The last day

November has been in some ways a rough month for me. This is probably why my updates were somewhat erratic. I am clearly not a real writer because when I am stressed or depressed my desire to write or inspiration to create in any way becomes non-existent. I was telling my funny friend Doug who has been ailing with pneumonia and still churning out hilarious blog posts and books for some time now, that I can’t even cobble together a grocery list when I’m not “on”. Clearly he is a real writer.

But, happily, I end this month in an upbeat mood. Despite the ongoing issues which made it a “tougher” month, despite grey weather and a bourgeoning headache due to dueling violin/cello practice in the living room, I’m feeling cheerful. Having an attitude of gratitude has carried me through this month and prevented a spiral in late Autumnal darkness. It is life-changing.

Every day as I went on my walk, or drove around town, or just moved through the hum-drum of the day, I was looking at my situation through a different set of glasses. Instead of taking things as they came, or finding reasons to be irritated or sorry for myself (which I can naturally gravitate to with very little effort) I was looking for the good and the gracious. For the bounteous (that one was just for you Jen Lynn-mwah!) blessings. And once you start to look, they are impossible not to find. And then suddenly it’s a habit.

For instance, I could have felt whiny today over the fact that I got big cramps while I was out for a walk, (I miss running! Contractions already?!) but instead I felt all sorts of thankful that I’d decided (against my initial instinct) to bring my cell phone, and my husband happened to be driving by to give me a ride and save me a couple of increasingly crampy miles. Yay! Are we seeing how this works?

John (whom I was thankful for earlier this month) sent me a Wall Street Journal Article earlier this week which cites studies which show that:

Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness then those who do not. They are also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infections. Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. Kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don’t.

“The key is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table,” says Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis and a pioneer in gratitude research.

Cultivating gratitude has actually become a recognized and powerful form of cognitive behavioural therapy. As I discovered last year, it feels good and I’m not ready to give it up. Perhaps I will try to slip at least one grateful thought into every post from now on. I won’t commit to doing it the same was as I do in November, but it really does change my thought patterns and my level of contentment, and it is something I would love to teach my children, so the more practice the better. (The random festive red-nosed-just call me Rudolph, photos sprinkled throughout are from the town tree lighting/”sleigh-ride a week or two ago. We always go with the Richardson’s and we are always the only ones who racuously carol on the wagon. Much to the delight and horror of the kids. I am thankful for this tradition.)

Ending this month grateful for:

Being housebound with a sick but super sweet six year old, who was not so sick as to be miserable or clingy (as he himself pointed out, “I am amazing at coming up with new ideas for toys!”) which allowed me to catch up on housework and laundry. It’s amazing how much you can get done when your day is not broken up with excursions.

Medication to make sick kids more comfortable


Plenty of food. I never have to watch or worry about my kids going hungry. Something I take for granted far too often.

sleigh ride finny

Mild enough weather to air the germs out of the house


Clean sheets (thanks Aaron) and a peaceful comfy bedroom. It may be small but it is clean and cozy and it’s mine.

The fact that miraculously, my pregnant back has not yet rebelled toward the now visibly sagging mattress in said comfy bedroom. The more time I can buy before the tax return….;)


My awesome, funny family all over the world. They will be getting together this December and although I will miss being there, I am looking forward to a skype party with everyone in one spot. In fact Luke, I intend on skype attending your wedding. So make plans for that to happen, boy.


sleigh ride gabe

iTunes. Remember when you liked a song and you had to record it off the radio (and pray the stupid DJ didn’t talk over the intro, I never did that when I was a DJ, btw) OR you had to save up for ages and/or wait for Christmas/your birthday for someone to buy the album whereupon you would listen to the one song you liked and skip all the others. Now, you like a song, you download it for a buck. Or you listen to it online. Our kids have NO IDEA HOW WE HAVE SUFFERED.

sleigh ride-ben

The excitement my kids have shown as my pregnancy progresses. Usually I am the only person interested in the fact that the baby is now the size of a cantaloupe or a rutabaga or a watermelon or whatever, but they are just as fascinated, they love to watch/feel her kick, they love to look up online to see what she is working on growing on any particular day, and Finny regularly wakes me up in the morning to ask me “how many weeks left before baby gets here. “

And finally, thanks and so thankful to all those who have hung with me through this yearly experiment (I realize it may have been painful), to those who have posted or emailed kind thoughts about it and shared your own blessings. I am thankful to you.

Happy almost December! I can't believe it is that time again.

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biguglymandoll said...

You're sweet to confuse me with a real writer. I think I'm just more likely to complain in public - you have social graces that I lack! I'm very glad you've found things to be thankful for and a way to notice the everyday miracles that surround us. Our time on this side of the dirt is fleeting; every child, every leaf, every friend can be cherished.

Thalia Randall said...

Hello :)
Thanks for this. I printed out the article that you posted about the benefits of gratitude and used it in my Young Women class today, because the lesson was on gratitude and appreciation!