I know we can all (mostly) agree that 2016 did little to boost our enthusiasm, intensify our collective connection, or even to give us hope about the future.
That being said, I am a FIRM believer in the practice of gratitude. Yes, practice, because it doesn’t feel like our default setting, as humans. It’s something we must consciously repeat to turn it into habit.
So, I cannot let 2016 pass without expressing my gratitude for certain events that made my life better this year, or helped me grow (even if that growth was kind of unpleasant). This is not an exhaustive list, but those that come to mind as I sit here quietly with hubs on this rainy, last-night-of-2016 in Los Angeles.
I am grateful that my mom’s cancer scare turned out as best as it possibly could. Sometimes it’s scary to hope for the best, but sometimes life does give it to you. Honestly, this alone could have been enough to make 2016 a good year. Thank you, 2016, for keeping my mom in good health so that I may enjoy her love and company for many years to come. My heart aches for those who cannot say the same.
I am grateful for that horrible gall bladder attack that hubs had that landed him in the ER on my birthday. It was terrible to see him in such pain for so prolonged a period, but finally getting a proper diagnosis meant finally being able to deal with it. And I’m even grateful in a way for the complications that made his recovery slow-going, because it forced me to slow down and just concentrate on being with him, in the moment.
I am grateful for my own health. I’m grateful that lump turned out to be nothing serious. I came to realize in a real way this year how, really, good health trumps everything else. Without it, there really is nothing else.
I am grateful that I found within myself the courage to make a bold move in the coming year. Moving back to Indiana has been a decision I’ve been mulling for years, and 2016 was finally the year where I unpacked all my thoughts and feelings about it and decided to stop thinking and start acting. That’s scary, but I feel more confident, and more excited about the coming year because of the big changes ahead.
I am grateful that this decision to move has been entirely mutual between me and hubs, and that his enthusiasm and positivity about our move has made me more confident and positive. It’s brought us closer together, and I’m quite excited about having this adventure together.
I am grateful for the adventures I had the good fortune to experience this year: sea kayaking off the Channel Islands with hubs and my brother, an impromptu trip to Belize, seeing the “Super Bloom” in Death Valley, visiting family in Indiana. I’m grateful that I have the means and the time to do such things.
I am grateful that my stepson is making bold choices with his life. It’s inspiring. His upcoming over-winter at the South Pole has given everyone a jolt of excitement, and I’m sure it will be a profound life experience for him.
I am grateful that my stepdaughter is turning into an amazing human being, one who acts with compassion and kindness, but who is also tough and resilient. I’m lucky to be able to see this young person turn into an adult before my eyes.
I am grateful for my friendships. They add depth and richness and meaning to my life.
I am grateful that somehow I keep making this freelance thing work, because it lets me be the designer of my own day-to-day life, so that I can pay attention to all the things that are important to me that I often could not with a more conventional job.
I am grateful for all the rejection letters I got this year, because it means I am actually writing and submitting my work.
I am grateful for all my incredible collaborators throughout the year. Though I tend to gravitate towards solitary work, I do so thoroughly enjoy the creative partnerships I’ve had the good fortune to enter into this year.
I am grateful for all the great art and culture I got to be a part of this year. Art, really, is what gives my life color and meaning.
I am grateful for all the small joys of daily life – for hot coffee and foggy mornings and kitty cuddles and hot showers and a nice, crisp glass of Viognier after a long day of work.
I am grateful, even, for the darkness of 2016. I’m finding the courage within myself to enter into that darkness, and the darkness that is no doubt coming.
The funny thing is, when I start making a list like this, I find I could go on and on and on. Gratitude begets gratitude, which makes the practice of gratitude that much more important. My intention for 2017 is to carry that practice into the New Year, and build on it.
What are you grateful about in 2016?