It is a delight to introduce you to Danielle! She and I met through the Nebraska Writing Project (which is something life changing to check out if you are a teacher who loves words). Reading her writing feels like you’re having coffee together, enjoying her perfect mix of humor and insight. Not many writers capture their own voice so well–such a gift. Today I am thankful for her reminder of how hard and yet beautiful gratitude can be.
Full disclosure: Lately, gratitude has not been my first reaction. I feel a bit like a frazzled, cantankerous old woman who pads around in a pilling pajama set and a bathrobe muttering, “Who moved my cheese?! Why is the floor so sticky?! Who ate all the bread?! How many more questions are you going to ask tonight?!” Picture Mrs. Dubose from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; that’s about what I look like right now.
In the last month, life has kicked my husband and me square in the shins. Some of our dear friends experienced the pain and loss of a miscarriage after years of trying to get pregnant. We had to put our beloved dog down; the same dog who has been by our side for nearly 11 years. Our dishwasher bit the dust and gave us a new water feature in our basement. My husband’s work schedule has been INSANE, and our kids have experienced a month-long holiday hangover from all the sugar, events, and general commotion of December. I’m one catastrophe away from chain smoking.
I have not handled these moments with grace and optimism. Honestly, I’ve never been a glass is half-full kind of gal. I’m more of a realist with a touch of snark. I tend to see the world as it is and then think about what I can do to make it better…and then binge on Red Vines when I realize how hard this work will be.
But I want gratitude. I long to be someone who can see bright spots in the darkness. Someone who can look at the gaping hole where my dishwasher once stood and think, I’ve got money in the bank to buy a dishwasher #soblessed. I usually stumble around in the dark for a good while stubbing my toes, cursing under my breath, before I eventually see the light.
Usually, this light–this feeling of gratitude, comes from the most unexpected of places. It comes from fifty degree weather in January in Nebraska, from hearing my kids work together to convert a dishwasher box into a rocketship, from a blueberry so perfectly plump and crisp that it snaps when I bite down on it, from seeing floods of humans marching peacefully in solidarity for marginalized peoples. These are glimmers of gratitude in dark moments. They aren’t big or deliberate; they are organic and hit me when I need them most.
The key to all of this, to experiencing these glimmers of gratitude: we must remain aware to our surroundings. We must keep our eyes open and our ears bent even in the darkness. But, I’m a realist, so I know that grief and pain and hopelessness will sometimes consume us. When my world looks akin to a raging dumpster fire, and I feel caught in the middle without escape, I turn to my tribe. My tribe is a handful of people who know me on different levels, who connect with me in different ways. These people often pull me out of the fire through funny text messages, encouraging words, or simply with coffee and their presence. We don’t need to do life on our own. When gratitude doesn’t come easy, when we find ourselves muttering in our bathrobes, stumbling through the dark–we can reach for our tribe to flip on the light when we can’t seem to find it.
***Last chance to win! The drawing for the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge (Krafty Kash Necklace pair valued at $42.00) will be posted on Monday. If you haven’t yet, comment with a name of a friend you’d like to see win along with you. All you need to do is post the name on this link.