I will be the first to admit that it is very easy for me to “downward spiral” into Negative Nancy thinking. Like virtually every other human being on the planet, my life has many hardships. My life is not going as planned. It’s a daily effort not to get caught up in that. I’m a work in progress.
So today, on this day of active reflection and gratitude, I’d like to count my good fortunes.
1. My health. I am, truthfully, in better shape today at 40 than I was at 25. I am grateful that I have the good health to work out, to run, to do essentially anything (physical) that I want to do. I know there will come a day, probably in the blink of an eye, when I will not feel so capable and vital. I appreciate my body. It has birthed 3 healthy children, currently runs over 100 miles a month, and allows me to enjoy life on a daily basis. After decades of hating my physical self and appearance, how wonderful to wake up in the morning without that self-flagellation and dread.
2. My job. This year has been my most stressful and exhausting year to date at my school, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the negatives. But I’m pretty damn lucky, and I know it. Not only do I work at an institution that values and appreciates me, I am in a career that provides financial stability (if not exactly affluence), and more importantly, worth and value. I don’t have a job, I have a vocation. How many people can say that? They drive me nuts sometimes, but I love my students. Even the challenging ones.
3. My socioeconomic status. I’ll never be part of the 1%. This year has been especially challenging financially. We have owned two homes for more months than we could ever have anticipated (although there is a light at the end of the tunnel!). My children’s father has decreased financial support. The kids’ costs, now that they are in adolescence (or rapidly approaching it), are increasing exponentially (I thought daycare was expensive…).
But just typing that out feels very #firstworldproblems. Come on. I own a home (actually, two. HAHAHAHA. sigh.) in a safe neighborhood. My kids attend an amazing independent school. I have no credit card debt, a healthy emergency savings account, and never worry about food on the table or heat in the house.
I’m doing alright.
4. My friends and family. My circle is small, but tight. If I’m having a bad day? I have not one, not two, but several people I could text, who would text me back with just the right words to make me smile. Today I am in San Antonio to spend the holiday with my extended family, and I actually like them (how many of us can say that?).
5. Coffee. I am grateful for coffee. Do I really need to expand on that one?
6. My dog. I know, I know, I can’t believe I’m “that person” that talks about her dog as another child, but people COME ON.
I love her. I love her so much. She is the best dog ever. FACT.
7. The internet and online shopping. I hate dealing with people. And crowds. And shopping. And basically going out in public. How amazing is it that I can sit home in my socks with a cup of coffee and shop from my bed? I think that’s fantastic. Thank you Al Gore.
8. My kids. Clearly, I’m biased, but I have great kids. I have to love them, of course, but I like them. They’re sweet and funny and smart. They are my greatest joy, my life’s work, my reason to wake up each and every day, determined to be a better person. Whenever I feel angry or bitter or resentful that I have to give up 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends and every other holiday with them, I think how incredibly, incredibly lucky I am to have them in my life at all. Many women aren’t so fortunate.
They’re pretty awesome.
9. My husband. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to have my happiness dependent on anyone else (#recoveringcodependent). I learned in therapy that while Jerry Maguire’s “You complete me” sounded romantic, and got the girl, it’s actually totally dysfunctional. I’m a diehard feminist, for Pete’s sake. I don’t need no man.
Would I be *okay* without my husband? Sure. I would get out of bed, and take care of my kids, and go to work, and be a productive member of society. I did it (albeit for a short time) years ago. I would survive.
But I cannot imagine moving forward in my life, with this very different reality, with the joy and laughter and fun without my husband in it. He’s the smartest, funniest, best person I know. And I got a do-over and get to be his wife.
I’m pretty darn grateful for that.
So happy Thanksgiving everyone. May you count your joys and gratitude today and every day, even when it’s hard to do so.