A Thankfulness Challenge

Life has been so hard. Taking time to truly appreciate the good in my life has been especially challenging for me this year. So I decided that this was a challenge I needed to accept. So here I go…

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A couple of years ago I committed to a “Thankfulness Challenge” on Facebook. Every day in November I wrote one thing in my status that I was thankful for. I remember it being a challenge toward the end of the month as I had to take a little time to dig deep to find something to write about that day. Thanks to Facebook’s “on this day” feature those statuses I posted have been revisiting me every day this month. While I was not motivated to repeat this challenge on Facebook this year I have been thinking about this idea of “thankfulness”. I’ve also been thinking about how hard it has become to actually be thankful.

Life has been so hard. While I think my day-to-day existence on this earth has actually gotten easier (personally, financially, socially), my overall life seems so difficult some days. We are very busy, my kids are getting older and parenting is not getting any easier, and I feel like the demands on our finances, time, and energy are growing at an alarming rate. Life in this country has been stressful, overall, due to the political and socio-economic climate. Social media and my television practically scream at me daily reminding me of something awful, terrifying, or depressing. To turn all of this “noise” off (or to at least lower the volume) in order to truly appreciate the good in my life has been especially challenging for me this year.

So I decided that this was a challenge I needed to accept. So here I go…

I’m thankful for the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile ordering feature on their app. Because I am now able to order my coffee ahead of time, I simply need to stop my car long enough to jump out, run into the store, grab my coffee, and send a quick wave and “thank you” to the lovely employees of Dunkin’ before I’m back on the road to work. I have bought myself 5-7 minutes of precious time in the morning and I am rarely late for work these days.

I’m thankful for my car. Oh how I love my car. Up until a few years ago, I drove an old minivan that was plagued with issues. Since we could not afford a new car at that point in our lives, I drove that old broken car for much longer than I should have. It was ugly, made horrible noises, was barely safe, and caused me so much stress I would dread getting into it each morning. I needed my car to get me to work so I lived in fear of it finally dying once and for all. My new car (which is now a few years old but still crush-worthy) is a dream come true. It’s safe, reliable, and so pretty. It has some of the newest technology so I can listen to my favorite music from my phone at close to damaging decibels. Instead of being stressed every minute the car is in drive, I can actually enjoy some of the only alone time I have during my day. I spend way too much time in my car so having that car be one I’m completely enamored with is truly a blessing.

I’m thankful for the treadmill at the gym. Running is essential to my self-care. I need to run, at least a few miles a few times a week, for my emotional and physical health. I used to run only outdoors and I would have to stop during the colder months. Since I realized the winter season is when I most needed this glorious stress-reliever, I joined a gym. I was first resistant to the treadmill and found it incredibly boring. Slowly, however, I began to appreciate its purpose. Even if it was cold, dark, and dreary outside, I was still able to warm myself up, sweat out some stress, and do something good for my body and mind. Recently I developed some arthritis in my hip making running painful. Since I was willing to run through the pain (it is that important to me to keep it up), I continued my exercise routine. I discovered, however, that my hip didn’t hurt as much during the winter months.  A doctor confirmed that running on the treadmill was, in fact, less stressful on my hip. So this last spring and summer I finally conceded to my aging body’s needs and stuck to treadmill running. I’ve increased my stamina, distance, and speed and my hip feels fantastic–all thanks to the treadmill.

I’m thankful for my friends at work.  I have two close friends specifically who make every day at work so much brighter.  If one of them is out on a day I feel the absence.  I truly feel badly for those who do not have the gift of a close friend at work.  We spend the bulk of our life at work (sad but true) and a good work friend is essential to keeping your sanity. My work friends are there when I need a laugh, when I need someone to complain with, or when I simply need to talk about something other than work for a few minutes.  They are there to lend a hand, offer advice, or to catch me if I’m falling.  I’m not sure if I would still be at my current job if it weren’t for my incredible friends.

Finally, I am, of course, thankful for my family. Yes I just spent some time appreciating technology, inanimate objects, and then friends but my family tops the list. My three daughters are angels put here on Earth to teach me about love, humility, grace, courage, and the most recent crazes in music, fashion, and technology. Without my girls I’m convinced I would be self-centered, weak, and horribly dressed.  I also would have no idea what “this Snapchat thing” is all about. My parents and siblings save me almost daily and I couldn’t possibly live my busy life without them.  And then there’s my husband. He challenges me, adores me, and makes me laugh until I can’t breathe. He cleans my hair out of the shower drain without complaint and always finds a way to make me feel beautiful, even when I’m at my ugliest.

So I guess I do have quite a bit to be thankful for this season of Thanksgiving.  In fact, this bit of self-reflection has helped me remember that it isn’t necessarily the big things that make a happy life.  I just need a hot coffee, a chance for some self-care every now and then, and some good people to enjoy throughout my days to make me happy.

And for that, I am thankful.

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