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Friday, March 16, 2012

Aim for Grateful

Note: I wrote this on Thursday, but I posted it when I say "today" I mean Thursday...

this is a random photo of me looking like a
professional adult.  weeeeeee...

Well, the last couple of days have been...interesting.  For purely logistical reasons related to cats and my parents being out of town, I'll be spending a couple of nights alone at our new place this week in order to be more centrally located.  And by "alone" I mean "sleepover with Mini."

To answer your burning questions: no, we have no furniture in the new place.  Or food, or cooking supplies, or...anything. Luckily, my parents were kind enough to leave a roll of toilet paper and a shower curtain, so at least hygeine is taken care of.

I did plan ahead by packing our (super-awesome) air mattress and an extra blanket.  I was actually pretty pumped to sleep on the air mattress - this thing is amazing.  It inflates in seconds and is ridiculously comfortable.  I've used it for a number of previous housing transitions, and even slept on it on occasion during Christmas break from college, when we had 9 people staying at my parents house.

However, upon attempting to inflate the mattress, I discovered that the latch on the air valve is completely broken.  I looked in every cupboard, hoping that my mom had left some fixer-upper type materials. No such luck.  She was much too thorough in cleaning up after herself...I should have anticipated this.  In utter desperation I attempted to plug the valve using a t-shirt and a plastic target bag.  Unsurprisingly, this did not work.

After my fun night of sleeping on the floor, I woke up bright and early to get on the road to work, with my Starbucks coffee and breakfast sammich in tow.  For some reason I was convinced that traffic would be horrible and that it would take a bazillion hours to drive from St. Paul to Golden Valley.  It took 20 minutes.  I was safely at my desk typing emails by 7:10.  So...there's that.

About 10 minutes later, my phone rang. It was Ben. "Did you get my message?" he asked. The tone of his voice indicated that something had gone awry.


Long story short...Ben took Sid for his morning walk, realizing only too late that he didn't have his keys and was thus locked out.  Our neighbor let him into the building, but he was still SOL because everything he needed for the day was inside the apartment, which was also locked. Not to mention there was no way of getting Sid back inside. So.  Sidney is at my in-laws for the day, and Ben is at work, teaching without a computer.  Good thing our new front door does not lock automatically.

What does any of this have to do with being grateful?  Absolutely nothing.  I'm just amused by my life and wanted to talk about it.

So gratitude.  I don't think I mentioned this, but on Monday my team went through a day-long "culture training." I was skeptical going in, but aside from being trapped in a windowless room for 9 hours it was really not too bad. It was basically a day of self-reflection and what we can all do to be better leaders and act with integrity.  No kool-aid in sight.

One of the things we discussed was the "mood elevator."  Here it is:

...there we go.
Two things on this mood elevator really stood out to me.  1) That the top of the elevator is "grateful", and 2) that the transition point from negative to positive is "curious."  In order to get to understanding and positive, we have to start asking questions.  When we're in a bad place, we need to be spacious and open to possibility - asking "why" instead of immediately judging something as good or bad.

I love the following quote from David Steindl-rast: "In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."  I couldn't agree more.  When we remind ourselves to find the beauty in where we are rather than complain about where we're not, we are not only happier, but infinitely more capable. Opportunities we didn't see before become visible.

Yes, this is life and shitty things happen.  I don't think that looking for the good in something bad equates to denial - although I've heard people make that argument, I think they're completely wrong.  It's not about trying to pretend that the bad stuff isn't bad - it's about being open to the possibility that something good could come from it. I would never look back at something horrible and say "hey - I'm really glad that happened." But I can be grateful for the strength, growth and self-knowledge I was able to cultivate only because this bad thing happened.  No mud, no lotus.

Late last year, I lost a friend - someone who should have been a shining light in our lives for a long time.  I will never think that he should have died, and I will never not be sad that the world lost him too soon.  But I'm not angry about it anymore. My anger wasn't serving anyone - it wasn't even perceptible to the people who hurt him, and it obviously wasn't bringing him back.  All I can do is be thankful to have known him.

We talked a lot about gratitude in the immersion, and I've been making a conscious effort to view the world through that lens.  When the sun is shining, be grateful for the sun.  When it rains, be grateful for the rain.  Revel in the small things, and they will give infinitely back.

Well, this has been a little bit random.  All of that rambling just to say...that when we were asked to put together "I will..." statements at the end of the training, one of mine (I had like 8...I may have gotten a little overzealous with the "I will..." statements...), my first one was "I will aim for grateful."  That certainly doesn't mean I'll always get there - just that I'll try to make it my aim, all the time.

I'll still have my judgmental moments... and irritated and anxious moments.  But at those times, if I aim for grateful, maybe I'll at least end up at curious :)

Update: I tried the duct tape/mattress strategy.  Total fail.  But...I'm grateful...that I have a floor to sleep on?  Maybe?  OK apparently I still need to work on this whole thing...


  1. haha- oh the chaos of staying somewhere different! I remember the first night in our current place the boyfriend was still at our old place and the hot water wasn't on so I was trying to take a shower... ugh. went to bed cold and cranky!

    1. I know! Moving is always just utter chaos.

  2. Lions are the one cat that curiosity does not kill #roaminglion

    1. Their manes hold many secrets. #lionwisdom

  3. hope things go well- moves are never easy!


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