One More Bite (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

Today I’m grateful for having the time and available resources to mindfully eat an abundance of fresh, healthy foods. Yesterday, I received a shipment of fresh vegetables from a farmer a few states away, and combined several of them with a chicken and pasta dish I made that included a kumquat sauce. I’d ordered avocados straight from California, and, although they are still ripening, the farmer there packed them with an overflowing amount of kumquats still on the branch! It was a delightful treat and, mixed with the carrots, microgreens and spinach of yesterday’s haul, my lunch today was one of the most satisfying I’ve had all year.

My relationship with food has been the source of both pleasure and pain. I have struggled with anorexia as well as food addictions, so eating a moderate amount of healthy foods is something to which I end up aspiring rather than achieving more days than not. Most likely because of these mental health conditions, few things in life bring me the excitement and joy that food does. I stare at dishes being brought to other diners at a restaurant the way other people stare at people they find attractive. I recall meeting someone several years ago who told me he ate because he needed to eat, not because it made him happy, and I’ve never had such a “who are you?” moment as that one.

All of this to say, living through a lockdown where traversing a grocery store feels akin to potentially being taken out by a sniper in the form of a virus-carrier, my issues with food have only gotten worse. I’m starting to eat beyond the point of hunger and have spent far too much money trying to ensure I don’t have to go without in any capacity during this time. One practice that I am hoping will cut through the anxiety-fueled excess is mindfulness. Taking time to enjoy each bite as well as to honor its origins will hopefully help me to focus more fully on gratitude, and, in slowing down, I will be better able to hear what my body is communicating to me in terms of what it needs. What’s your relationship like with food? How is it being affected by the pandemic?

A Change of Pace (Today's Moment of Gratitude)

I’m struggling through a migraine today and nearly forgot to make a daily post! Although taking time to appreciate the good I have in my life has been an intentional practice that’s enriched my day-to-day experience, focusing on it lately has felt at times like a way to escape grim reality or to brag about privilege more than a genuine stance. I am truly grateful, though, for the change of pace my life has undergone.

I’ve worked for the last three or four years to cut as many obligations out of my life as I could, after coming to terms with the fact that I have both physical and mental health conditions that are disabling. In some ways, the triggers that remain have become more destabilizing, as though I’m in shallower waters and therefore feel each ripple more acutely. I haven’t been able to arrive at a place of feeling secure and balanced.

Being allowed to work from home and having it be socially acceptable to minimize my contact with other people has felt like a prescription for good health, not a burden. People, especially when they are angry, are my main trigger, so having more control over the circumstances in which I encounter them has physically slowed my heart rate and lowered my blood pressure. I’m calmer and more grounded.

February was busier than normal for me, and the reset of my life through which I’m living right now is welcome, even if the circumstances leading to it are devastating and terrifying. Things will pick up again soon for about two months, and then I will have three months off of work entirely. This experience is teaching me that I might need a lot more physical distance from others than I thought I did. I’ve dreamed of moving to a remote area and living off the land. I figured it was one of those things that sounds good until you actually try it, now, I’m not as certain it’s a bad idea for many reasons. And, best of all, I have some space to try it out in small ways to see how it sits with me. What has happened to the pace of your life as of late? How has it affected you? For what are you grateful today?

Finding Calm in the Whirlwind (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

Well, my life turned upside down in the last 24 hours. My job is moving online for two months, a situation which requires a tremendous amount of planning and action all at once. I have over a hundred students depending on me to get it right, so no pressure!

I feel empowered rather than defeated, as I can finally channel my excessive energy into something productive. At the same time, the human element is what scares me in terms of having to navigate competing interests and balance my time. The potential implications for a total lockdown of my area is creeping into my consciousness as well.

As I was thinking of all of this, I ran into a neighbor (from a safe distance!) that I haven’t seen in a while. She offered to help me if I get sick. Having someone who lives so close offer this meant the world to me; I really needed to know that I’m not alone. Again and again, I keep coming to the truth that, as long as I feel connected to a community, my personality and inner world is created for a time like this. I feel galvanized to a degree I thought I’d lost. What’s been your moment of peace today?

In Case of Emergency (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

Today I am grateful for a feeling of empowerment I’m accessing as I better organizing my personal affairs. I would likely come across to most people as the type of person whose file drawer is enviable, but the reality of my schema for categorizing documents and the like is that I store most of what I need to function as an adult in my head and/or computer, so there is little evidence of how I manage bills and such that physically exists in my life. I have a plastic bin into which I’ve placed most of my important documents, but it could easily take someone hours to sort through it to find the one they might need.

The realities of the potential for a healthcare crisis (among other threats) in my country has pushed me into the realization that, were I incapacitated, it would be difficult for someone to step into my life and manage things for me. Lacking a spouse and family puts in me in a much more precarious situation than most people, one that has left me inert with anxiety ever time I’ve tried to cross this threshold of preparedness. Now, though, the threat is more real than it’s ever been to me and I feel compelled to take action. I am compiling a binder with all the relevant information necessary. It should serve not only the emergency for which I am designing it, but will also be something I can grab and go if there is a natural disaster.

I am also planning to meet with an “elder law” attorney this summer, even though I am decades off from being considered elderly. I need to know my options for designating someone to manage my healthcare as well as the welfare of my dog, should anything happen to me. What I find bizarre about the whole situation is that I’ve been suicidal more times than I can count in the past, sometimes seriously, but taking these steps of actual preparation feels very daunting and challenging. I suppose I’m not afraid of being dead but I am extremely scared of losing my autonomy and having to rely on others to ensure my safety, so much so that even planning for it feels risky. I’m grateful, though, for the privilege of being able to make choices now for myself as I find the courage to face my fears and am taking concrete steps forward. What is something you’ve been putting off that you’ve begun to address?

Yesterday’s Labor (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

I made homemade pizza yesterday, preparing both the crust and sauce from scratch. The pan I used didn’t work very well so the bottom of the crust was not cooked to my liking. Today, I toasted slices in my toaster oven and what had been unappetizing became one of my best pizza bakes to date: crunchy, with just the right amount of sauce, dough and toppings.

I’ve written about this before, but I feel a renewed sense of appreciation for having enough time in my schedule and funds to be able to make meals from with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. I used to detest having to eat leftovers as a child, but now, as an adult, they feel like a gift I created for myself that brightens my day. When they are of the “junk food” variety, it’s even better. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel disappointed when I haven’t planned well and take-out is my only option, which is so different from how I used to think about food. What’s the last home-cooked meal you had? What was your moment of gratitude today?

Canceled Plans (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

Today I am enjoying a lazy afternoon, due in part because an appointment I had got canceled with little notice. I am someone who loves to plan ahead, so I sometimes get frustrated when things don’t go as expected. This week, however, I haven’t been feeling very well physically because of a chronic health condition, so being able to lounge around when I’d expected to be driving for hours feels like I am pampering myself. I sometimes think I have more fun making plans than I do carrying them out!

Have you had plans canceled recently? If so, did you fill the time with more “chores” or did you let yourself take a break? What would it feel like to cancel a plan you don’t want to follow through on, and take time for yourself?

A Kind Word (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

I received several “thank-you’s” today, and they meant something to me. I’m starting to really experience the contrast that occurs when someone values my input or actions and when they don’t. Being taken seriously and sincerely draws me out and leads me to want to deepen my engagement, in the same way that being dismissed makes me want to withdraw. I

am all for being who I am, take it or leave it, but I’m also human. How I’m treated by others has an effect on me, and, for whatever reason, there was more added than taken from me today and I want to cherish this moment. What is a compliment or “thank-you” you’ve gotten this week?

A Crisis Averted (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

My dog is much less anxious than I am, and his willingness to barge into situations head-on can get him into trouble. This past week was no exception as he managed to eat a few foreign objects and I was highly concerned he was going to have an intestinal blockage. Today, I got the best Valentine’s present ever when he passed the item about which I was most concerned through. I never expected to celebrate poop, but here we are!

The relief I felt as a potentially life-threatening situation coupled with thousands of dollars in costs faded from view was overwhelming bliss. It got me thinking, though, about how my mind works. I was left wondering whether part of the reason I am extremely anxious and frequently feel like I’m on the edge of disaster is because, when the storm clouds clear and the sun comes out, the physical response I feel negatively reinforces me to respond to the next threat in an equally overwhelmed manner.

I am much more punishment-averse than I am reinforcement-seeking, and this experience has given me possible insight into my internal experiences that might be maintaining that discrepancy. I’m curious what it would be like, the next time I am catastrophizing, to ask myself “how good will it feel when this situation is resolved and I don’t have to worry anymore?” I have no idea what I will actually be like when my own mortality comes to call, but I think it strikes me as the resolution of everything and I anticipate relief rather than anxiety might overtake me.

Perhaps my gratitude isn’t all feelings of joy because something good has occurred, but also the feeling of my body stepping out of fight and flight into a more peaceful state. I am so, so appreciative that my weekend might not be spent in the fullness of anxiety I had anticipated it being. What’s something you’ve felt relieved about lately? What is the balance for you of seeking rewards and trying to avert danger?

An Unexpected Kindness (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

I reflected yesterday on the topics of abundance, gratitude and contentment. A manifestation of gratitude on which I wanted to act was to create a new category of “Writing Everyday” which focuses exclusively on building my capacity for thankfulness. My task was made easier when a neighbor went out of their way to do something nice for me.

My day started off chaotically as the roads were covered in icy snow and I made it to work with literally a minute to spare (I am the sort of person who is fifteen minutes early to everything, so being on time stresses me out!). On top of that, I had to juggle managing multiple situations in the moment while being internally distracted by upcoming events. By the time I got home, physical labor like shoveling snow felt like it was only adding to my burden.

I shoveled a path for my dog and to the mailbox, and turned to the sidewalk, which I try to keep open. It was then that I noticed it was already neatly cleared, much more expertly than the job I normally do. I felt relief and gratitude sink into me, not only because I could spare my shoulder and back potential injury, but also because it meant that someone thought well of me and wanted to help me out.

I decided I don’t have to try to extrapolate lessons or think about ways in which I should have been kinder in the past. For today, I can simply rest in appreciation that a simple physical action by another lightened my load and made it easier for the good in me to shine. Thanks, anonymous stranger! What’s was the last unexpected kindness you received?