"Smile every chance you get. Not because
life has been easy, perfect, or exactly as you
had anticipated, but because you choose to be
happy and grateful for all the good things you do have
and all the problems you know you don't have."
Deep in my heart I know that creating for myself a culture of gratefulness for my many blessings will enrich my life in incalculable ways and is one path to greater satisfaction and will enhance my life. Experience has taught me that. I have worked for people who are incapable of being grateful figuring that you are paid for what you do and that is gratitude enough. I have worked for those who regularly express their appreciation for loyalty and hard work. The same with friends and relatives. The power of the words, "Thank You," when sincerely said, never fails to amaze me. Perhaps Machiavelli is right and fear is more motivating in the long run. I was sure of this in my youth. But things no longer seem so clear cut. Strange, you would think age would make things less rather than more muddled. Sometimes it seems the older I get the less clear cut things have become.
I have much to be grateful for in my life, and part of my New Year's resolution will be to continue to strive to create a culture of gratitude and to let those in my life know how very special they are to me, how close to my heart.
I am thankful for my husband, the man who has supported me through thick and thin, the man who bought me my first bicycle, who encouraged me to complete triathlons and to do PBP, to take on new challenges and not worry so much about failure.
He has the courage to tell me when he thinks I am wrong, but to still to be there for me. I prize his honesty even if it sometimes stings. The love behind it makes it much more palatable, and I always know where I stand. I grin thinking of the one anniversary or Valentine's Day. Coming home from work I find a card and some flowers. He asks if I would like to go out to eat, and of course I say yes. He takes me to a nice restaurant, and I am feeling so very special and loved. I am thinking that he will get thanked later that evening, when we get home. He looks at me across the candlelit table and gently says, "I think you are starting to grow a mustache." I am taken back, but immediately burst into embarrassing loud guffaws of laughter and tell him how the women of this world owe me a great debt of gratitude for taking him off the market. As a young bride, those words would have destroyed me, but the safety net of his love and knowing that he would never be purposely cruel to me gave me the ability to find the humor and to create a memory that I treasure. I would long have forgotten that dinner had it not been for his sincerity and knowing it was meant with love. While our marriage, like any other, has not been all peaches and creams and sometimes seemed on the verge of toppling, I am thankful for his presence in my life.
I am thankful for my children. They have enriched my life in countless ways and have been and continue to be blessings. They have taught me many life lessons such as how you can hurt for someone else as much or more that you would hurt for yourself, about how sacrifice can bring untold rewards, about family and what it means to be bonded by the adhesive of caring and love. Together we have memories that warm me. One Mother's Day my daughter gave me a "Memory Jar" she had created. A decorated jar filled with papers on which she had written about memories she had of our times together. A woman where she works told her she would not like such a present, that she wanted something bought from a store. To me, the present is like gold. While I have been through those memories many times, occasionally I still pull out a paper and take a walk backwards in time. I have a son who, despite the distance and his busy schedule, takes the time to comfort me when he knows I am hurting about something, who comes home at Christmas.
I am thankful for my health. There are many who do not have this blessing. I am thankful for my home, and my job, and my friends. I am thankful for laughter, for food on the table, for family. I am thankful for the cats and the amusement they bring to the house, and I am thankful that I am strong enough through loss to open myself to possible new pain down the road. I am thankful for my bicycles and the many gifts they have brought me: new experiences, new friendships, new ideas.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I say thank you to those in my life and to my creator. I will try to do a better job of appreciating you and of being sure that you know exactly how very much you mean to me. I will continue to strive to create for myself a world of gratitude and thankfulness and to not take things for granted anyone or anything, and perhaps even come to realize that those things that I would prefer not to happen sometimes needed to happen, for without sunshine we would not appreciate the rain, and without rain, sunshine would lose some of its richness. As Graham Nash once said in a song, "Grow a little taller even though your age defies." Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. May you always recognize your blessings and be grateful. There are, indeed, problems you don't have. Pray for those who do.