I am moved to tears. Daily. By a blog. (Well, I was. BWIHIA – Back When I Had [regular] Internet Access.)
And Dreamboat finally asked me to stop reading it before I come to bed.
The family behind the blog continues to experience heartache that can be overwhelming, and I deeply identify with some of their circumstances. But, do you know what is emerging from their pain? Beauty. Because they, the writer of Chasing Rainbows and her family, choose to learn from every circumstance. Because they choose to overcome. To not just continue living. But, to thrive. To practice gratitude for the good things in their life.
I want to be like that. I want to focus on the silver lining. The joy that exists alongside the darkness and the despair.
I firmly believe that joy comes through gratitude.
Just let that sink in…Without actively cultivating, or practicing, being thankful, we don’t have joy.
As a mom, it drives me crazy when my kids ask for something the second after they’ve just received a treat. Can’t they be grateful for a little while? Gratitude doesn’t seem to come naturally to them.
But, unfortunately, that sounds just like me. Maybe they got my ‘wanting’ genes.
Or, maybe it’s human nature.
I (and possibly, you) want and want and want something, like a house or a job (which is something I really-need-to-find-right-about-now-when-our-bank-account-has-been-depleted-from-this-year-of-travel), and the minute I achieve it, I start wanting something else. The minute I finally get the shoes I’ve lusted after, there’s another pair I must have. That’s true for me, even with groceries. Especially the fresh, organic kind. I constantly have to remind myself to be grateful. To say thank you. To Dreamboat. To the kids. To friends. To colleagues.
And, of course, the more I speak out my gratitude, the more I become aware of how blessed I truly am. Which then, makes me grateful. See the beautiful cycle?
We have a family rule, which I love. Before the kids can ask for something, they have to first thank us for three things. Isn’t that awesome? Even though I know they’re saying ‘thank you’ to get something else, it still has the desired effect of making them grateful, and reminding them of how much I do for them, and it makes me happy too. It’s a win-win.
“When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.” Think about it. (Quote from Dr. Brene Brown).
We get to choose our attitude. We can choose to live and be content in our circumstances. To open up to others and allow them to get close to us. To be vulnerable. To be present and find the gifts in our lives right now. To find joy.
I know this may sound trite to some of you who are hurting. Suffering. Grieving the loss of someone, or something. But we all face pain. Life can be hard (I would actually say, “Life IS hard”).
Just this week, two hours after finally arriving at our destination in Colorado, joyfully reunited with our two older kids, we sat down to eat with family. For what should have been a raucous reconnection.
But. Instead. Peanut reached out to poke/pet (interpretation dependent on whether you were the toddler or the dog) the family dog. And it bit him. In the face. One tooth went into the outer corner of his left eye. Five additional bite marks were so covered in blood, it was difficult to see how badly his face was hurt.
My darling Dreamboat, concerned about the blood dripping all over my shirt, was trying to stop the flow of blood down Peanut’s face. (Good thing Dreamboat wasn’t aware of how much I spent on that shirt, or he might still be standing in the kitchen, mopping up blood from Peanut’s face.) Within minutes, we decided to bundle him back into the car that we had just gratefully exited (after ten days of driving). We waved a hasty goodbye to the older Littles, and drove an hour to the nearest emergency room.
During the five-hour-visit, Peanut was treated, his eye examined, antibiotics administered, and one bite-mark was stitched up.
Dreamboat and I came crashing down from the adrenaline rush, me with uncontrollable shakes and he with an overwhelming desire to sleep; and had to explain, repeatedly, again (as we have to do as least once a day), that yes, Peanut is four years old, but he doesn’t speak. At three-and-a-half-months-old, he was hit by a car that drove through the wall of his daycare. And since then, he is developmentally delayed. That this dog bite doesn’t even register in Peanut’s Top Five Medical Emergencies. We interpreted his signs, answered their medical questions, and their curiosity, as they treated our frightened, hurting, little boy.
We finally left the hospital, drove an hour back up the mountain, and climbed in to bed just before 3:00am. To wake the next morning and learn, that the dog had been put down.
This sweet dog was well-loved. By all three of our children. By its family. By me.
Just recently it saved the lives of two family members from a pack of coyotes when they were lost, trapped, overnight. It had defended their car from thieves. Their house from intruders and bears (yes, this is Colorado, wild bears get hungry and daring, especially in the spring). But, it had started biting non-thieves, and children that frightened it (Peanut was the second child to be bitten, and its owners were deeply concerned about potential, future, episodes).
That night, through our tears, we raised our glasses and made a toast to the sweet, life-saving, Peanut-biting, dog.
You see, life IS hard.
We all have heartache. Sometimes it is fleeting. Sometimes in comes in the form of a little boy, and stays with me, for each day I am lucky enough to spend with him.
But, there is beauty, and deep joy in life as well. I am grateful to be reunited with my older kiddo’s. And that my Peanut’s eye is going to be fine. And that his little face is healing nicely. And I am grateful for each day I am lucky enough to spend with him.
I am grateful for the beauty and tranquility of these magnificent mountains, restoring my soul.
I am deeply grateful for friends with whom I can be vulnerable with my pain and fears, who bring me great joy.
Today, I am choosing joy. Tomorrow, I hope to choose joy as well.
Will you join me?