Nov 18 2013

Tracey Jackson

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Gratitude

GRASPING FOR GRATEFUL STRAWS

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There are days when gratitude comes easily. You wake up in that warm, fuzzy state of bliss, where everything from your coffee to your toothpaste gives you delight. You are grateful the seasons are changing. You are grateful for the job you have. The sidewalk beneath your feet, your dogs drool.

Then there are days when gratitude is hiding under the bed. It’s totally concealed by dark cloud.

It feels like life and events are conspiring  against you. And in order to keep yourself from losing it- you have to grasp for the grateful straws.

You don’t have to. You can give in and huff and puff, curse your world and everybody else’s. You can blame, play victim, aggressor or disappear into a fog of anger or depression.

Or – you can grasp for a grateful straw.

The thing about gratitude is it’s an easy rode to take when everything seems to be tilting in your favor.

It’s much harder to be grateful when you are late to work and you find your car battery dead.  Or when you stand up to answer the door and trip over the dog and find yourself in the emergency room with a broken ankle.

There are thousands upon thousands of things that slap us around and challenge our ability to be grateful.  But it is in those moments when we have to grasp for the grateful straws.  We tend to be most creative, transcendent, and when we are able to do it – truly grateful.

I think creative is a big part of it; sometimes we have to reach really far in order to grab a grateful straw.

Last week I was fighting with my older daughter. Those of you with children know, it’s virtually impossible to get along with them all the time, especially when they are between certain ages.

I love my daughter. I would take a bullet for either one of my children. But last week she wasn’t only getting on my last nerve, she was smashing it to bits. We were in a total stand off.

I went right to the land of pissed off. It was her fault. She was ungrateful, not loving, not being responsive to me… I was laundry listing her faults and only making myself unhappy and depressed.

The truth is because I love her so much fighting with her makes me sad.  And we all know it’s hard to be grateful when you are sad. So it becomes a vicious cycle and you find yourself just going from mad to furious and further and further from grateful.

But at one point I really stopped myself and said “Come on Tracey, you have to practice what you preach here. Let’s try and be grateful.”

I’m grateful that…she won’t…no you can’t start a grateful with a negative.  But grasping is exactly that.  I had to grasp.

I am grateful she is alive. Yes. I indeed. I am grateful she is healthy. God, yes, what if she had been born with some terrible defect. I am very grateful for that.  I am grateful she is not a hooker. That’s certainly something to be grateful for. Think of all those moms out there whose daughters are hookers. Thanksgiving comes around and you have to say, “My daughter the hooker is bringing the rolls.”

I know it sounds goofy but the operative word is grasping;  grasping for grateful straws.  Straws are narrow and flimsy and we need them to just get us through the difficult moments.

Just like straws bring liquid from a glass to our mouths, the fine stream of gratitude eventually nourishes us back to a place of calm and from there we can think clearly.

So when the car battery is dead.  Be grateful there is public transport. Be grateful if your husband or neighbor can maybe drive you to work.  Be grateful you have a phone and can call for help.  How about you have a car to begin with.  Many don’t.

Broken ankle, be grateful we have emergency rooms. Be grateful breaks heal in time. How about they have soft casts these days and not those awful plaster things of my youth.

Again, we’re grasping and they are straws, but it gets us through until life moves us to the next place, which it always does.

Life is fluid. Things always change.  The place we find ourselves in today is not going to be the place we find ourselves in a week, a month or sometimes an hour.

But we are human, our feelings get hurt, our tempers do flare, our patience wears thin, our calm is challenged.  But instead of giving into our negative instincts or old behavior patterns, instead of letting our cages get so rattled we can’t think straight and thus only see ourselves stuck forever in this spot, we need to grasp for some grateful straws to get us through.

Within three days my daughter and I had made up and were back to our lovey dovey ways.

I just needed to grasp a few gratitude straws to get me through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracey Jackson

Tracey Jackson is a screenwriter and blogger at traceyjacksononline.com. Her book Gratitude and Trust; Recovery is Not Just For Addicts will be released in 2014.

  • Robin Madsen

    “I am grateful she is not a hooker.” I’m sorry, Tracey, but I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time! I haven’t been on this site lately because I’ve been in health insurance hell – we all have to deal with stuff, right? But every day, I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head (for now) enough money to pay my bills (for now) and enough food to eat (for now). And most importantly, enough time and money to help my friends with whatever they may need. If there were a “like” button for this post I would give it a big “LIKE”!

    • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

      You are too kind. Glad I made you laugh. We can all use a bit of that.
      Health insurance hell – sorry you are going through that. America does seem to be reeling from some missteps there.
      Maybe we will cook up a blog dealing with that. In the meantime, take care and glad to have you back here.

  • Eileen Saint Lauren

    Greetings from Southern Light, Tracey, I am grateful that someone like you is a writer who writes from her heart. Thank you for opening your life, emotions, and true feelings for the Reader to learn from & enjoy with laughter. :)
    I am grateful that the eagle echo swooped down and hit my front windshield yesterday as I was driving the ONE mile to my home after FOUR hours of dental surgery no less didn’t shatter it or cause me to wreck or worse. I guess if you are going you to be hit by a moving object while driving an eagle is better than a rock, you know?!
    Take care, keep writing, and God bless you & yours today & always.

    • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

      An eagle in your windshield.Gosh, what was the universe saying with that act? Glad you are OK. And indeed much better than a rock. Did he fly away or was he hurt? And eagle?
      Thank you for you kind words. They mean a lot. In fact readers like you make my day!
      And this comment was exactly what I needed to hear today. So you helped me. Thank you.

      • Eileen Saint Lauren

        Looked at your website and it is fabulous! WOW! Is putting it mildly. I live either a-top or on a side of Edwards Mt. (never sure which it is) and eagles often fly over our house, Southern Light, in a Chapel Hill, NC. Have seen up to a family of five deer while sitting at the breakfast table walk by too. To my judgement, God has dropped me into what I deem “Heaven on a Earth…” One mile from James Taylor Bridge, named for JT. Eagle is fine. Indeed, Woody Allen would relish in the Hooker scene! LOVE that writer–WA–myself! You are a good writer. PW is blessed to have you by his side that is for sure! Take care, ESL

        • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

          You are too kind.
          Sounds gorgeous.
          Glad the eagle landed and lived!
          Glad you are OK.
          Glad you wrote in.
          You are exactly who I needed to hear from.
          Thank you for going on my site.
          Welcome to G and T!

  • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

    Why not? A good way to look at it.

  • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

    Now if Woody Allen were shooting that scene, around the Thanksgiving table, he would do it splendidly.
    We are thankful for the food in front of us and the fact that Peaches is alright and has not been hurt in the line of duty.
    I make jokes, as that is my way, but I get what you are saying and yes, there is always something to be thankful for.
    Nice to hear from you Rose.

  • Elissa Bell-Bassett

    Oh,Tracey-I’m the mom of some strong willed kids in their 30′s and my oldest,a girl,is 41.We are 16 years apart,so we’ve butted heads and clung on for dear life to one another for decades.She hurt my feelings the other day,as only somebody who knows where EACH of your weak spots are located.I had been crying and moping around.I then started doing just as you are saying-Looking to grasp at grateful straws.I have to laugh-I THOUGHT,”Well,she isn’t out there some old hooker and she never hit the pole, dancing”…strange way to help ones self look at the bright side,but it’s Motherhood,and all bets are off in retaining one’s sanity.Btw-She texted yesterday how people listen to me because I FEEL things,not just talk them,followed by many xoxo’s.Don’t you LOVE being able to find something,anything to be grateful for when the going gets rough?Thanks so much for a very good smile and reality check that I’m not alone.Yes,she and I are thick as thieves again too,hehe..You and Paul are always so good to find on my facebook page,and I’m also grateful for you two and this blog.Sincerely,Elissa

    • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

      Elissa – girls and moms. Talk about button pushing. And yes, yes, yes, I know that crying and moping. They send you into total darkness, then, they just bounce back with “did i leave my black sweater at your house?xoxoxox” Like hello, do you remember you said you never wanted to see me again? I do. Can we talk about it please. I can’t xoxoxo my way out of something. It takes me a few minutes. And then indeed, they come bounding back and they are not hookers. Take care!

  • Steppie Royes

    You know, on those days when we are grasping for straws, those are days of
    opportunity not only to seek gratitude out for ourselves but also to spread it
    to others. You mentioned the dead car battery; I had the same problem a couple
    months ago. I called “AAA” to come jump/or tow my car. I don’t carry money on me
    so when the man jumped my car and tested the battery for me, I had no tip for
    him. I offered him a free zoo pass and was surprised at his reaction. He said
    “I am SO grateful for this”. My response was, “See how you feel right now,
    multiply that by 100 and you will know the gratitude I felt when I spotted the
    “AAA” truck come around the corner”. I find the best way to find gratitude is to
    offer it to others. This site is a great daily reminder to do so. Great blog,
    Tracey!

    • http://www.traceyjacksononline.com/ Tracey Jackson

      I love that you did that. I bet he was so happy to have the zoo pass. And you he might not have gone otherwise. It’s an unexpected gift and one that is better than a few dollars.
      And yes, gratitude starts when we give it away.