Sunday, January 3, 2016

Starting the new year with an attitude of gratitude

Once my arms heal, I'll be back on the trail!
I love early January when we start a new year  brimming with possibilities. I'm starting 2016 with an attitude of gratitude, despite the hardships I've faced in the past five years:
  • I got divorced at age 50
  • I was laid off at work during the Recession when jobs were scarce and was unemployed for some months
  • I had to sell my house in the worst real estate market in decades
  • I quickly downsized from 2,400 to 600 square feet--and gave away most of my possessions
  • I moved five times in two years because rentals are so expensive
  • I lived for three months in a backyard shed with no heat, water or toilet (because I needed to save money for car repairs)
  • I broke both wrists in an ATV accident, needed two surgeries, missed three months of work and incurred lots of medical bills
Some people might shake their heads and ask me: "Are you crazy? How can you be grateful after so many hard things?

My answer is: "How can I be anything but grateful? Isn't gratitude a better response than being depressed, angry, and wallowing in despair and misery?"

The biggest lesson I've learned through hardship is that the only thing I can control is my attitude. I can either brush myself off and be grateful, or I can become a sour, unhappy person. I choose gratitude and joy.

I have myriad reasons to be grateful. Among them:
  • I reinvented myself at age 50. I joined a dragon boat team and found the joyful, adventurous woman inside of me. 
  • At age 52 I started a new career as a newspaper reporter. I enjoy my work, and I've become a much better writer.
  • I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off for four years. Once I get my last cast removed, I'll lose another 30 pounds.
  • For more than two years, I've rented the 600 square-foot mother-in-law suite in the home of dear friends. At last, I am home. 
  • After giving away so many possessions, I'm content with my lifestyle of simplicity and finding joy in simple pleasures.
  • After living without heat, water, a kitchen--and especially a bathroom--I am grateful that on this snowy day, I don't have to walk outside 37 steps to the facilities.
  • After my ATV accident, I am grateful for life itself. I am alive and planning great adventures in the coming year.
When hard things come your way--and they come to us all eventually--will you wallow in despair or will you adopt an attitude of gratitude? It's your choice.