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. 





Comments

  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.

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

      Delete
  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!

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

      Delete

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

Ten Things of Thankful: Even in Times of Uncertainty

  A railroad switch point on the tracks at the Golden Spike National Historic Park There is a lot I don't know. I don't know who will lead the United States for the next four years (at the time I'm composing this post, that hasn't been determined yet.) I don't know when covid cases will stop rising in my state and start decreasing. I don't know how challenging situations will turn out. There is much uncertainty in life. Living in limbo-land is hard. It's emotionally exhausting. It can be immobilizing. My body seems to think chocolate is the answer, but I know that isn't a long-term solution. What do I need in times like these? I need to REMEMBER . 1. R esilience. People are resilient. I am resilient. I'm thankful for resilience. 2. " E ach Life That Touches Ours for Good." So many people, both those I know in "real life," and those I have only met virtually, have taught me, encouraged me, and been examples to me. I'm thankful

Ten Things of Thankful: August Arrives!

A wild sunflower shows its cheery yellow petals My teacher friends are preparing to return to the classroom, whatever that looks like in their district. In any other year, I would be getting excited about BYU's Education Week. 2020 isn't like any other year, though, is it? Ed Week has been postponed to a date TBA and changed to an online format. While I am happy that I am getting projects done around the house, and I'm generally content to live the life of a hermit, I'm literally dreaming of going to Disneyland, which makes me think I must be getting a little case of cabin fever. (I'm not usually a big dreamer, or if I am, I don't usually remember my dreams. This one was particularly funny, I thought: I was in line to get into Disneyland. In front of me in line were the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Cook was having trouble and his ticket wasn't scanning. I said to the cast member, "He's OK. I can vouch fo

Ten Things of Thankful: From Sunrise to Moonset

Cars and trucks on a highway travel toward the rising sun                                    John and I made a quick, task-oriented trip to California last week. We wore our masks and stayed at an acceptable social distance from others (which is hard for grandchildren to understand, but we mostly succeeded.) We're now home, and at the "I need a vacation to recover from my 'vacation' " stage, which makes sitting down to compose a TToT post a bit of a challenge. However, I know that I will feel better by the end of this post, so bear with me if you will.  1. I'm thankful that we had no problems with traffic going there or coming home. We left our hotel at about quarter to four on Friday morning. The early start, fewer families traveling this year, or, most likely, a combination of the two, made for an easy drive.  2. I'm thankful for books to help pass the time. We haven't actually finished yet (as I was reading aloud, and my voice can only last for so l