April 18, 2020

A Focus on Gratitude


Are you becoming tired of the drumbeat of negative, scary news? If the virus isn't enough to fret about, we are looking at a huge blow to our economy and way of life, playing out in real time. We are constantly reminded of the flaws in our medical preparedness and supply chains. Finding toilet paper is a cause for celebration. Don't even look at your retirement accounts for the time being. If you know someone who has lost a job because of the virtual shutdown of the world economy, their pain is very close to your heart.

It would be stupid to deny the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves. Even so, there is so much we could be grateful for if we simply took the time to think about it. So, for this post, I'd like to change our focus to the small stuff that makes even a life buffeted by bad news still something to celebrate, enjoy, and be grateful for.

* Automatic coffee maker (and enough coffee to brew). For much of the world, starting off with a fresh cup is the way we know the day has begun. There is something very reassuring about coming into the kitchen and smelling that glorious oder each morning.

* A smartphone that brings me the world without having to venture outside my door. Not just the news, but crossword puzzles, art, film, and music information. Checking on blog comments, looking at my daily schedule, thin though it may be. Listening to a podcast. 

* Spotify and all the music in the world to explore.

* A solid Internet connection. Not everyone has this at their fingertips. I am reminded of all the people who I see at the library using the public computers for web surfing, research, school work or just having fun. Now, they are even more isolated than normal.

* A backyard that is visited by all sorts of birds, their cheerful chirps signaling all is right in their world. And, a porch with comfortable chairs to sit, watch and listen, while I sip a cup of coffee from that automatic coffee maker.

* Bushes and flowers that add splashes of color to my day.

* A safe neighborhood for daily walks and exercise sessions. 

* A pantry, freezer, and refrigerator stocked with enough food to keep us going for weeks.

* Hot water for a morning shower.

* A family that remains healthy, safe, and close by.  A daughter who is so good at teaching her three children while schools are closed that they will not miss a beat when things reopen. Another daughter who is handling the loss of virtually all her income with calm assurance that she will be just fine until things turn around.

* Books, both real and virtual, to keep me entertained, enthralled, involved, and at times, on the edge of my seat. Hobbies that can be enjoyed at home.

* A dog who begins my morning with pure joy and love. There is never enough ear scratching. 

* An afternoon nap (without feeling guilty).

* A nine year old car that continues to do what it should when we need it and doesn't demand a lot of tender care.

* Honey whiskey and white wine (not together)

* A spiritual belief system that gives me confidence in the present and future.

* (Not a small thing) A loving, supportive, and beautiful life partner for 43 years and counting. I am pretty confident I am secure enough in my own skin to survive and thrive as a single person. But, I am hoping to never have to test that belief. Betty makes each day special. Now that we are with each other 24/7, I continue to marvel at her creativity and inner strength. She makes lockdowns fun. 

At this time in our life, recognizing gratitude comes in all sizes makes tough times a bit easier to tolerate.


31 comments:

  1. Bob, this was a wonderful idea for a post and your list is an excellent starting point. I agree with many of the items you noted although, I must admit, I'd be hard pressed to categorize my morning coffee as "small stuff." Coincidentally, just yesterday as I pulled on a fleece-lined flannel shirt to go outside, I really did pause to appreciate the comforting warmth that enveloped me. I can add a few more things to the great start you gave us . . .

    Our wood stove (which keeps our home at 72 degrees instead of the 66 we set the thermostat at when the stove isn't running), my husband's skills that enable him to fix almost anything that breaks (recent examples - the garage door opener and the connector handle on our Dutch door), the many large windows in our home that provide views of trees and/or mountains from every room (well, except for the bathrooms!), the fact that both of our children have a well developed sense of humor (I believe that laughter makes any day - and life in general - much more enjoyable), public parks and green spaces of all types (that offer so many different opportunities to enjoy the outdoors) and the optimistic outlook on life that I inherited from my Mom (which supports resiliency and hope in any difficult situation). When times are tough, focusing on the good in life can be a salve for the soul. Thanks for pointing us in that direction.

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    1. Clarification: coffee is essential. The automatic coffee maker is one of the small things that makes life easier! Having it ready to drink when I come into the kitchen is something I am thankful for.

      Your list is excellent. Our ice maker in the refrigerator broke 3 days before the stay-at-home order. Can hubby swing by and fix it? I think it is the water input valve, but who knows?

      I think we do inherit a good part of our attitude from our parents. My mom was always upbeat which she passed on to me. That has helped me weather a lot of tougher times.

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  2. I like this direction for the post! I often make a list of things I am grateful for in my daily journal. Your list is similar to mine; my sister calls her morning coffee “liquid gold” and I agree.

    So my list is the same although I don’t take many naps but I love knowing I can and not feeling guilty about it. My family does not live close by like yours but this C-19 has brought us closer- we are texting each other every day and have a happy hour through FaceTime once a week. When I retired, one of my goals was to talk with my two sisters and their families at least once a week and I am grateful that we are communicating much more often. And another difference is I am thankful for my Craft Beer and Red Wine :).

    Almost done with my coffee!

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    1. I should add Fireball cinnamon whiskey to my list. The kick is helpful when I start to drag a bit late afternoons. I should add the honey whiskey and Fireball are limited to twice a week. Besides being rather expensive, if I have more than a finger of either I am pretty useless the rest of the day.

      We had dinner at my youngest daughter's apartment last night. She lives alone and needs the regular family contact. Her place is very nice and has beautiful walking paths for our dogs, so it works out well.

      My family has discovered Marco Polo...an app for video messaging. Even though everyone is close, we don't spend time together as often as we do in normal times, so the video connection is nice.

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  3. Do you make your own honey whiskey? Recipe? ; ) Thanks!

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    1. No, but I have found the Jack Daniels version is better than the Jim Beam. My contribution to the recipe is an ice cube or two and a glass.

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  4. Bob, thanks for this post. There are so many things to be grateful for - a loving circle of family & friends; my home in the hills surrounded by nature; a bluebird sighting 2 days ago & pussy willows(for sure it's spring!); the kindness of neighbors; a well-stocked pantry; physical ability & good health that allows me to accomplish activities of daily living; a farm-girl attitude & work ethic; music to lend background to my life; technology that offers information, entertainment & connection; Oh Canada; spirituality & personal growth & wisdom of 6+ decades on the earth.

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    1. I love everything on your list. I don't have the farm-girl work ethic, just a little too much of the Puritan version (work is good, play is bad). But, I am working on maintaining a better balance between the two and feeling both are part of God's plan.

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  5. You can buy coffee filters where you live? Ours are flying off the shelves as home sewers are making pockets for them in face masks. I had to order online.

    We do have a lot to be grateful for and I share most of your list except for whiskey and afternoon naps. I really wish I could take naps and I don't like whiskey. Perhaps if I did like whiskey the naps would follow?

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    1. I have this stuff someone picked up-its alcoholic rootbeer. Would that work?

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    2. I bought several hundred just before things went south. The coffee maker has the type of basket that doesn't require a separate filter though I prefer the taste with the paper one. I haven't looked recently...I wouldn't have thought of those for masks, but I guess that makes sense.

      Hard cider is a decent substitute! I have more than a finger of anything harder than wine or beer, a nap is absolutely required.

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    3. I love hard cider. I'll have to try it for a nap inducer.

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  6. So much to be grateful for! My list is very much like yours, including being especially thankful for having a loving spouse to spend my time with. I can’t imagine doing this alone, or worse, with someone I didn’t like.

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    1. The reports of spousal abuse are scary. With no place to go and stuck together, I can't even imagine the feeling of being so trapped. Less drastic but still very bothersome would be the situation you mention: not liking the person you are stuck with.

      Good you you (and me!) to really enjoy the person we cohabitate with.

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  7. I woke up sad this morning, moods are up and down. But I AM grateful for many small thing:

    1. Yes, coffee, that first cup is ambrosia!
    2. All the tech capabilities you mention that are keeping us sane.
    3. MY BIKE: A daily bike ride is also keeping me from having worse cabin fever.
    4. Books,cloud library
    5. Ken
    6. A comfy roomy house where we both can have our own space in between all this togetherness
    7. I am extremely grateful Andrew is safely working at home,though I miss seeing him in person immensely
    8.Grateful for our general good health. We don’t have doctors visits or anything we need to be doing. Luckily.
    9. Grateful for my online Spiritual women’s group— a private group where we can share all the ups downs and spiritual insights and yes, the grief, we are experiencing day to day.AND the JOYS.
    10. Grateful I like to cook, as we , like everyone, are having to do a LOT of that lately! I do miss those occasional lunches out,however!

    Hoping you and Betty and your family continue to stay safe and cozy!

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    1. That gratitude list is one to cherish.

      Yes, Betty and I and the family are doing well. We will see the grandkids and family a week from Sunday for the first time in three weeks. They spent time with a few extended family members who it turned out had been exposed. No one showed any symptoms but we thought it best to give things plenty of time before we met again.

      We are going to splurge tonight: curbside pickup at our favorite sushi place. They are a small business that must be struggling so we will get a good dinner and help them at the same time.

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  8. Yes, a great list of things to be grateful for. We're also grateful for Facetime and Zoom which are how we keep up with family, friends, and neighbors.

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    1. I have never used Facetime but have had it mentioned enough I will take a look. At the moment i am playing a virtual chess game with my grandson using Marco Polo.

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  9. I find that keeping a brief daily Gratitude Journal causes me to notice things (or people or settings) every day for which to be grateful. It's a habit that's self-reinforcing, plus it tends to discourage the near-opposite: complaining.

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    1. About 2 weeks before the virus became a thing I had started a daily journal keeping track of what I did that day. It helped being able to check back and keep track of my daily exercise and how I spent my time.

      Now, it is still used for tracking each day, but they have become rather repetitive! The only real variable is the number of steps I managed that day.

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  10. What a great boost to our lives in isolation as it is easy to slip into the negatives of the world. I am grateful too for my husband of 51 years as he certainly helps me keep my spirits (both types!!) up these days. Take care.

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    1. 51 years of marriage...good for you two!

      BTW, I like your blogs with pictures of Australia...a country I have yet to visit. Virtual travel is all i can do at the moment.

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  11. Inspirational post Bob! I am thankful for:
    1. My wife who is also my best friend and partner in everything.
    2. My children who are all grown and living their lives in their own way, and who we get to see every few weeks as they live in our metro area.
    3. Long, hot baths in our 50 gal master bath tub. I just don't like my water bill as a result.
    4. Spring and how everything has bloomed, trees have leaves again, and the grass is green again.
    5. Personal freedoms we are all guaranteed by our constitution and being a citizen of the USA.
    6. Living in a state whose people are proud of their heritage and are not shy about letting everyone else know.
    7. Our freedom of religion and being able to praise that religion openly.
    8. Financial planning advise I received on this blog and other finance and retirement blogs. Love that bucket strategy!
    9. Early retirement. It is wonderful even on lock down.
    10. Being 6 ft above the ground.
    11. So many opportunities and choices that are afforded to us in the USA. Sometimes these choices are overwhelming but I am happy to have them.
    12. Disagreements. Many people see these as a negative; I see them as an opportunity to learn from each other.

    I could go on and on and on...

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    1. I am not a bath person, otherwise, I love your list. Being on this side of the grass everyday allows for so many opportunities to experience and share joy. We have plenty of everything we need within our four walls and family nearby

      I do grieve for those who have been hit by this disease and those who have had their economic world upended. For me to not be grateful for everything my family has would be insensitive.

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  12. Yes, I'm very grateful for good coffee! And for my family's health and safety so far. It's spring and the days are longer and my garden is starting to sprout plants I love. And we are retired and don't have to worry about where our next job will come from. There are so many things to be grateful for, and I find myself thinking of them daily lately. Yes, we are somewhat bored, but honestly, if that's the worst we can say, we have to be truly grateful.

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    1. OH, and I must add FaceTime and Zoom and all the technology we have available. Being able to see our family members and chat on screens is so comforting until we can actually see them in person again.

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    2. There are times when technology is an absolute godsend. This is one of those moments.

      We are finally transitioning into typically hot Arizona weather: close to 100 by the end of the week. But, we are ready and the yard is as ready as it will ever be.

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  13. My wife wants me to add French vanilla creamer to the coffee requirement! I jokingly say I could leave the coffee out and she'd never notice it but short her on the French vanilla and katie-bar-the-door!

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    1. My daughters and son-in-law are the same way: coffee just is the carrier for the creamer.

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  14. A little over a month ago, I started writing a new blog called Daily Delights (https://dlydelights3.wordpress.com/)where I try to write a brief reflection each day on something that has delighted me. This is also an effort to be mindful of the small things that give us pleasure in life. So far, I've only missed one day (when I was feeling grumpy and couldn't honestly say I had found anything delightful).

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    1. That is an excellent idea. I just read your post on music (assuming i found the right site). Listening to Spotify or my old LPs is an important part of my day, too. Music calms the savage breast...even in a pandemic.

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