Gratitude & Other Things

How cool is it that we Americans get to have 1 major holiday every month for 4 months straight, and if you count Valentine’s Day, that’s 5! After living in Maui for a year, which was very cool don’t get me wrong, I have much love and appreciation for the changing seasons I once took for granted. Even the cold and EVEN the Portland rain (wha?!!). I do. It gives me reason to pull out scarves and bake like no other and snuggle up with my Little One at home when the day gets too rainy or bleak to go out. I wasn’t always this way and still have my days. Maui was a tough year for us — I might just write that story one day — it changed me forever and gave me perspective I desperately needed. It is easy to get caught up in the things we don’t need, but want, or the way we think things are supposed to be, but aren’t, and it can rob us of our very breath. This IT you ask? Discontentment. I have had my fair share of struggle with this and still do and probably always will. Dumb things like, ‘My kitchen is too small, my clothes are too old, my house isn’t exactly the way I want it,’ etc. There are not-so-dumb things, too, bigger things that matter that haven’t gone the way I’d hoped. This is life. It is beautiful and it is messy. But, if I really go there and pitch a fit about how it didn’t go my way and shake my fist, I can be taken under like a Maui wave on a windy day, barely able to catch my breath. Discontentment. Ungratefulness. Not fully living in the now. The ‘not-good-enough’ mentality will always drown us in one way or another. This includes the thinking that we ourselves aren’t good enough. But, the things is, we are and all that the day brings, even in times of struggle. When in doubt that you are enough and that what you have is sufficient, speak out loud all of the things you are grateful for, it’s the only cure. I mean it, there was a time, many times actually, in my life when all I could say is thank you God for the air I breathe, for the sun that shines, for the limbs that move and even for the pain I face and that was enough for that day. ‘The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.’ Everything. I am slowly learning to befriend this entity called gratitude. She may just have a permanent invitation to come over and stay awhile. Perhaps she’ll curl up right next to us this holiday season, mug of hot chocolate and all.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. – Melody Beattie

What have you been taking for granted that you need to trade in for gratitude?

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  • Excellent thoughts. I like your approach to this. It’s something I’ve struggled with lately. I like the concepts of gratitude and acceptance, and I’m gravitating towards them more and more – and I feel greater peace when I find the most acceptance, of self, of others, of grace. I wonder sometimes though if too much acceptance leads to complacency and I’ll stop improving.

    I’ve actually worked on this specifically in the area of my own health. I have been blessed with an uncharacteristically un-self-conscious approach to my body (does that make sense?) I know that I am medically obese, I never worry about being mainstream attractive, I dress for me (and my adoring husband), I’m grateful for my body when it gets me from A to B, but I don’t spend a lot of time investing in it. I suppose that actually displays a lack of gratitude. But I’ve thought on more than one occasion that maybe a little discontentment would get me into the gym with more reliability.

    I like that you bring it back to gratitude and an appreciative realization that God has unlocked the mysteries of life. Gratitude to Him and a peace in His will shows me a clear path of what to work on when I calm myself and can listen to it. Then I realize that I’m working from a strength of freedom and potential rather than self-loathing and shame. This is easy for me to type – not always easy to live.

    Excellent post! Lots for me to think about!!

    • Freshly Grown says:

      There is this double-edged sword to discontentment I feel. It can harm and lead to ungratefulness or propel us to the greatest heights we’ve ever known. There is a line of tension I have felt in my own life of when I know I am discontent with something I should be grateful for AND when I am accepting things in my life/being content with things I shouldn’t. There are times in our lives we are supposed to hit some tough stuff and sit in it, and being thankful for the gift of it vs. grumbling about how much it sucks, I have learned that the latter isn’t always the best way to go. Acknowledging somethings sucks is awesome, but being victim to it and sitting in self-pity as Kirsten mentioned is not. I think there are a lot of things we can be discontent with and rightfully so like injustice, lack of food and clean water for people, abuse, mistreatment of each other, etc. but is the discontentment propelling us into positive action or leaving us complacent and bitter. You know? When it comes to self-improvement and self-acceptance, again, each person has to take a look at what it is for him/herself. Do I need to improve in this area? What are my intentions behind this? Am I loving myself in the process? I think we all should have your self image as you describe, ‘uncharacteristically unself-conscious.’ What would the world be like? At the same time (the double-edged thing again), I am not sure I believe obesity should be accepted if it can be prevented or reversed. From a health standpoint it wreaks havoc on every organ of the body. I personally don’t care about the mainstream attractive factor and care so much about the health of a person. I get BMI can be screwy. I took a nutrition class and we talked about how this man’s BMI was considered medically obese, yet he was doing Iron Mans. But, this is the exception. This, list however, is not. ‘If you’re obese, you’re more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:

      High cholesterol and triglycerides
      Type 2 diabetes
      Gestational diabetes
      High blood pressure
      Metabolic syndrome — a combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and high cholesterol
      Heart disease
      Cancer, including cancer of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum and prostate
      Gynecologic problems, such as infertility and irregular periods
      Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver and can cause inflammation or scarring
      Skin problems, such as poor wound healing’
      Sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts
      Gallbladder disease

      I cannot accept this for anyone. It would be like me accepting cancer or any other ailment robbing lives vs. fighting it and standing for health and freedom. I believe in freedom for all and this list of increased health problems does not make anyone free. I think what if this were my child? I would do everything in my power to reverse this if I could. And so it is that I do what I do. Cancer sucked big time and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. It also became one of the greatest gifts of my life (see discontentment above :)) and why Freshly Grown exists and why I will spend the rest of my life helping people take back their health and reverse disease through movement and proper nutrition. I will always be a stand for health for myself, my family, and you, Kierst!! And anyone else who comes my way!! I love you so much and I thank you for your openness and honesty on these pages. This was more than tough for me to write. Would love your thoughts.

      • Kiersten says:

        I know this is so late… I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

        You have completely flushed out exactly what I was talking about. The GOOD kind of discontent, where you see a problem (a real one – with the huge list of dangers that you provided) and your motivated to address it. And on the other hand, the bad kind of discontentment. Where you are listening to voices outside yourself that will .never. see you as matching up, no matter what you do. The discontentment of materialism and fashion pressure and other forces that always push us to doubt ourselves and reject our blessings.

        Thank you for the resource that you are to me as I try to sort out the good pressure from the bad peer pressure. It’s good to want to grow and be more healthy! I’m glad to have such an amazing assistance on the journey! <3

        • Freshly Grown says:

          You are awesome, Kiersten!! And I’m glad you are struggling/working through this. Struggle and questioning is where it’s at as you know because you are not complacent, but completely active in pursuing what is best as you journey. Yeah, bag the negative, peer pressure crap! And just go for health and that is something you may have to define and redefine as you journey. I have definitely done the same as I trek down what does it mean to be healthy, for a good majority of my life it was tied into image, but when I was able to let most of that go and still working through that, I have been able to define health for me in newer terms that match my truest heart and lifestyle as a mom and health advocate! And there was a place, too, where I started accepting a definition of health that I thought was okay for me and was actually less than my potential, myself demanded and required. Meaning, I was okay with not going to the gym consistently, but then the consequences of that were showing up in my life like built up stress, not sleeping as well, back aches, soft core, skin wasn’t as good, pants didn’t fit as well, etc. And I realized that for me, consistent gym routine is not an option because that is what works best for me! You know? I am here for you girlfriend as you figure out your own journey apart from the ugly voices! -R

  • BTW – LOVE the fall list. Love those warm, cozy feelings. I think this time of year is the easiest for me to feel gratitude – so much glow to bask in!! Love that you published the Etsy link – I will definitely check it out!! <3

    • Freshly Grown says:

      Glad you liked the list. Me, too!!

  • kirsten says:

    Hmm…love it. I’ve learned in my own life that it has been my own self-pity that has sunk me and held me under…not the dark days. And gratitude is a perfect remedy to that self-pity. LOVE YOU!!!!!

    • Freshly Grown says:

      Yes, dark days can be the best days actually. Self-pity days, however, are THE WORST. Love you, too! Thanks for your input.

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