Relentless Gratitude

While our extended family gathers today to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are home today. The stomach flu hit our house Monday night. Sweet Grace fell first. Scott is down and out today. I thought I’d be really upset about missing it on Monday when I realized the probable timing of the next bout of illness, but I’m oddly grateful. I am glad we are all home, safe and warm. I am grateful I can take care of Scott and the kids. I am looking forward to a lazy day in our pajamas, drinking tea and watching movies; it’s not so bad.

  We push and pull and try to force the events of our lives into what we want; we believe we know best—we know how things are supposed to go. But there are times life has other plans for us. This is when life asks us for relentless gratitude. We have to work to find the things for which to be grateful. 

  Last weekend, we were in downtown Detroit at the Fox Theater to see The Grinch and there were some road closures. The roads we normally take to get onto the expressway were blocked off so we had to follow Siri’s recalculations and admit that forces more powerful than our own had insight to a better route, even if it wasn’t the way we thought we should take. Of course that magical robot voice got us safely to our destination. We just had to acquiesce. 

  Today is another opportunity to find contentment in the imperfect. Life is not predictable. It’s not always a party or a feeling of being swept off your feet with excitement, sometimes it’s just ugly! But ironically, the inconsistency is the steady. Change is sure. And when we can learn to appreciate the joy to be found in the present full of its bumps, bruises and imperfections, when we stop fighting reality versus our expectations, we’re going to understand the true definition of joy. 

  My mom and dad are celebrating 39 years of marriage today. I don’t know if anyone can attest to the truth of these sentiments better than they can. My dear mom, who is undergoing treatment for metastatic breast cancer, who fights to wear her smile every day and my dad who is there to hold her hand and fights to give her reasons to smile, you both inspire me and Scott so much. 

  When you think everything is lost in your life because something didn’t go the way you’d planned, you need to look at what’s there, not what you lost. The things that are meant to be ours will be and that is where our joy lies. Pursue your joy relentlessly. Dig deep to find the blessings because they are always there.

  I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

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The kids were in awe of The Fox Theater in Detroit. It really is a work of art.

  

“You know those times you nearly fall to your knees under the heavy relief of overwhelming gratitude for the richness of your life—even though things aren’t perfect and never will be? Even when you still have problems and worries and always will? How I pray you know those sustaining moments well. If not lately and soon, then eventually and surely. You can build a big, beautiful life on those cornerstone moments. How relentlessly I wish them for you.” – Jodie Utter (http://Utterimperfection.com) 

 

You’re More Than a Body

Since April, I’ve had the privilege of writing weekly blog posts for the gym I work at, STS Active. The month of November is all about gratitude and I felt this one was a good reminder for anyone, even people who aren’t avid fitness buffs, and emphasizes the importance exercising for the right reasons.

  For many of us, walking into a gym can cause instant anxiety. Thoughts like, “Wow, why is everyone so thin and toned?” or “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to benchpress that much weight,” and a thousand other insecurities bubble up to the surface when we see so many people exerting themselves physically and looking good doing it. But the worst thing we can do is compare our journey to someone else’s. They might be in the middle of theirs and it’s hardly fair to compare day one to day one hundred. 

  In fact, you might get to day one hundred and find that you still aren’t as thin/toned/strong as the person next to you. But do we ever stop to consider that maybe our bodies are just built for different things? While genetics play a huge part in our physical make-up, there are also parts of us that no amount of squats, push ups, crunches or chin ups are going to change completely.

  Our bodies are not meant to all look the same. They are a conduit for doing good works. And everyone’s work is different. In other words, our bodies are not our offering to the world. The deeds we do, the words we say, our ability to lift each other up through intention and action are the bigger point of it all. So it’s all right if your thighs always touch no matter how many squats you do. Those legs work and you can use them to get you from point A to point B. It’s ok if you can never lift 200 pounds. Your arms are more useful helping your elderly neighbor carry in her groceries when you see her struggling.   

  Exercise is what we can do to help maintain our bodies and allow us the capacity to keep doing good in the world because good health usually means a longer life. Showing respect for your body by taking care of it is actually a gift not only to you, but to everyone whose life you touch. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to live a better quality life and provide a better quality of life to others as a result.

  Taking care of your health by eating well and exercising is the best way you can honor you body and show gratitude for yourself. Prioritizing your health is showing those who care about you that you value not only yourself but them as well so they don’t need to worry about you. 

  Working out can feel like a challenge or a chore, but if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you to help you become the best version of yourself that you can offer the world around you. But we can’t get crazy over the end result. Everyone’s version of “healthy” will look a little different depending on who is wearing it. Just find your fit and keep at it. Honor yourself by taking care of yourself. 

Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that you have a paintbrush which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.” —Glennon Doyle

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When Hanger Strikes…

Today was one of those days with my daughter that I think Mother Theresa would have dropped a few F bombs if she’d been babysitting.

Grace has a cold. Her throat hurts. She (I) slept poorly last night. It was getting close to dinner and her ibuprofen was wearing off. Her brothers were hogging the TV. All details were the brewing of a perfect storm. I attempted to hold her to comfort her and she shoved me away shouting, “You’re not making me feel better!” So I left her alone and she chased me to hang on my leg. So I tried to pick her back up and she hung like a dead weight to be let down. Round and round we went.

When I tried to FaceTime Scott who is away hunting, she swatted the phone out of my hand. I had to walk away at this point. She knew she’d pushed too far.

“I’m a bad girl!” she kept wailing.

“No you’re not a bad girl, but you’re making bad choices,” I said calmly.

“No! Only bad girls make bad choices,” she howled.

“No, good people make bad choices too.” I said.

Luke jumped in at this point. Apparently he had been watching the whole thing.

“Grace! You’re not a bad girl. Mom still loves you. But you need to be nicer to her. She’s all by herself and you are making her crazy. Good people make bad choices. It doesn’t make you a bad person. But you need to start choosing better. Now go eat something or take a nap.”

From the mouths of babes…

Later, Grace ate the following: A slice of plain cheese pizza, a piece of toast, half an apple, yogurt with Cheerios on top, Luke’s pepperonis.

As she ate, her voice returned to a non-whiny pitch and my sweet daughter emerged from the blackness.

Later I received this note with a preemptive “Sorry, Mom. I think I was hangry.”

Solidarity, parents. We will get through this…Somehow.