An attempt in cultivating an attitude of gratitude when things are falling apart.
Reader, I know this year has been tremendously hard on all of us, some of us are struggling harder than others, but I tell you the truth: there are still things to be thankful for, you just have to take a step back, pause, and take a look at the whole picture, not just the grim news that constantly floods our newsfeeds on social media, our e-mail, and even on the telly. I know it’s hard to find anything good happening in the midst of all the fear and chaos, but I promise you with every cell of my being that there are good things, absolutely, still happening.
That being said, my challenge for you is this: take some time and look over this year and not just see, but acknowledge and thank God, for all the good things, no matter how big or small, nothing positive is too insignificant to be grateful for that’s happened for you. I’d love to hear what good things have happened for you this year!
Here are my positives of 2020, in no specific order:
For starters, my relationship with my daughter is getting better; she still has her job at Walmart and she calls me on breaks, or sometimes if she’s gotten to work early and has some time to kill, she’ll call. Often, she’ll call me after work on her hour-long commute home.
Second, I was able to get my arrears paid off for my child support and get that debt yanked off my shoulders. This was back in May. Incidentally, the final payment was posted on my patron Saint’s feast day, 15th of May. A little context: I have a daughter who’s almost 21 years old, and by my own choice, she’s been living with her Dad since she was a baby. Because of this arrangement, I had to pay child support every month to help out. A court order of $240 a month, sometimes it was easier than others to keep up. In the last eight years, it’s been a strain, but the $240 was paid in full each month. When the pandemic hit, when we were given that stimulus check, mine was intercepted by child support, and it knocked my four-digit number of what I owed in arrears down to a three-digit number. My payment for the month of May was posted, knocking it down to $125 left, what I owed. My brother helped pay that remaining balance off for me, and now I’m free of that debt.
Third, I’m the proud owner of the bestest dog, a hound mix called Philip. My friend found him wandering on the side of the road almost seven months ago, having been abandoned. It was a Friday afternoon and I was asked, “I know the shelters are closed right now because of the lockdown, but would you be willing to foster him until Monday when we can try to figure out something more permanent?” I told him, “You know once he crosses the threshold to my apartment complex, he’s going to be MINE. I will take him in, I will do the best I can to give him the best rest of his life I can give him.” Philip is older (the vet said he’s about twelve years old), but I welcomed him with open arms and without a second thought. He’s a wonderful dog, a little ball of furry Zen, and I’m so grateful to have him part of my little habitat. He’s brought so much happiness into my home, into my life, I can’t thank God enough for putting him where my friend found him that chilly afternoon!
Fourth, I’ve been fortunate to be able to go with friends up to one of my favourite places on earth: Carey, Ohio, a few times this year for prayer and enjoying some time with my Beloved and with my Mama. Even got to take Philip with us on a couple of those adventures, which, of course, he loved it!
Fifth, I’m back in school. I’m studying Early Childhood Education, working towards my Associates in Arts (or AA), which – God willing – will take about two years to get through. The first semester is wrapping up, and I’m already registered for the Spring semester. I’ll be taking 16 credit hours next semester, one credit hour only being eight weeks long, knocking down my course load to 15 credit hours. I’m currently doing twelve, and it’s not nearly as taxing on me as I thought it would be.
Sixth, I’m tutoring again. At the same time, I’m getting a “crash course” in how to make learning fun so the lessons stick better. I’ve been fortunate to work with my seven-year-old goddaughter who’s in the first grade and an absolute blast to be around. I honestly feel bad for the little ones in this pandemic, because they don't quite understand the seriousness of what's going on around them. They just know that they're not able to go to school and play with their friends, hang out with their teachers, and have to learn from home. My goddaughter's and godson's schools are doing a hybrid setup right now, but with the resurgence of the virus, they're back at home all the time. My goddaughter put it succinctly when she said, "This coronavirus needs to STOP!" I think we can all agree!
Seventh, even though things were a little rocky a couple of times with Philip having to be taken to the vet twice in the short time I’ve had him, he’s come back around both times. A little context – at the end of Summer, he was attacked by another dog who was outside without the supervision of another person (which, by the way, is VERY illegal in my city). The dog was apprehended that morning and destroyed the following Monday. I had to take Philip to the vet to be evaluated, after discovering a puncture wound just below his neck, right next to his shoulder blades. Thanks be to God, though, my boy was okay. Shaken up pretty bad, bruised, and sore for a bit, but after some pain meds and antibiotics, his wound healed completely. The second vet visit was just this past Monday after he’d eaten something on Friday that he shouldn’t have that I couldn’t get away from him before he swallowed it. The vet looked him over, gave him some meds to help, and now he’s coming back around again, thankfully.
Eighth, I’m passing all of my classes, by the grace of God. It’s surreal being in my mid-40s and being back in college again, and I admit I was quite concerned about how it would work, but so far, so good.
Ninth, I’m slowly getting back into journaling again. This has been tremendously helpful in my struggles with mental illness, having an outlet so to speak to get things out of my head and onto paper so I don’t have them crowding my head.
Tenth, I have a car and at the very least my temps. I have to still pass the maneuverability to get my full license to drive legally, but I’m getting there. It’s been quite a journey!
Eleventh, at long last, got my 55-gallon tank set up and my fish moved into that aquarium, along with some snails and I gave my 29-gallon tank to my friend and my godkids, along with the bulk of the snails that reside in there.
Twelfth, I’ve made some great friendships this year, including accidentally picking up another student for tutoring.
Truly, I’d love to hear from you all about what good things have happened for you and your families this year. Let’s take some time to pause and enjoy some good things and share those good things, because let’s be honest, it’s too easy to focus on the bad, and that will most assuredly just add fuel to the already rough time we’re all having, but if we take time to appreciate all the good things happening in our lives, even the little bitty things, that should be something we can use to bolster our morale and keep motivated to keep fighting.