As I was perusing the newsfeed of Facebook today, I was reminded how every November, tons of people post these “Things I’m Thankful For” lists every day leading up to Thanksgiving. For years, I’ve used gratitude lists as a way to stay focused in the now and to bring me back to reality for what an amazing life I am allowed to have. For a long time, I kept gratitude journals, always forcing myself to write different things every day, never allowing myself to write the same thing twice because I had too much to be grateful for in my life. But as time passed, I forgot where I placed the journals and I stopped that practice figuring I had this gratitude thing down. I was wrong.
I’ve also used gratitude lists as assignments with my clients through the years, and the reason I don’t allow repetition of the things we put on the lists is simple; it forces you to think through your daily life of the things that happened that day that have made you extremely grateful for your life today! It keeps you grounded in the present. A perfect cup of coffee. Hearing that old song I had forgotten. Not having to take the trash out because my husband did it earlier. A new episode of American Horror Story. Getting thousands of views on our website for some old post I wrote about a sweatshirt. Finally losing my cold. My 3 hour nap. Finishing Jaycee Dugard’s audio book(awesome by the way!). Having my bills paid.
And then there are the things I’m grateful for every day, most of which go without saying: my husband, my home, my family, my extended family, my job, my clients, my car, my life…and my dogs! How could I ever forget my dogs, who bring me so much stupid happiness. Especially my dog Dunken.
And that was when I got this idea about indirect gratitude. You see, before Dunken, I had Griffin, the most aggressive and mean Jack Russell Terrier you have ever seen. And even though I loved him every day of his 11 years, I was never able to hold him, snuggle with him, sleep with him or even play with him, without having my face or hand torn off. Now I have Dunken, who has become my best friend in the entire world. He sleeps next to me every night, snuggles with me on the couch late into the night while I watch tv, follows me around the house while I clean and work, naps with me in the afternoon and even rides around town with me, sniffing at the wind whipping through the window. He is, quite frankly, the best dog I have met and the best friend I have ever had.
But Dunken wasn’t originally my dog. He was a gift my husband Alex received from his ex when they were still together before we had even met. Today, I was thinking how strange it was that one of the greatest things in my life came as a result from Alex’s ex, and had it not been for him, I wouldn’t have Dunken in my life. I’ve been with Dunken for most of his life, but still, I wouldn’t have him in my life if he had never been a birthday present of Alex’s past. For that, I’m forever indebted. I’m not sure I would ever tell him that because I think that’s somewhat painful to say to him, and I think it’s safe to write here as I’m sure he doesn’t read my blog, but nonetheless, he’s directly related for me having the best friend in my entire life.
It made me start thinking about all of the other things I’m grateful for in my life and the indirect causes resulting in those things or people being in my life. When we decided to have Griffin put to sleep because he couldn’t interact with Dunken, Alex thought it vital we get me another dog soon after. Although I was somewhat resistant to getting a new dog so quickly, we ended up with two of the cutest dogs in the world, Tucker and Boo Radley. If it weren’t for Griffin being so aggressive, we wouldn’t have two of the sweetest dogs ever.
I wouldn’t have my home if it weren’t for my mother’s passing. I wouldn’t have been forced to make a go of my private practice if I hadn’t had such a miserable last year at my old job. I hate saying this, but I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet my amazing clients if they hadn’t been suffering some misery in their life. And if my parents hadn’t tried to have a child to save their marriage…I wouldn’t even have a life.
Life is strange like that. Sometimes the things that mean the most to us come indirectly from other sources. It is the bitter and the sweet.
It’s a beautiful life. All of it.