I had a very trying morning the other day. Nothing major, just a whole flock of irritations. So I knew I was not in the right frame of mind when I sat down to write this blog.
While I was waiting for my ancient Mac to open Word, I noticed a small box that had been on my desk for some time. Centered on the top of the lid were the words “Gratitude Box.” So I removed the outer cellophane wrapping. Inside the box I found a tiny pencil and pad and these directions:
“This gratitude box will change your life! Write down something everyday that you are grateful for … including little things that are taken for granted. Being grateful for the good things in life makes us better, kinder, happier … and makes us whole. All we need to remember is how blessed we are.”
Well, I was sitting there not feeling all that blessed. I felt like I had an itch I couldn’t scratch. Like I was living in an alternative universe or on a soundstage. If I were a dog, I would have wanted to bite someone. I was, as my British friend says, “out of sorts.”
I looked down at the gratitude box and thought, This has come along at the wrong time. I then looked out the window with what I’m sure was a sour expression on my face, and suddenly, I wanted to cry. I thought, How am I blessed? I could feel all my blessings lined up like little soldiers, pushing at my cerebral cortex, but right at that moment my heart wasn’t feeling it.
My smoky thoughts were interrupted when John came in with the mail and handed me a small package. It was from a fellow dachshund lover I met on Instagram. Inside the package was a small charm. The accompanying note read, “I made you this tiny, fine silver forget-me-not charm in remembrance of your grandson, Jay. I hope that this brings you at least some measure of comfort and maybe helps you to feel closer to him, even if just a little.”
I felt the sting of tears, and when they stopped, I realized that this is just what I needed: to feel the dark side of the coin. Life is sad, scary, uncertain, strange (you can pick your own adjectives). I think if we allow ourselves to experience these feelings, it is a way of taking care of ourselves. And let’s be as kind and indulgent to ourselves as we are to others. That includes not sliding into guilt if you eat a second chocolate-covered Entenmann’s donut, binge-watch Downton Abbey, or slip into bed at the end of the day with the realization that you didn’t check anything off your “to do” list.
Looking down at the tiny charm in my hand, I realized it represented the light side of the coin. And so I took the little pencil and wrote on a paper, “I am grateful for the kindness, love, and caring I experience every day from friends, family, and neighbors.”
On a second paper I wrote, “I am grateful for my new friends, Mindy and Dash, and for my forget-me-not charm, a treasure that will always remind me of them and Jay.”
And I put both papers in the gratitude box.