Full disclosure: This post was inspired by this post.(It’s a new blog I’m following, and I’m really enjoying it. Check it out…you might, too.) Thinking about gratefulness led me to my reflections on appreciation.
When I was younger, my family was poor. Food stamps, government cheese, free school lunches, hand-me-down patched up clothing, donated toys, housing project poor. Despite that, I never really knew we were, or felt, poor per se. Of course, I knew we didn’t have or do things other families did, but that just meant they were rich, not that we were poor. I owe that to my mom, who never focused our attention on what we didn’t have or what we couldn’t afford, but always tasked us with being grateful for what we DID have and could afford. We never went without a meal, we were never homeless, and we always had electricity, running water, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in, and toys to play with. I didn’t feel poor…I just felt – normal.
We were also instilled with a sense of appreciation for everything we owned, which we were expected to show by taking care of our things and living spaces. While my Mom still did the bulk of cleaning (until I started pitching in around age 8 because I inherited her love for order, cleanliness, and neatness) we were expected to pick up our things, make our beds, hang up or put away our clothes, etc. If we discarded things on the floor or left them out in the yard, we obviously did not care about them, or appreciate them enough to take care of them, so maybe we didn’t need them after all.
I have grown up with this sense of appreciation, and try to practice intentional gratefulness and active appreciation for everything that I own or have access to. I do this by taking care of my things and the people in my life.
Every morning I (or we) make our bed, make and clean up after breakfast, straighten up blankets and dog beds and various house items set askew by the night bedsore’s activities. This shows appreciating for our home and our belongings.
I try to use all the food we purchase in a timely manner, even if I’m not always craving what I make, so that it doesn’t go bad or go to waste. This shows appreciation for the food we have access to and the nutrition we receive from it. (And for me, an extra level of appreciation that I can eat solid foods again without pain and suffering.)
I make an effort to wear all of my clothes on rotation, even the things I enjoy wearing less, so they are not just hanging in my closet taking up space; and I donate anything I no longer want to (or can) wear as often as possible. This shows appreciation for the abundance of clothing choices I have.
I pay attention to my dogs all the time, and never treat them as if they’re just objects about the house. I talk to and pet them often, and I don’t hurt them or yell at them if they do anything “wrong” (e.g. doodling in the house, getting under our feet, refusing to get me my next cocktail.) This shows them that I love them, and appreciate their presence in our home and family.
I always thank my husband, Jeffrey, for everything he does, every day, all the time, whether it’s taking out the garbage, scrambling me an egg, handing me a tissue, paying the bills, or any of the myriad of things he does daily to make our home and life as good as it is. This shows him I appreciate his efforts and all the things he does, and I never take him for granted.
I continually thank my staff, peers, and bosses when they do a good job, or help me, or guide me, or do their job timely and accurately. This shows them I appreciate them as employees/co-workers, I appreciate the work they do, and I’m aware of what they do, day in and day out, to help my Unit run smoothly and efficiently. Even if they make a mistake, I thank them for trying and/or being open to learning how to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
I thank my friends for reaching out, asking me how I’m doing, staying in touch, or for any gifts,funny comments, shared stories, or kind words they send my way. This let’s them know I appreciate them and the efforts they make to maintain and nurture our friendship.
I read my medical invoices when they come in the mail, even though I don’t have to pay them, so I am aware of how much my medical treatment and supplies costs, and appreciate the value of my health insurance.
I try to take stock of everything in my life on a regular basis, from people, to belonging, to entertainment, to pets, to utilities and vehicles, jobs and opportunities…to appreciate all I have, every day, that allows me to live the life I do. I even try to appreciate being able to treat all my ailments and chronic conditions, rather than focus on (and bemoan) the fact that I HAVE ailments and chronic conditions.
I am not perfect. Far from it. I still have bad days, pity parties, and snits. I still make mistakes, fall short of being a good person all the time, procrastinate, make bad or wrong decision and choices and, occasionally, I forget to be grateful and appreciative. But sooner or later, when the clouds part, I recognize my “dark departures”, and I get back to practicing appreciation. I may not have a perfect life, but I’ve got a pretty damn good life, and I never want to let myself forget that.
Thanks for reading.
Stay safe, all.