Today’s my 44th birthday. The great thing about your birthday falling near Thanksgiving is that it’s the perfect emotional setup for reflecting on the things you’re thankful for.
I could write a long list of things I’m thankful for. It has been a truly remarkable year. But instead, I’d like to share a short list of things that took a little longer to appreciate.
As I get older, I find myself more open to the lessons life wants to teach me, even when they’re unpleasant. It’s not that I like difficulty or disappointment — I hate it, and I avoid it whenever I can (my go-to tools are procrastination and/or shying away from a challenge). But it’s just a matter of time till life’s “pigeons of discontent” (as Gretchen Rubin calls them) demand their due attention.
It’s the old saw about making lemonade out of lemons. But it’s worth taking a moment to be thankful that life’s lemons, for now, are really small.
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Dog poop 1 of 6This is Teddy. He poops. When you have two older children who take care of their own bathroom functions, you appreciate the lack of poop in your life. Well, poop (someone else's, that is) is back to being a daily experience. Why I'm thankful: I've met more people the four years since I began taking Teddy on his daily walks than I have in the 10 years previous.
My distractible nature 2 of 6Speaking of dog walking, this is an alleyway I passed in my neighborhood. I can't resist walking down an alley...it might lead somewhere interesting. It's exactly how my mind works; I pass by something interesting and I want to follow it (ergo, leaving behind whatever I was doing at the time). Why I'm thankful: Kyran Pittman calls it "sideways brain." I've come to appreciate this way of thinking as it gives rise to some of my best ideas. I may not be the most efficient person around, but life sure is full of wonder.
Politics 3 of 6Before this year, I was a political cynic. I voted, but I didn't believe in my heart that politicians did much more than think about their own careers. Why I'm thankful: This may be true for some, but my experience with the ONE Campaign has taught me that real change happens in Washington, DC. Real lives are changed, and not only do I have a say in the matter, I have a responsibility to speak up. Photo credit: Rob Pongsajapan
Facebook 4 of 6Sigh. Facebook. I've been a die-hard Twitter user for years, and still am. Facebook, for me, has been like the Windows 98 version of Twitter. Why I'm thankful: Facebook has given me a way to connect my past and present lives to my online life in a way Twitter hasn't. I love even the fleeting connections I feel with old friends and family there.
Composting 5 of 6I love gardening. I love worms. I love the environment. But I hate composting. It's gross, and I'm lazy. Why I'm thankful: Portland gave people like me a kick in the butt by deciding to pick up garbage twice a month instead of weekly, and requesting we compost all food scraps. All it required was a change of habit...hardly any more work. It was important for me to do, and I'm thankful my town expected me to step up. Photo credit: Slam Szapucki
My kid’s spirited personality 6 of 6This photo makes me laugh every time. This is my son scooping the seeds out of a pumpkin. That face is partly put on for effect, but it sums him up...he's extremely vocal about things he doesn't like. Why I'm thankful: Being this kid's mother has stretched my every belief and capability. There have been some hard, hard years. But I am a bigger person because of him. More compassionate, more confident, and a lot tougher. Plus, we laugh a LOT.
So there you have it; The List of Small Lemons For Which I’m Thankful. May all your lemons be small as well. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Asha Dornfest is the co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less and the publisher of Parent Hacks, a site crammed with tips for making family life easier.