Dark Days and Gratitude

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There have been quite a few dark days this last year. Personal days, worldwide days, man-made days, natural disaster days. No need to go into details.

I took a suggestion that I thought was a little hokey and started making gratitude lists. Hokey or not, I found it helped me avoid total paralysis. The problems remained, unsolved by me or anybody else, of course, but I wasn’t sitting in a corner shaking with fear. I was no longer enslaved by fear although it definitely remained.

At first, I was perfectionistic about it. I kept a long list and never entered the same thing twice. That way, I thought, I could reread it and remind myself of ALL the things I was grateful for. But perfectionism always makes me anxious and down on myself. “What is the matter with me? Why can’t I think of a thousand things to put on this list?” “What have I forgotten? Surely there is lots more. I have such a terrible memory. It’s not my fault, but it’s my fault I cannot improve it. I’m not even trying.” “Blah blah blah.”

Believe it or not, it took me several months to catch on to myself and to realize that there must be another way to go about being grateful. Finally, I figured out I could just note things I was grateful for in that particular moment. That sure took the pressure off!

There was an unexpected treasure hiding in those off-the-cuff lists. They showed what was really important to me. Like if I had a list of things I had Googled from the very beginning, I could see what my top hits were, where my energy was going, and how it had changed over time. RA in all its facets would be at the top and baby moose playing in garden sprinklers down near the bottom.

Top of the lists was “I am still alive.” I had thought I would be dead well before the age of thirty and I am intensely grateful I was wrong. Next were all the close relationships I have, how well we get along, how easily we bring up problems, and how willing we are to solve them, accept them, or compromise. My cat shows up regularly, too, as does financial security.

There are waves of entries about sensory pleasures. In the summer months, there is a lot about sunlight on my skin and cool breezes. In the winter, it’s the sound of rain on the roof and the way the air smells afterwards. And how the dead grass comes back to life day by day. Year-round there are entries about how nice it is to feel muscles contract, how luxurious stretching is, gratefulness for not falling down or walking into a wall. (I’ve lived most of my life out of my body, with no idea where it is in space and what it feels like unless it gets hurt.)

Today’s list:

I am grateful I have a bright, happy, curious four-year-old visiting.
I am grateful he likes me.
I am grateful his Mom took him to a science museum and I have some quiet time.
I am grateful the sun is out and the air is crisp and clean.
I am grateful the cushions on two chairs got recovered and look great.
I am grateful this blog post was fun to write.
I am grateful I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, for I surely would break them and there are enough broken things in my life already.
I am grateful for each person who reads my blog, especially those who get something out of it.

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Upcoming Holidays

12/31 New Year’s Eve
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 Full moon
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/19 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons. Christian and Jewish holidays are often desecrated.)

11 thoughts on “Dark Days and Gratitude

  1. Thank you Jean for all your blogs. I am grateful to read them and always get something out of them even though I don’t comment on them as much as I would like. Gratitude is something I try to rely on when I am depressed or feeling lonely. I do feel better after acknowledging all the things and people that I am grateful for. Some days I forget to be grateful so I’m glad that was the subject in your last blog.


    1. Doris, feedback like this is what keeps me going writing this blog, even in those periods when I have nothing to say, can’t put two sensible words together, forget where to put periods, or feel like a total fake because nothing ever happened to me. Thanks so much!


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