Being Thankful No Matter What

I have already written a couple of posts about positive thinking and with Thanksgiving just having passed I find it appropriate to write another.

I can not stress enough the power of positive thinking.  It may sound cliché, but it is so important to grasp this concept when dealing with anxiety.  For years I kicked and screamed fighting this very idea.  Positive thinking my ass, I would think.  Like that would change how I felt.  Well let me tell you something, when I finally understood the power of my thoughts my recovery from anxiety took off.

With that, I of course want to share a story.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers.  I hope that everyone had a beautiful day filled with the company and love of your family and friends.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year.  I am thankful everyday, but on this one very special day it encourages everyone to stop what they are doing, cook up some delicious food and spend an entire day being thankful….together.  I love that.  I love walking into my mother in laws house as I am greeted by the most delicious smells.  I love sitting around a jam packed table as everyone shares what they are most thankful for.  I love rushing off to my parents to meet my sisters and their families for dessert.  I love picking at the leftovers or even making myself a second plate of dinner.  I love going to bed so filled with not food, but gratitude.

This Thanksgiving went a little differently.  It all started with my 8 month old getting the stomach virus this past Sunday.  The dreaded stomach virus!  Talk about anxiety, as soon as one of my kids throw up, my first reaction is, “We’re all going to get it, it’s going to be terrible, we’re all going to die!!!!”  Maybe not that last one, but it sure does feel that way.  I’m sure that’s most people’s reaction though.

We fortunately made it through my middle daughter’s birthday unscathed, until that night.  After all of my precious little babies were tucked into bed a knot planted in my stomach and I knew what was about to happen in my house.  I spent the next 24 hours with my face way too close to the toilet.  By the time I was feeling better the next night my husband had just enough time to pass the baby off to me before he spent the next 24 hours (all of Thanksgiving) with that very same toilet.  It was awful.

There was no Thanksgiving spent with family.  There was no lounging around the table while the kids played and the guys watched football.  There were no fancy dresses or excited little faces as we piled into the car to nana’s and then grandma’s.  Instead there was just me and my three little beauties having a regular day while daddy recovered in bed as we quarantined our family.  Not what I had pictured.

Now today, the day after Thanksgiving my husband is outside with my three year old putting up Christmas lights.  Just yesterday he could barely keep his head up and here he is determined to get our lights up.  As I opened the door to give him hot chocolate he says to me, “You know I kind of think it’s a blessing that we all got sick.  It forced us to slow down.”  Pow!  Just like that everything is okay.  He just spent two of his days off from work sick and taking care of his sick wife, missing Thanksgiving, and this is his conclusion of the situation.  What a beautiful thought and he is right.

That one simple moment is exactly what I am talking about.  Life is what you make it and for years I made myself anxious because of my thoughts.  At the end of this crazy holiday we ended up having a different, but very special Thanksgiving.  It was a day spent on the floor playing games with my daughters and watching movies.  It was a day for getting dressed up with no where to go, having amazing food delivered right to our door from my in-laws.  It was a day for after dinner shows performed by the cutest 3 and 4 year olds around.  It was a day for homemade pretzels and finding out that the baby LOVES stuffing and cranberry sauce.  It was a day for really slowing down and appreciating life.

Our day could have gone so much differently, but it went the way we ended up wanting it to be.  You can not always control life, but you can always control how you react to it.  Make your reaction a positive one.

Finding Passion in what you do

You will often here people say that you should find things in life that you are passionate about.  If you could find a career that you are passionate about, work would be less stressful.  With passion comes purpose and I believe that having a purpose is the true meaning of life.  Now I agree with all of this.  I agree with every part of my soul, but in some cases this may not be possible.

For instance, a man may be passionate about baseball, but for him a career in the sport is unrealistic so instead he has to stick to his 9-5 corporate job that he finds much less exciting, but in the end supports his family and pays the bills.  This is the case for many people.  Our lives are stressful and busy.  Life can even be overwhelming at times.  There are moments in my life where multiple days will blend into one and I can’t remember if I took a shower or if I fed the dog.  Okay there are days where I have forgotten a meal for my kids.  These kind of days make my head spin.

In the past when I was overwhelmed I would think that I was doing all the wrong things.  I must not be chasing my dreams.  I must be in the wrong job or forgetting to fill my life with meaningful things.  I would often think that my like was lacking passion.  Well, actually it was, but not because it lacked things to be passionate about, I just wasn’t looking at the beautiful things in life that were right in front of me.

What if we stopped looking for outside things to be passionate about and instead started finding the passion in the things all around us?  Let me explain.

Most of you who read my posts know that I have three daughters.  My life is filled with alot of joy and love along with alot of poop and crying.  The other day I was changing the baby’s diaper in a rush because she was freaking out and noticed that there was a huge blob of poop on my hand, not the wipe, my hand.  UGH!  I wiped it off with an already dirty wipe and quickly ran out of the room to my middle child who was having a tantrum in the kitchen, while ransacking the cabinets, because I told her she couldn’t have gummies at 10 in the morning (yes, we have this fight a lot).  My oldest daughter enters the kitchen and starts whining because she has to go to the bathroom and she forgot how to wipe (I told her once that she has to wipe better after she poops and now she doesn’t remember how to wipe, great).

Now I love my girls, more than anything in the world, but in a day like this there is a lot of stress, with no praise and the rewards are camouflaged under poop stained wipes.  On days like this I have found myself daydreaming about my passions.  If I had time to write, I could write a book and that would be so rewarding and fulfilling.  If I had time to volunteer and help people in need that would be so rewarding and I could really have meaning in my life.  If, if, if……damn if’s.

I often have to remind myself to stop looking for things that I am passionate about, because everything I need and love is right in front of my face.  I may not love doing seven loads of laundry every three days, but I do love the bodies that the clothes I fold are going to cover.  I may not love constantly having to clean my floors, but I do love the feet that are going to walk all over them.  I may not love cleaning poop and spit up and God know what other bodily fluids come out of my kids, but God how I love those kids.

When we stop focusing on the hard stuff in our lives it is amazing how much more meaning we will find in everyday.  Whenever I am stressed I focus on something that I am excited about.  I could be crazy at work and then I will stop and think about the book that I am going to read to my girls at bedtime and suddenly my day just got better.  Something so simple will help me make it through a hard day.  There is something exciting about everyday, we just have to have our eyes open to see that.  As we get older for some of us it is harder to get excited over things.

The other day I was playing with my seven month old.  Every time I rolled a toy to her she got so excited that her whole entire body literally jerked.  Could you imagine that?  Could you imagine being so excited over something that you actually couldn’t control your body?  When was the last time you felt that?  Did you ever feel that?  I mean this toy was nothing special, but she went crazy every time it came near her.  It was such a beautiful and wonderful moment to witness pure joy over such simplicity.

Sometimes we are so focused on the hard things in our days that we forget about all the beautiful things in between.  The in between moments are the moments that count.  Take a look at your life, and what is in it right now.  Stop focusing on negative things and focus on the things that make your whole body jerk.  Just me, these things are there.  Be grateful for what you have and treasure the love and joy that surrounds you.  Be passionate about your life, because that is the greatest gift you will ever get.

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