I’m “pausing” my "10 Tips to Jump-Start your Abstract Paintings” articles to honor one of my favorite times of the year, Thanksgiving, here in the US.
It’s always such a great reminder not just to give thanks on a national holiday each year, but to make this a daily practice.
Just searching online today’s “Gratitude Movement,” Google indexed over 58,000,000 results. To say that this is a “movement” is an understatement I think. Maybe it’s a revolution!
But how do I really, truly and genuinely be grateful? But what does it really mean to you to be truly grateful?
I am so grateful for big things like my sons, (especially my youngest right now because we were close to not having a second kid!), my husband, my sister and my family and extended family. I am so grateful I get to do art (any kind of art, for fun or for even a project or consignment). I am grateful for my sons’ school situation, where they get tons and tons of love and attention, the teachers are inspiring and the community are just good people.
Those are the BIG THINGS. Like the overarching stuff.
Then there’s the “I am grateful for . . . BUT . . . “
I am grateful for my job because it pays the bills, I have tremendous flexibility and it is not stressful.
BUT. But it’s not what I want to do in that it’s customer service and order processing. It’s been a challenge (understatement) to come to terms with that being a creatively inclined person. It also has direct ties to family. And that’s been a challenge I won’t go into in this post. But it’s scary in any family business situation to put all of “our eggs in one basket” so to speak, because my husband also works for same company (he is technically my boss), so that comes with a different kind of stress as well-working with each other, bringing work home and home to work, and feeling like there’s no future either for me there.
I am grateful that my husband continuously wants to improve his professional life.
BUT. But it’s at the expense of working full time and AGAIN pursuing ANOTHER masters program. While we have two small children. And I feel AGAIN (for the 4th year in a row), like a single parent.
I am grateful for our house.
BUT. But it’s now feeling too small and crap is literally everywhere. With two kids and my husband never around because of his school on top of full time work, it’s endless. I am not the most organized person. I freely admit I’m pretty messy. But this is over the top even for myself. And the “messes” are not even my own AND they don’t even stay in the same room (like picking up clothes that belong in your closet in the bedroom vs finding a spatula in the bowels of your basement - how the hell did that get here? - and climbing all the way upstairs to put it back in the right kitchen drawer).
I am grateful for yoga and my yoga teacher training I did two years ago and for the teaching that I did a year ago.
BUT. But I haven’t touched a yoga mat since my prenatal yoga classes (a full year now) and i don’t see when I can get back soon because I cannot do anything for myself because my husband is not around to help even watch the kids for a night so I can do yoga.
I am so incredibly grateful for my youngest son. He’s brought so much joy into our lives and he’s just been with us 7 months! He smiles and laughs all the time and he’s so social and interested in everyone and everything around him. So much fun.
BUT. BUT right now he still doesn’t sleep! Like intermittent sleep, perhaps a solid 4 or maybe if lucky 6 hour block first. But then he’s up literally every 1:45 minutes the rest of the night. I still feel like I’m in newborn stage. And sometimes, I have such lack of total sleep that I cannot even focus my eyes on getting dressed in the mornings. My head hurts so much I have to completely “shut down” and I cannot even think about positive things I need to do like laundry, picking up the bedroom, putting away dishes, or even further, taking a yoga class, planning better meals to eat better, or even going downstairs to paint for 30 minutes (heaven forbid!)
I am grateful for my body. This body gave birth to two beautiful boys. That in and of itself is a soul-gut wrenching amazing miracle.
BUT. BUT, I still look like I’m 4 months pregnant with children asking me “what’s in there?” to a Panera Manager congratulating me on my pregnancy. I am still 30 lbs over my ideal weight and because of our second child not sleeping (see above), most days I cannot even process enough of my day to get through the day and night. I dread nights now because of lack of sleep. And I cannot “get ahead” enough to feel like I can actually plan out the next week to perhaps go on a diet to help me feel better about myself or even go to that yoga class!
I am grateful for my artwork.
BUT. But the truth of it is, I want to make it more then just a hobby and I want to make it a steady income, something I can be proud of because it’s always just been “oh that’s Katy doing that hobby art thing again” on the side. It’s a huge tension point in my marriage, and now that I have really taken steps to be “serious” about it, everything has completely dried up in that department! It’s like when I didn’t expect anything to happen, things (like sales specifically or opportunities to be accepted into art shows etc) happened. Now that I want things to happen, they have not.
And then…this quote hit me over the head this morning as I was preparing to write this post. “Nothing new can come into your life unless you are grateful for what you already have.” Right now. This moment. COMPLETE.
These are the things I need to hear and read most often. This post is written to myself. To be grateful is a complete thing right here right now. No “but’s,” EVER.
Genuine gratitude is simple. It is profound. It sinks deep into your bones. You have to sit with it and not only let it wash over you but to hit you with a sledge hammer. To allow anything else that’s positive and good in your life to come to you, you can’t be occupied with worry, anxiety or stress.
The “but’s” are all half empty, half full statements, indicating that sure, I am “grateful” for this or that but I could be REALLY REALLY grateful like 100% IF this or that was improved or showed up in my life.
No. Gratitude is a complete statement.
I am grateful for the air I breathe. There’s not “but’s” about that statement.
I am grateful for the sun that shines and gives light and life to our planet.
I am grateful I burst into happiness when my son giggles and laughs.
I am grateful for my sister, who is a soulmate in this lifetime to me.
I am grateful for my husband who has taught me so much already these past two decades together. It hasn’t been easy for sure, but what relationship is “easy” as long as it still is “worth it,” worth growing and learning about love.
I am grateful for my son Grant and for my son Trey, who both are the light and love of my life.
I look at these and realize, these gratitude statements are in fact affirmations. It’s very easy for me to feel the “completeness” of these statements, there’s no “but’s” or anything else to add or footnote.
And I finally realize as I end this post that it’s easy to turn around the “but” paragraphs above. Simply turn them around to affirmations. That they’ve already taken place in my life. There’s no other room for anything else BUT gratitude.
And I’m so grateful for Michael Bernard Beckwith for this quote. To remind me of this profound lesson in being grateful. It’s not for the superficial and it’s not just “an exercise.” It is a way of life, of seeing and being IN life, being IN the moment, here and now. And not to expect anything else in the future. To be grateful is a presence of mind.