Surely I’m not the only one who tracks her gratitude in excel format? Y’all, I cannot help myself. It’s like Type A has infected my O+ blood, and list-making abounds. This time of year, our screens are filled with images and messages of gratitude. Isn’t it full of wonder – the choice of being full with gratitude?
A few years back, I found myself in dire need of a gratitude practice. After divorce papers were signed, these unruly feelings of resentment started taking nasty shape. You know what Anne Lamott says about resentment? She says “expectations are resentments under construction”. Y’all – I was like a Master Builder during this time. I was constructing all kinds of unhelpful stories.
My gratitude practice did not come gently into my life. It arrived after a very strange experience in a similarly strange city, Las Vegas. Let’s just say I was extremely grateful to be alive, after making a set of decisions that were categorically stupid. On the flight back to Austin, I started writing out all the things, people, places, moments that I was thankful for…..and then once home, I added this gratitude practice into my morning routine. Every day, I opened up my Mac, found my Gratitude file in Google Drive, and inserted some rows and starting typing. See for yourself a few lines below:
Beautiful fall mornings where the air is cool but not too cool 10/1/2014
Faith in God, as it is allowing me to let go of the need for control and understand the peace of surrender 10/1/2014
The Ability to go to ACL this weekend and hear so much great music 10/1/2014
2nd chances 10/1/2014
Friends who have been by my side for so very long, like Lucia – simply priceless 10/1/2014
My gratitude practice was my way of fighting back against loneliness. Like many of us, I came home from that Vegas trip to a really quiet place. Just me, myself and I in my place. Without my children present, the silence was deafening and scary. As my friend Dr. Seuss says about life:
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
You’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
That can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
Gratitude became, and continues to be, this magical thing, that walks alongside me every day. Right around the time I filed for divorce in 2013, Maya Angelou answered a question posed to her by Oprah Winfrey about whether she ever felt anxious about aging – her response resonated with me so deeply, I cut it out and added it to my vision board. Maya said:
“At every age, I’ve been grateful. I talked to you years ago about how important that is. Get up in the morning. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for this day. Thank for the light coming through that window. Thank you for my breath. Thank you for the phone call that told me I have the job. Thank you even for the phone call that told me I’m not wanted anymore. Thank you, because I know you have something better for me lined up.”
Now, it’s 2018. Almost Thanksgiving again. I am partnered up in this life with a most remarkable and kind man. My children are well. My friends are an absolute blessing from above and beyond. My dog is weird and brings much joy to our family. My gratitude list is at line 7,308 on my excel spreadsheet.
At PeopleGetters, we are gratitude practitioners. We believe in Winning Work, and we believe in connecting people to their value in the world. We welcome connecting with you!