Practice Gratitude

Last night, eight of us from our volunteer group had plans to bring dinner to the women and kid’s shelter we’re involved with. We settled on pizza after asking what they’d like and brought in a variety of pies. Four or five women with about twelve children met us in the community kitchen, ready to eat. We served them pizza, poured juice and soda, ate and talked with them at the long table. The kids just wrapped up their school year, filled us in on their summer plans, told us their ages and what grade they’ll be attending in the fall. Besides the fourteen year old boy the children were young, six and under.

After dinner we colored with the kids and played with building blocks. They piled dessert plates with cookies, twizzlers, cupcakes, smearing fingers and faces with blue and white frosting. Someone donated a plastic flute-like instrument; one of the boys serenaded us for the rest of the evening.

One mom was late to the party. She carried her two month old baby in a car seat, told us she had been busy running around all day. She’d taken a bus to her baby’s doctor, a couple of towns away, which would have been close to a thirty minute drive by car. I didn’t ask but I imagine her travel time was more than an hour round trip, never mind the time it took at her appointment, wait time for the bus, plus the time it took to walk to the bus stop. She has to do the same thing on Monday so her baby can get a shot. She was tired and hungry but smiled good-naturedly when she told us about her day. Carmel gave her son his bottle so mom could eat a couple of slices of pizza and drink some juice uninterrupted.

Another mother, whose son and daughter sat across from each other coloring and laughing, said they rarely got along, they fought a lot. “This is a break for me,” she said, “I’m really enjoying the quiet.” With a dozen kids playing in one room it wasn’t quiet but I knew what she meant.

We left so the woman could get their children ready for bed. I got in my car with the full tank of gas and drove to my nicely furnished house. At home I walked around my backyard, watered the plants on the deck, inspected the squash, green beans, peppers, tomatoes growing in my garden. I sat in an adirondack chair on the deck for a few minutes, breathing in and exhaling out the end of the day.

A flaw or two have reared their ugly heads this week and I’ve been beating myself up over it. When I pray to have my shortcomings removed I’m usually tested and this week I’ve failed miserably. As I sat in my comfortable chair in the bedroom I don’t have to share, reading on my laptop, I remembered what a friend of mine, a doctor, tells her patients: Practice Gratitude.

I’m starting right now.

25 replies

  1. Spending time with and helping others who have so little highlights the everyday luxeries and conveniences some of us are blessed with, doesn’t it? That is the karmic pay back for our efforts. Bless you for what you provided for those families. And for cryin’ out loud, stop beating yourself up! Life will do that for you. Keep loving yourself. And YEAH, my iPad comments thingie is working this morning!

    • Glad you got your iPad working, would love to see highlights of your upcoming trip. Yup, life is hard sometimes….so I don’t need to add the sledgehammer. Thanks for the reminder. It’s time to be grateful, gentle and loving!

  2. We all fall into that trap of forgetting the wonderful and focusing on what’s wrong or not perfect. I try to refocus when I do that but it doesn’t stop it from happening again. Great post.

  3. I’m trying to find that gratitude right now, my friend. A timely post indeed, at least for this one ungrateful soul. I think today may be a lost cause. But tomorrow I may find it. 🙂 One can always be hopeful.

    • Sorry to hear, Elizabeth. That old cliché This Too Shall Pass is really true….just not as fast as we’d like. Hoping you feel a tiny bit better tomorrow. All my best!

  4. Oh boy, I read your post once, twice, and now a third time. YES, we all need to be reminded to be grateful for all we have. That way, we can give more to those who are in need. I’m grateful that YOU and your friends help out at the women’s shelter….

    • Thanks for your kind words, Pamela. I’m reminded daily how blessed I am if I stop long enough to notice. Otherwise, I get tunnel vision on what I don’t have or what I need and that’s not good for anyone! 🙂

  5. Some days are easier than others when exploring gratitude, but I think the real blessings are found in the difficult ones. It’s when we can see the gift of a challenge that we truly grow within our own hearts. Lovely post.

  6. Oh yes, that’s great Geralyn. We really do have sooooooooo much to be thankful for. I have a friend that reads the paper when she’s tempted to complain or is feeling sorry for herself. Hahaha. After reading the paper, one can really notice that they are really blessed.
    Great post.

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