Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Feeling Thankful

I know a lot of people save the "I'm thankful for..." posts for Thanksgiving, but as I was driving to work this morning, I somehow realized how much I really have in this world. I felt like I couldn't keep it to myself; maybe other people could also realize that today's problems are so small in the grand scheme of things. Maybe we could all use a little reminding why we should be incredibly, deeply thankful and happy for our lives.

First, let me say that I'm going to skip all of the "Other people have it worse" cliches. It's been said, and it's never really moved anyone or changed any feelings. In fact, I think it may just depress people more. So, moving on....

I'm going to go through some things about my life lately that might (and often do) have me thinking, "Could things get much worse?":

1. It's been almost a year now since our family lost our precious Tatum (my second, beautiful niece).

She passed away, suddenly and without warning, on her first birthday, just a couple weeks after this photo was taken (we celebrated her birthday on Easter while the family was over). For an entire year, we've all been asking "Why?". And of course, there has never been, and never will be an answer. Tears, frustration, anger, incredible sadness come and go. We will never know why she was taken. We will always feel like we didn't have enough time with her. We will always wonder what she would be like today. And even though I force myself to picture her on Easter, eating that monkey cake, I will always remember how she looked when we laid her to rest: like a sweet, little doll. 

Aaand kaboom. Like a bomb, right? I probably don't even need to list anything else. That feels like enough. In fact, I kind of want to just stop writing because I suddenly feel hopeless, but now I really have to go on.

2. My job.
I have been miserable at work every day for about six months. It's not a bad job...I work at a bank. It's a typical customer service job: grouchy customers, meager pay, repetitive tasks, overbearing managers, etc. The real problem is, however, it's so incredibly unfulfilling, I feel like I'm wasting every breath I take while I'm there. I majored in art, for goodness' sake. I thrive off of expressing my emotion, which I was actually told (by my manager) that I was not allowed to show. And that's enough of that...everyone hates their job, right?

3. Transportation.
My husband and I share a dented up car that's already having problems even though it's only a couple of years old and costs us $300 a month. Moving on.

4. Money.
We don't have much. We have been living paycheck to paycheck since we got married a year and a half ago. We have almost nothing in savings. I'm in charge of our finances, and I live every day in fear that something will happen to us that we won't be financially prepared for. Both of our jobs pay so poorly that we really have no other option. The amount of stress building up within me is enough to crush a small village.

5. All the little things.
Feeling like I have no direction. Living in a bad neighborhood in a small apartment. Feeling disconnected from people around me. Stressful relationships. Being tired all the time. Having baby fever without the means to actually raise a child. Pressure to prove myself. Our messy apartment. That rusty, noisy, smelly and terrifying washer/dryer. Our noisy neighbors. Etc.

Wow, THAT was fun. Chances are, a lot of you know how some or most of this feels. Now I'm ready to tell you why I'm choosing to be thankful for those problems instead of upset about them.

1. We had a whole wonderful, amazing year to watch Tatum grow. She brought us countless moments of joy and many memories of her adorable, chubby face and crazy hair. In life, she was a gift beyond words. In death, she is the reason we live the way we do. Her passing reminded us how temporary life is. I make more trips home to see family, I feel more emotion day-to-day, and I realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by loved ones. I take less for granted. I consider myself to be lucky to have had her as my little niece, even if it meant enduring so much pain and sadness. Even though it was such a tragedy, it was all still more good than bad. A one year old child gave us the greatest gift: Awareness of what we stand to lose.

2. I HAVE a job. Just when I thought work couldn't get any worse, something amazing happened: I got a new job. I start on Monday. This new job is in my field: there's graphic design, writing, THINKING, and even the opportunity for a bit of marketing and thinking outside of the box! No customer service...just me being able to be me and accomplishing something wonderful while I'm at it. Not to mention the nice salary to go along with it. Of course, I won't actually know how great it is until I'm doing it, but I have very high hopes. 

3. We have a car! That's amazing, and it's a lot more than many, many people can say (that's as close as I'm getting to the "other people have it worse cliche." Who cares if it has a couple of dents? It gets us from point A to B and is shiny and blue and fantastic. And yes, we share it...big deal! I love my husband and I would share anything with him (except my toothbrush).

4. We're not starving. Really, I'm very thankful for that. All of our basic needs are met and then some! Who cares if I can't buy new clothes every week...and we don't go to Disney a few times a year (big whoop). Eating out? It's bad for you anyways! I need to stop whining that I can't afford to fix the cracked screen on my phone and realize I HAVE A PHONE.

5. They don't matter.

And how about some things that are just wonderful through and through?

6. My amazing parents, Al and Jo Ann. They've offered me so much guidance through the years...I owe everything I am to them. They've been married for a kajillion years (that equals 30-something) and have been wonderful examples to me. They are just all around awesome human beings.

7. My niece, Isabella. She'll be in kindergarden this year. I can't believe it...she talks to me about dinosaurs and shows me how to spell her name (backwards "S" and all). She dances and sings with me and is always willing to share whatever delicious treats she's eating. She's an awesome little person.

8. The rest of those awesome people I call "family". My sister, Becca. My mother-in-law, Emily. My aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpa. They've impacted me in so many ways. I wouldn't be who I am without them.

9. My best friend, Liza. She thinks I'm going to forget about her when I leave my job (we work together). How silly! I can't imaging how dull life would be without her! Words don't express how scared I am of working somewhere she isn't...but thankfully there are weekends and weeknights, and she has nothing to worry about because I love her soooo much! She has taught me so much about life and relationships...her worth to me can't be measured. (Got it, Liza?)

10. All the little things. :)

So be thankful...I mean truly thankful, for everything you have in your life. I know some things suck...but just remember that you always have something to be happy about. We could all list a million things in our lives that suck...but I bet we could all list a million and one things that are quite fantastic.

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