A grateful heart is always in season.

Life isn’t simple. Sometimes it feels like the ‘bad stuff’ piles up. There have been a lot of tears recently it seems. We recently lost Brian’s maternal grandmother. A couple weeks prior to that, his Dad suffered a massive heart attack.  In less severe news, I am recovering from a stress fracture in my foot, and have put my ambitions of running a 1/2 marathon on hold.

But…yes there is always a but. Haha I said butt!

Guess what?!!  Even old limp store-brand bread can be repurposed for fabulous French Toast. My mom is the queen of not allowing food to go to waste. In a similar way, I don’t want my days on this Earth to be fruitless and forgettable. There are always good things happening within and around the ‘bad stuff’.  I just have to open my eyes and ears to notice them (sometimes with great force).

For me, having an optimistic outlook requires maintenance (aka work). I work to condition myself to think positively, because I believe this perspective not only brings out the best in me, but that positivity can be contagious, and inspire those around me to look at the shiny side of the coin and be at their best. (Yes, I am optimistic about optimism! ;P)

I know that I am extremely blessed, but so many times I allow myself to get too busy to just revel in true gratitude for what I have. Counting blessings is such a good practice to re-center, get past the petty worries that drag down my spirit, and reconnect with the person I aspire to be. My friend Brenda started a practice of making a physical list of the things she is grateful for.

Inspired by Brenda, who makes gratitude look good, here is my ‘Grateful List’ today:

–          I am grateful for the memories I have of Brian’s Grandma. Her generosity, playfulness and endearing quirks have made a real impact on my life. I am so glad we got to spend real time with her recently when she was feeling well. Watching her work so hard in physical therapy was inspiring to me. Playing Bingo at the nursing home and watching her ‘steal’ extra prizes for us (Mardi Gras beads) was priceless.

–          I am grateful for amazing friends and siblings. Their support and encouragement has meant so much, especially this past month. No matter how independently strong I might think I am, they have shown me that I am stronger when I let someone be my shoulder to cry on once in a while.

–          I am grateful for my health, and even more so for the health of my husband.  Our journey to health is a mission we are on together, and has brought about so many wonderful things, not the least of which is Scuba Diving with Sea Turtles. 😉

–          I am grateful for humility. Ok, admittedly I initially hate being humbled, but something good always comes of it. I become stronger in my resolve to accomplish my goals when I overcome setbacks (gimpy foot and I will run our ½ marathon 😉 ), and I learn that I am more capable that I thought I was. And….I’ve learned how to ask for help a lot recently. I seriously have trouble with this, and I’m pretty sure this need to do everything myself is in my DNA somewhere. I’ve learned that I’m stronger when I recognize my needs and ask for help before I need it. (Do I sense a trend?)

–          I am grateful for the future. Though I don’t know exactly what the future holds, I am thankful to have dreams, ambition, and the drive to make the most of my existence. I used to think that the point of my life was to stay out of other people’s way, and I just let my dreams be dreams. I’ve discovered that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought was possible, and that by working toward my goals and dreams, I can inspire others to do the same. I love that overwhelming sense of accomplishment that comes when I reach a personal goal. It’s arguably just as satisfying to me to see someone else overcome their hurdles and reach that all-encompassing nirvana. I feel truly icing-on-the-cake-of-life rewarded if in some small way I was able to offer support that enabled someone else to maintain positivity to work through their low points. That reward, my friends, is the greatest gift of all.