Gratitude Lists

Ages ago, I came across the idea of making a gratitude list, and sporadically I actually do it. 

I don’t think the point of listing things I am grateful for is to make me all perky and happy and eager to skip through the day. I think it is to serve as a reminder that, yes, life is awful, but there are also little pockets of wonderful things along the way. This is especially useful when I am depressed.

(I was worried about becoming deeply depressed a couple of months ago, but it didn’t happen. I’m not depressed now, but I can remember what it was like. No need to worry about me.)

It’s my experience that depression devours everything in its path. Everything is a burden. Everything will go wrong. Being with people is frightening and must be avoided, if possible, because people bring me harm and pain. I can still recognize when it is a pretty day but the contrast between the sunshine and the contents of my mind is unbearable. It’s not quite as awful when the sky is overcast and gloomy.

Depression devours my past and future, as well as the present. When I remember things, it is always incidents that are humiliating or hurtful to me or others. The past is full of failures, and the successes don’t count because they were no big deal – any idiot would have succeeded. Since it has been this way for my whole life, there is no reason to expect the future to be different. I cannot remember ever feeling different, so I cannot imagine feeling different in the future.  

Depression really sucks!

I have learned to recognize when I am depressed and to think of it as something foreign that has invaded me. It is not me, and it is not my truth. It is mine to handle in the moment, but I have handled it in the past, and I will damn well do it again. What if I took a short hike in a beautiful forest and happened to brush up against a fungus without knowing it? And what if that fungus invaded my body and made me miserable? That fungus would not make me worthless, pathetic, evil. It would just make me sick. That’s how I like to look at depression these days.

Back to gratitude lists. Depression or fungus, these things would remain true and would be worthy of gratitude.

My cat doesn’t care – he treats me the same as always. He still sits on my lap, and his fur is still warm and incredibly soft.

I have a roof over my head that isn’t leaking because we fixed it last year.

I have enough food, and I can eat what I want. I don’t have to choke down something I hate.

Most people think I am kind and gentle, so I must be kind and gentle, at least at times. I am not rotten through and through.

I’m not hooked on crystal meth. Or heroin. Or coke. Or prescription drugs.

My kids love me. Despite my start in life, I did not abuse them. I did not allow others to abuse them. I broke the generational chain.

The smoke plume that made the sky orange fell to earth, and our air was as bad as places right next to the fires. I stayed indoors for 3 – 4 days. But now there is an ocean breeze, and the air isn’t dangerous anymore, so I have been out gardening.

YES! I AM grateful for these things. None of these things make me feel worse, the way a bright sunny day would. And they all ring true. And I am grateful for that, too! 


Upcoming Holidays

9/22 Fall Equinox
10/1 Full moon
10/12 Columbus Day  
10/13 Backward Halloween 
10/31 Full moon (Blue Moon)
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year 
11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/2 All Souls’ Day
11/11 Veterans’ Day (?)
11/13 Friday the thirteenth 
11/14 New moon
11/26 Thanksgiving Day (United States)
11/30 St Andrew’s Day 
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
9/28 Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
10/3 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, harvest festival)
10/19 Death of Goering
10/12 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual half-birthday, 10/20, and his alternate half-birthdate six months after Easter, which fell on 4/12 this year.)
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday 
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)



* You can find more information on the following holidays at: 

 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1
 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2
 Fall Equinox
 Halloween {personal) (background)
 Yule/Winter Solstice 
 Valentine’s Day
 Spring Equinox
 Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox)
 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve:
 Mothers’ Day:
 Fathers’ Day:
 Summer Solstice (corrected text)


Dark Days and Gratitude

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

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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.)