Eleven months ago, Big Papa and I started a new habit. Every night, before we go to sleep, we take turns and share a few “happy things” from our day. Then we offer an “appreciation,” something about each other that we are grateful for.
I came up with this idea to counterbalance the frustration, fears and stress in our lives: aging parents, work, home improvement projects, illness (ours or others), aches and pains, insecurities, and the bumps along the road in our journey to adopt. Sometimes it seems like it is so much easier to focus on problems and negativity in life, or all the things we want rather than everything we have.
This might sound Pollyannaish, but I have to tell you, it works! We’ve kept the nightly ritual going and now, nearly a year later, I can honestly say that going to sleep at night with happy thoughts in my brain, has made me a happier person.
Sure, I still fret about our adoption, wish I could buy jeans a size smaller, and feel sad to see my father slip away bit by bit. Careless drivers make me angry and I continue to miss my friend Dee, who passed away two years ago (and who I always called on Thanksgiving Day to tell her how grateful I was for her friendship).
That said, I feel much more aware of the little things that bring me joy each and every day. Maybe it’s a morning when the Cascade Mountains are so clear it feels like I could reach out and touch them. Or a cold afternoon spent watching the birds enjoy the new suet feeder. I don’t feel like I’m bragging when I cite accomplishments from my day that I am proud of: a good work out, two articles written for my writing group, an organized closet or a tasty meal that I made using herbs from our garden.
It is so energizing to share these happy moments with Big Papa along with one appreciation for something he did or said or just for being the wonderful person he is. Hearing the things that make him happy puts a smile in my heart. And, when he tells me what he appreciates about me, I feel noticed, acknowledged, and loved. Sharing our ‘happy things’ and ‘appreciations’ has been one of the best things we’ve done for our relationship…and for ourselves.
Most of us living in the U.S. have a lot to be thankful for. There is great abundance in our lives, yet we often fail to appreciate what we have in the midst of harried days, and the perceived pressure to be more, do more and have more.
In honor of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, I celebrate the happiness in my life. There is so much I appreciate:
- Big Papa: many hours of listening, his steadiness and love, and a big hug every day
- A healthy, strong and fit body
- My home: a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, good food to eat
- Friends: old, new, near and far
- Maggie, our cat, who makes me smile and laugh
- The beautiful northwest that I am so lucky to call home
- Being able to write my thoughts and put them out there for the world to see
- That my family members are all still alive and able to see the happiness in my life
- My own backyard: the garden, the birds
- Mamas with Cameras, my writing group and Mom’s Night Out
- Trips around the Sound, around the state and over the seas
- …and a few wondrous things – that for now – I’ll keep close inside my heart
To my friends and family, and to anyone who reads this post, may a day of thanks be yours. Between running here and there, cleaning the house or cooking up a storm, take some time to remind yourself of the beauty in your life, and of the people, places and moments that make you happy. Close your eyes and think deeply about someone who touches your life, someone you appreciate. Better yet, pick up the phone or take them in your arms and tell them.