I still vividly remember my first adult lesson in gratitude.
My birthday was approaching, and I was complaining to a (new-ish) friend about turning a certain age – I think it was 30. She cut me off and said, “Don’t ever complain about birthdays. Imagine all the people who would give anything to be turning 30 right now.”
Welp. That was the end of that conversation. And I have to admit, at the time I was a little put off. It’s my birthday, I’ll complain if I want to. I do what I want.
But as time went on, I came back to that conversation over & over. I thought about Ryan & David, my childhood classmates who died in a car crash when we were in our early 20’s. And I thought about Nicole, a schoolmate who passed away in 3rd or 4th grade. She never even made it to double digits.
To some extent, my friend was right. If Nicole, Ryan, and David could have seen their futures, I’m pretty sure they would’ve opted to deal with aging in exchange for getting to stick around for their 30th birthdays. I’m certain their parents would’ve chosen it.
That conversation about birthdays helped lead me toward a real shift in my thinking. As I’ve gotten older (and watched another decade go by), I’ve tried to embrace gratitude as a way of life. To look for the blessings & lessons in every situation. To search for the silver lining. To see the best in every person and situation.
Today, at 41, I’d describe myself as mostly an optimist, with a healthy dose of self-deprecating realism.
But with that said, I need to be honest with you about something.
Sometimes things just suck.
I don’t mean that everything sucks all at once. I do mean that sometimes it’s really hard to find a silver lining in a bad situation.
Take my back injury, for example. There’s a whole lot of suckage going on with this.
• Not running sucks.
• Not practicing yoga sucks.
• Not being able to bend down and touch my toes sucks.
• Not being able to stand upright for more than 5 minutes sucks.
• Not being able to carry my daughter or a laundry basket sucks.
• Epidural pain injections suck.
• Spinal headaches suck.
• Blood patches suck.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Some things just suck. And maybe – just maybe – it’s okay to acknowledge when they do.
Look, I certainly don’t like to be around people who complain all the time. But you know what? I’m equally put off by the perfect #lifeisgood #soblessed crowd too. Life IS good. We ARE blessed. But we have hard times too. Every single one of us. And it’s okay to talk about them.
A photo posted by Sharon 💕 run | yoga | joy (@mommyrunsit) on
I don’t mean that you need to share your troubles with the world via Facebook. If publicly baring your soul is what gets you through the day, then by all means, go for it. If you prefer to only share your highlights reel, that’s your business too. But I can tell you this. There’s someone in your life who would benefit from your honesty. There’s someone who’d like to know the person behind your cheery Instagram posts and ethereal yoga poses & Buddha quotes. There’s someone who’d love to be there for you when you need to complain about something that sucks.
Be real. Be real with someone. Like it or not, I choose to be real with you.
I really appreciate this post. If we didn’t acknowledge the hard times, how can we truly know how to be grateful for the good ones – or even know how to recognize them? I’m sorry about your back injury and hope that you are back to feeling better soon. <3
Thanks, Cheryl. One of the reasons that I love your writing is because of your authenticity. xoxo
Your Mother will be there for you. If you want to talk,just call.XOXOXO
Thanks. But can I text instead? 😉
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner says
Real people are much more likable and I always appreciate seeing the real side of someone. It;s easy to forget all that we have to be thankful for
“Real people are much more likable” – must be why I adore you! 🙂 xo