Yesterday I wanted to title my blog post Generosity and Gratitude because they seemed to fit together, but as I started writing, I realized that I had much to say about Generosity and that it deserved to sit by itself in a post. I'm glad that it touched a few of you.
Gratitude also deserved its own post because, for me, gratitude, and showing your gratitude, is the basis of civilized behavior. It's what differentiates the wild child from the one who truly appreciates the giving in receiving gifts. I think being a good receiver of gifts is just as powerful as being a good giver of gifts...and being a good receiver means understanding the responsibilities of receiving--which often entails showing your gratitude.
We often show gratitude through thank you notes. I've thoroughly enjoyed the notes that have been showering my mail box this past week. Hearing from my mother, daughters, aunts and cousins that they enjoyed the stuff I created means a lot to me. I know that they are all good receivers and will treasure (and use, which I think is important for the things I create...I make them to be used) the stuff they received.
(And I try very hard to be gracious...as I sat down to write my thank you notes, I felt slightly guilty because I couldn't remember every single thing that people gave me. I thanked them for the things that came to mind, but then realized after the letters were already sealed and ready to go to the PO that I'd forgotten some things...the t-shirts, for instance. And I don't remember exactly how I got them other than Aunt Janice was involved because I remember her sewing on the bees. So, thank you to whomever gave us our t-shirts. The color was most becoming and I'll wear it for years to come. And if I left out something from your thank you note, please know I didn't mean to...)
But, back to the topic of gratitude in general. I had a hard time learning to be properly gracious. Over the past year, I have realized that I've gotten rather negative about a lot of things. Work is sometimes challenging and there are many things that I don't like...and that I have to pretend that I do (and I hate pretending to like things I don't and I know I'm terrible at it and don't convince a soul, but I try nevertheless). David and I have also had many things to go through together this past year and I'm battling a general cynical attitude, it seems, all the time. And to be honest, some really sucky things have happened over the past year that have made being positive, grateful and optimistic difficult.
So, I made a challenge to myself. While I'm not a religious girl (please don't mistake religiosity for believing/having faith), I do talk with God on a regular basis, especially at night as I'm falling asleep. I noticed at the beginning of the year that I was always asking for this or that to be fixed and that I needed certain things in order to have a better life. I became very aware one night that I wasn't being properly grateful for the wonderful gifts that I have in life so I challenged myself to shorten my conversation with God and just say the one thing that day that I'm most grateful for. Some days it's as simple as chocolate, but some days it's the good car that I drive that saved my life. As I've been doing this every night I find that I more easily find the things I'm grateful for and the challenge is just mentioning one and thinking about it.
Two nights ago, however, I had trouble. David and I had gotten into an argument and fussed and fumed at each other for over an hour. My ear hurt from getting infected (went to the dr. on Friday to get my tubes for flying and one of the ears was primed for an infection, which apparently it did get) and I in general didn't feel good. I was exhausted from only getting a couple of hours of sleep the night before. Overall I was frustrated and didn't quite know what to be thankful for. I almost said, "I'll just skip it tonight" but I held myself accountable and made myself find ONE thing...and as I was laying there in my comfortable bed with my comfortable pillow I realized that I could sleep in comfort because of having this thing so I was thankful for that...my bed and my pillow and the soft sheets and blankets that cover me at night. And the fan that kept the air moving, and the air conditioner that kept my house cool, and the beautiful house that I live in which is on a beautiful street. Snowballing out of my mind from one simple grateful thought was all the wonderful things that I have.
And I knew then in a very powerful way that I'm amazingly blessed.
Today's picture is another of Pearl being goofy. She buries herself in places and charms me with her adorableness. Her role in my life is to be a comic--to remind me that things can be simple and fun and that I need to sometimes let go of my serious side and just do the things I enjoy...which often is playing hide and seek with her or throwing a ball for her to chase or letting her bite my fingers.