An Attitude of Gratitude

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Woo hoo! Thanksgiving’s next weekend!

It’s my favourite long weekend because of the magic three: amazing food, mild autumn weather and time to appreciate all that turkey goodness with my wonderful family. This year will be extra special because we’ll all be together. (Last Thanksgiving my Sailor was in Afghanistan and I was a nervous wreck, but he came home safely so we’ll focus on the positive.)

I love the idea of giving thanks for all the blessings in life, but I’m usually too stressed about things beyond my control to be thankful.

Fortunately, the most amazing source of all information (the internet) has tons of stuff about gratitude and thankfulness. Mind Body Green caught my attention with its “scientific proof that being thankful improves your health.” (Does this mean I’m actually harming my health because I’m too worried to be thankful??? I’m going to need some extra wine to get through this gratitude stuff.)

Thankfully (see how I worked that in!) it’s not really so hard to be thankful.

It turns out Oprah was right when she directed us to keep a gratitude journal. Every week, jotting down three to five things you’re grateful for (like season five of The Walking Dead) can lead to increased energy, happiness and hope.

Don’t limit your gratitude practice to journalling. Create art to demonstrate your gratitude. Speak about it. Blog about it. (For example–I’m grateful my Sailor demonstrates his gratitude for our family by cooking me a delicious turkey dinner every year!)

Train yourself to think grateful positive thoughts. This is a hard one for me, but I want some of that joy the grateful people flaunt so I’m going to give it a try.

It’s not like I have much choice. Gratitude combats depression, anxiety and loneliness. With stakes this high, I just hope I can be grateful enough…

At 4:18 AM . . .

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At 4:18 AM . .

I make a mug of Sleepy Time tea–very mellow and soothing, but I doubt it actually helps me sleep.

I empty the dishwasher while the kettle’s boiling. It’s one less thing I’ll have to do in the morning and I’ll likely be slow and groggy when the alarm rings in a few hours.

I check my email–ooh, Banana Republic is offering an additional 40% off to their preferred customers and Bay Days (the best deals of the season!) will start soon. Is it any wonder I shop too much?

I go back to bed even though I’m more alert than I’ve been in weeks and attempt to read.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve had an unshakeable aura of doom and gloom about me. D says it’s because season 4 of The Walking Dead recently started and I’m immersed in the zombie culture. I think it’s more than that.

I’m worried and imagining worst case scenarios. They play over and over in my mind.

I read “The Secret” when it first came out. Basically the secret is that if you expect good things to come your way, the Universe co-operates and sends them. If you can help the Universe by displaying images of desired objects, so much the better. The Universe needs guidance.

You might think this is nonsense, but I have proof it works.

I downloaded a faux cheque from “The Secret” website and made it out to myself for $1,000,000. I put that pretty pink cheque above my desk and looked at it every day, willing the Universe to send one just like it. Sure enough about a week later, the Universe came through. I received a fake $1,000,000 cheque from Reader’s Digest. It was even the same shade of pink as the fake cheque in my office! (Not only does the Universe need guidance, it is apparently unfortunately literal.)

The only downside to “The Secret” was learning that the Universe also responds to negativity. That’s right–if you anticipate bad news you’re likely to draw it your way. The Universe is like that.

For a worrier, this is hardly reassuring. It’s one more thing to think about at 4:18 AM.

Container Gardens and Ball Gowns

091To combat my deployment gloominess, it’s time to focus on the positive. Here are my personal top five reasons to celebrate a military marriage.

5. Container gardens–although I’m mad about flowers, I am not a gardener because of the bugs–they frighten me. The reality of frequent moves means traditional gardening in a waste of time anyway because beloved gardens must be abandoned, but containers are portable. They can move with you. I began stuffing ceramic pots with colourful blooms and bug-free sterile soil from Canadian Tire. Suddenly, I’m a gardener!

4. Ball gowns–like most middle class Canadian women, I had few (actually no) opportunities to sport a ball gown apart from my high school prom and my wedding. I’m a bit of a girlie girl (see confession re bug phobia above), and adore dressing up in pretty clothes. Marriage to a naval officer brings regular occasions to put on formal wear that don’t exist for my peers in civilian marriages.

3. My master’s degree–no, I don’t have an M.A. in marrying a sailor, but when I moved to Halifax with him, I was unemployed, bored and lonely. (His ship was away close to 300 days during our first year together.) I took the opportunity to go back to university for a master’s, something I never would have done if I’d had a job to keep me busy.

2. Increased confidence–I naturally shy away from new experiences, and change freaks me out. Left to my own devices, I’d move back to my home town, preferably into my parents’ basement, and never leave. My horizons have been broadened immeasurably due to my marriage to the sailor and the many moves it has brought.

1. Independence–I have become a stronger, more independent woman simply because I’ve had to. Things that totally flummoxed me when we first got married, I now handle without a second thought. A flood in the basement? I can deal with that! A muffler that falls off the back of the car? Bring it on! Using a hammer to dismantle our futon to make room for our new bed? Okay, I now understand a screw driver might have been a better choice, but the point is, I didn’t let that piece of furniture get the better of me. I acted with strength and determination.