Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is something I am learning and training myself to do. I often find it difficult because I get so caught up internalizing everything and lose myself in the analytics and process. I can write down ten things for which I’m grateful, but I am more excited about the list writing than its actual content. I am making a concerted effort to be more present in life, opening up to things that cause me discomfort like hugs and compliments and general touchy feely things. Saying it aloud makes me cringe a little. I can do this – and by this I mean – be a little less awkward and less controlled and embrace life for exactly what it is.

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance…Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. -Brene Brown

Have you ever played that game where you stare at something for a really long time and it almost becomes unrecognizable? It could be a familiar face, a piece of art, or a word – it shape-shifts and the longer you stare, the more familiar you become with its beauty and flaws. If you stare at yourself (read: your past | your present) and allow it to shape-shift – become something different entirely – you may just see beauty. You may see how the flaws of your youth created unique and fantastic bits that freckle the landscape of who you are today. You may see how the difficult times prepared you for a larger mountain to climb later in life. You may recognize past relationships and their impact on your ability to love and be loved. I don’t think I knew true gratitude until I was comfortable with imperfection – not being OK – loving the mess that is me and being grateful for all of it…even the messiest bits.

So as this season of thanks continues through the new year, I want to encourage you to actively practice gratitude. It can be a journal or sharing them aloud with friends/family/partner. If this cynic (I’m talking about me guys) can get sentimental and a little sappy…anyone can do it.

I am grateful for relationship. I hit the friend jackpot – some dating back to 4th grade and others still in their introductory phase. I don’t know if your friends would fly cross country for a cocktail, spend 36 hours talking about life, take a night drive as a ritual, call you on the plane to say I love you one more time, hold your hand through the sad part in a movie, send you amazing things from thousands of miles away, or make up a dance just to see you laugh – mine do and I adore them. I want my legacy to be honesty, dance parties, and laughing, A LOT – these people, make me believe it’s possible. That may sound trite and weird but I’m 100% serious. What more is there to life than relationship; showing up, loving people for exactly who they are and walking through life together. Everything else just kind of happens when you’re letting love and grace light the way. Cliche’? Maybe, but it’s gold and I am incredibly rich with the greatest friends and will fight anyone who tries to tell me different.

I am grateful for a temporary retirement – one that allows me to rest, be present, be available to people I love in a way I am incapable when buried under stress.

I am grateful for adventure and a partner who is willing to face just about anything, trusting we can handle whatever’s next.

I am grateful for my brain and how it over analyzes everything – because of it’s annoying approach to life, I have learned so much about myself this last year – and look forward to more growth.

I am grateful for new friends when I least expected it.

I am grateful for family who continue to champion Mick and I on and speak truth into our lives in ways that change us and bring us back to a simpler way of living.

I am grateful for brokenness – it has brought me more challenges and joy than I ever anticipated – this next year is going to be incredible. I look forward to watching our life shape-shift further into authenticity and vulnerability.

thanks and giving 2016

The last two weeks have been terrible. It was a snowball effect – every day got worse but it snuck up on me the way a zit does – the kind you think will easily pop, then you mess with it and it becomes this cystic monster threatening to take over your face. Each day you can take as it is – one day – we can all handle one day. Then, you wake up one morning and realize life is terribly overwhelming and you wonder, what the hell happened? Each day piled on the next is a bit much and this life, this being an adult thing…it’s the freaking worst. With all the terrible no good sadness happening around me, there is respite in focusing on the things that bring me Thanksgiving.

Micky – For every spontaneous dance party, no matter where we are, they’re the best. For watching me do yoga over and over and over and over again. For letting me talk over him because all I need to do is vent, then forgiving me for being incredibly rude and still making me a gin tonic. For being the better half of us in conflict, in trauma, and in our entire social life (which he swears I would not have without him). For letting me be quiet, no matter how long the silence lasts. On the rare occasion I cry – for sitting there and waiting for me to tell him I’m OK, that it’s OK to hug me – I promise not to start swinging. For the times I cannot cry, letting me know that’s OK too, and not discounting my hurt. For never putting himself above another human; for always loving, always caring. For helping me piece myself back together when torn down. For always knowing my heart is never as cold as it seems. For making me laugh day in and day out  – without fail he is the funniest person I know.

My friends – the ones who trust me with their darkness and their light. For letting me share their burdens and for doing their best to help me carry mine. 

Doctors who fight every damn day to cure cancer – who relinquish family and friends to stay in labs testing cells, loving patients, believing in LIFE.

The passionate hearts of those I love fighting for what they believe: whether boots on the ground protecting this great nation; dreamers believing change is possible, it just needs a voice; those who sacrifice time and space to care for the lost; and those who haven’t quite found their purpose but love greatly.

My family that is constant and far reaching.

My late grandma Anna Daisy who taught me to be me, no matter what, and to never, ever let anyone make me feel less than treasured.

A beautiful earth that never ceases to amaze me and a landscape that stirs the peace inside me.

For women who give things like grief and loss a voice far greater than I could hope to have.

Choreographed dances that make me look ridiculous yet bring me joy and the friends who enjoy being equally ridiculous.

A roof over our head, food on our table, blankets to keep us warm and puppy dogs to snuggle.

For Birdie, always, for Birdie.

Thankfulness

I don’t often meet expectations when it comes to thank yous. I tend to be matter of fact about them and move on. At times I cannot comprehend the need for mush and over exuberance…it’s not my nature.  BUT – I am learning certain types of people need that – and my “nature” is not exactly the standard of behavior. You can imagine my reaction when the host turns to me and says, “misie, what are you thankful for this year?” I generally freeze up, lock down all intention to smile, give an annoyed stare and always say, “Micky.” [Have I mentioned I do not like to be put on the spot or told what to do?] My thank yous are best left to notes and gifts.

So – here goes my most thankful things/moments – in a note, not a speech and tied to songs – because that’s how we do.

Mick and I are blessed by a group of friends and family like no other. This mix matched culmination of people, represents a uniqueness, an understated treasure, and we wouldn’t be who we are without them. When it comes to thankfulness, these people top our list. The love and grace we are shown is insane. We have shared some tricky times and this rag tag group not only stuck around but knocked us out with love.

Mick – yup gonna go there – he is the jam [if it was appropriate to curse for emphasis….oooo]! Literally – he is made of sugar. He…welp…he’s Mick and everyone knows he is warm hearted, hilarious, honest, wise, discerning, and a puddle of mush. That mush balances out my cold heart and I would not choose to do life without him.

That time Mick and I drove 3000 miles across the U S of A and missed every crazy storm, every monster tornado, every creep who lurks at rest stops, and arrived safely to our adventure.

For those moments in life you let your guard down, befriend a stranger and they begin to change your life.

For family who remind you, you are where you came from no matter what it is – make the best of it, be honest and loving, be brave, and above all else, show grace.