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I declare August "Gratitude Month".
After so much upheaval last month, preceded by so much worry and hard work the months before, it is definitely time to shift my focus.
Gratitude lifts the spirit as it lifts your perspective into a higher realm. It changes the energy within you to a higher vibration, and that is always good.
I don't want to crumble now that the stress of my mom's illness has been terminated by her passing. I don't want to fall prey to the greyhound of depression which always lopes beside me.
Therefore I will focus on giving thanks.
Today I am grateful for getting through my mother's memorial service.
My dad - usually so stoic - cried a lot. And there were many wet cheeks during the service. It was only at the end when I thanked a whole list of people that my voice started to betray me.
I am thankful that I could control the emotion.
I am most of all thankful for all the people who came to say goodbye to my mom, and to support us. So many people from my office showed up, to my utter surprise. Family from far away.
I am deeply touched.
Today I am grateful for the power of 15 minutes.
My parents' house is filled with decades of pack rat clutter to be thrown away, given away or put away in a designated place of its own before my dad can move to a smaller property - no wonder that I feel quite overwhelmed.
Sorting out stuff for 15 minutes at a time helps to fight that sense of overwhelm. Step by steady step, the clutter will get under control.
I achieved a lot today, simply by working in 15 minute bursts.
And I will persevere, until the results are visible.
Today I'm thankful for the privacy and comfort of my own bed.
Well, the single bed in my parents' guest room, but you know, it's become my little nest.
It's nice to know that I can feel at home here, whether it is my own or not. It's nice to know I can rest my head here soon. My return to work today has been intense. I realize now how tired I really am, a level of fatigue which can quickly lead to depression.
I'm thankful that I can recognize the signs and take action before it is too late.
If there is one thing I am grateful for today, then it is this: weekends!
I am already looking forward to Friday as it ushers in this (long) weekend. This week has stretched itself out to a full month, it seems, and I am ready to power down for a while.
I love how weekends grant everybody the opportunity to breathe in for a little while, to rest, and then: to start a new week with renewed strength and enthusiasm.
They create chapters in our lives, and a rhythm I can move to.
I can hardly imagine anything more brilliant!
Today I'm in an irritated, ungrateful, feeling-sorry-for-myself mood. Reality is finally sinking in: My mom is gone. PMS has arrived, bringing a huge headache, and office bureaucracy proved a particular challenge today.
But this practice of counting blessings helps to pull me out of the rut.
Today I am thankful for independence.
I don't have to parade my cares to family or friends. They don't have to understand. I don't have to explain.
I can carry these emotions on my own, discuss them with God... I am whole, intact.
I am my own soft place to fall.
Today I am grateful for so many things.
Teamwork, which made cleaning out my folks' outbuilding/storeroom this morning so much easier. We licked the top of the iceberg!
Hot, running water to shower off the cobwebs and dust afterwards.
Electricity to give light and heat tonight as the early summer warmth is replaced by the more customary chill of a dark winter's night.
Cucumber and pepper to thrill my taste buds - oooooooooh!
Driving safely home through our post-apocalyptic city centre.
Two more days of (long) weekend to look forward to, time enough in which to rest and relax!
Today I'm thankful for response-ability.
The day's been dismal, my wavering spirit dragged down by a less than healthy body. Falling apart. As if the dike of my life has sprung a leak, and seawater is steadily entering where it shouldn't.
Fortunately, I'm old enough to be response-able. Able to choose how I respond to life. Able to stop a little leak before it becomes a flood.
I don't choose depression. I choose strength! Beauty! Life!
So I've made myself some tea, and I'm settling in to watch an episode or two of something humorous.
Life *is* good.
Today I am thankful for the heavenly beauty of young voices.
I had planned an outing for my dad today, but he didn't feel up to it this morning. So I spent the morning taking care of chores.
But the afternoon, ah!
I listened to my niece singing in a competition. She has the voice of an angel. So do all the other kids.
I was transported! Sitting there, listening to their young voices echo through the hall, I had goosebumps covering my arms the entire time. Sunlight slanted in through dusty windows, contributing to the atmosphere.
It was magical!
Today I am thankful for the wind.
It's been blowing since yesterday, dancing and rustling up the last of the winter leaves, chasing them down the street, stripping the trees bare so new growth may come. It plays around the house, composing music through rustles, rattles and whispers.
Today I am also thankful for a warm house from which to enjoy the wind.
The nicest thing about blustery days is that you can rush in through the door, close it behind you, and warm up after being chilled to the bone.
Especially at night, the two go together so well!
Today was particularly - and weirdly - aggravating (even to the point of losing this whole post when I submitted).
As I ponder the day now that the sun has set, I realize there are still many things I am thankful for:
* having achieved stuff at the office in spite of all the frustrations,
* being able to switch off now with a beautiful glass of rosť,
* not being a hobbit, camping out on a cold, windswept plain after a hard day's travel, eating whatever I could find on the road, while keeping a nervous eye open for Nazgul.
Life is good, indeed!
Today I am thankful for the wonderful cornucopia of inspiration out there on the Internet.
No matter how hard or how dull the day is, a little browsing through a couple of blogs or websites, and the spark returns, fizzing through my blood.
I admit I am intensely curious, and therefore, quite addicted to the Internet. Sometimes I feel I should wean myself off it. But somehow I always return, ready to once more absorb all the knowledge, bathe in all the ideas, and grab all the opportunities for connection.
I suspect I will always be grateful for this spark!
Today I am grateful for the African heartbeat.
Our city centres here in South Africa are unlike those in Europe or North America: They are dead zones, filled with decay, cheap African shops and a few government offices. Not my favourite destination.
Except on Friday afternoons. Then street vendors set up barbecues on the pavements, amidst heaps of fruit, newspapers, and of course, the general city filth.
When you leave the office, you walk into a haze of smoke, everything smelling of the approaching weekend.
I have grown to love it, this untamed herald of some well-deserved time off!
Today I'm grateful for ... rehab.
No, just kidding! No rehab needed - so far.
I'm really thankful today for oxygen. Free, wonderful, draw-it-deep-into-your-lungs oxygen.
We spent the whole day cleaning out my mother's bedroom. From nine till seven, unpacking stuff, dividing belongings, putting aside what can be given away, and throwing away much of the hoard.
By evening my chest started constricting. Dust, emotion, cold, who knows. Every breath was hard labour. I haven't had asthma in decades.
The attack took a while to release, and wow, is it nice to draw deep, vitalizing breaths again!
The day's just starting and already I'm filled with gratitude.
Having recently seen a presentation about Jessica Cox (rightfooted.com) who was born without arms but leads a fuller life than most people, I'm very aware of how blessed I am to have my body.
At the same time, I'm very aware of how much more I can use it, how much richer a life I can lead!
Jessica's passionate carpe diem lifestyle offers me food for thought. Am I living my life to its full potential? No.
So how can I achieve exactly that?
Thanks, Jessica, for your inspiration.
Today I am so thankful for the spring breeze!
It greeted me as I left the office after a long, challenging day. It was so different from the winter chill which have been nipping at my fingers and ankles these last weeks. This little breeze was warm ... soft ... like the whisper of a lover's breath caressing my skin.
Walking into its golden mellowness this afternoon, the last sun rays slanting in through the buildings, the sweet fragrance of approaching moisture filled my being, and oh, I was embraced!
Welcome back, my love! Come closer ... I've been yearning for your touch.
Today I am grateful for routines.
I am the sort of person who abhors ruts. I wear different socks to remind me that I am free from norm. I drive different routes when I can. I need such little changes.
Yet some daily tasks simply need the pattern of routine. When I get home, I know by now to complete my office time sheet, post here and post on my blog. Accomplishing these things one after another is immensely satisfying!
Today I am switching some of it around, starting the day here. Even routines can be changed around for fun!
Tangerines always fill me with gratitude!
Yesterday I bought a whole bag, suddenly very aware of the fact that the citrus season is slowly disappearing as summer approaches. I had three, and they were wonderful! Oh, the burst of perfume as you break the skin! The sweet, juicy interior filled with liquid sunlight!
As a sweet bonus, these tangerines marked the start of a new phase in my life. They delighted me so much that I achieved what I had thought impossible: For the first time in weeks I got through a day without chocolate.
Yes, I am very grateful.
Today I am thankful for Kitty.
She is always so happy to see me when I get home, purring, rubbing herself against my legs, and generally acting like I have been away for an entire week.
Sometimes she even sits and waits for me.
It is the sort of love you'd hardly associate with a cat.
At night she sleeps next to me, purring, often even kneading me when she is really happy. When she isn't there, I miss her.
When I am at work and feel stressed, I recall Kitty's purr and my breathing eases.
She's a real treasure!
Ah, today I'm so grateful for spring!
I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to wake up in the morning, and be able to smell the greenness of the plants, spring sap rushing upwards in their stems and branches. There's moisture in the air again. It is such a vital fragrance, brimming with life!
The dawn is filled with bird choruses - they feel it, too. I will have to change the robin call on my phone alarm to something else, because I don't distinguish the sound anymore amidst the joyful songs out there.
It is great to be here!
While I am waxing lyrical about spring, this includes the surge of vitality in me which makes me crave fruits and salads again.
This week was the first time in aeons I didn't want chocolate. Only three days of not eating chocolate - and enjoying apple, tangerine, banana, ginger, raisins, and nuts for breakfast - and my body already feels lighter.
Last night I ate a braised salad of tomato and cucumber instead of the heavier carbs of winter. It was such a joyful experience.
Feeling my body respond so positively to a lighter diet makes me even more thankful for spring!
Have I mentioned how grateful I am for floss?
To be honest, I still - even after years of getting into the habit - abhor the act of flossing in the evening.
But: I cannot deny its benefits. It keeps me away from the dentist for longer, and it most definitely freshens and cleans up the mouth in a way brushing only just cannot.
So, even while I have to be a little stern with myself about flossing daily, I know floss is one of those essentials I'd pack if I knew I'd be deserted on a faraway island.
It's that good!
I'm grateful today for learning something about myself:
I function best when approaching goals sideways.
Some people storm in head-first, planning and tackling a goal the way a knight would storm a castle, battle plans fully formed, knocking down city gates without hesitation.
But me, I'm discovering I'm more of an assassin. Storming gates makes me feel overwhelmed.
No, I need to scale the back wall. I need to approach a goal stealthily, step by step, never letting my brain know that I'm making big changes.
It might seem a slow approach but it's what's most effective for me!
It's been a challenging day, filled with the little jackals that tear up the vineyards.
I'm not normally a cranky person - at least I don't see myself that way - but today tested my patience more than once.
And I know crankiness is a sure sign that I need to switch to a slower pace.
I am grateful for such self-knowledge.
I am grateful for the huge, bright moon turning everything silver tonight.
I am grateful for the spring breeze outside my window.
I am grateful for a warm bed, and the end of this day.
It's good to rest!
This day has (again) been so upsetting that (again) I find it difficult to identify something I'm thankful for. My whole mind is filled with frustration (work life) and pain (friendship life), and every thought tumbles out of kilter.
Yet I am so blessed.
Running water, safe home, own car, clothes, food, health, limbs in good working order, healthy kid, freedom of faith, oxygen, connection with God and family and friends, internet access, approaching summer ... the list of blessings goes on and on.
Really, how could I complain?
I possess wealth beyond words, all bestowed on me in abundant grace.
Oh, the swallows, the swallows!
I walk to the office this morning, dreading another frustrating day ... and there it is: a sudden, high trill in the skies above me.
The fierce joy that explodes in me stops me in my tracks. I cannot search the skies because I need to watch the traffic, but it doesn't matter. The swallows are here, the swallows are here!
And just like that, the whole day changes. Still challenging - and longer than I want - but rewarding because my employment contract finally gets renewed for another year.
It truly is an entire day of gratitude!
I'm thankful today for what I've learned about co-dependence this last year.
Why? Because it has changed me.
It has transformed me from insecurity, clinginess and emotional dependence to strength and stability and confidence ... a being who stands solidly when relationships crumble.
This week brought some upheaval in a relationship. Does it hurt? Yes, certainly. But instead of disrupting my whole life, throwing everything out of balance, I'm fine.
I know that I'm OK just the way I am. I don't need that constant affirmation anymore to know this.
And that is truly empowering!
It is a beautiful feeling.
Wow, how overwhelmingly thankful I am for the perfume of summer!
This evening the atmosphere is filled with the wonderful fragrance of flowers. It greets me as I go outside, enveloping me in its embrace ... and oh, how it fills my soul!
I go back inside and cut open a papaya for supper. Its colour is rich, all the little pips glistening enticingly. I leave a few inside to enjoy their sharp taste later.
And then I take that first bite. It is like eating a flower, its taste perfume-like and soft.
How I love the fragrances of summer!
Today I am thankful for simplicity.
Lately there are so many things crammed into my mind that my head literally feels about to burst - I've been battling migraine since Thursday.
So today I started simplifying. First, I organized all my files and folders, and my computer desktop. I love an uncluttered desktop! Now I have one icon, two timers, a CPU meter, and a sticky note with tomorrow's tasks.
Just this little action has made a huge difference to how my mind feels. Calmer. Clearer. And most of all, more hopeful that I will manage all these pressing responsibilities now.
Ah, there is no doubt about what I'm thankful for today.
It's tax season here in South Africa, the deadline in 3 months. (Yes, things happen slowly in Africa.)
Last year I filed my return on the. very. last. day. possible. I nearly died from all the stress.
This morning I got the last of my documents ready, and tonight I filed everything electronically. So simple! So quick!
And it is DONE!
What a totally awesome feeling knowing this responsibility has been taken care of. I feel like a kid who has completed her school project far ahead of time!
Today I am thankful for this month of practising gratitude.
There were days it was particularly hard to remember any reason for gratitude, but the discipline of this month's theme shone through. And in finding reasons for gratitude, it opened up my sensors for more and more blessings in my life.
This month was the first without my mom. I can't think of any better time to count blessings than exactly this month. It has definitely broadened my horizons and deepened my heart.
In fact, I think I will continue this practice for myself, finding gratitude in every beautiful day.
The Tip Jar