Monday Meanderings–On Being Grateful


Photo: suzukielders.com

Photo: suzukielders.com

Now and again, life gifts us with challenges we’d rather shun. When this happens, it’s so tempting to ignore them, to set them aside, or put them off. In the midst of small or significant crises, it’s so easy to drift into the morass of negativity, and then it seems that even unrelated issues take on ginormous proportions.

My almost-ninety-three year old mother is a survivor. She was widowed at age twenty-three and left to raise her infant on a military widow’s pension of $139 a month. She plowed her way through numerous challenges throughout those years and others after remarrying. She has been in recovery from alcoholism since 1967. A mantra she picked up from AA meetings has become her philosophy of life: an attitude of gratitude. She has embraced that so completely that it has been beyond challenging to care for her in her later years. She doesn’t seem capable of complaining. No matter what’s going on around her, if you ask her how her day was, her response is, “It was beautiful. I’m so grateful.”

I worked with the elderly most of my life. Early on, it became apparent that, as they age, a person is who they’ve always been. If they were grouchy young people, they will be even grouchier older people. And if they lived in serenity and gratitude, they will age with grace.

Photo: David Slotto Mom's 90th, 2010

Photo: David Slotto
Mom’s 90th, 2010

For those of us who drift now and again (or often) into a negative viewpoint, one simple “treatment” is that attitude of gratitude. I’ve recently discovered that when I find my thoughts taking on a darker tone, it helps to stop, observe and ask myself “What am I grateful for right now?” It may be the way the sun is shining through the trees, casting shadows on the redwood fence, or the warmth of a pet’s furry body cuddled up to you. Maybe it’s that first swallow of coffee early in the morning, or your spouse snoring contentedly in the next room. Not only does this allow you to shift gears—it’s a great practice for staying in the present moment. And for those of us who write, it heightens our power of observation. I wish I could say it’s easy to remember—it’s not. But it is one of those things that can get better with practice.

Photo: examiner.com

Photo: examiner.com

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11 thoughts on “Monday Meanderings–On Being Grateful

  1. Wow! You have longevity in your genes! I keep a Gratitude Journal to remind me to focus on the things for which I am thankful each day. Writing in this journal also keeps me aware and much more in the moment.

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  2. ManicDdaily says:

    My mom also has just had her 90th (in May), and she also is tremendously grateful. She sounds like she had some easier passages–she only lost her husband two years ago–but she is also just incredibly thankful all the time, and she is not someone who was always that way. But she is really that way now. I think they’ve seen so much loss, and at least, if they are reflective, cannot help to feel lucky. I hope i will be able to have that attitude. Thanks, Victoria. k.

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  3. jmgoyder says:

    I needed this. What a beautiful mother you have.

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  4. Mary says:

    What a beautiful post, Victoria. I have always heard as well that as one ages one will become who one always was but even moreso. I do like the idea of having an attitude of gratitude. I do think this is something I need to continue to develop as I age, and there IS a lot to be grateful for, that is for sure.

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  5. I need to adopt the attitude of gratitude . . . I find it throughout the day (like just now when I witnessed a mother cardinal feeding her young one) but it can be hard to hang on to.

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  6. Jamie Dedes says:

    What a beautiful picture you’ve painted here today with you mom’s photo and story and your observations. My mother-in-law used to say much the same thing about maturity.

    Thank you for this. 🙂 Lovely.

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  7. brian miller says:

    i think that having been through hard times we learn to appreciate more things….esp when they are not given to us and we have to work for them…

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  8. scillagrace says:

    Appreciation is the twin of gratitude. I remember sitting in the prairie one day wondering whose job it is to come to that place every day and recognize it for its splendor. I decided to make it mine. 🙂

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  9. kaykuala says:

    Being grateful is not difficult if one opens up and is aware of little things. Need not be spectacular but can go a long way when verbalized and others are made known of it. Very true Victoria!

    Hank

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  10. annotating60 says:

    A very touching and thoughtful piece Victoria. It will be on my mind all day. >KB

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  11. I love the phrase, and will repeat it every time I feel myself getting grouchy. Positivism has always been a part of my philosophy, but it has slipped a bit lately! However, I will for ever be grateful for the care I am receiving from Jock.

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