Wondering what the next twelve months hold makes my heart beat faster. Both joy and fear simmer just beneath my skin. Faith whispers hoped for goodness and peace. In my head, and on paper, ideas for new projects are already taking shape. Possibilities dot the horizon with promise.
Yet reality is jumping up and down, vying for my attention.
I’m not getting any younger. Neither are my friends and family. Time, once dragging slowly by during my childhood, now passes by leaps and bounds. Conspiring against my best intentions it seems locked in battle with all I yet want to accomplish. Add in that the world in which we live increasingly makes less sense, uncertainty and turmoil more and more the norm as truth gets lost amid pride and greed, and contemplating what lies ahead can send debilitating fear bubbling to the surface of my psyche.
If I let it.
This past year was emotionally tough. Downright depressing. I was forced to look realty square in the face. Death. Disappointment. Betrayal. Guilt. A cacophony of doubt thrummed in my head, often drowning out common sense. I forced myself to work as I never had before, rewriting, revising, and redirecting my energy.
More importantly I rededicated myself to a practice I’d been toying with for some time: the art of gratitude.
Gratitude for life’s challenges has never come easy or naturally to me. For most of my life, I wasn’t merely a the-glass-is-half-empty kind of person. At one time, I was a the-glass-has-never-had-nor-will-ever-have-anything-in-it kind of girl. The longer I stared at the empty glass the more bitterness I accumulated. By in large animosity geared toward myself, it nevertheless spilled over to others in my life.
Ah, but gratitude . . .
The simple, too often overlooked quality of being thankful helped me see the glass was actually brimming.
Working hard—doggedly and deliberately—to find gratitude in every situation and person I encountered, bad days as well as good, heartache as well as happiness, those who worked to undermine as well as those who sought to uplift, I discovered potential where I had only perceived defeat and despair. Life suddenly became an adventure in abundance, serenity, and friendship.
Being thankful in each moment for each moment changed my life because it changed me.
And so this coming year, when reality pounds on my door—aging, illness, disillusionment, disaster—I pray I will not forget what I have learned. As I step over the threshold into 2013, my word, my hope, my beacon, the quality I will hold in my heart, trumpet from the rooftops, and praise with all my might will be none less than that of gratitude.
Lori Nawyn is the illustrator of Love, Hugs, and Hope: When Scary Things Happen by Christy Monson forthcoming from Familius in January.