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Is gratitude relative?

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized

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This has been a hectic week. This has been a tiring week. This has been a wonderful week. And all for the same reason:

I started a new job on Monday.

And I love it. I remind myself that I already know how to handle feeling overwhelmed, that it’s important to remember to breathe, and that, after years of backtacking, I can relish the feeling of moving forward again.

This post would be very different if I hadn’t gotten the job, or if any of the challenges I’ve faced over the last year had turned out differently. Which made me wonder: Is gratitude relative? Or can you choose it, the way I think you can choose to be happy?

I spent much of 2010 pretending not to feel panicky while sitting in an oncologist’s office every few months, deciphering blood tests and ruling out scary possibilities. I ended up with a managable diagnosis that isn’t cancer, and while I’m relieved and grateful for that, I’m also grateful for the health scare in the first place. It made me rethink my priorities, which made me realize that I had been pouring energy into a few things that simply weren’t worth it, and taking for granted a few things that were. I set several transitions in motion, and I’m glad that I did.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but even that’s in transition this year: My oldest step kids are in their mid- and late-teens now, and we don’t spend as much time together as we used to — something that would be easy to feel bitter about if not for the fact that they seem to be thriving, testing their wings and reading themselves for flight, which is exactly what any parent, step or not, wishes for their kids as adulthood approaches. My stepson was just with us for a long weekend, and I’m so proud of how he handles his own challenges. My little kids are whirling dervishes of energy and inquisitiveness, and I look at them and am grateful for the chance to experience awe and joy in a way I was too worried and cautious to when our big kids were their ages. Instead of feeling sorry for missed moments and letting new ones slip away, I’m choosing to savor as much as I can.

What have challenges will you choose to feel grateful for this year?

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