Skip to main content

What's in a Name? Being Thankful When I'm Not


On a blue, raindrop-splattered background is the image of four people standing under a red umbrella with a heart on it, and the caption: Thankful Me living life with a thankful heart

I started this blog years ago, and after some deliberation, decided upon the name "Thankful Me." I didn't think I was a stunning example of gratitude; I thought that by labeling my blog (and by extension, myself) as such, I would be more conscious of my attitude each day--a little less Complaining Me, and a little more Thankful Me. I've been blogging for over 9 years now, and I am more Thankful Me than I was at the beginning, but I also recognize that my gut reaction is not always one of gratitude. However, I've also learned that with time, I can usually work my way into a thankful state of mind. (This is the spot where I shamelessly plug the blog hop that Lizzi started, Josie Two Shoes carried on, and I currently have the pleasure of hosting with some wonderful co-hosts: the Ten Things of Thankful. The exercise of looking for things to report each week that have brought me a feeling of gratitude certainly has helped me become more Thankful Me.) The point is, thankfulness doesn't always spring to the forefront; in the race of emotions, anger is often a better sprinter than gratitude. 

Let me illustrate with an example from this morning:

It all started simply enough; I had dropped my dog, Drexel, off for his monthly bath and decided to take the car through the car wash. There was one vehicle in line in front of me: a SUV with extra-wide tires and a tow hitch. The attendant was pleasant as I pulled in, and even drew a smiley-face on my driver's side window. I thought, "What a nice surprise! Maybe I'll put that on my Ten Things of Thankful list this week." After that unexpected art, the car wash proceeded as usual. The foamy soap covered my windshield. Just then, when I couldn't see a thing, the car started jerking and rocking, over and over again. Finally, the car wash stopped, and my car stopped moving. As the foam cleared a bit from my windshield, I could tell that the vehicle that had been several feet in front of me was only inches in front of me, and I realized what must have happened. The SUV had somehow stopped--perhaps his wide tires got stuck?--but the belt, pulling me through the car wash, had repeatedly rammed my car into his hitch. The car wash attendants helped get us going again, and one of them assured me that he didn't think I had hit the SUV and that there was no damage to my car. "If you do notice damage, though, come back to the office and you can fill out an incident report." The car wash started up again, the smiley-face was removed from my window (and my face) and I pulled out, parked, and got out to see the front of the car for myself. Not surprisingly, there was a round, hitch-shaped, indentation in my front bumper. When I went inside the office to report the damage and file a report, the young attendant said, "Yeah, I saw that, but I didn't know if it was there before." What?? I controlled my tongue but mentally questioned his puzzle skills. Thankful Me was nowhere to be found, but Angry Me was simmering. I took a photo of my bumper, called John and told him about my adventure, then continued on my day.

When I picked up Drexel about an hour after the accident, I was still stewing. I grumbled to the groomer. He sympathized, said he was glad no one was hurt, and told me it was a good story. I realized then that if the surveillance tape appeared on a YouTube car crash compilation video, it would probably be pretty funny to watch. (I doubt the car wash would ever post it, though.) Anyway, I got to thinking about how easy it is to be upset, when really, it wasn't a big deal. No one was hurt. The physical sensation wasn't any more violent than some of my favorite rides at Disneyland. Yes, the car sustained damage, but I am hopeful that the car wash will take full financial responsibility, as I was clearly not at fault. (I should hear from the car wash company within 3 business days.) 

I get to choose how I frame the experience. Honestly, my gut-level reaction of anger probably came just from feeling surprised and out-of-control. Holding onto that anger doesn't do me any good, though--it just leaves me with a pit in my stomach that no amount of chocolate satisfies. Gratitude, on the other hand, helps me put the situation in perspective, allows me to be calm--and even laugh--and doesn't sabotage my efforts at healthy living. (In full disclosure, I did visit Costco after the car wash incident, and I did buy a Costco-sized container of hot chocolate mix, but I haven't even opened it yet, AND I got a salad for lunch, so I count that as a win.) 

I thought it was interesting that my chance to practice what I preach came today. Last night, my mom shared with me a letter that my grandma wrote to a weatherization company years ago. My grandma, who was 85 years old at the time, had some trouble with water leaking into her home when she washed her sliding glass door. She was "determined to find out why" the water was entering her home. She got down on her hands and knees, figured out where water was pooling and, armed with an ice pick and a kitchen knife, "bored a few holes at the point where [she] figured the water should go out." Unfortunately, she could not manage to remove all the caulking that was preventing the water to drain, and so she was writing to ask the company, "Do you have an electric saw with a thin blade that you could use to dig the caulk out?"

While I love this letter for so many reasons, and can imagine my sweet little grandma tackling this problem with determination, my favorite paragraph is this one: 

"I am sorry about this. I am not a difficult person to get along with, but this has been a very trying situation."

Everyone loved my grandma. She was not a difficult person to get along with, and she set a wonderful example to me of how to deal with a situation (like a leaky door or a car wash accident) that understandably could be met with anger, but would be better handled civilly. I don't know how the weatherization company responded, but I do know that my grandma lived a life of gratitude. Even when she was faced with Alzheimer's, she would tell me of the nice things that my mom would do for her. 

When I grow up, I want to be like my grandma, who was thankful even in times when she had every right not to be. I'm still practicing, but I do want to be Thankful Me. 

How have you remembered to be thankful when you didn't really feel thankful? I'd love to hear your experiences. 


  1. That was quite the experience you had today! Although I like having a clean car, driving through the car wash isn't my favorite thing to do for fear of not getting on the track just right, even though the attendants are pointing me in the right direction. To have the kind of experience you had would have been totally unnerving.
    The letter brought back memories of her frustration about that sliding screen and door, but I was not aware of the letter until I came across it. It is just priceless.

    1. It was a pretty crazy experience in the car wash, that's for sure! :-)
      I love Grandma's letter.

  2. Sometimes it's not easy to be thankful and keep a good attitude, especially when driving around here. One thing i've said and meant for years is that the traffic around here is almost enough to turn this teetotal into a drinking woman!

    1. Traffic can be crazy. I don't drink, either, but I understand stress eating! :-)


Post a Comment

Conversations are so much nicer when more than one person does the talking. :-) Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts; I'd love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

It's #RootsTech Giveaway Time!

In February of 2018, not knowing exactly what to expect, I attended RootsTech for the first time. What I learned is that RootsTech has something for everyone, from the most beginner of beginners to professional DNA genealogists. If you are interested in your own family story, come to RootsTech! RootsTech offers over 300 classes, amazing keynote speakers, an Expo Hall packed with all sorts of vendors, and evening cultural events. 

After an enjoyable experience in 2018, I returned in 2019, and even got my husband, John, to come one of the days to hear Saroo Brierley give a keynote address. 

Speaking of keynote addresses, this week RootsTech just announced that one of the speakers for 2020 will be David Hume Kennerly, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. I can't wait to hear his story!

RootsTech 2020 will celebrate its 10th anniversary, and is bound to be the best one yet! I have been delighted to be accepted as an official RootsTech ambassador. One of the perks is that I received a c…

Ten Things of Thankful: Nearly Christmas Edition

This is a busy time of year, and though it isn't as busy for me as it has been in past years, my to-do list still seems longer than the hours in the days. However, I find that when I spend time to focus on the reason for the season, I can feel the joy of Christmas and the tasks-at-hand fall back into their proper place. This week I had the opportunity to attend some wonderful events, and I'd love to take you along for a virtual tour:

Let's start at the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, last Friday night. The Tabernacle Choir joined with the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells on Temple Square, along with dancers and guest artists Kelli O'Hara and Richard Thomas, to present a spectacular Christmas concert. Although I couldn't record any of the performance, the following 2-minute video from the church provides an overview:

The last time John and I had attended a Christmas concert by the Tabernacle Choir, they were still holding those conc…

Ten Things of Thankful: Dad's Influence Edition

Here in the United States, it is Father's Day weekend. I did not realize until recently that Father's Day was not officially made a holiday until 1972. 1972! Now, while I realize that many people consider 1972 eons ago, I do not. I'm glad that fathers have a day of recognition now, because they surely deserve acknowledgement. 
I thought for this week's Ten Things of Thankful post, I would list ten lessons I'm thankful my dad taught me.
My dad is a teacher. Not only did he impart his knowledge to countless junior high aged kids throughout his career, he taught--and still teaches--my siblings and me. He is not a preachy teacher; he's a humble man whose lessons I feel like I learned through osmosis.
When he would get home from work, we'd all sit down as a family for supper. Often, our phone would ring, and on the other end of the line would be a parent of one of my dad's students. 
Hello, Mrs. _______. How can I help you? . . . (an irate woman's voice is h…