Our annual November holiday naturally turns our thoughts toward thankfulness. One year, I took time each day during the month of November to write about something for which I was thankful. It was a wonderful and joyful exercise. It changed my ordinary routine into opportunities for my heart to give notice to my blessings. I quickly learned that I could find things, for which to be thankful, tucked away in the most unlikely of places. They were patiently waiting to be discovered. Small droplets of water can eventually fill a large ocean, so too with our Blessings. Before long, I swimming in a veritable ocean. I have always loved the quote from Miracle on 34th Street when Kris Kringle reminded us that Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind. So too, with our giving of thanks. I would like to make being thankful my default frame of mind.
There are so many wonderful quotes about gratitude and the need to infuse it in our daily living. I actually think if might promote overall wellness. With your mind occupied with thankfulness, you have less time for whining and complaining. I need to keep that thought first and foremost in my mind. When we are always looking for what is right within our daily existence, we have much less time to dwell on what’s wrong. It breeds its own form of joy and helps alleviates stress. When we look for the positive, we are less likely to fixate on the negative . It breeds its own form of vitality and helps alleviate depression. When we are outwardly focused on what has been done for us, we are more likely to do for others. It breeds its own form of generosity and keeps our selfish nature at bay. A heart filled with gratitude doesn’t have much room for the uglier emotions that tend to take up residence there. Piglet, Winnie the Pooh’s little friend, noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a large amount of gratitude. It kind of changes everything. This is a truth that I have learned over a lifetime…and am still learning.
Thus my list begins…
I am so thankful that I have an open heart to receive a message that has survived over 2,000 years infusing me with an irrational faith, hope, and love. Though I continue to fall short of its application, I am extended the grace to try again. I find myself surrounded by a community of people and gifted teachers, wiser than me, who can somehow help me to understand and move forward in search of carving out my beliefs and living in a way to honor them. It is my faith that allows me to magnify and uncover even more of my blessings than meet the casual eye.
I am thankful for nature in all of its majestic forms: the beauty of a sunrise and the promise of a new day; the Divine artistry of the seasons as one leads breathtakingly into another. I think God has given us the seasons as a metaphor for life as well. I am reminded that, just like the natural seasons, there is beauty to be found in all of our life seasons even those that appear cold and barren, a spring will always follow. I am thankful for the trees and the way they smell, the rough texture of their bark and how some just beckon you to climb them. (I am thankful that I still want to do that!). I am thankful for cold, gray, rainy days that make me want to stay inside, slow me down, and cause me to take pause. They give me a good excuse to snuggle with my favorite blanket and read, write, or just ponder. I stand in awe of indescribable beauty of the night sky on any night, but especially on a clear crisp cold November evening. We are fortunate to live just outside the range of the city lights , so that multitudes of stars, and a planet or two, are visible right from our front porch even with a beautiful almost full moon aglow. Long ago learned constellation patterns pop into focus as I gaze into and try to remember their names…..and thankfully, sometimes I can.
I am thankful for the family into which I was born and my connection to such wonderful ancestral roots that tie me to those who came before and to those who will come after. They set forth a faithful example by the way that they lived and loved others and their influence continues to inspire me even today. I find such comfort in my childhood memories.
I am thankful for my sweet husband and for the memories we have shared. He is the anchor that holds down that crazy flying kite with me on the end of it. We have a shared history and roots that go all the way back to 9th grade. We long ago reached a tipping point where more of our life has been lived together rather than apart. God knew exactly what I needed when He sent Steve to me and has allowed our faith and love to grow and mature along the way. We were blessed with the incomparable gift of children and were able to experience that miracle in all of its many forms throughout the years. I am beyond thankful for my sons and the men that they have grown to be. They have chosen to share their lives with amazingly wonderful young women, whom we proudly claim as our daughters. The circle of life continues as we have received the additional blessing of a precious granddaughter….a joy that defies expression.
I am thankful for my friends, the ones I’ve had for years and the unexpected treasure of making new ones! What an amazing circle of people that God brought into our lives! Each is a very different spice that adds to the flavor of my life. I am thankful for the laughter that accompanies these relationships, along with long deep conversations involving a profound level of trust and of investment in each others’ lives. I am forever inspired by their love, wisdom, support, and heartfelt insight into experiences and the way they hold me accountable with their grace and gentleness. Life is too short to just live it on the surface and these people take me deep.
I am thankful to be an American and for the extreme sacrifices and unfathomable bravery of the men and women who have served our country in times of war, and in times of peace. I am beholden to their timeless patriotic spirit that continues to allow ordinary people to perform quite extraordinary feats to protect the freedoms we enjoy. I am proud to know that my husband and son were part of this fabric of service to their country along with many other family members and friends.
I am thankful for all of the beautiful and unique species of animals, but especially for Sabrina and for the serendipitous day I stumbled upon her! She is our crazy little calico rescue cat. She has “single-paw-edly” introduced us to the joys of feline curiosity and perhaps is even propelling me into crazy cat lady status. She is testimony to always being open to what you think you may dislike; give it a go because you may be pleasantly surprised. She is part of a long furry line of Stevens’ pets that have enriched our lives with love and laughter.
I am thankful for provision…at the most basic level. I am thankful for shelter, food, clothing, and clean water. These, although critical elements to our survival, are the easiest for me to take for granted because I have always been blessed with having them in excess. Any or all of our provisions can be taken away at a moments notice as the glaring and horrific examples on the world stage continue to remind us.
I am thankful for books, the good old-fashioned kind with sewn bindings and paper pages. Reading is a joy that first captured my heart in childhood and continues to do so today. I am thankful for all of the wordsmiths that can paint colorful murals in my head with their brilliant mastery of language. I am thankful that I can totally immerse myself in their stories and let them take me to explore intriguing lands and alternate time periods. I am thankful for the bits of my day that I can carve out in total surrender to this delicious pleasure.
I am thankful for my wanderlust and for that intense yearning to just discover new places and far away lands. It is a stirring deep inside of me that defies complacency and I am fortunate that we’ve had opportunities to explore, and return safely, greatly enriched by the experiences and happy to be home again.
I am thankful for sensory experiences…of all types but particularly the olfactory ones. Smells are connected to memories for me, so it is a lovely double thankful feeling. This time of year especially gives me a plethora of aromas that take me back to wonderful places in my mind, of other Novembers, other childhoods (mine and my children’s) , and other holidays: the smell of fir trees at every corner, cinnamon and spices, burning logs, and sweets baking in the oven.
I am thankful to be living in Athens, Georgia and that my beloved sons and their precious families have made it their home too. I am thankful for friendships that started here over 40 years ago. I am thankful that something about this city makes me feel young again. Athens was my cocoon between the innocence of youth and the reality of adulthood. The heart remembers! ATHENS, I do LOVE YOU!!
I am thankful for all I have to be thankful for…and I could certainly keep going. What I clearly see is that what I have is more than enough…
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into………….. enough. ~Melody Beattie