Late Thanksgiving

I have been meaning to start a gratitude journal ever since I first stopped drinking. That was nearly two and a half years ago.

Today, I finally took the step of opening up one of the many empty notebooks I have lying around the house and jotting down some of the things I am thankful to have going on in my life. I can’t promise I will keep it up, as I am terrible about adhering to any sort of regimen (when was the last time I posted on this blog, for instance?), but it’s always nice to remind yourself of the good, if only sporadically.

I had to go to an Urgent Care earlier today to deal with an ear infection. I was anxiety-ridden when the nurse quoted the estimated cost of the office visit to be between $85-120, but I was in a lot of pain so it was sort of non-negotionable.

While I was in the examination room, waiting to be seen by the doctor, I picked up a magazine and happened to flip to an article about positive energy. Two of the bullet points that stood out to me (and I’ve heard them a million times) were 1) Try to always focus on what goes right instead of what goes wrong, even at the most minor of levels. (Eg: If someone made your coffee weak, be grateful someone took the time to make you a cup of coffee in the first place.)  and 2) Implement the Five Year Rule. Meaning, if you aren’t going to remember what you’re upset about in five years, then don’t let it bother you now.

I liked the reminder so much, I took a picture of it with my camera phone.

After being examined, I headed back to the lobby and discovered the actual cost of my visit was going to be $210. (!)

Of course I proceeded to get disproportionally upset and passive-agressively whiny almost immediately.

I can only hope that five years from now I won’t still be stewing over the cost of one medical bill, so once I got in my car I told myself “you need to let this go”. What scared me, though, was remembering that, five years ago, I  was also uninsured and had a few near-identical experiences.

When I got hired at TCOE, I thought I finally was on the road to security and stability. I started paying off the credit card debt I had racked up in college, I stopped partying and started taking better care of myself, I began making car insurance payments and stopped asking to borrow money from family.

Then I got laid off. And I feel like I have since walked backwards through time.

In the months of unemployment, I have applied for all sorts of jobs, but I can count on both hands the ones that have actually been of any interest to me. And none of them have come close to the salary I was making before (which I thought at the time was too little). Even then, I’ve only been called in for one interview. I debate whether or not I even want to be in Fresno. Or California, for that matter. Or America.

Like always, I hope for signs or clues to point me where I want to be, but like always, there are only confusing nudges and mixed-messages.

I thought today, “take a break from searching for jobs in Fresno and start looking anywhere in the country.” But I had no idea what to search for.

I think about going back to school, and then wonder, “for what?”

I never imagined I would be in my thirties and STILL have absolutely no clue what my purpose is. Yet here I am. I wonder if I will ever be the sort of person who feels settled.

After several hours of letting these things nag at my brain, I decided to focus on what is going right instead of what is going wrong. I feel like this is a conversation I have so often with myself. Maybe even here on my blog, huh?  I really want to be a positive, grateful person. I really, really do. The reality is I spend a lot of time doing the exact opposite. I decided tonight I am going to work even harder to practice what I preach. There is still a lot of good in my life. And I am NOT in the same place I was five years ago; I am much better off. It might take me a while to know where I want to be or what I want to do- hell, it might take my whole life- but it’s my choice whether or not I am going to be miserable while I am figuring it out.

So, in an effort to tell the universe that I am open to possibilities:

I am thankful I had the $200 in my bank account to cover that office visit.
I am thankful my ears feel better.
I am thankful I am relatively healthy and rarely need to visit the doctor.
I am thankful I have a few marketable skills, even if I haven’t found the right job for them quite yet.
I am thankful I am not in a job where I feel stifled and judged by an unsupportive boss.
I am thankful I have too many interests, rather than none at all.
I am thankful I have a roof over my head.
I am thankful to spend most of my life feeling safe.
I am thankful to have people who love me, and know that they love me.
I am thankful I love myself decidedly more than I did only six months ago.
I am thankful to be getting a few freelancing gigs here and there.
I am thankful that when I get negative and catty, there is always that voice in the back of my head who tells me to knock it off. I hope that voice never gives up on me.
I am thankful for gentle reminders.
I am thankful for a wide open future, full of endless possibilities.
I am thankful for this moment, this day, this breath.

And much, much more.

4 responses to “Late Thanksgiving

  1. Geanie

    I am thankful that you are who you are and a part of my life.

  2. i love you so, haley marie. you are the most best. 🙂 i can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

  3. This is going to sound trite, but it tends to work better for me than the gratitude journal. I’m not saying to not do the gratitude journal, I’m just saying that from time to time adding this in may stir things up.

    Try the George Bailey technique.

    At your journal, choose one thing that is in your life now. And take it out. If you wonder if you shouldn’t be in Fresno, take it out. Start drawing – with a brainstorm- what your life would be like if you had never moved there. What comes up could be good or it could be bad. But if it is good, it might clarify some things, some goals, some needs. And then you can work on them. If it is bad, well then you have a tangible view of the positives of that move. And then you appreciate it all the more.

    Sometimes the trick to gratitude is to do without the good things- even imaginatively- rather than reinforce them.

    The other thing I did a lot when I was super down and taking care of my mom was the “simple joy”. No matter how bad a day we were having, we would commit to finding one simple joy of the day. Whether it was a great cup of tea, watching the cats play, a beautiful view for a moment out the window– and articulating it. . . just being present enough to know when you’re having a good moment (vs. a bad one) can go a long way.

    These don’t work for everyone; they’re just what have worked for me.

    And I’m thankful you’re here!

  4. haleytheconqueror

    I like both of those suggestions, and I feel like the “simple joy” thing is something I have been trying to do for the last few weeks (in a sort of partnership with the gratitude journal). My frustration with where to live is admittedly obnoxious, because truthfully, I could find much to be happy about in living in all the places I consider. So there are worse things in the world than knowing you could be relatively happy in six or seven different towns. In other news, however, I do have a job interview on Wednesday for something in Fresno, so we shall see….

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