One thing I’ve learned is that happiness is a fleeting shadow. Contentment and gratitude are all that last. When circumstances dictate how we feel? Just accept that life is going to feel as if we are strapped to Hell’s Tilt-A-Whirl.
Because cats will never puke on tile instead of carpet, cars break, sinks leak, pipes bust, bills come, illness happens, kids act up, family WILL make us nuts, work will suck, some people will NEVER learn not to CC ALL in an e-mail, and the news will always be filled with the worst examples of “humanity.” EVERY network will spew doom, gloom, division, hate and hopelessness.
On the other side of that?
We also live in a society that tells us everything should be a highlight reel, that everyone ELSE is living a highlight reel, when truth is? That’s a lie. Most of life is Behind the Scenes and ugly and sticky and coated in cat fur and cracker crumbs.
I make it a point to begin every day with an attitude of gratitude. I think it is important, especially these days where it seems like every commercial tells us we aren’t thin enough, rich enough, successful enough, happy enough. We always need more “stuff” to be enough.
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I wrote a blog ages ago about focusing on success, that we tend to drift where the eyes focus. Race car drivers learn that if you want to cross the finish line, never ever take your eyes off the goal line. Look at the wall and you will hit the wall. I believe everything is that way. If we focus on where we are lacking, what others appear to have that we want? We run the danger of being deeply ungrateful, and that can be an extraordinarily defeating way to live.
Lately, I’ve had a hard reality to face. I’ve always been very healthy and exercise was a part our lives. Then, in late August, I came down with Shingles. It’s been three months of non-stop nerve pain and exhaustion. Since I can’t move a lot, I can’t work out, thus I can’t pass a mirror without cringing. I’m also an author and a small business owner and it feels like everything is going to seed before my eyes.
But? I have a malady that will eventually heal.
I have a wonderful little boy who is HIGH ENERGY. My author friend J.E. Fishman writes a thriller series about Bomb Techs. Highly recommended, btw.
As part of J.E.’s book promotion, he sent me a gift. Stress balls that look like little bombs with a fuse. This means every time I go to the bathroom, Spawn flings open the door and lobs a grenade and shouts “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” seconds before a stress ball dings off my head….then he runs away laughing.
It was seriously funny the first 7,651 times.
But shouldn’t it be funny EVERY time? Am I taking enough time to ENJOY this little boy who will grow up all too soon? There are the dishes, the laundry, the dusting, but am I ENJOYING the home I have? I love serving writers, blogging, teaching, but am I taking a moment to ENJOY all of you? I have the world’s best husband. I make it a point that, when he gets home from work, a fresh, hot meal is made and his clean pajamas and towel are laid out next to the shower, but am I ENJOYING him?
Am I truly giving thanks?
I don’t know about you, but I know this is an area I can ALWAYS come up higher. Grateful people are happy people.
Thanksgiving seems to be the middle child of holidays. Halloween is fun and glitzy and exciting. Christmas is cute and we adore it and look forward to seeing it…and oh yeah, there’s Thanksgiving. Hey, do we even have decorations for that? Christmas is this magical time, and we often hear how we need to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long. Well, that is a great idea, but we would be wise to keep Thanksgiving there too.
We have all kinds of ways to be thankful and many things to be grateful for that we might not even notice. The next time you go to complain, I challenge you to think of the blessing that inconvenience really is. I do this myself when I hear complaints and grumblings coming out of my mouth. I’ll show you what I mean…
I am thankful for the searing nerve pain in my leg, because I still have a leg. It wasn’t blown off by an IED or amputated because of diabetes.
I am thankful for all the laundry I have to do, because it means I have clothes to wear.
I am thankful for the dishes that need washing, because it means I didn’t go hungry.
I am thankful for my BAZILLION food allergies, because it means my family eats very healthy.
I am thankful for the ENORMOUS electric bill, because it means my home has lights and heat.
I am thankful for the sheets that need to be changed, because it means I own a bed.
I am thankful for all the reading I have to do, because it means I’m literate.
I am thankful for the car that needs all new tires because it means I don’t have to walk miles and miles to get what I need.
I am thankful for that parking space waaaaayyyy out in the back, because it means I don’t have to park in a handicapped space. I can walk.
I am thankful for the garage that needs to be cleaned out, because it means I am blessed with plenty.
I am thankful for the chores to be done, because it means I have mom who loves me enough to travel to see me.
I am thankful for the litter-box that needs cleaning and the dog blankets that need washing because it means I have pets who love me unconditionally.
I am thankful for Johnny Cat who I have to shoo off counters and who breaks EVERYTHING, because he nearly died and now he’s back, healthy enough to wreak havoc (refer to above pic).
I am thankful for the split ends and six inches of roots I have, because it means I haven’t lost all my hair to chemo.
I am thankful for the Christmas cards I need to send, because they could as easily be funeral announcements.
I am thankful for the traffic snarls that catch me, because the body the firemen pulled out of the fatality accident could have been me.
I am thankful for the persistent leak in my sink, because it means that I have a home.
I am thankful for all the Christmas shopping I have to do, because it means I’m not alone.
I am thankful for my fluffy body because it could be emaciated and waiting on a food relief truck.
I am thankful for the son who would make a nest in my bra if he could (especially when I am WRITING), because it means I have a son who dearly loves me.
I am thankful that I sometimes have doubts and confusion about my future and my purpose when I think of the lives cut short before they ever had a future.
I am thankful for my freedom and the amazing men and women who put their lives on the line to protect it.
I am definitely thankful for all of you who bless me on this blog by giving me your time. Time is the most precious commodity we have and we never seem to have enough, but all of you are so generous to me. You share the very thing we all need more of….TIME. Thus, I’m immensely grateful you guys give to freely to me. I’m WAY thankful for my amazing WANA community. You guys are the bright spot to each and every day in my world and the world around you. It is such an honor and privilege to serve you.
And for a laugh and even a little food for thought, I LOVE this video…
What are you guys thankful for? Maybe things that vex you, but when viewed another way are unseen blessings. I’d like to hear your comments (which I am super especially thankful to get, by the way). Do you feel Thanksgiving kinda gets steamrolled? Do we need to learn to be more grateful as a culture? Is consumerism taking the place of genuine joy? What things do you do to make sure you remain grateful!
I LOVE hearing from you!
Yeah, yeah, I just griped about consumer culture, but writers need to eat too. Feel free to ignore and scroll down, but I DID write a book and it IS very helpful 😉 . Happy Thanksgiving!
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
Girlfriend, I just bought not one but THREE copies of your book and am giving 2 of them as gifts while finally no longer making “I’m too busy excuses” and reading my copy this weekend! thanks for all your honest insights and being an inspiration to us all.
Oh Kristen, I have been a lurker, lately, and not a very good one at that. I am saddened to hear of your shingles. It is an awful malady. A relative had it, she is a lot like you: big heart, overachiever (overattemper), and very sweet. I’m sure you are doing all that you can and trying to relax. Your attitude is gorgeous and so is your heart. Even laundry, yes, is a blessing. Meditation is key, so I hope you’re doing that. I will get cracking on my book; I will get going and get out of my own way. You remind me of that… thank you for the nudges. Feel better. May I recommend Tazo Passion tea with a drop of agave and a squeeze of lemon? Oh my… happy thanksgiving. -m
Reblogged this on My WordPress Notepad and commented:
Indeed, every single word of the following post…
Eric the Phantom said: Happiness is like the first intoxication of morphine, it doesn’t last very long.
What I ‘m grateful about…
That my kids have grown up and successful in their own chosen fields. They are happy, healthy and for the moment safe.
That I am blessed with the best husband one could ever find. He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, not gallivanting, caring understanding, even tempered and an engineer (I like engineers) Joking of course. About engineers I mean.
I have a beautiful home and a garden I could roam around.
Though I have RA, I am still mobile.
That I even though I have to give up my former source of income because of my health I can do my current job mostly from the comfort of my own home and can stop any time without fear of being destitute.
That’s a lot to be thankful about.
There are no scientific studies for this, but I am fairly sure most writers are married to engineers (or engineer-types). Weirdness….
Creative as opposed to technical? Reminds me of: no- scientific -studies- phenomenon (?) that most soldiers are married to nurses…
I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment, Kristen. Last March, I concluded a blog entry with the words, “Contentment can enjoy happiness, and endure unhappiness. Contentment allows for highs and lows, but as long as the highs outweigh the lows it says, on balance, my life is okay!
Contentment is okay, and it’s okay to be okay.”
You have gone further than that, and I applaud you for it. For myself, I am regularly and constantly grateful that my accrued pensions mean that, in retirement, I am able to devote time to my newly found love of writing, and can enjoy creating without needing to derive an income from it. And that’s just for starters!
Reblogged this on Our parking space and commented:
Absolutely. Every word of it (except we don’t do Thanksgiving in Europe – we do have a lot to be thankful for, though)
Thank you for this wonderful reminder to keep it simple this season and practice gratitude, not attitude. Your list hits home with me and the FWP video is right on target—all that was missing was “leaves in my swimming pool” (the horror…the horror….).
Thank you writing about being thankful. It seems the older I get, the more important Thanksgiving becomes to me.
And I don’t always comment, but I love hearing from you. You enlighten and educate, and are humbly transparent in the doing of it. Kristen, may the Spawn forever throw bombs into your bathroom and be greeting with a smile. Happy Thanksgiving.
Great perspective, Kristen. I know I don’t express my gratitude enough. Blessings!
Ha! “Shut the cup up!” I loved your post–just perfect.
I was in the food store this morning thinking Thanksgiving was the ugly cousin no one wants to see. I realize it’s the day before, but not one single Thanksgiving paper plate left, but Christmas has come to town already. I feel badly for Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays and I’m thankful I can host my family and make them turkey and tons of desserts no one should eat, but we will because it’s fun and it’s the holiday. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Kristen. Feel better soon.
Excellent post and so true. And I have three cats, not one who can aim for the tile instead of the two area rugs I have in my entire house so I feel your pain there. And definitely enjoy your little man as much as you possibly can. You turn around and he’s 6’4″ (at least mine ended up there) and out the door. You’re left wiping fingerprints off of door jambs that will just not re-appear.
Have another great THanksgiving, Kristen! I’m thankful for many of those same things, for the same reasons, and it’s good to be reminded of them.
Thanks also for sharing.
Reblogged this on Sharon Lee Hughson's World and commented:
I love how Kristen displays her “attitude of gratitude” in her blog posts.
If you can read through her list of “I’m thankful” statements without crying, you probably aren’t as hormonal as me *sighs, sniffles, wipes tears, blows nose*
I am thankful that my house hasn’t sold because it means I have a home filled with wonderful memories.
What are you thankful for?
Okay, I expect a laugh when I read your blog and I have tears coursing down my cheeks and snot running from my nose.
For the record, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for a decade or more. I love that it isn’t commercialized. The focus of the holiday might be food (and I love the cornbread dressing, don’t get me wrong), but it is generally an outward focus. Our family takes the time to go around the table stating one thing we’re especially thankful for at the moment.
As you pointed out, we are all blessed above measure. I thank God for those blessings – but not loud enough or often enough. Every day should be Thanksgiving in our hearts, minds and mouths.
Hope you have a happy one!
My dad is currently suffering through shingles and it seriously sucks. And I also posted my “thanks” list this week–really do not do that often enough, you’re right. By the way, and a conversation this past week with a bunch of ITW debut authors struggling with blogging and passed on some of your awesome tips AND recommendation to your book. I’m thankful for you!
Beautifully said. The ugliness in our lives tries to dominate all the blessings, doesn’t it? But we do have a choice. Thank you for sharing.
Reblogged this on Mandy White and commented:
Some great perspective on gratitude. What are you thankful for?
A nest in my bra gosh you are too funny! I need to appreciate my hubby more I’ve been so mad with him recently because he is so darn grumpy (because he’s tired) and the way he was at Disney the one place you are supposed to be happy. I got punched in the back because I didn’t hear hubby tell me to move up twice because the queues are long and nice old Walt Disney played loud music and had things to watch as we waited and waited so I was pissed as hell while all these proud American women are treated like princesses and here I am with mister I’m not tipping that and never speaking at the dinner table, grumbling about people cutting in. I should have left him with Snow-white she is used to grumpy 😉 All the people that would give their left arm to go to Disney and ours was spoiled by a bad attitude. I’m so relieved the kids didn’t notice but other women definitely noticed and pitied the kids which made me feel even worse. I am using this experience to let things go faster and take my bff to Disney next time (please let there be a next time) I can easily imagine my dad being the same and he is super funny these days. I’ve just got to hang in there thirty years lol.
My neighbor’s mum just died only a year after retiring and she could have been saved, so they have an awful lot to deal with, anger and sadness and disbelief. Putting it in perspective.
Thank you, at this time of blessings that can drown in our frustrations, for the reminder that we need an attitude of gratitude. That picture of you with your sleeping son and pup is priceless. It’s evident from your smile that you know what truly matters. May you have the most joyful of Thanksgivings with your loved ones.
Loved your column. So sorry you are still suffering with shingles. I went to the dermatologist because I thought I had shingles, but it was poison ivy. I hate getting posion ivy, but I was never so happy as when the dermatologist told me I had poison ivy, not shingles!
I have been suffering with pain for the past 31 years due to a horseback riding accident, but I feel the same way you do. I can’t complain about pain in my low back running down my leg that prevents me from being as physically active as I’d like. I have my legs, and I can walk!
Hope you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for all you do!
One of the best posts I’ve ever read. Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving (all year long).
When I had shingles, a friend shared wisdom from her M.S. Group: “God created us human beings, not human doings.” I still find that helpful to remember.
Hi Kristin. Also, remember to do something for others and share your bounty. My wife and I will be feeding about 10 Airmen from Mtn. Home AFB. They are far from home and would otherwise spend the day alone.
Reblogged this on A.J. Sendall and commented:
Thought on being thankful, from Kristen Lamb
Thanks for another thought provoking post Kristen. I hope the shingles are soon a fading memory.
I’m thankful for not knowing my father, as it taught me self-reliance.
I’m thankful for having low self-worth, as it allowed me to take risks that led to self-discovery.
I’m thankful for having a disrupted childhood, as it made me restless.
I’m thankful for being restless, as it forced me to travel widely, and to understand true poverty.
I’m thankful for witnessing true poverty, for it taught me gratitude and humanity.
I’m thankful for being chronically introvert, as it taught me to listen to others, and reach for the meaning in their words.
I’m thankful for having never owned a TV and been drown in its sea of morbidity.
I’m thankful that my daughter’s cancer was diagnosed early, as it reminded me of the importance of time, and tightened our bond still further.
Wonderful additions. I, too am thankful for the times I had no food or home or power. Every time I flick on the lights and they WORK? It’s joy! And I am SO much more grateful for the littlest of things.
I’m sorry you have shingles. I’m going for the shot next week. I am thankful for you. You are a blessing to so many people. Keep it up. We all need more blessings and the time and effort you spend enriches the lives of people you don’t even know and hopefully, we also enrich someone else’s life. That’s a special thing. Happy Thanksgiving.
I’m thankful for your posts, because you’re awesome and smart and have a sense of humor in the face of adversity. I’m also thankful for a whole lot more, of course, but that’s the only one that directly applies to you. 🙂 I hope you’re feeling 100% soon and enjoy your holiday.
You guys brink me so much joy every day. In the light of joy, pain fades ((HUGS)).
Beautiful post. So sweet and so true. Thanksgiving often gets overlooked. We need to sit down and really think about everything we have and be grateful for it. 🙂
Reblogged this on GBFYN and commented:
We are to be thankful despite the circumstances we face day to day. Who are we to be thankful to? Who is the object of our praise? Our thanksgiving must be directed to no other than to our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise Him today and tomorrow and the next day and until your last breath! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!!!
“I am thankful for” is very thought provoking thank-you for this insight.
Your blog shows a normal family, with pets, kids (not in that order) etc.
Now just a little insight of my own, step back sometimes and enjoy.
I enjoyed this post and it certainly provided more food for thought. I’m not one to complain and see all the blessing around me all the time. I’m fortunate to have such a positive spirit. Many are not either by health circumstances or relationship difficulties. Yes, we seem to dwell on the things we don’t have, not be thankful for the things we do. Thank you for writing such blogs for your readers.
Ellen..with all due respect, you have lovely profile and I do agree with you, give encouragement, love, faith and compassion to people, that even, we know them is really very important..we can make the difference, I believe, we can make a better world….thank you very much
Read one of your blogs. An interesting site.
Ellen..thank you…thank you very much
I always enjoyed Thanksgiving more than Christmas because the family seemed to get together just to be with each other. There were a lot more interesting stories told and family history gossip shared at Thanksgiving gatherings too. And no one got upset from having unmet Christmas expectations. Christmas seemed to have higher stakes and it was harder for folks to relax and enjoy each others’ company.
Reblogged this on Lara McGill.
Kristen, you humble me. You’re right, we do need to step back a moment and take stock of what we’re truly thankful for.
You’re on my list, for sure! I hope you have a marvelous, pain-free Thanksgiving filled with the joy of family and friends.
I am thankful you take the time Kristen to reach out to all of us and share your inspirational thoughts. Thank you. xx
Thank you Kristen for all the reminders of the things I forget to be thankful for.
Way to embrace life! I’m so grateful that out of six siblings we are all still alive and relatively healthy. I’m grateful that our children take time to stay in touch with us and that the tech gurus invented Skype so we can connect with our grandson regularly. And I’m grateful for people like you, Kristin, who remember that life is messy and wonderful all at once.
Thanksgiving: the one American holiday I’d like to pinch…
Have you seen Weird Al’s “First World Problems”? Hilarious! – and just another thing to be thankful for 🙂
This really made me stop and think. You are absolutely right! Happy Thanksgiving.
Kristin, thank you for sharing your blog…truly words..I am believer in gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you for your book. I hope you feel well very soon. Have a lovely day.
Thanks, as always, Kristen, for the laughs and the loving dose of reality. Interesting how “giving thanks” and “being happy” always end up together. They’re soul mates, I suspect. http://mitchteemley.com/2014/11/03/how-to-be-happy-a-message-from-the-dryer-fairy/
Love your POV! I like the think that when we come down with something, it’s the universe forcing us to slow down. Heal well.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday hands down. I refuse to acknowledge Christmas until I have over done it with food drink and family. There are no gifts to buy except for wine and no requirement for decoration, and yet it is taken as seriously in my family as the other major holidays. It is perfect in its imperfection and I love it.
I’m thankful I’m a writer with a wonderful childhood to reap ideas from. I’m thankful for the beautiful “snow globe” view outside my window. I’m thankful my husband loves to use his snow blower. I’m thankful my daughter is my best friend. I’m thankful for the cranberry sauce I made in which I replaced the water to cook the berries with straight brandy.I’m thankful for great blogs like yours.
Thank you for this posting! I woke up feeling hormonal and lousy again. I knew the importance of gratitude to get me through again. I prayed, “Give me some encouragement to persevere! ” –And… There you are! Thank you!
Reblogged this on kateconnecting and commented:
A perspective of reality, gratitude and what we are focused on to move forward.
Reblogged this on Time For a Misadventure! and commented:
I believe this is something worth reading! ^^
This is exactly the article I needed to read right now, and I´m thankful to you for writing it in such a nice way. I walk the streets and think exactly the same. I see people in a hurry, buying stuff, force-feeding themselves, working all the time, no time to spend for themselves. And I come home and I read something that should be obligatory to read to one each of us. What we really need to do is to be here for ourselves, and for our families, and friends, and other people that need us. We need to reconsider what we need, instead of just buying. We need to Stepback and enjoy what we have left. Thanks for making me remember it.