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Not so Thankful in September

I started feeling better yesterday.  Yay for me!  I was still stuffed up a bit, and the cough that won’t quit…well, it won’t quit.  But still, when I got to work I was in a better mood, certainly more upbeat, and ready to face the challenges of the night.  Today I feel even better.  I have a little tickle in my chest, and I still sound sick and congested, but I can breathe!  Which is a definite bonus.  I like breathing.  It’s totally awesome.

As I was driving home last night, I kept thinking about a co-worker to whom I had voiced a lot of my frustrations over the last two weeks – just negative, negative thinking and feelings.  And I can hope (wish?) that it was a symptom of being sick, even though I do have a tendency to get easily frustrated and, though I hate to admit it, angry.  In a nutshell, I want things to go my way.  Because, you know, I am The Great and Powerful Oz.  My way is best, so you’d best do it my way.  Normally I can keep that all in my head.  But when I’m sick or just at the end of my proverbial rope, Woosh!, or whatever sound a geyser makes, because it’s like a geyser of bitchyness all up in here.

So, I apologized to her tonight.  I really feel bad, knowing that she had her own frustrations and concerns, because we both care about the business, about the job.  My negativity not only did not help, but it added to her burden.  It wasn’t fair at all.  To be completely honest, when I’m doing that complaining thing I do, I know in the back of my mind how wrong it is.  But at that time, that’s really not a primary concern to me. Which sounds pretty bitchy.  But I just mean that what I’m thinking about at that moment is how irritated and angry I am.  I’m pushing aside what is right – positive thinking and problem solving – and simply giving vent to my negative emotions, without regard to how it makes me look or her feel.  In any case, she said she understood and I didn’t need to apologize, but I’m still glad I did.  That, at least, was the right thing to do.

After work tonight, I went to my sister’s for a little family birthday party for my niece, who turned four this week.  I sure had a wonderful time.  Seeing as how I was sick and in hibernation, I haven’t spent any time with them since we got back from vacation.  And I missed them terrible.  I have a really great family.  We have our issues, and we have our troubles, and we have our moments of…what you might call…being family – craziness and irritation and pissyness.  But I am incredibly lucky to be in a family who enjoys each other’s company, a family who laughs.  And the laughter tonight was really just rolling.  And it was wonderful.

Driving over there, I was thinking about the Thankful pages and how empty they are from probably around my birthday.  Being sick sounds like a good excuse.  I mean, I wasn’t opening my computer, I wasn’t going on-line, I wasn’t doing any writing.  But that couldn’t have stopped me from noting down my Thankfuls on the calendar, in a notebook, or on a scrap of paper for that matter – none of which I did.  Ultimately, it’s that I wasn’t feeling thankful.

And I have a great deal to be thankful for.  I mean, even just the beauty of the late afternoon.  Even just the ability to enjoy it, the ability to look at all the green that still remains, the lovely sky, and the feel of the just-right temperature.  I have the good fortune to own my car, and I have the physical ability to drive it. There is so much to be thankful for, that I simply take for granted.

The whole point of Practicing Thankful, which I have NOT done, is the practicing part.  I’ve said this over and over, on my blog and in comments on Harold’s blog, that I really want to practice facing the day with a thankful attitude.  But all I’m still doing is coming up with things that I’m thankful for at the end of the day.  And yes, it’s true that I am thankful for those things.  And it’s not a bad thing to look back on your day, or even your week, and consider what great things have happened to be thankful for.  But that wasn’t the point.  The point was to initiate a change in my outlook on life, to help me face these inevitable times of sickness and frustration and anger with a positive outlook.  The point was to practice, practice, practice being thankful, so that it would become second nature, so that when I need that thankful attitude, it would be there for me.

Alas, I did not practice.  So I wallowed a bit in being sick, and I really hated every minute of feeling crappy. Okay, except maybe the day I called out from work.  But I focused on how terrible it was, instead of what I still had going for me.  And I do believe that the way we think affects our health.

So now I’m debating about whether to leave all of those empty dates in September.  There is that part of me that does not want to see them empty, who feels the need to fill in all those spots so it’s complete and perfect.  And then there’s the other part of me that so feels the need to be honest.  Because I think it’s dishonest to go back at this point and fill in 15 days of thankful, or however many blanks there are.  And I think that’s part of the lesson, is to have those gaps staring back at me.  Otherwise, how do you learn and how do you proceed…it’s like cheating.  It’s like pretending you got it right when you know you didn’t.

I think part of the process is to be able to look back and see those times when I dropped the ball, and to know that this is not what I want.  What I want is to face the day being thankful, to practice a positive attitude until that positive way of thinking becomes natural.  What I don’t want is to continue back-tracking and filling out days worth of activities.  Because this is not a diary.  It’s a journey.  It’s a process.  And, I guess I can say it’s a struggle.  But if weren’t still a struggle for me, if it wasn’t something that required my attention and required me to work for it, then it would be one of two other things:  accomplished or abandoned.

Clearly, it’s not accomplished.  Just ask my dear and wonderful co-worker who, by the way, I think the world of.  Didn’t stop me from being a big ol’ bag of *ahem* unpleasantness.  And we both deserve better. Which is why I will struggle on.  

Okay.  Gaps it is.


9 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think (hope) everyone struggles with this. I know I certainly do. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the bright side of things, especially when we don’t feel well. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Every day’s a new day, so we make our apologies to those we’ve hurt or brought down with our bad moods and move on. I wouldn’t go back and fill in the gaps. Just start now.

    September 30, 2011
    • That’s what I’m going to do, just start fresh. I was cranky again today, but luckily it was my office day and I work completely alone. I make a ton of calls, but it’s easier to fake it on a call. But you said it, every day is a new day. I’m going to come up with something to remind me practice thankful in the morning. At the very least, I can leave the house with a positive message in my head.

      September 30, 2011
  2. We are imperfect beings and sometimes we do not do what we want and know to do.

    When the thankfullness thing becomes a chore it’s time to be quiet and just listen to our heartbeat. Take a deep breath and just…be.

    Maybe September Thanks will be that it is over, you are still here, feeling better, and a new month begins. Make the best of it, sweet girl.

    September 30, 2011
    • Basically, I keep saying this is what I want to do, to work on a positive and thankful attitude, but I haven’t really put the effort into it. It’s not so much a that being thankful is a chore to do, as it is that I’m struggling to practice being thankful. I just fall back into my old ways of thinking, feeling and reacting. As I told chasing now, I’m going to do something about that. I keep saying I want to practice a thankful attitude, but I’m realizing that I actually have not put any effort into that part of it. I’ve put all my effort into after-the-fact.

      But you’re right about being quiet. It’s hard to hear what God’s saying to me when I’m running my big motor-mouth (out loud and in my head). You give good advice.

      September 30, 2011
  3. Hi Michelle, It’s okay to move forward without looking back. It is also okay to be honest like you are and say things are not so good. When you don’t feel good physically that can affect everything and if there wasn’t any “good” that day/days then go ahead skip it move on.
    I listed some things just so people would know what was going on. How can I say I am thankful my son broke his arm and is out of football for the season? I can’t! But if I don’t mention it then the jist of being thankful it is not worse and the bone is aligned good doesn’t come across as genuine.
    I had days I missed but could remember what happened so I filled them in later and I feel that’s okay. Some nights like tonight I just am not gonna get there ( maybe cause I’m here!). But it is okay to not do every day. We don’t have to be legalistic about it.
    My personal thought on starting off thankful is remembering what happened the day before. How can you be thankful for a day that hasn’t happened yet ( other than waking up breathing on our own again!) I let yesterdays thankfulness start out flavoring today. That’s my perspective.
    Some times we need to sit quietly and listen for that still, small, voice. If we are yelling out loud or in our heads we won’t hear it.
    Keep on keeping on my friend. We all struggle. It’s not a 50 yard dash. It’s a marathon! Run the race to gain the prize. It’s not when we finish, but how we finish!

    October 1, 2011
    • Thank you, Harold, for all your good advice. It’s really helpful to get your feedback, knowing that we are both doing the thankful pages.

      I don’t mind going back and filling in a few days, or even a week, if I haven’t been keeping up. But in this case, I just completely stopped – it wasn’t even on my radar. That’s a part of what frustrated me. I have a tendency to let things like this slide; I tend toward abandonment, rather than accomplishment. At work, I’m just the opposite, I want to complete everything, I hate not finishing what I start. But not so much at home, with hobbies or new pursuits, and it’s something that I need to work on.

      I was just really disappointed in myself for letting it go and for being such a grouch, complainer, negative person these last few weeks. I really didn’t like that about myself.

      You have a good perspective on starting the day with yesterday’s thankful in mind. One thing I was thinking, after making my post, is that I don’t want to give up writing my thankfuls at the end of the day. Reflecting on that day’s happenings and seeing the good (even if it’s just a little thing, like ‘it’s over and I get to rest’) had been helpful to me. It’s also been a good thing to be able to look back over the month and see all the good things there are to be thankful for. I want and need to keep that up. When I first started this, I was carrying yesterday’s thankful into today and it made an impact on how I faced the day – with more enthusiasm and hope, with an eye open, looking for things to be thankful for. But I let that seep out of the process, and I was mostly just re-capping. That is what added to my frustrations with myself, that I had let that part of it go.

      But I didn’t have that specifically in mind when I wrote my post, I was just aware that I was not doing something that I wanted to do, that something was wrong in my process. And, of course, that I wasn’t doing any of it for a few weeks. Thanks for reminding me of that! You’re right, it’s hard to be thankful for a day that hasn’t happened yet. That’s something that I was telling myself on Friday, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that I should be doing. So I will start fresh with my Thankful Pages and the whole process. I’ll remind myself of each day of yesterday’s thankful and, just go from there. It’s a marathon!!

      October 1, 2011

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