An Attitude Of Gratitude

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Here in Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. This is always a thought-provoking holiday, but especially this year, as Canada just held its first ever National Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30. 

It’s a contemplative time, and I’m always grateful for moments of pause when they present themselves, particularly when accompanied by an invitation to express gratitude.

I feel particularly contemplative during this, our second Thanksgiving of the Covid era. This holiday has become a lonelier affair than it was in my childhood, when my extended family would gather around a 12-seater table. Everyone pitched in with both the cooking and the clean-up, and I remember it as a busy, loving atmosphere. Grandma’s stuffing was a particular highlight, but for me, my favorite was always pumpkin pie.

I’d often beg my mom to let me skip dinner entirely and head straight for dessert, so I could get into the pumpkin pie sooner.

In more recent years, our Thanksgivings are quieter — myself, my mom, and my son, Michael. But the joy I find in expressing gratitude has never dampened. In fact, it’s become something I practice throughout the year. Every day, I can always find something to be grateful for. Pumpkin pie, sure. But also, my clients’ success. My thriving business. Even the way the sun hits the water just-so.

These things are everywhere, if we look for them. If we choose to see them.

Many of my clients know about my son’s struggles with mental illness over the years. I feel fortunate to have built the kinds of relationships with people where we can openly share both our wins and our challenges. I know a bit about my clients’ lives, and they know some about mine, too.

Part of the way my son’s illness has manifested has been in his inability to focus on tasks to completion, which has led to career struggles and lost wages as he bounced from job to job.

A couple of weeks ago, he took on a new job with a construction company here in Moncton. As the job began, I crossed my fingers and held my breath, just hoping he would show up for work every day as he was supposed to.

Gratitude and progress can begin in even these small, isolated steps. 

When my son is feeling well, he can commit to endeavors, and even excel at them. For me, when I see evidence of these outer competencies, I feel so much relief knowing that they indicate inner wellness. 

And so I rejoiced when he made it through his first week on the job. 

Michael’s boss told him that there are various certifications and trainings that the workers can do in order to increase their earning potential, and Michael went to one such course on the Saturday after his first week.

He called me later that day to say he’d earned a perfect score on the certification.

Gratitude again. I was so proud of him that I texted my mom immediately, in my excitement, and we rejoiced together. Last week, he got to operate a scissor lift as a result of his certification, and it made my heart leap to hear him taking pride in an accomplishment like that. 

Celebrating

It’s important to take these moments of good day by day, and to let it be enough that, in the here and now, things are going well. The pandemic time has taught us all that there’s really no knowing what the future holds. All that there is is to be present for the good that exists for us in the current moment. 

And my practice is, when something happens, good or bad, I need to share it. When it’s a bad day for my son, that affects me, and I reach out to my mom and friends to discuss it, which is how I cope.

It’s just as important to share the wins.

I love having a community where it’s safe to share the good along with the bad. It’s so important to welcome both.

And so, my Thanksgiving was quieter than usual. I wasn’t able to see him or my mom, so it was just me. Even still, I find so much to be grateful for. Being alone is hard, during this time of extended isolation. 

However, it means I get the whole pumpkin pie all to myself! ?? 🥧