It’s easy to appreciate the good things in life. I have no trouble sincerely expressing my gratitude for my wonderful children and granddaughter, the amazing friends and family that support me constantly, the fact that I am able to support my family financially and of course, that we are all mostly healthy. These are the easy, obvious blessings in my life and worthy of unending appreciation.
However, I am taking a different approach this Thanksgiving. In addition to the obvious, I am trying to be thankful for the more complex, harder issues in my life. I want to embrace matters that I generally complain about or dislike. For example, these are some of the things I am trying to be grateful for:
My rapidly turning gray hair. I hate that it is changing color so quickly and not in a pretty way. I hate the choice of coloring it or disliking the random bursts of dull gray sporadically spaced across my head. It can depress me to brush my hair and think about only these two options. So I am going to try to focus on the fact that I am grateful to have hair at all. For a few years, I worried that it was all going to be gone soon. The bathroom floor covered in my locks was a daily scene; my tears just as real. I know women who have no hair for various reasons and while I see their beauty so clearly, I also see how hard it is in this world to feel baldly beautiful. I wish it were different; I celebrate them as much as possible. But I also want to respect their struggle by not complaining that what I have isn’t enough. I am lucky to still have my gray hair.
My body. This one is hard to even admit. Anyone who knows me knows that I eat more sweets every day than I should eat in a week. Maybe a month. Needless to say, this is directly related to the fact that my body is in far from good physical shape. It’s not about total poundage, it is consistency. My consistency is soft. Not firm and trim; not athletically fit. Not even in good shape “for my age”. My arms, tummy and tush wobble. I am generally very unhappy about this, even though I could work hard to try to change it. The fact is that I don’t want to change it; I want to eat sweets and be lazy and be in great shape. Sadly, we don’t get everything we want though. So this holiday season, I am trying to be grateful for even my imperfect body. I am trying to focus on the fact that this body moves me where I want to go. It provides me arms to hug those I want to hug. I have a brain that is only occasionally impaired by senior moments. I have a mouth to give voice to my thoughts, desires and fears. I can hear the joy of my loved ones. I can taste the rich velvet of chocolates. My heart is strong enough to give and receive love. I am trying to give thanks for all of these things while learning to be grateful for this body that does so much for me despite my lack of care for it.
Menopause. Argh. It means no more denying that I am at least “middle aged”. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!! I still feel so young inside but this darn body will not cooperate in that illusion. Sigh. I need to be grateful. I need to fully appreciate that I am alive long enough to experience this next phase of life. I need to say thanks because I have resources to help me understand and deal with all the changes that sneak up on me. I need to be happy that I can help share information with others to make it easier for them to cope. I have to be thankful that with age has come confidence, enough even to publicly admit my innermost insecurities. Menopause, you are tough and you will ultimately win by forcing your changes upon my body; but I will respect you for the worthy opponent you are. I will be glad for being forced to embrace myself in this changed form; I will celebrate the grace of age instead of the shallowness of youth. I will rejoice in finding new ways to do old things. I will use scars from life’s battles to remind myself that I am a survivor. I can thrive despite challenges to my physical and emotional states. I am trying to feel lucky that menopause begins another chapter in my life. I want to have so many more chapters.
So, this Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for the blessings in my life that I usually feel are curses. I don’t want to take the easy way out this year. I want to be wholly grateful for all the gifts in my life, not just the ones that are easy. It’s not easy. But, I am trying.
With gratitude to each of you for allowing me to share my thoughts.
Big warm hugs,