Gratitude

I have been attempting to be more aware of my surroundings, my senses, and finding the small things that make me feel grateful throughout the day. I have been seeing more, which for me is pretty amazing.

I was in high school when I taught myself to stare at the top of peoples’ heads as we moved through the halls from class to class, simply because I did not want to engage in human contact with most of my fellow students. It was probably a way to deal with the anxiety of trying to be the top “A” student as well as weave my way through the valley of my teenage years. I still use it to this day, when I am feeling unsure. But I have been working on it, and trying to make eye contact with people, give them a smile, a “have a good day” or complement something about them. We all need a positive boost.

When my husband and I were married, I would often come home and notice a painting, an object, something had been moved. When I would praise him on this, he would always laugh, telling me he had done it months before.

I live in my head too much. I have to learn to let the outside in and embrace what nature and life are presenting to me. I have to be more present in the here and now. I have been trying this. And some of the effects have been amazing so far.

Butterflies are exploding in my yard, in town, everywhere. Transformation is happening. (Of course, this is also the time when they are most active in the Swamp, but I want to keep my analytical brain off this one, and just enjoy). And plants that are foreign to me are bursting into blooms in my yard, making it a beautiful coloring book nature did, herself.

I am hearing more crow calls in the morning, which always remind me of my late husband, and I now I find myself looking to them as his way of watching over me. Maybe I’m trying to create an illusion of belief, but it’s what I want and need right now. I want to believe he is somewhere.

This morning, I was flipping through a book and came across a tag from a piece of clothing – the brand name was the same as my husband’s. It made me smile. Made me happy. Perhaps he is somewhere after all?

Each day (if it isn’t raining) when I get to work and dawn is beginning to streak across the sky, I am grateful for the beauty of it – the colors that illuminate the beginning of the day, the air still free of the heat that will come as the day progresses. I stop before walking into the building where I work, and take a moment or two to appreciate this.

And hell, it’s Friday. Enough said.

I want to record these moments. It is not often I allow my mind to rest, to simply sit and think and observe. Yes, in airports or foreign cities, I love to people watch, but that is because I am anonymous. I love watching their interactions (or non-interactions these days with everyone on a cell phone), the behaviors, as well as their attitudes.

Last night, as was mentioned in my last post, when I was going through the iPad withdrawal, I found myself sitting and doing nothing for several minutes. I simply stared at the self-portrait of my husband and breathed. It wasn’t the (normal for me) depressed, I cannot go on any longer, type of staring. It was relaxing. It was enjoyable. I felt, if only for a moment, at peace.

And that was amazing. No craziness running through my head, no spinning thoughts, no static, nothing. Just simply sitting quietly. I think it’s been years since I have done that. It was the opposite of the ennui I usually feel when my bipolar takes me into hell and I can’t see anything but blackness. It wasn’t even manic. It was simply being.

I have also worked out every day this week. I feel stronger. I feel that I am getting my self back. I’m not out of shape, but I like to be toned and I knew the endorphin’s are very good for my system. I am also grateful for the time I spend every morning meditating. It’s still only 5-minutes, but again, I breathe and feel myself open up to what could be.

I have even made plans for the weekend, which is something I rarely do. I value that time to recharge my batteries, but I have a dear friend I work with who has an in-ground pool with a screen to keep the bugs out. If the weather holds, I’ll be there on Sunday, I hope. I want to break the cycle of isolation I have been in for the past year. And I trust her. I trust being with her will be a good thing for me.

So, I will continue to look. It may not be everyday. It may not even be every week. Like the paintings my husband would rehang in different parts of our house, it could be months, as I never know from one day to the next what I will feel like when I wake up, or what could throw me off-kilter during the day (such as the job rejections this week and the constant issues my partner and I are having). I am very susceptible to not only my own crazy mind and what it chooses to do, but I am also highly sensitive to others. Their moods, their attitudes. I can read someone as though they were a book in the first few moments of meeting them. It’s a blessing and a curse.

But finding gratitude in the little things is wonderful. I don’t need much. I don’t want much. I would love a sane brain, but that isn’t in the cards. I’d love not to feel riddled with anxiety from the moment I awake, or have to deal with panic attacks and PTSD. But these “gifts”, if one can call them that (and I don’t know who would), will never truly leave me – they are a part of my DNA.

Yet, that does not mean I cannot wage a war against the darkness, the valleys. Nor does it mean that even on a bad day I won’t notice something beautiful and calming, even if it is simply watching the stray cat eat the food I give him when I get home from work. And it doesn’t mean I will stop trying to make others feel good about themselves and grateful in their own ways, for what they have.

I am hoping I will see, hear, or smell more of these magical gifts for the rest of today, and all the days I have left remaining. I am trying, and for that, I am grateful.

© Sorrow & Kindness

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