Scratching Gratitude

Scratching Gratitude

I’m sitting at my little writing desk with a winter coat on, a blanket over my lap. The heat is off in winter and a crew of contractors is hard at work jackhammering the floor to mend a basement that was lost to flooding earlier this spring. Twice.

Weeks wrangling water and rescuing belongings – shuffling them from place to place, tossing many – lead to days spent preparing for this work: packing boxes late at night, moving furniture to accommodate the crew, tearing out and losing my workshop benches and storage to age and wear. Most of this work is done alone while juggling kids and jobs and responsibilities. Single parenthood gifts you a learning opportunity – a crash course – in life management and bionic womanhood.

Expenses are beyond comfort and making decisions on my own can be tiring. There are loved ones hurting and facing challenges that are out of my hands. Many things feel hard in this moment.

What do I do with this? First, it’s a feel. I let it out in whatever dose feels necessary – tears, cuss words and delirious laughter serves me well. Then, it becomes a choice.

While I sit here reflecting today, even in what feels like relative chaos, I have plenty. I have a home. No matter how long that may be the case at this specific address, I will know shelter as a given. The home has heat, furniture, and we eat three meals a day. And snacks. We even have choices. My children have a closet of clothing and their rooms are often cluttered with toys. We have more people that care about us than I can count on our fingers and toes combined. There are many times when that feels overwhelming and undeserving.

Gratitude is a choice, a decision, and a practice, much like deep breathing and refraining from judgment. It’s in there, but it requires presence. There can be a hint of assumption that gratitude is built-in, must be felt regularly – a constant. Although that may be true for some, I find it more accessible and forgiving to see it as an option that can be chosen over and over again regardless of misstep.

Gratitude is free for the taking, always available for us to choose again if we stray. It holds potential. It can be practiced over time and we can get better and better at it with use.

Gratitude is not just a feeling but also an action. It’s awareness; senses alive and absorbing all that is around us. It’s full, easy breathing, slowing down, seeing, forgiving, and loving.

My babes and I have regular conversation about blessings and gratitude. We talk a lot about responsibility and our role in serving others with the gifts we’ve been given. They are absorbing the notion that what we have, the privileges we have been granted, are not deserved but bestowed, with responsibility attached. We’ve decided it’s a test. How will we contribute, share, put forth, pay forward…even if it feels like baby steps at first.

Gratefulness without action feels a nickel short. A bit like being given permission to remain somewhat ignorant – a free pass to stay shielded in the comfort of your space.

I want to raise humans that answer to the itch; the nudge inside that urges you to act. I want them to feel a deep and modest appreciation of their personal gifts and extend them freely to others in the ways they are able, and resist attachment to the physical objects that could better serve others in need.

There are ways in which we can grow in gratitude together. I feel the itch. We will act.

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