Moving Towards a Life of Gratitude
article by Cindy G. Foust
Well, here we all are at the halfway mark of the year… and we are certainly a far cry from where we were last year at this time. Anybody want to give me an A to the men on that one?
As a reminder, this time last year we were all scared to death to go the grocery store because we thought COVID would jump off a zucchini and get on us. This June, it’s more like, “Hey, where’s everyone going on vacation?” We have to give a praise report for this shift back to the perspective we had prior to the pandemic for sure.
Speaking of vacations and all that that involves, where IS everyone going this summer? And are you driving or flying? Maybe I should write this month’s column on how to survive a road trip with your children. But that should be pretty easy, right, because we all survived a pandemic shuttered in with them for months on end, right? Am I right?
It’s kind of funny to me really, when I think back on it now, because when I was growing up, it was kind of like we were in a pandemic, but we really weren’t. What I mean is, we all sheltered in place because there really wasn’t much else to do, so except for school, my family was together all the time, all the time. Yes, I said it twice. It was a much slower time, much like what we experienced last year, and everything around us seemed to move at a snail’s pace. And no one really hated it.
During the school week, we did look forward to the weekends, but it was because our parents were taking us to a Play Day (a sort of informal rodeo for you non-equestrienne readers), or the church gym to play in a volleyball tournament or perhaps my parents’ were having “Rook” night (by the way, I’ll take your money in a game of Rook because I AM getting the Widow no matter what I have in my hand) and all their friends were coming over. Which meant all my friends were coming over and it was going to be board game night or bike riding or a basketball game with someone’s headlights shining on the grass court after dark. What was a guarantee was homemade ice cream would be involved so that made it an especially rich experience. Well, rich in my book and I’m the one writing the column, so rich indeed.
Gosh, some days I wish we could go back to those times… and last year, we kind of did. But here we all are, on the cusp of a fresh start, like a really fresh start as more and more mandates are lifted and we are getting to recapture privileges we likely didn’t even appreciate we had… like walking in the grocery store without a mask on and being able to tell who other shoppers were.
A lot has happened in my own personal life since this time last year, and there’s part of me that feels like I’ve certainly been given a fresh start… a clean slate if you would. And it feels really great.
But great in a different way than I have felt in years… it actually takes me back to those years in my life when I felt carefree and joyful…and uncluttered. It has sharpened my focus, yes, but it has also made me appreciate those same things that I continued to take for granted.
Since June is Cancer Survivor’s Month, and I have now survived it, twice, I feel I am in a sort of position to be able to give the perspective of someone who kind of gets it now. All of it.
I get that life is truly short and we need to live every day in a robust and explosive way. I get that life is also very precious and every life is just as important and valuable as the next. I get that some of us are blessed with second chances and opportunities to live long, healthy lives (even if you have to go through 16 rounds of chemo to get there) and some of us are not privileged with those length of years, like my Samuel or my sister, Angel.
I get that life does get interrupted from a death, an illness or a pandemic, but in the end, the way we march through it is what people will think and say about us. I get that little things that get in the way of family relationships or friendships and sometimes turn into big things are not really important at all… there’s always a way to work through them, so if you find yourself in that situation…including myself… get busy working through them.
I get that the most valuable of lessons my father taught me (Happy Father’s Day this month, too, Daddy) is to be kind to one another, no matter what personality conflict or issue may reside between you and that person, you can still be kind. I get that every day we are given to live on this earth, no matter where our travels take us or where we call home, is a gift. Life is a gift, and I have had to say goodbye to my son, my sister, family and friends way too soon…and sometimes way too long, especially if they were sick, and it’s hard; it’s inexplicable; it’s unfathomable, but we do it. Because that’s what we do, we march through what life throws at us and we come out grateful, grateful that we have the opportunity to march through it, unlike some people who didn’t get the same chance.
And finally, I get that there are hundreds of excuses for feeling sorry for ourselves, but the truth is that no one is guaranteed of tomorrow and today, today is the day to start living that way. With gratitude. With kindness. With forgiveness. With an explosive energy that surprises even ourselves.
What’s this article really about, as I twist and turn through the words? It’s about living… shedding the sorrows and worries of the past year and picking up where we left off and moving towards a life of gratitude for every day we are gifted. I hope you get where I’m going, readers… and I challenge you to meet me there.
I walk outside every day and bask in the air of a new day… loving my family, my friends, my life, my work, and grateful for cures, for second chances, for modern medicine, for supportive family and friends and for the most blessed of lives I can imagine. You don’t have to go through chemo, readers, to meet me there, you just have to know where you are going, even if you don’t know how you will get there. Trust me, your attitude will be all the compass you need.
Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom.com for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.