gratitudeIt’s that time of year…everybody’s talking about being thankful. “What are you thankful for this year?” “List the top ten things you are thankful for!” We are “tweeting” it, “Facebooking” it,  all day long.

It’s good to stop and remember and realize how much we have to be thankful for. At least most of us do.

But what if you don’t feel you have much or anything to be thankful for? Maybe you have lost your way and your hope.

I am all about gratitude. I am a yoga teacher. I end most every class, everywhere, with a “moment of gratitude”. For some of my students, it’s easy. They probably get distracted with the listing of all of their blessings. For others, like my kids at the mental hospital, some of them with their bandaged wrists and arms, they may not be able to find much to be thankful for on a Thursday morning. I implore them to “think of just one thing, right now, in this moment”.

That’s all any of us really have, this moment.

I love yoga, I love people, and I love God. He says, “Be thankful in all things” (1 Thessalonians 5: 18). That is hard. I cannot always do this. But I keep trying. I will keep leading others to try to find even “just one thing”, if not more.

According to an article out of Harvard Medical School, focusing on gratitude can increase a person’s health and improve their overall state of mind, causing them to actually report feeling happier. Experiencing and expressing gratitude to one’s partner is reported to increase the quality of the relationship and make communication better and easier. The list goes on. It’s worth trying, and it doesn’t cost any money. The benefit would seem to outweigh the cost, the effort.

However sometimes the effort is great, and the work is hard.

Here’s something to think about: When you look back on tough times, can you sometimes see the blessing in the struggle? It seems it is often the times of adversity that cause us the most growth. We strive for prosperity and happiness, but often the daily grind, and even the painful times, are the ones that grow us, develop our character, and make us who we are.

Perhaps there was a situation,  or even an entire season that was hard, but the passage of time has brought you a gift. Time has enabled you see the storm was purposeful.  Maybe you are better, stronger, “cleaner”, or clearer after the deluge. Maybe you  have more gratitude and appreciation because of the hard time.

It’s a simple, perhaps silly, example, but there was a time I had 4 small children, and was living in the inner city in a two-bedroom apartment without a laundry room. I had to walk across 6 lanes of traffic with large black trash bags full of laundry and the 4 small children once a week. I had either a stroller or a little upright shopping cart to get my cargo to our destination. I’ll never forget the day a bra fell out in the middle of the street. Laundry day was long and hard. It was very physical, hot, sweaty work, with snacks, crayons, Matchbox cars, home school work to organize, and children to keep safe. There were even diapers to change. All of this against the backdrop of Jerry Springer on the TV, bulging pockets full of $20.00 worth of quarters, gritty laundry detergent on the floor and counters, and the sounds and soapy smells of the washing, transferring, drying, folding, and organizing of clothes and linens into piles, then into clean trash bags, and back across the street.

I did it, we did it–multiple times. I’m not even sure what my kids remember. I know they often thought it was fun. We shared our snacks and coloring books. We made friends.

I now have 5 kids, and thankfully, they are old enough to help with, or even do, their own laundry. Yet, it is never done. There is always more to do. It’s a lot of work, and I do not enjoy it. However, I am thankful for clothes, for the kids, and truly thankful for my washer. I will never again take it for granted.

There have been many things through the years that have been hard. Some of them make inner city laundry look easy. I can honestly say I am thankful. I am grateful for what the storms have created in my heart and mind. The hardships have all worked together to make me a better person.

Peace and Lavender


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