Wow, this life is good…this feeling is hitting me especially hard today while reflecting on the week that is ending. There are challenging days and moments in my rear view, but my heart is so full, and I’m left with a feeling of pride and hope. I didn’t get a pay raise or promotion. I didn’t achieve a lifelong goal. I wasn’t given an extravagant gift or compliment. Instead my wonderful life-view this week was the accumulation of the ordinary extraordinary moments.
I have weeks like this past week all of the time, as I’m sure you do as well. I experience these extraordinary moments every day, but the difference in my life experience is actually not life at all; it is me. The difference is that many times my lens is out of focus….or more likely covered in dirt and fingerprints….or truly, covered in my worries, heartaches and anxieties. Have you been there? Are you there right now, unable to see the beauty before you because you can’t see past your challenges?
the difference in my life experience is actually not life at all; it is me.
For me and my family, the hard times were there this week. The sadness of illness, the pure exhaustion of working, keeping a household and having a million kids (okay, maybe we have two kids but it often feels like a million), and the injustices and unfair things that sneaked their way into my world daily. What is different for me today is that when I look back on this week, I am looking through a clean lens, a lens of gratitude.
I am looking through a clean lens, a lens of gratitude.
So how do we get there, to the clean lens? How do we maintain the gratitude that helps us to appreciate the good and to weather the not-so-good? Here is a simple recipe:
- Ask for help when you need it. Ask with clear, direct requests for the specific things that you need. Don’t be a martyr or a victim of your situation. Figure it out and be honest with those around you about how they can help.
- Read something that you’re interested in and invest in your own personal growth. If you’re one that just doesn’t enjoy reading, I get it….but there’s this wonderful thing called Audible. Download it. Today. Make the most of your time driving or bathing or washing the dishes…and put new and wonderful ideas into your mind and soul.
- Listen to music and podcasts that make your heart happy and inspired.
- Exercise, whatever that means to you. It may be a five mile run, or it may be a ten minute walk, but move your body and treat it like a temple…it’s the only one you’ll ever have.
- Do nothing. No dishes. No laundry. No cleaning or planning. When your body and soul tells you that you need to do nothing, just do nothing and be okay with that.
- Say yes. When your son asks you to play cars. When your daughter asks you to go on a bike ride. When your spouse begins a conversation, say yes and tune in. When real joy is offered to you, say yes.
- Spend time physically close to your spouse…intimacy is so important and healthy for your relationship and for you as an individual. We all need to feel physically connected to the person we love. Hold hands. Give hugs. Look them in eye. Connect.
- Be honest about your feelings. When you’re disappointed, be honest about it. When you’re struggling, be honest about it. When you’re mad, be honest about it. Putting all of those feelings out into the open allows you to deal with them and move on, and then, when the happiness comes, there is clear open space to let the good vibes in.
- Eat well. Think about what you put into your body and treat your food as fuel most of the time…with the occasional mocha muffin splurge now and then.
- Don’t hold yourself to all of these things at one time. Don’t strive for perfection. Choose progress instead. One step into the right direction. One moment at a time. Being better today than yesterday. Living in this very moment.
For me this week, my extraordinary moments through my lens of gratitude looked like this:
- My husband and I met with our children’s teachers for parent-teacher conferences, and got to see our children through their teachers’ eyes.
- I spent one evening just curled up on the couch with my husband (not so easy at seven months pregnant…the two of us trying to fit on the couch together looks more like like an assault on my furniture than cuddle time, but we took time to make that happen and my soul is happier for it).
- I saw my son set academic goals for himself and then put in the work to meet those goals.
- I read my daughter’s latest book where she chronicled our back-to-school shopping adventure, and my heart melted in knowing that time together meant as much to her as it did to me.
- I watched my son pitch, play first and second base, and get some good hits in at his ballgame.
- I found my children snuggled up in my son’s bed this morning sleeping like angels, and came across one of those rare moments in between all of the sibling arguments where their love for one another shone through.
- I went on a bike ride.
- I had my 27 week OB appointment, heard my baby’s heartbeat again, and felt her move countless times.
- I had lunch with a good friend, talked about hard things, and also laughed a lot.
- I had a meal with my parents, sister, niece, nephew and my children.
- I started reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and am loving it.
- I listened to the Rise Together Podcast by Rachel and Dave Hollis and found myself so inspired that I was in tears.
In this moment I am GRATEFUL. Just completely grateful.