i’ve been posting a daily gratitude post on facebook this november, inspired by a couple of friends who have done so in the past. this year i saw their november 1st posts and impulsively decided to join in, and i am transcribing these posts here because it turns out that it’s already becoming a self-assigned writing exercise (read: verbosity ensued), which i’ve already established is much needed self care right now. add to that the self care of the gratitude itself, and we’re using self care in layers, as self-prescribed for the cold darkness of november. plus, top readers mom and wedding boss have had the better judgement not to join facebook, and i don’t want them to miss out! here is the first installment of grateful posts:
~30 days of gratitude~
11/1/16 day 1
gratitude has become a cliché hashtag to many people, but it’s also an important practice, and one that helps me think outside of myself. i’m going to join in with friends who practice 30 days of gratitude in november this year, for selfish reasons, however, because i have quite frankly felt better, and i am hoping that attempting to count my blessings on a daily basis for a whole month will improve my mood and help ease me into this cold and dark season of the year, my most challenging time of year by far.
there are many ways i could begin this month of gratitude, but i’m going to start with what’s happening right in front of me right in this moment… my sweet fiance, keeping me warm by building and tending a wonderful fire in our wood stove. I am so very thankful for his hard work of cutting, hauling, splitting, hauling, stacking, hauling, lighting… dealing with all things power tool, knowing how to make a blazing fire nice and toasty warm for me, since i can’t seem to generate any heat myself, and all with a smile on his face. i am being so specific about his fire-making abilities because i know i will have numerous other thankful things to say about this wonderful man throughout the month! and maybe this whole gratitude thing is also secretly a way to shout my love for him from the rooftops of facebook, because i am one lucky woman to have him in my life!
11/2/16 day 2
i am thankful for the balance in my life right now between yoga and karate. yoga: what can I say, it saved my life 10 years ago when i started practicing it, and has been a constant friend ever since. from prenatal yoga when quinn was gestating, to meeting a tall dark and handsome man in an evening yoga class 5 years ago, it is a source of great memories, comfort, wholeness and sanity. (oops, i told rich this morning i would give him the day off of being talked about when he asked in horror, “you’re going to write about me every day this month?!” oh well, sorry, honey. maybe you can have tomorrow off.)
now karate, i started practicing on a whim because my son was doing it and because i got a free month for being his mom. that was back in may. last week i completed my first belt test and graduated from white belt to yellow, and i see myself in it more than i originally anticipated. i’m more of a yogi than a fighter, but there’s more to it. learning one of the self defense techniques on my white belt curriculum, designed to defend against a left hook punch, i was brought back to a distant, jarring memory of a left slap to my face, and not only that, but the drunken lecture that followed, about how lucky i was that he had the self control to use his left hand to hit me instead of his right, given that he could probably kill me with a blow from his right (dominant) hand.
back at that time, i did not perform any self defense whatsoever, in fact, i cowered in fear. i made myself as small as possible and prayed he would pass out without hurting me further, so i could get myself and my baby to safety. and i did just that, and it’s been onward and upward ever since.
i know i began to carry myself differently after i started doing yoga, because my body had been so slouched and collapsed into itself from exhaustion, fear, self-loathing, criticism, and emotional abuse. it hurt, at first, to sit up straight in a seated yoga posture. with long, slow, movements and mindful breathing, my muscles have lengthened and strengthened and i’ve stood up a little bit taller ever since.
karate is all quick and powerful, not the long and slow and graceful, but the feisty kicks and punches and blocks that feel foreign to me. and yet… there might be something about it that makes me stand up even taller still, with the inner knowledge that i would not cower in front of a left-hand, or right-hand punch.
today in yoga class my teacher had us meditate on the space around our hearts, and specifically visualize the space in the front of our heart as the place of giving of love from ourselves to others, and the space in the back of our heart being the place where we receive love. i can tell you one of those spots contains a substantially greater amount of tension for me than the other, and it was a bit startling to me that while i feel i have come a long way towards loving myself whole, there is still a decent amount of work to do. so along with the gratitude practice, i’m going to be breathing into that back heart space a little more mindfully this month, with the goal of more graciously receiving the love of others. love is all over the place, after all.
and wherever i’m getting no love… i’ll just kick some butt.
today i’m thankful for my mom, with whom i had a nice long phone conversation yesterday.
i was thinking of being thankful for baseball today, but then i’d probably end up mentioning my <3 date <3 last night to watch the cubs win a very exciting game 7 of the world series, which hasn’t happened since my grandparents were infants, and then i’d really be in trouble. it’s his day, off, people, so i’m not going to talk about him. the pear cinnamon cider was lovely, while we’re being thankful, though.
my mom is an even bigger baseball fan than my significant other, probably the biggest baseball fan i know, and she would choke slam anyone in new york mets trivia. she is the subject of today’s gratitude post, not because of her baseball passion, however, but because she is the most supportive and loving and nurturing woman in my life. i’m really just the luckiest.
when i was 6 or 7, she had a hard time with me, but she left no stone unturned, and eliminated the hydrolyzed fat peanut butter from my mostly peanut butter diet, and i’ve been a model daughter ever since (hahahaha. she’s not on facebook to submit a rebuttal to that claim, so i’m safe!) of all the things i learned from her, how to be a mama stands out as the most important one, and if i am doing anything right with my kid, it’s because i learned it from her.
mom has a lot to do with why my brothers and i have such an independent streak, and also why we are insatiable readers, and also why we never stop learning. she’s the definition of a lifelong learner, leading always by example. her latest passion is the stand of antique apple trees (planted pre-1948) on the farm where she and my dad raised me, and she has become an autodidact expert in vintage apple variety identification. she also makes the best apple pie (which she taught my brothers and i to do as well and has given us all a wonderful gift by unearthing information about the chenango strawberry, winter banana, red astrachan, hubbardston none-such, and blue pearmain apple varieties that she and my dad are rehabilitating. see, didn’t you just feel like you got a gift, reading those amazing names? i bet blue pearmain cider would be lovely.
mom always knew she’d be a teacher, so when we each decided what we wanted to go off and pursue, she wholeheartedly supported. this included sending her daughter off to sail on tall ships, with her blessing, which i can tell you is not how all the parents react to their kids taking a few years off from life to travel the high seas.
her support is also what shines through to me when i think of her strong faith, because even though she has always been clear about her christianity, she also never expected us to fall into line just because it’s what she chose. as a “lapsed catholic” who has been a free methodist all my life, she emphasized that to her, what’s most important is that we are all on a spiritual journey, she always encouraged us to ask questions and think critically and make conscious choices, not to follow blindly but to think and feel and intuit for ourselves. i get the feeling this is also rare among parents of my cohort.
finally, if you know the side of me that doesn’t believe in t.m.i., that likes to sit in the red tent and discuss uteri or any other aspect of being human that other people can be squeamish about, a good deal of that is because of my mom, again, for setting the example that it’s important to be comfortable talking about this stuff so we can all learn. so, if you and i have chatted fertility charting or how to broach the subject of where babies come from with your kids, then you, too, can count my mom as someone you’re thankful for.
i love you, mom!