24 Jan 2012
I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the practice of choosing one word on which to focus for a new year. The wonderful Ali Edwards, who came up with the concept, discusses it here, and I’ve been excited to see some of my favorite bloggers announce their words in the past few weeks. There are as many different ways of incorporating this practice into your life as there are people in the world, and that’s a beautiful thing. Some people make it a journaling focus for the year. Some scrapbook their memories with this word in mind. Some reflect on the word, weekly or daily, and dedicate themselves to remaining mindful of it as much as possible. Some people write their word on their bathroom mirrors with lipstick. Others paint it, draw it, quilt it. The unifying theme is that everyone tries as much as possible to remain open to the presence of this word and what it represents in their daily lives, whether it’s magic or love or creativity or home. I hadn’t really considered choosing a word for the year, but one came to me, nudged me, became my constant companion. It’s a word that describes who I am and what I want to be, a word that sums up so perfectly and succinctly how I want to live this beautiful life of mine. It’s grateful.
I have, even on my worst days, more to be thankful for than I could count in a 24-hour period. I am married to my best friend and the love of my life, who astounds me all the time with the depth of his compassion, encouragement, and dedication. I have amazing parents who love me unconditionally, and are, in addition, wonderfully intelligent and kind and just the most fun people you could ever want to spend your life hanging around with. I have a second set of amazing parents, who I never imagined could be so wonderful, who have welcomed me into their family and who generously share with me with their great love and kindness and friendship. I have fantastic friends who constantly brighten my life with their wit and intelligence and love. I have food to eat and a warm place to live and a healthy body to get me where I’m going. And those things are only the beginning.
On top of all this, the world around me is full of magic: bright flowers and tiny raindrops, gleeful songbirds and crunchy fall leaves. The beauty of the written word, the splendor of paint on a canvas, the joy of an unexpected phone call. I feel like I am most alive and most myself when my eyes are open to see these things, and to see that they are gifts, and it’s that very sentiment that’s the whole foundation of this little blog. It’s my dearest hope that it’s the whole foundation of who I am and how I live: gratefully. It only takes a tiny moment, a beautiful leaf in my path or the silhouette of a cactus flower against a gray wall, to shift my focus from whatever turmoil is going on in my head to the miracle it is that I live in a world in which light and colors and ridiculous beauty exist. That is my wish for this year: that I will see these things and be grateful for them.
As many of you know, my sweet husband broke his ankle on our way to our honeymoon in Hawaii. We spent our first day in paradise at the hospital, and it was a hard thing, at first, for us to accept. I was so sad to see him in pain, and he was feeling the weight of saying goodbye to the hiking and surfing honeymoon we’d imagined. There was nothing in my heart but love, and, by this great miracle, all the things that we have to be grateful for flashed through my body in an instant. I told him, tears filling my eyes, that although this was an unexpected change in our plans, it was okay because we had everything. Everything. That realization, great gift that it was, changed our honeymoon because it changed me. I can only hope that I am changed that way, completely overwhelmed with gratitude, every single day of this year.