Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grace, Gratitude and Goodwill

Our theme for this week has been grace and gratitude.  Jeff is out of town which meant I was going to have to tackle mornings on my own.  I normally love mornings.  I am a morning person, but I really like to have some quiet time in the morning before everyone else gets up.  The problem is, school starts at 7:40 which means I have to get up at 5:00 to get in any meaningful time before the rest of the gang has to get up.  It just has not happened since school started.  As it is, I am getting up at 6:00, to get them up at 6:30 with the goal of leaving at 7:20.  So mornings around here sound something like a SWAT team training exercise.  "Are you focused on your next thing?" "Today is P.E., do you have the right shoes?"  "Go, go, go - there is not time for bed making!"  Add to that two dogs that need to go out, a cat who likes to leave occasional poop presents in our bathroom and a coffee deprived mom and it is a recipe for disaster.  I knew that going into this week, so I decided we needed to head it off at the pass.  I read somewhere that it is impossible for gratitude and anxiety to exist in the same space, so I wondered if the same thing could be said of gratitude and grouchiness.  I decided to try.  My mantra was gratitude not grouchiness.  I threw the grace in there because sometimes I found myself failing at the whole gratitude thing so I had to give myself some grace.

Parking lot that for a minute, let's talk about grouchiness.  I feel like it is a great catch-all word, but slightly deceptive.  Think about Oscar the Grouch, the green guy who lives in the trash can on Sesame Street.  He can not find anything positive to say - at all, ever.  That is the portrait of my grouchiness, nothing good to say, only nastiness coming out of my mouth.  You know - complaints, criticism, griping, etc.  While Oscar may have been pretty harmless, my grouchy ways are not.  There is nothing worse than sending your kids out the door in the morning with criticism ringing in their ears.  I know this because I have done it.  It makes them feel bad it makes me feel bad and then I have six hours of stewing and berating myself before I can apologize.  Definitely not harmless.

Back to the gratitude experiment... I discovered that gratitude and grouchiness can exist in the same space (dang it!) but you have to really work at it.  Sort of like rubbing your tummy and patting your head - it can be done but it doesn't come naturally.  That was good news for us.  As we focused on gratitude we weren't griping at one another as much.  When we said, "thank you God" for what we did have, we were less likely to think about what we didn't have.  There has still been sadness and loneliness and all the other things that were there before we started our gratitude experiment, but they didn't feel quite as powerful.  In fact, some of them seemed to subside a little.

Grace and gratitude have helped us out tremendously this week.  It felt foreign and awkward at first, and honestly, I had a hard time actually feeling my thank yous initially.  As I got in a rhythm, it came more naturally.  When I didn't feel it or just couldn't be thankful, that is when the grace part came in.  When I was cursing the dumb lace up basketball shoes that cost me precious minutes to get on in the morning, I had to give myself grace.  Giving myself grace also did not come naturally for me.  It still doesn't but I am forcing the issue because it is terribly hard to be grateful when you feel like an ass.  When you give yourself grace, you can let your guilt go and make room for gratitude.

We have had some trying times this week.  Maisy disappeared for two hours and came back injured.  Sis got braces and is feeling a bit insecure.  Sam confessed that he misses AGS so much he still says the GUS pledge in his head every day after the Pledge of Allegiance.  There have been tears just like every week since we moved here, but we are making it through.  Life hasn't been as hard as I thought it was going to be this week.  I even went thrift shopping for the first time since we moved here.  I CAN NOT express gratitude for the Goodwills here.  I went to four,  they were all terrible.  I am choosing to offer the Goodwills grace instead. : )

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