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Gratitude…again and again

Today Is a day for gratitude.  In fact, every day is a day for gratitude.  Since now is all I’ll ever have, this moment is the only moment I have for which to be grateful.  And I am grateful. Extremely grateful.   Just having returned from sharing breakfast with a friend, I am very aware that friendships top my list of things that make life worth living.

      After my husband died last spring, a friend decided I needed some extra TLC, so she started taking me out for breakfast.  This has been so special we are still having breakfast together twice a month.  Just as my walks with another friend are special for the time we spend together, for the ways we’ve learned to know each other better.  Just as playing dominoes once a week with another group of women is special.  Just as my Sunday morning phone visits with our oldest daughter are special.  The list goes on and on.  Nor does the fact that the more I practice gratitude and the longer my list becomes decreases the specialness of each and every experience.

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      The amazing thing about practicing gratitude is that the more I recognize things for which to be grateful, the more I find.  I am grateful for the birds at the feeders.  I can’t begin to share how much joy I’ve gleaned from bird watching since placing bird feeders outside our sunroom windows.  I am grateful for the spring bulbs that have started pushing leaf tips through the ground, for the amaryllis that are blooming, for today’s sunshine and blue skies, for running water, my sewing machine, books to read, and sewing projects that inspire my creative juices.

    Another friend recently shared a book with me, John Kralik’s 365 Thank Yous, The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My life.  Keeping a gratitude journal has been life-changing, yet I am already anticipating how writing a thank you note to someone each and every day will open me to seeing more possibilities and hope everywhere I look.  It’s one thing to keep a gratitude journal, but to go the next step by mailing thank you notes makes me even more aware of just how much my life is interconnected with others.  Focusing on the things that are going well has certainly changed the way I see life’s disappointments, challenges, hurts,  struggles, and griefs.  While it is unrealistic to think that any of us should live happily ever after without suffering setbacks and disappointments, it is equally unrealistic to ignore all the good things that keep happening day after day.  For instance, having the power go off last week reminded me of just how grateful I am for electricity and the many ways it improves my life. 

      There are many challenges to this aging business, but so far, the positives outweigh the negatives.  One of the greatest positives I’ve found has been casting off the many shoulds and oughts that I once thought necessary if I was to earn the love and approval I sought.  I am profoundly grateful to have finally outgrown my need to earn approval and love by trying to meet others’ expectations, and that includes God.  It’s enough now to know that gratitude is its own reward.  After all, what greater gift can any of us give our Maker than appreciating this gift of life and our beautiful planet?

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