Monday, November 2, 2009
Although Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, this month is typically the time when we focus on giving gratitude. This strikes a deep chord inside, as it’s something I have thought about for quite awhile.
From March through August, Mike traveled for work and was pretty unhappy about being on the road all the time. I kept saying, “But at least you have a job!” Indeed we were both grateful for a job, and didn’t know at the time that unemployment was on the horizon for him. I expressed the need to be grateful for what we had, citing my own grandparents who were separated during the Depression due to employment. At that point of time, I started trying to find reasons to be grateful; “We have cell phones and can communicate more readily”, "We have e-mail and can send pictures and instant messages”, “Your travel and lodging is paid for”…Once again comparing it to my grandparents who were apart for a year at a time with little means of communication. For them, even the cost of a stamp for a letter was prohibitive and phone calls were few and far between. My grandmother gave birth to their third child in Colorado while my grandfather was in California eking out a meager existence, sending home what money he could. By contrast, we had it good…we had a job, it paid well and we could communicate, albeit not in person… Then he got laid off.
From the onset of the lay-off we had to fast forward everything that had been put on the back burner during his travels. At the top of the list was his need for surgery. Mike’s year exam in July (following his left shoulder replacement last year) indicated that his right shoulder was just as bad. In fact the doctor said he would replace it that day if he had the ability to do so. With no jobs on the horizon, we took a leap of faith, a step in the dark and scheduled surgery while we are still covered by insurance.
We got other things in motion, such as unemployment insurance, getting the house and yard ready for winter and hunkering down for a period of unknowns. On September 11, Mike had his surgery and although it’s a painful recovery, he is progressing well. He networks by phone and the Internet and continues to hope there is a job out there for him somewhere.
In the meantime, a reminder of the need to express gratitude surfaced again. We daily recognize that God has been very mindful of us… we have felt His hand in our lives even in the midst of the current circumstances. With that in mind, an article in the recent article caught my attention, “Life is better with a Gratitude Attitude- Just Say Thanks!” The author, David Hochman, and his wife embarked on a Month of Gratitude venture where they tried to find the good amongst the inevitable thorns that beset all of us every day. By the end of the experiment they discovered the power of showing sincere gratitude for the big and small things that we often taken for granted.
After I read the article, I shared it with Mike by reading it out loud to him. Now on November 1st, we decided to embark on our own Month of Gratitude encounter. Armed with journals to record our thoughts, along with the hope that being more mindful of our fortunate circumstances and the EXPRESSION of giving thanks to God for all He has given us, will improve the post-surgery, lack-of-a-job blues that seems to have settled in.
If I had children at home we would add feathers to a construction paper turkey every day, or write on colorful leaves and add them to a bare tree, or something visual to remind us of our good fortune, but the journal will have to do for our all adult household – The main thing is the exercise of thinking about what we have instead of what we wish we had… Hochman cited several studies that indicate that even pretending to be thankful raises levels of chemicals associated with pleasure and contentment, “Live as if you feel gratitude, and soon the real thing will come!”
So here we go! Armed with pen and hope… this is my three things for starters…
*I am grateful for the 22” of snow and for the warm 65º temperatures that are melting the 22” of snow.
*I love the full moon that is out tonight…
*I am so glad I have a warm home that provides me shelter from the elements and creates a place of refuge for our whole family!
I am excited about this venture and feel that something very good will come of this exercise!
BTW – I am also thankful for a computer and technology that wields my thoughts and feelings into cyberspace to share with my family and friends, who also give me much to be grateful for!