The Simply Thankful Life

Photo courtesy of Sanny Pannemans as pinned on
I hadn’t planned on spending the morning in bed sipping honey lemon green tea, staying cozy under the soft white down comforter, and reading a newly purchased book on my kindle. Mostly because I hadn’t planned on being awake. I was exhausted and I was still coming to terms with the death of a student just a few days prior. I planned on sleeping until the last possible minute and then heading to campus to begin what was going to be a long day as I wouldn’t finish until close to 10:30pm and full of ups, the Lady Who Leads program I’d organized, and downs, conversations with students as they processed their grief. Yet I was awake there. I was awake and it felt like a small victory of sorts.  Slipping back into a routine I abandoned for a few days due to travel and tragedy felt like I had conquered something.

That sense of victory reminded me of the beautiful turquoise, white, and gold book cover I’d seen a few days earlier at a small gift shop downtown. Small Victories by Anne Lamott. While I heart a good hardcover paper bound  book so I can  write notes in the margins and the like, it was a bit pricey so I left the book on the rustic table and went on and bought my usual cup of tea. Yet this morning I was reminded of the book’s title, my affinity for the author, and so I bought the less expensive electronic version on my kindle and immediately started reading.

I cried on the first page. They were good tears. They were thankful tears. They were perspective adjusting tears. They were comforting tears.

Photo courtesy of About Face and
If you’ve ever read any of Anne Lamott’s work you know that she has an absolutely magnificent way of sharing with a very frank empathetic let’s regroup pull out the positive cause staying stuck in the negative is just gross, easy, but gross, get over yourself kind of way.  Small Victories is no different and her opening about how she finds joy in her continued friendship of her friend who is dying a slow death, Lou Gehrig’s, because that friend remains thankful. Her friend’s thankfulness includes the giving thanks for things like still being able to cut her own nails. Anne doesn’t ask, suggest, or demand that any of us ignore our own pain because heaven forbid it gets worse because it could get worse. Instead she asks us to still find what we can offer up a quick “thanks,” for, just like her friend.

I didn’t want to offer up thanks. The week not even halfway complete had already been marred with ugliness. There were streaks of weakness, hurt, anxiety, fear, and anger, sharpied all over the past few days. I didn’t want to be honest and know that there were still things to be thankful for. Like being present for the students challenged by the grief.  Or listening to the painful story of the student who was physically assaulted.  I was thankful for the privilege of relationship with these students. I was thankful that  that evening I was going to engage in a campus program that focused on something that I am particularly passionate about- empowering women and girls. I was thankful that one of the guest speakers for the event is a woman I have come to truly admire, appreciate, and trust as I’ve transitioned here. Anne was right. I may not have wanted to offer thanks but gosh there was plenty to be thankful for.

Photo courtesy of Izabel Cristina as pinned on
I read some more, and cried some more, and sent up whispery watery prayers of thanksgiving. The more I thought of what I’d been thankful for, including the unplanned extra time in bed, with tea and cozy blankets, and my new book, the more at peace I felt.  Thankfulness kinda works like that.

Thankfulness has this unassuming way of shifting our lives into perspective and turning the dregs of joy at the bottom of the mugs of our lives into the rich frothy foam that we sip slowly, intentionally, lightheartedly, and happily.  It has this way of reminding us of past victories (even small ones) and encouraging our souls when we don’t want to give thanks to give it anyway. It has a way of turning into a blessing counter and a contentment booster. It has a way of humanizing us and others. It reminds us to forgive both ourselves and others, to extend grace to ourselves and others, to celebrate and express gratitude for the things we and others have done well, haven’t done well and learned from, have been spared from, and have born witness to.

Photo courtesy of Annie Leibovitz

I’m thankful or you this week. I am thankful for you most weeks. Thankful for the few moments you make to read what I have written, to share on various social media platforms how what I’ve shared has impacted you, to receive words of encouragement from you.  I am also hopeful that this week will be filled with even more reasons for you and I to give thanks. Whether it’s for making it to work on time, finding a sitter so that you and your significant other can go out on a date, that the car acting funny was because  you needed an oil change, that one class you needed to be cancelled so you could leave earlier for Thanksgiving break was cancelled, the extension given, that today you felt less depressed than you did before, that the kids took the dogs death better than you anticipated, or maybe that you’re here. Even if being here has been tough of late I am really hoping with every bit of hope that I can muster that you can find thanks in the opportunity of the present moment.  Happy Thanksgiving- and I don’t mean the day I mean a way of life; a lifestyle of giving thanks! xxoo

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