Friday, January 1, 2016

Things I Was Grateful for in December...And What I'm Looking Forward To In 2016

Happy New Year! Instead of another long philosophical post about goals, resolutions, etc., I decided to share the things I listed in my gratitude journal in December.

  • Justin and the kids playing keep-away in the living room.
  • The Christmas tree is decorated--and that included buying it!
  • Unexpectedly profound conversations with my daughter.
  • No matter how frustrated Justin and I get with my mental illness, there is a bedrock beneath our marriage.
  • Just ordering some presents online and planning to send the birthday invitations gave me some peace tonight.
  • The stunning red-orange color of the Japanese maple outside our front door.
  • The riotous fun of Juck* and L's Nerf gun wars.
  • Word Warp, an app I play obsessively but still cannot get anywhere close to the high score my husband does.
  • Receiving grace and truth from my counselor.
  • Chocolate-covered dried mangoes from Costco. It's worth the membership fee for them alone.
  • My new "adult" coloring book. (Side note: C was disgruntled that they are called adult coloring books when, in fact, people her age like them too. Settle down, I told her, it's a marketing strategy.)
  • The Sara Beth Yoga YouTube channel. She just annoys me less than any other exercise instructor whose videos I've done (and I've done a lot of them), plus I can actually DO the beginner yoga videos, plus she explains what to do so clearly that I don't usually even have to look at the screen. For someone with very little coordination, that last one is HUGE. She's occasionally a little hippie-dippie, but is not too annoying with it.
  • Chipotle's chicken fajita burrito. Tastes just like I remembered, when I would get one every time I had an OB appointment when I was pregnant with L, because there is a Chipotle near my doctor's office. Didn't matter if it was 10:30 a.m.: I was GETTING my giant burrito. No wonder he weighed almost 9 pounds. 
  • A mom friend who talked me down from the ledge and helped me plan C's 13th birthday party, plus she immediately offered to drive, so I will love her forever and ever, amen.
  • C's friends--they're such good kids.
  • Almost everything has been bought for Christmas.
  • So much cool stuff at Dollar Tree today. (Yes, I lead a glamorous life. Try not to be jealous.)
  • The Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is so much more sane than the Supercenter. Shopping there has definitely improved my quality of life.
  • The kids helped Juck put up the Christmas lights and were actually helpful, which was a first.
  • Little Caesar's $5 pizzas left over from C's party, which my hormone-riddled self ate too much of. But dang, those garlicky crusts are delicious!
  • Today's peaceful yoga practice followed by 5 minutes of meditation--no crazy brain weasels after 4 days of yoga in a row!
  • The opportunity to give away an American Girl gift card
  • Chick-fil-A's Cobb salad...and a few waffle fries. ;-)
  • C's basketball coaches, for encouraging her and teaching her more than just basketball skills.
  • All of the kids' teachers--we are blessed to have them teaching our children. May they have a restful break.
  • The sausage and ribs our business partner smoked for us until they were fall-apart tender.
  • Sucking on a Hershey's kiss until it melts away--and then doing it again.
  • Christmas-scented candles.
  • Wrapping paper made of brown Kraft paper with red and green huge polka dots on it. I actually bought cute ribbons to tie on the presents and they looked charming.
  • Cuddling with my husband in the mornings before we have to get up.
  • An ice-cold Coke.
  • How much easier traveling is now that the kids are older. 
  • How much easier everything is now that the kids are older.
  • Talking to my three-year-old niece who is SUPER emPHATic with her WORDS.
  • A big group playing Apples to Apples Jr. (Apples to Apples is probably my favorite game so I have been waiting for L to be old enough to understand it so I bought it for Christmas and we had so much fun with it.)
  • The family's favorite pastry, made only at Christmas, called butterhorns. My mom says they are also called rugelach. I disagree, because the filling is not the same as the listed rugelach fillings, but they do look the same. 

These are divine. Sorry, I promised my late mother-in-law that I wouldn't share the recipe outside the family (really. She shared most recipes but not this one or the other special Christmas treat, called Cherry Bon-Bons.)
  • Vastly improved relationships
  • When your kids start getting or making presents for others without being asked to do so.
  • A safe trip home through the storms.
  • Avocados that are already perfect on the day of purchase.
  • The Harry Potter books, and the fact that C and I are sharing our experiences with them.
  • All the books I get to read or reread in 2016. (To point out just one difference between when I'm in a bad place or a good place mentally: when I'm depressed, I feel defeated by the length of my to-read list because clearly I can never read all of those books, so I will definitely miss out on some amazing books and that means I should just lie here on the couch and beat myself up for not feeling like reading. See the difference? I definitely can feel the difference.)
  • All of the writing I get to do (see above entry).
  • My new Spark planner. I love it!
  • Saltine toffee. I could eat my weight in it and I think I almost just did.
  • To paraphrase Anne Shirley, it's a brand new year with no mistakes in it.
  • The fact that it's okay to make mistakes in this brand new year.

Whew, that turned out to be a longer list than I expected! Congratulations if you made it all the way through--I don't blame you if you skimmed some parts. But I had to include it all because December's list was WAY longer than when I started keeping a gratitude journal, beset by intrusive anxious thoughts but determined to find out for myself what research has conclusively shown: that practicing gratitude is the way to experience a better life. In mid-July, I could barely list one or two items a day...but look at how many things I was grateful for in December!

The good things were always there, of course. I just had to let myself see them and give thanks for them.

Oh, and I'm slightly embarrassed that so many of these entries had to do with food. IT WAS DECEMBER, OKAY? I will do better once the saltine toffee is gone. Seriously, that stuff is my crack cocaine. #sorrynotsorry #evenmystretchypantsaretight

Happy New Year to all you lovely people! My life was enriched by you in 2015. Here's to an excellent 2016!

*My husband Justin's preferred** nickname is "Juck." Rhymes with Chuck--in fact, people often think that's what was said. His cousins came up with it and I have no idea why unless it's because they're from Louisiana and things are...different down there. This would also explain why he likes it and asks people to call him by it...he likes being different. ;-)

**His non-preferred nickname is/was "Justy." Pretty much only his parents still called him that and now they are both gone, maytheyrestinpeace. Whenever his mom's gentle voice called, "Jahhhsssttyy" (that's how she pronounced it; I wish I could have Juck say it for you because he can imitate her exactly) I could only see a blond-headed, freckle-faced little boy with a mischievous glint in his eye.*** That was before I ever saw any childhood pictures of him...and it turns out, that's exactly what he looked like. But "Justy" doesn't command much respect as a business owner. I guess "Juck" does--it's even his email address and it hasn't stopped anyone from buying cabinets from him yet.

***See? He's the one on the left. (This is the only pic I currently have in digital format of him as a child.)