I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.
This year I’m going to choose a random word for the blog post topic, but I’m going to tie it into a memoir I’m working on about Nanny, my maternal grandmother. I hope this will allow me to think about her in a more creative way and unlock new memories to mine.
Here we go!
G is for gratitude. It may sound cheesy and unoriginal, but it’s the truth. I’m grateful for gratitude.
I’ve written about gratitude before and how I would not have gotten through the last several years without it. I promise that is not an exaggeration. Perspective is everything.
I keep a gratitude journal. I write down three things I am grateful for every day. Well, almost every day. Sometimes I’m too overwhelmed or tired to pick up a pen before my head hits the pillow. G is also for Grace.
There are no rules for my gratitude journal except that I must write down three things I’m grateful for each time I open it. Sometimes I’m grateful for big things like my health and that I was born in the United States. I’m thankful for friends and gardens and sunshine.
Sometimes I’m grateful for material things, like that I was lucky to go on vacation this year. Or that we were able to get the kids the electronic devices they wanted for Christmas.
Sometimes I’m grateful for tacos and beer. And lawn mowers that work so I don’t have to go to Lowe’s and learn enough about them to buy one. Exhausting! But how lucky am I then when my lawn mower fails I can go to Lowe’s and buy one? It’s a dent in the budget, sure, but it’s not like I’m not going to have to choose that over food. Or air conditioning.
Sometimes when my kids are driving me batshit crazy it is impossible to be grateful for their bickering little selves in that moment, but later at night when I open my journal, I am thankful that they arms to hit with and legs to kick with and voices of their own and opinions to voice. I’m thankful they are sassy and argue with me and stand up for themselves.
Sometimes when I miss my mom so desperately I think I might die, I shed some tears and then I’m grateful for all the good times and goofiness and love that I had with her over the years. I look at her pictures on the wall, thankful that I had a camera and money to get them developed, and show my kids their Grandsan and I’m glad they can see her larger than life personality.
I’m thankful my best friend picks up every time I call her. I’m grateful for all of my little tribes that love me when I’m ugly-crying and let me rage about politics and cuss and throw things.
I’m a fairly ordinary human being and I get jealous and envious and bitter just like everyone else. It’s really hard to be mad that I have a 10-year old car when that car takes me to work every day where I do good things and make money that puts food on the table and buys books and way more hiking boots than any one person should have.
It’s hard to be mad that my house needs some work and that’s going to cost money I don’t have or want to spend but I have a roof over my head, a furnace to keep me warm, and air conditioning to cool me off (thank God!).
It’s hard to be mad that I carry extra pounds when this body is almost 50 years old but birthed two babies and takes me up any mountain I want to climb, even if I get there slowly and huff and puff the whole time.
It’s hard to be mad that my insurance won’t cover all of an expensive antibiotic when there are people who have to ration insulin and can’t afford life-saving cancer treatment. I can pay for that antibiotic. Some folks can’t.
You get the picture. Gratitude is easy. Perspective is Every. Damn. Thing.
I wonder if Nanny had a gratitude practice if that would have given her perspective. She experienced a lot of sickness and grief in her life, but she also had a home and people who loved her. She drove them away with her demand for attention and loyalty and bitterness. As much as she loved to write, I can only image what a daily gratitude check-in might have done for her. To write on paper what made her happy. Maybe she was incapable of that because of her mental illness, but maybe not. Who knows? We’ll never know.