As 2013 drew to a close, I saw everywhere the signs of relief. People were eager not just to close the door on the old year but to slam it, bolt it, and perhaps hammer it shut for good measure. “Good riddance” seemed to be the sentiment. When the clock struck midnight and that big, glowing ball dropped in Times Square and people all over the place kissed their loved ones and hoisted glasses in celebration, they would turn a new page. 2014 held all the promise of a brand new notebook straight from the stationary store, and we, all of us, couldn’t wait to click our pens and start writing afresh.
The old year was full of challenge and heartbreak and struggle for so many. People died. Relationships ended. Money was tight. There were illnesses and tragedy. Onward, we said to ourselves. Forward! The past belongs in the past. This year will be better.
I am a strong proponent of living in the present moment. I try very hard not to time travel to the past (or when I’m deep in my anxiety, to the many possible disaster-filled futures). The secret to keeping myself grounded these days? Gratitude. In the midst of the festering crapfest life can be, I find the process of sifting through the muck for the gem-like moments of positivity is a sanity-saver.
Gratitude gives us two major gifts: perspective and presence. A beloved is lost, but we feel so much pain because we loved so deeply. A relationship ends in misery, but now we are free to seek real love and meaning. The dark throws the light into sharp relief. Thank you. We are tied to the present moment when we are practicing thankfulness. We are tied to those we love and who love us back when we are appreciative of them, when we make the conscious effort to see them. We are anchored to our authentic selves when we are grateful for the goodness in our lives, even if we have to search for it with a hazmat suit and a magnifying glass. It’s there. Thank you.
I asked Sweatpants & Coffee readers to share some of the things they were thankful for this past year:
“I am grateful that my story doesn’t define me. I am the master of my story, and I can change it at any time.” Kyrsten Rosehill Kaha
“I am eternally thankful for the amazing outreach of kindness and love from my friends and community this past year. I have been battling aggressive stage 3 breast cancer and can now finally say I’m in remission. Without an attitude of gratitude this past year would have been much harder.” Evelyn Canciglia
“Thankful for meeting and adopting my son in 2013!!!” Dana Lea Gore
“Everyday can be a challenge. There have been days that I have wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay there. I haven’t (yet) so I’m thankful for strength!” Debra McKay Hearne
“My 22 year old son had just finished hitchhiking from California to the East coast, and then back again. His second day home in Santa Cruz, California, he fell off a cliff during a landslide. He broke his neck, but praise God, he is alive. He’s facing a lifetime of struggle and therapy, for he is partially paralyzed. But through it all, he has been given another chance at life, and he has vowed to help the poor and homeless. He’s just accepted a position with ‘Food Not Bombs’ as their event coordinator. I am proud of him, beyond measure. He knows this is why his life was spared.” Shirley Faust
“Getting an 8 month break from chemotherapy AND going on vacation for the first time in 13 years.” Anne Kenworthy
“Married the man I love!” Nichele Wasilewski
“I discovered I could make killer fried potatoes like my Grandma, who passed on a few years ago. It’s the little things that count to me.” Renee Zimmerman
I am grateful for new friends and old. I’m grateful for Sweatpants & Coffee which launched in July and has become not just a labor of love but a family. I’m grateful for coffee and sweatpants and purring cats and my amazing, hilarious, patient husband and children. I’m grateful for you.