couple weeks. I must admit, as I stopped and really looked at the little things in my life, I found myself feeling happier and more content with each item added to the list.
My Everyday Thankful List:
I love to read! I get to read for at least an hour each weekday due to my bus ride commute to work. Before I started my current job downtown this year I always drove to work which left me absolutely no time to sit down with a good book and relax. I start my work day and end my work day with my favorite leisure activity and I have not been appreciating it as much as I should.
This may seem like a very weird thing to be thankful for… I have been a nail bitter for as long as I can remember. When I’m stressed, I bite my nails. When I’m bored, I bite my nails. When I’m nervous, you get the point… I had tried everything to stop! My mom tried everything to get me to stop! It seemed hopeless… Then My husband (fiancé at the time) was in the hospital two weeks before our wedding, the doctors were saying the wedding would have to be postponed, my job was threatening to fire me for missing work to be with him and he was in terrible pain and his life was at risk… It wasn’t until he got better and everything worked out (our wedding happened on schedule) that I realized I hadn’t bitten my nails in a week. I don’t know how it happened exactly but I suspect that I surpassed my stress limit by so much that biting my nails was no longer a comfort. I haven’t bitten my nails since, seeming to be cured from the habit! Since then I seem to do nothing but complain about my nails… They break to easily, it hurts when they bend back, I scratch myself too easily, I have to clean them constantly, etc… I should be thankful! I am no longer cursed with a disgusting habit, I’m no longer embarrassed of my hands, and I have a functional tool when needed! I’m lucky and proud and will remind myself of that next time I get irritated with my nails.
This one is hard for me because I have mixed feelings on it. I wont get into it too much now (I’ll write another post about it sometime). Most of the time I am frustrated when technology won’t work the way I want or irritated that it consumes daily life in a robotic lack of interaction. But if I stop and try to be more open minded about it I realize how much easier my life is because of it. As an accountant for a large company I cringe at the thought of accounting before computers. I have the ability to learn anything and everything, exactly when I need to, at the touch of a button. I can easily keep in touch with my loved ones no matter how far away they are. No matter how many reasons I have to hate technology sometimes, there is no denying the positive impact it has on my life as well.
I could live on pasta and bread! My husband is not that big of a pasta fan, which is good because if it was up to me I would probably eat it every day! I have co-workers who love but avoid pasta at all costs in the pursuit of a thin waist. At least for now, I don’t have that problem and I am thankful to be able to enjoy my favorite food without fear.
The only other food I love as much as pasta? breakfast foods! I mean, come on! It’s a socially acceptable excuse to eat dessert first thing in the morning! It doesn’t get better than that! Sadly, I skip breakfast most days but I am changing that from now on. Life is about what you love and I love breakfast!
- Memory Foam Mattress
Nothings makes you appreciate a good mattress quite like sleeping on a bad one… For a time during the start of the recession I lost my job and ended my serious relationship. needless to say I was down on my luck. My mom was gracious enough to let me move back in but unfortunately, my sister and I had been out of the house so long our rooms were no longer available. I happily agreed to live in the tent trailer put up in the garage (I’m beginning to think its a right of passage, we have all lived in that thing at some point). This trailer is almost as old as I am and the mattress is original. The only way to describe it is a thin piece of egg shell foam, on a piece of cardboard, on a piece of metal. When I got my own place again a coworker gave me an old mattress from their garage. Compared to the trailer bed, it was haven! Now I have a memory foam mattress and it is better than any mattress I’ve ever had! Sadly, I realized that each night I go to sleep and never think of my mattress. now that we have had it for a couple years I don’t appreciate it the way it deserves.
- Rainy Days
I live in Oregon so it rains quite a bit (probably not as much as you think if you aren’t from here though) and I love it! I can’t really explain why I love the rain. Maybe it’s because I’m from Oregon so it’s always been a part of life or maybe it’s just a weird quirk in my personality. Regardless, I’m happiest when it’s rainy season(s) again. I don’t always remember how much I love the rain. When I get drenched on the walk to the office on the day of a big meeting or when Oregonians suddenly come down with amnesia about how to drive in the rain. But overall, the sound, sight and smells of the rain calm me. Getting caught in a shower (when it’s not important to look nice) is cleansing to my soul. I can’t help to smile when I see the first drops start to fall.
- Public Transportation
As I mentioned before I ride the bus to work. Some days someone annoying or stinky won’t leave me alone. Some days the heating or air aren’t working and the temperature is torcher. I need to remind myself to be thankful that I don’t have to deal with traffic. That I don’t have to pay for downtown parking. I need to keep in mind that the bus driver is the reason I get to relax with a book each day while he/she fights with rush hour traffic.
It’s hard to stay thankful when some weeks I’ve spent my weekend cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, doing yard work and still finding time to do some work from home and all I get as thanks is complaints and never an over to help. When I start to feel unappreciated and overworked I need to remind myself that I’m actually very lucky. I have appliances that do most of the work for me and I never stop to appreciate THEM. Thinking about that makes me feel like a hypocrite. Sure they are machines so it probably doesn’t hurt their feelings that I don’t say thank you but if I don’t appreciate the tools that make my jobs easier, can I really expect appreciation myself?
I’m surprised this one came to mind at all. My only interaction with my insurance companies is when something bad has happened… That’s not exactly a good foundation for happy memories. I hate fighting for what I deserve. I hate all the red tape and bureaucracy. But if you really think about it all the insurance I pay for is there for a very good reason and has saved us from financial ruin more times than I can count. Whether it’s the health insurance that saves us from bankruptcy with my husbands chronic condition or our auto insurance when some kid with a cell phone crashes into our car. Our home insurance saved us from going all winter without heat or warm water when both our furnace and water heater went out at the same time. We could never have gotten through these life challenges without help from our many insurance plans. It’s all very worth it in the end.
I would like to start off saying I never had crooked teeth, yet I had braces for seven years. When I was little I would always speak in what my Mom called “baby talk”, my R’s sounded like W’s. As I started to get older and I didn’t grow out of it my Mom put me in speech therapy classes hoping to fix it, nothing worked. Finally our dentist recommended we see an orthodontist, just in case. It was discovered that my speech impediment was caused by my jaw being misaligned. It took seven painful, expensive years but they fixed my speech and I got the braces off the summer before I started high school. I don’t think about what those braces saved me from often enough. If I still had that speech impediment I would have been ridiculed in school. It could have prevented me from getting jobs as an adult. It would have destroyed my self confidence, I would have never had the guts to meet my husband like I did. My entire life would be completely different if I had never had braces.
I am a huge Disney fan! I watch the movies any chance I get. I listen to Disney music almost everyday. Ok, you are all probably judging me now. I’ve been embarrassed by my love for Disney for a long time. I won’t hide it any longer! Disney makes me happy! If I’m feeling down, I just sing along with a couple Disney songs and BAM! I’m on top of the world! Nothing lifts my spirit and brings out the inner child like Disney music and movies. You should give it a try. Who knows, it might just make you smile.
COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I drink coffee every morning. My mouth starts salivating by just the mention of “Dutch Brothers”. I know I’m just reinforcing the Pacific Northwest stereotype but maybe it’s a stereotype because we have amazing coffee here. Being from the Pacific Northwest I have always been surrounded but the best coffee there is and I’m sad to admit that I (and probably most Oregonians) take it for granted. I found that out and a layover in Chicago, I ordered a Café Mocha in a coffee shop and got the worst cup of sewage I have ever tasted. That’s the moment I realized I’m a coffee snob. Being raised with the privilege of incredible coffee makes me a very lucky woman.
I’m not a morning person… I’m also not a night owl… Basically, if I could sleep twelve hours a day and be awake twelve hours a day I would be at my happiest! Unfortunately that isn’t reality, especially when I have such a long commute (3 hours round trip). So I get up at 5 AM each day and that makes me grumpy and sleepy (am I just naming dwarfs?) and not very fun to be around until I wake up fully. Like I said I spent the last few weeks trying to find little things I take for granted and this way one that shocked me. I was on the bus actively looking for things to be thankful for, when I looked out the window and saw Mt. hood silhouetted against the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. My mouth hung open as I wondered, “have I been ignoring this every morning?”. Now I sit on the bus with my book and my coffee and remind myself to look up and cherish the beauty that is the start to each day.
Of course I am thankful with all of my heart for the major things I mentioned at the beginning but sometimes its important and even life changing to take a moment to look around and appreciate all the little thing we take for granted.
So, next time you feel down, unappreciated, stressed or frustrated just stop and remind yourself of a few things that make you lucky!