Cultivate Thankfulness

This blog has been stirring around in me for a while now.  I think it’s time to put it on paper.  (Or in cyber-space.  Do they even use that term anymore?)  OK, I’m about to get real.  Yikes.

Covet.  This isn’t a word that’s used often.   The simple definition of Covet is: to want (something that you do not have) very much.  But there is so much more to this word than this one simple sentence.  I know because I have struggled with this in my life.  And if I’m being honest, quite often and quite recently.  Believe me, it’s not something I’m proud of. Disgusted with myself is more like it.  There is not one part of me that isn’t hesitant about putting this out there for the world to read.  But there is another part of me that is screaming, you are not alone in this.  This will encourage someone.

Why do we covet?  Why do I covet?  Social Media definitely plays a role.   Everywhere you look someone is vacationing in Iceland or buying houses on the Riviera or their children have been accepted to Harvard and they’ve just started Kindergarten.   People are living such extraordinary lives and mine is so ordinary.  Right?  But as much as I wish I could blame it all on social media, I’ve realized that for me, it can be a heart issue.

Gratitude.  Thankfulness.  These are not things that come naturally to me.  I have learned that I need to be intentional about cultivating these attributes in my life.  And when I grow lazy at this, I can become someone that covets.  And I don’t like that woman very much.

So I am reminding myself to be thankful.   Thankful for my family vacation in Florida this year.  Even if I had to take it in mid-June because it’s cheaper (who cares about 98% humidity?) singing karaoke songs with my daughter was worth the sweat.   Thankful for my little ranch house that is super easy to clean and for my wonderful husband who does much of it! Thankful that, even though there are cracks (major) in my driveway, I have a car to park there.  Thankful that my kids and grandkids are healthy.   They may not be doctors or lawyers or CPA’s. They may frustrate me and break my heart at times (why do they have to be so hard-headed?) but they are here and in my life and I’m oh so very grateful for that.

Writing this is my way of recommitting to being intentional about having a heart filled with gratitude. It’s not easy at times, but I don’t care for the person I can quickly become when I don’t.   There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.  Take a moment and look around.  (Just not on social media.)

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Ripples

I had the hardest time getting to sleep the other night.  My brain just wouldn’t shut off.  No clue what triggered it but I kept asking myself in what way was my being on this planet making any kind of difference.  Will the world be any better for me having been in it?  What will the ripple effect of my life be in 50 years?  100 years? Will there even be one?

When I was younger – during the so called “formable” years – I didn’t have much adult direction.   I’m the product of a “broken” home.  Great label, isn’t it? I didn’t realize how much that defined me at that time in my life until I typed it just now.    I lived with my mother, as most did in that generation, even though she wasn’t the most capable of raising us.  Now, looking back, I realize that she was doing the best that she could with the tools that she had.  I was never really told that I could be anything I wanted to be when “I grew up”.  My mom was just trying to survive another day.   College wasn’t even a thought in my mind.  Definitely not something that was encouraged.  Funny how we tend to rise only to the heights that are expected of us.  If the bar is low, that’s our goal.    Simply making it out of high school was my main objective.  College was for the “other” kids that came from affluent homes.   They could afford to have bigger dreams.  How naïve I was at 17.

Now, having seen 17 three times, I believe I have a bit more wisdom.  I used to be convinced that if I could have a “do-over” I’d be a teacher or a doctor, some type of career where you can see the impact that you’re having each day.   But I’m beginning to recognize that maybe the experiences I’ve gone through, the family that I was placed in, the adventure that has been my life (good and bad) has shaped me into the woman I’m supposed to be.  Maybe, just maybe, I am making the impact in this life that I was called to make.  That behind every struggle, every tear, and every disappointment there may be a learning that can be used to help lessen the hurt in someone else’s life.  I’m finally appreciating the fact that I don’t need to be a cardiac surgeon to help heal a broken heart.  Love can do that too. A simple act of love can start out as a pebble that causes a ripple that, with the right direction, the right current, can become a waterfall.  A waterfall of love – that’s not a bad mark to leave on this world.

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Making Memories

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I’m exhausted.  8 days with your kids and grandkids will do that to you. We just returned from a family vacation to Florida.  When I first mentioned late last year about doing an extended family vacation, I was a bit unsure.  A week on a St. Pete’s beach with your hubby, relaxing poolside, listening the sound of the waves, watching the sunset over the gulf versus a week in Kissimmee Florida with 6 other people – four of them kids – overdosing on Mickey Mouse and all things Disney (they OWN central Florida) – which would you choose? Our departure date was Saturday June 25th.  On Friday the 24th I really thought I’d regret not picking the first option.  But after a good nights’ sleep in my own bed (can I get an amen?) I realize my perspective has shifted a bit.

Were there daily meltdowns from children running on 6 hours sleep? Yep.  How about plane rides with a 3-year-old screaming (and I do mean screaming) for 15 minutes that she has to use the bathroom as the plane was landing?  Yep again.    Arguments over splashing in the pool (that might have been me) playing in the game room, where to go for dinner?  Sure was.  Hot, tired, cranky kids and adults?  You bet. But as I process the last week, even though all the irritation – minor and major – I realize how much I love my family.  How completely, thoroughly and undeniably I am blessed.  I have a husband that loves me, children that want to spend time with me, grandkids that adore me and the resources to go on vacation.  I wouldn’t trade the giggles, the sticky faces, the never-ending UNO game, late night pool volley ball, singing karaoke and laughing until our bellies hurt, Tiger baseball games where they rallied in the 9th to win, Gatorland train rides that break down and they have to walk you back (seriously happened), sudden downpours, playing in puddles, “mermaid” shopping, cousins bonding, the “good-night grandmas”, warm, sleepy hugs and the 100 “I love yous” for anything.  I won’t be here forever.  I now have less days ahead of me than behind.  The older I get the more that smacks me in the face.  These memories will be what my family holds onto. When my grandchildren are adults, they’ll be telling these stories.  “Do you remember how much fun we had that time we rented the house in Florida for the week?  When it rained so hard we got drenched as we ran through Gatorland to the car?  How we ate cookies at Cape Canaveral that were so hard we thought they brought them back from the moon? When we sang It’s Raining Men with Grandma on Karaoke night?”

When I’m gone, I want to be remembered with laughter and love.  I want to be the kind of mom, grandma, wife that will be missed.  Good memories – what a great legacy to leave my family.

Now I’m going to take a nap.  5d460ed78992a28f0ea9d7a6b7841f91