I Lost My Gratitude in $20 bucks….at Least for a Little While

black catSo on the way to my day job this morning I listened to a Dharma talk about choosing gratitude.  Basically how to cultivate more joy, happiness and kindness in your life by intentionally cultivating gratitude.

So there I was floating into the office on the knowledge that I was choosing gratitude, I did not have to succumb to feelings of stress that tumble quickly into ill will as I have been prone to do in the last few weeks at work.  I am working on largest grant submission of the year and it is huge and it is due tomorrow.  I am stressed.

But this morning I am  choosing gratitude, I can do this grant with a smile and maintain my joy.  I will not have ill will towards the funder for asking dumb questions.  All was good, my shoulders were not up around my ears until I could not figure out why I had $20 extra bucks in my budget.  I added and re-added, check and double checked.  I went to my senior accountant asking for help, I went to my data geek, we could not figure it out.

I spun around that budget for hours and hours trying to get it to work.  And as I did this, I spun out of control, I felt my joy slip away and puddle on the floor with my tears.  Gratitude was no longer residing in me but rather my other constant companion of stress sat on my chest and made it hard to take a breath.  The whole time I was aware that I was choosing to make this harder, yet it didn’t seem to matter.

We finally did figure it out and got all the numbers to equal.  I wanted to scream “what a waste of a day”. I wanted pancakes to make me feel better.  Instead I came home worked out on the elliptical while watching Grey’s Anatomy,  ate a yummy dinner my boyfriend made and wrote this post.  I am back to feeling filled with gratitude for all I have in my life.  I need to remind myself, that this whole life is a practice and it is ok to lose my gratitude over $20 bucks.  It is ok to not be perfect.  I can try again tomorrow when I submit the grant.

In the mean time, I can choose to cultivate gratitude for what is present right here and that includes the following: my Mac Book, my silly cat, great boyfriend, my new blog, my warm home on this cold night, and yes that I have a job that helps support my other work and it helps other people too.  That really is cool.



When it’s Not Suppose to Be that Way

warm jan dayIt is 60 degrees and sunny outside today. It is not suppose to be. It is early January in Michigan.  We should be in our deep freeze, a typical two to three-week period where the temperature does not rise above 10 degrees, ever.   A time where the world grows brittle and silent and your breathes freezes in mid-air. A time where you dig in deep and have an excuse to not come out of your cocoon of a bed. When the freeze finally breaks and the temperature rises up to a balmy 22 degrees, a wondrous sense of awakening  infiltrates all you do.  Life becomes vibrant and hopeful from your long huddle nap.

This flash of warm weather has triggered yet another grief spasms for me.  Last year we had an unprecedented warm winter.  I think it snowed maybe a total of 6 inches all winter. The deep freeze never came.  I was wide awake to witness the death of my son’s father, D.  He was diagnosed at the end of December with lung cancer. He was 48 years old.  I met him when I was 17, married him at 20, had a baby at 22, divorced him at 24.  We remained great friends and raised M. together, half the time at my house, the other half at his. I talked to D. daily, about M. and many other things.  D. was my emergency contact, he was the person I called when the I needed help,  he ate dinner at our house at least two nights a week.

He died on the first day of spring of the year we never had a winter.  It was 83 degrees that day.  The apple trees were in bloom.  It wasn’t suppose to be that way.  He wasn’t suppose to die.

And yet he did, and I grieve daily.  It is getting better.  I am not completely underwater all the time but now experience intense bouts of grief that consume every ounce of my being. They don’t last as long but seem to be more intense.

I have been counting the time, “Ok, 9 months into this grief, I can do this”.  I keep telling myself “If I can make it the first year it will get easier”.  I am holding out for April.  Like somehow magically my life and mind will be back to some kind of working order.

I have this idea that grieving is nice and neat.  That I can do it on a time table, like a project I set up at work.  But it isn’t.  I am a mess.  This has broke me open, I will never be the same, and I don’t want to be the same.  For the first time in my life I am not hiding my pain, I am not being strong.  I am leaving the office because I can’t stop crying.  I am crying at the store and at the coffee shop where he used to go.  I cannot think, I am not productive, I fall apart most weekends.   I am saying to people in my life “Help”.  I am reaching out.  This is good.  This is human.  This is the way it is suppose to be.


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