Over the years we’ve learned what it means to take care of ourselves as parents. But nothing we do, in terms of self-care, happens apart from being hands on as parents. We’ve learned that simple things, in the middle of parenting demands, make a big difference…
It’s the dead of winter out on the farm we just moved to north on Indianapolis, Indiana where we live. The wind is blowing so hard it sounds we fear the gigantic oak trees in our front yard are going to come crashing through our roof at any moment. It’s early March and this should not be! But this is Indiana. I’m huddled under a blanket in our front room watching a show on Hulu with all of the kids. Even though our thermostat is set to 70, I can’t get warm…not even close. Haven’t been able to in months.
We laugh…we giggle…we recite quotes from Black-ish, one of our favorite shows to watch together as a family, but I just can’t get warm. And I’m not simply talking about physical warmth. Yes, I’m cold…but I feel like the past few months have been emotionally, spiritually, and mentally cold for me. It began in January. The coldest month in all eternity. Or at least it felt that way. My schedule was slammed, I was jumping on a plane every weekend, and trying to finish my next book.
February wasn’t any better. Cold, cold and then more cold. And just when we thought it was about to warm up, it snowed blizzard-like conditions on the same weekend that spring was supposed to begin!
I had never in my life suffered through seasonal depression. I was always a fan of winter, even the boring months after Christmas but before spring. And here I was, every single day, feeling lost…depressed…lonely. Add to that, one of my kids was in residential treatment and not doing well at all.
It’s easy to allow seasons like this to consume you. It’s easy to believe that nothing is going to get any better than it presently is. It’s easy to muddle through a winter and feel like all hope is lost, and you’ll never feel warmth again in the depths of your soul. Add to that, parenting kiddos from trauma and the hopelessness feels even deeper. Mind you, I’m not saying that my children have caused me to feel despair in the past. Nope. I love them deeply. But the battles we face as a result of past trauma (which is not their fault) can be exhausting.
Yes, last winter was cold. But then one afternoon a good friend reminded me of something that I had failed to see through that season: “You have so much to be thankful for Mike. You’re just looking at the wrong things.
So true. As I reflect back on that season of my life last year, I realize something- I was focused on everything I thought I didn’t have, but needed. I was staring at everything going wrong, so much so, that I forgot about everything going right! When I simply stopped and began to give thanks for what I had, and what was right, my spirit lifted and my perspective changed. Not only that, but I began to better take care of me because I realized I had so much to live for, and so much to be thankful for!
Your level of gratitude has nothing to do with how much stuff you have, the bottom line in your bank account, or even whether or not you get to do all the things you want to do!
Gratitude is not dependent on what you have. Gratitude is dependent on what you believe about the life you have.
So what do you believe about your life? Are you focused on what you don’t have, or can you stop and begin to give thanks for what you do have? What I’ve found is simply stopping and expressing gratitude every now and then, can change my entire attitude on life. And it’s the simply everyday things that we often overlook….
I’m thankful that the sun came up today.
I’m thankful for the beautiful family I have.
I’m thankful for the house I have.
I’m thankful that I have a car to drive.
I’m thankful for breath in my lungs (what a gift!).
I’m thankful that I get to be daddy to these amazing kids!
I’m thankful that I get to be a husband.
I’m thankful for life.
Simple stuff. When I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have and began giving thanks for what I do have, I began taking better care of me! My health improved. My energy level returned. And my perspective on life transformed!
Choose gratitude my friend.
Question: What are you thankful for. Share with us in the comment section below this post. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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