Gratitude

We’ve had a lot of snow, wind, rain, and general grayness going on in Northeast Ohio the past two weeks.

I’m impatient for the weather to turn. For the sun to stay and the breeze to shift from cold to warm.

When we’ve had a warm day pop up during the stay-at-home order, we’ve taken long walks through the neighborhood, gone on “nature walks” in the yard (the kids each carry a bucket and fill it with whatever they come across), played with chalk, rode bikes and cozy coupes, kicked a ball, dug for worms… we have filled hours of our day being outside. And we were all happier for it.

As the weather has kept us inside in addition to being at home, it’s been an active effort to shift to gratitude.

When you can’t control the circumstances of your life, it’s easy to focus on what is not going the you want it to: work is different, school won’t resume, you can’t go out to eat, to the library, to browse at a store, to meet a friend for coffee, to the gym… really, the goings-on of life have been put on hold and there are no distractions at the ready. We’re being forced to sit with these circumstances.

And in doing so, it is easier to feel trapped than thankful, to look at what’s wrong instead of what’s right, and to look inward at our unhappiness instead of outward with gratitude.

Make the effort. Look outward. Claim small victories. It may be cold, and snowing, and gray outside—you can’t control that. But, you can control where you shift your gaze, what you let your thoughts rest on. Choose the things that are going right.

Shout-out to a decent guy who picked up these tulips with an antibiotic prescription earlier this week. Gratitude.

Change and Control

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I wrote this the other day as part of a passage about growth in stillness and reason in waiting but this idea that there are many things we can change and few we can control has turned and turned in my head.

 

We have all made decisions that have led us to where we are in this exact moment. And while we have made choices to get here, we can’t always control the circumstances.

 

Since November 2017 Levi and I have had a second child, finished old jobs and contracts, listed our house, sold our house, went under contract for one house, bought a different house, moved 3.5 hours away to a brand-new town, our two-year-old and one-year-old both had surgeries, we started new jobs and contracts, and essentially started life over. Finding where the grocery stores are, our way around town, new doctors, new friends, new routines.

 

And it has all just felt like A. LOT.

 

We couldn’t control the kids’ health situations, when houses hit the market, whether or not a seller is willing to remediate black mold, or work projects.

 

Those are all circumstances we had no power over.

 

But we could decide what we could change in each of those situations. We could get the kids the help needed to improve their health, we could walk away from a house and buy a different one, we could say yes to great opportunities and take a leap.

 

And while the past year has been challenging, there has been growth in that too. All of the challenges seem a little more manageable if I can sort out what’s out of my hands and what’s in them. If I recognize I have no control over something, it’s easier to let go of it and ask, what can I change?

There is a lot we can’t control. But there is even more that we can change.

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choosing to embrace the mess and Valentine-making memories.