My son approached me with his small red car, plopped himself in my lap, and proclaimed as he zoomed the car up and down my thigh, “Mommy, I’m so happy that you’re so happy that I’m so happy with my Lightning McQueen.” Three days after initiating a simple bedtime gratitude practice (where we each name three things that made us happy that day), my son is seeing things to be happy about everywhere. He’s even projecting and naming for me all the things I might be happy about — and has astutely observed that his happiness is guaranteed to source my own.
My concentric circles of happiness for my son and his new car followed me to the shower — one of the few places I stand still long enough for my ideas and inspiration to reliably land. Suddenly I was overcome with gratitude for everything: that I have been paid to do work I love in a context that has suited my temperament for 15 years. For the clients who have over the years become respected collaborators and cherished friends. For the hot water I was standing under, for the mostly blind and deaf and immobilized dog who has dedicated his life to standing guard by every doorway I have passed through, for the words that unveil my world and my life for me endlessly and surprisingly.
This ache of abundance accompanied us to school, where my son tucked his small car into my purse to “nap” until the end of the day and then danced off into the tide of small children eddying around a craft table. Still raw with appreciation, I drove to the Safeway Foundation Breast Center where I now await my first preventative mammogram in a gorgeous, vast, immaculate structure that has been built as a temple to cancer. My broken open heart is swollen with the sadness and agonies so many people live with and are consumed by. I sit in the beautiful brown chair waiting my turn to hear what the angel of death has in mind for me. I am reminded what an incredible gift it is that my belly holds onto fat, that my legs propel me forward, that my graying, uncooperative hair still populates my head.
It occurs to me that I have appreciations to voice to my business community, my literary community, you. I start imagining all of the endorsements I intend to write on LinkedIn to celebrate my clients and colleagues who have impressed me recently. And I begin composing the Thanksgiving greeting I realize I would like to send to my entire work community to thank them for their business, their trust. The primary revelation of these past, four years where sleep has been nominal, time for myself slivered, exhaustion (and its related confusions) profound, exercise embarrassing to admit, self-care nil, is that I have learned to tap into an energy source that is free, instantly available, and fills my cup to overflowing every time: gratitude. I have proven to myself that no matter what else life serves up, no matter how resource-rich or resource-poor we might be, we can choose gratitude. It is not what we have, but how we hold it, that counts.
How do you intend to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, who do you intend to thank, and how will you turn your attention to the everyday abundance that is your most reliable and limitless energy source?