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Hip Sobriety School, Day 6

"Gratitude is my attitude today."

I truly am thankful for so many things today, including the dip in temperature, a cool-ish breeze, and a prevailing cloud cover. There is a God and she loves me. It's May in the Arizona desert, so another day like this may not show up again until November. But rather than turn this into a numbered list of all the blessings—and God knows there's a lot to be said for that exercise—a couple of experiences spring to mind with today's mantra.

One of them happened last Thanksgiving day with my husband's son and his family. Their 11-year-old daughter had researched and placed quotes about gratitude at each table setting, like a Turkey Day fortune cookie without the cookie. When I opened mine, I nearly fell backward from the punch I felt: "The real measure of gratitude is not the list of things we say we are thankful for, but how well we use our gifts and blessings." Holy shit. Now that would be a list—all the incredible blessings and gifts and opportunities I am wasting.

 

The words hit me so hard that I stuck my message beneath a magnet on the refrigerator, but I kept it folded in two. Because it was....too large? Seriously, why? Because maybe, just maybe, I couldn't bear to have that thing staring at me day in and out? It's another version of the quote from Les Brown that haunts and inspires me in equal measure: "We all know what we need to do more of and what we need to do less of. We know."

One of them happened last Thanksgiving day with my husband's son and his family. Their 11-year-old daughter had researched and placed quotes about gratitude at each table setting, like a Turkey Day fortune cookie without the cookie. When I opened mine, I nearly fell backward from the punch I felt: "The real measure of gratitude is not the list of things we say we are thankful for, but how well we use our gifts and blessings." Holy shit. Now that would be a list—all the incredible blessings and gifts and opportunities I am wasting.

The words hit me so hard that I stuck my message beneath a magnet on the refrigerator, but I kept it folded in two. Because it was....too large? Seriously, why? Because maybe, just maybe, I couldn't bear to have that thing staring at me day in and out? It's another version of the quote from Les Brown that haunts and inspires me in equal measure: "We all know what we need to do more of and what we need to do less of. We know."

My other lightning -strike gratitude experience happened during the years I was a single mom working a full-time job and every freelance writing job I could find, drowning in fear and anxiety and stress. Thought trains of Lack and Not Enough were running across my brain in never-ending loops like background noise. But at the same time, my ability to make wise decisions and effectively manage money had hit an all-time low. In the middle of that clusterfuck of a fiscal mess, thought trains of Gratitude seldom left the station. And if they did, they only made one brief pass through my brain. Zip-zip. And yet for some unknown reason, Gratitude did manage to make an appearance multiple times a day—at stop lights.

Maybe I was addressing the Universe or the angels on my shoulder during all those hours of commute time, but I started saying an audible "Thank you!" whenever I sailed through a green light. And every single time the same thing happened: I felt an energy wave of peace and love flow all the way through me. Every. single. time.

Well, sure, it did occur to me that this was powerful stuff indeed and I might consider applying that "Thank you!" to other things at other times. But back in those days, the voices of Fear were screaming too loudly for much else to be heard. I knew that practicing gratitude is the fastest way to move into the flow of our highest good. I just wouldn't or couldn't let go. At one point I took my bundle of Darkness and sought out a reading with an empath by the name of Jon Shore, and I still remember his final words: "You are running yourself into exhaustion on a treadmill that will only get you far enough to keep you captive. You're so afraid that if you stop and get off, everything will crumble, everything will fall to pieces. I am here to tell you that it won't." The tears were falling and I could only choke out, "But it's so very dark, so black, I can't even see a pinpoint of light right now. And you're right, I would be terrified to just stop and be still." I have no idea how things might have changed had I been able to surrender to the light, even if I couldn't see it. If I had been able to say "Thank you!" with every breath, "Thank you!" to everything, gains and losses alike. How much easier could it all have been?

Years later as an empty-nester, I was selling my home to a woman who had just lost her mate of 50 years. She was telling me how excited her kids and grandkids were about celebrating her new home, and how her family celebrates everything. And she meant everything. "If someone gets a new job, we come together and celebrate. If someone loses a job, we do the same thing. We don't look at news or events or experiences as good or bad. Endings and beginnings always travel together, so no matter what happens, we gather in love to celebrate and give thanks."

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