Gratitude, Schmatitude

21 Nov

Some years ago, I asked my children what they wanted for Christmas. Actually, I ask them what they want for Christmas every year, but I’m talking about a specific year. Money was tight, tighter than it had been in years just prior. The children asked for myriad things that we couldn’t afford. I used their lists for inspiration but bought things I could afford. So, instead of the My Little Pony Magical Castle with running water and a hot tub, I got my daughter a smaller MLP play set and some MLP bubble bath.

Christmas morning came and the children woke early, begging to go downstairs. I went with them, anticipating their whoops of joy and excitement. When she got to the tree and saw her gifts arrayed under it, my daughter said, “I didn’t ask for these things. These must be someone else’s toys.” Then she started crying, wondering where Santa had left the things she ordered.

My children have since been instructed in the ways of Santa. Even when they still believed that their stuff came down the chimney, they knew that Mom and Dad had to pay Santa for the toys. “Why?” they wanted to know. “Because the world is over-populated,” I told them, “and Santa couldn’t possibly make all the toys for all the children in the world.” I think I fed them a line about the elves only making wooden toys; “Santa has to buy all the branded stuff,” I explained.

My son has graduated from wanting really expensive game systems to wanting really expensive musical instruments. We’ve taken to giving him money or gift cards that he can combine with gift cards from family to purchase what he desires. Giving cash and gift cards is so boring, though.

One Christmas, my mother gave my siblings and me really nice fleece sweaters from Land’s End. Each sweater had a surprise in the pocket…a crisp large denomination bill. I decided to use my mom’s idea for my son. I found a cozy shearling-lined hoodie that I knew he’d like. I put a large denomination gift card in the pocket. I put it under the tree. He loved it. He looked for other presents. There were none. “That’s it?” he asked, “a hoodie?”

“It’s nice hoodie,” I said.

“It’s a hoodie,” he said. “I got a hoodie.”

“Put it on,” I said.

“Mom, it’s a hoodie. It’ll fit.”

“Just put it on. It was expensive. I want to see if it looks good on you.”

“Fine,” he said. I figured he’d put his hands in the pockets, the way everyone does when they try on a hoodie. He stood in front of me, arms limp at his sides, disappointment draining from his pores.

“There,” he said. “It’s on. It’s a hoodie.”

“Look in the freaking pockets,” I said.

He looked in the pockets, pulled out the gift card and looked sheepish. But did he say thank you? No.

I’m not freaking out about his apparent lack of gratitude, though. Frankly, I’m a little burnt out on gratitude. There are gratitude societies, gratitude experiments and any number of gratitude websites. Gratitude has replaced grace as the favored state.

All this emphasis on gratitude leaves me feeling like an ingrate. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the good things in my life. I’m just getting really tired of apologizing for expressing disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, resentment and the range of other emotions we’re told are negative and will eat our souls if we let them.

My sister is an artist and teacher. She’s tenured and has two advanced degrees in her field. Until this year, she had a job she loved teaching the art topics she loves to students who loved them. That’s all changed because of budgeting concerns in her district. She now splits her time between two campuses, traveling between them daily. Her student and class loads have been changed so that she’s teaching students who don’t want to be in school, let alone art.

She’s angry, frustrated and sad. She’s embarrassed to talk to me about it because I don’t have a teaching job. She’s in a crappy situation. Even though I’ve told her it’s more than ok to complain to me about it, I can tell she thinks she doesn’t have that right. At least she has a job, she reasons.

My mother died three years ago. Hers was a long, slowly-progressing illness that every year took more and more of her freedom. At the end, she was on just about every kind of support a life can need and it still wasn’t enough. We chose to end it. Her suffering ended and, for that, we are all grateful. But she’s still dead and it still sucks. And every day that I remember she’s dead, it sucks all over again.

I’ve been a runner long enough now to know it is in repairing the tiny tears running creates that my muscles grow. I am grateful that there is benefit in the training I’m doing. But, I’ve got to do the damage first. Ice and ibuprofen help ease the pain, but only time makes the permanent changes possible.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh instructs his followers to be where they are. If you are happy, be happy. If you are angry, be angry. If you are frustrated, be frustrated. If you are sad, be sad. Tell yourself, “This is me being sad.”

When my mother died, there were days I could hardly tell you who I was. There were days I expected to be swallowed whole by sadness. I told myself, “This is me afraid I will be swallowed by sadness.” When I missed her terribly? “This is me missing my mother.”

I will not rush to gratitude through the challenges in my life. I will sit with them; I will honor them. Then I can give myself completely to thanks.

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153 Responses to “Gratitude, Schmatitude”

  1. Bobbi Meier November 21, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    wow. very powerful. i love you

  2. jmlindy422 November 21, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Thanks. I love you, too!

  3. thewaiting November 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    You said that so much better than I ever could. I’m slowly learning that wherever I am and whatever I feel, that is a special place that deserves reverence and thought. And yeah, sometimes it’s just not time for gratitude, but that isn’t something I or anyone else should feel guilty about.

    • jmlindy422 November 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks. Took me a while to learn these lessons, too. Bebe will be a little Zen master.

    • lbyers01 November 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  4. mohanmohan November 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Your zen master is right. Follow his advice.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      I never really “got” Buddhism until I discovered Thich Naht Hanh. I’m hooked!

  5. Babb Photo November 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    These emotional responses are normal and therefore it’s normal that you need time to work through them and doing so allows you to move onwards.

  6. Boggleton Drive November 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    As a teacher, I can relate to your sister’s frustration. Ugh! Great post – a very interesting read.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Thanks! I’m a teacher, too, but one of the ones that couldn’t find a job. So, here I am with my certificate and my student loans and my tiny job tutoring and my other tiny job writing a newspaper column. The blog keeps me sane.

      • bhushan November 24, 2011 at 12:14 am #

        Hang in there, Teach’ 🙂
        Bonjovi- Livin on a prayer. Written and sung for so many of us 🙂
        God bless.

      • jmlindy422 November 24, 2011 at 9:42 am #

        Ohhhh. Bonjovi! Haven’t heard that in a long time. I’m finding a lot to relate to in Foo Fighters’ “Walk.” Thanks.

    • wheredreamscollide November 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      agreed!

  7. kvetchmom November 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Very well said! I really enjoyed reading your blog.

    http://kvetchmom.wordpress.com

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks, kvetchmom. We do a certain amount of kvetching here are our house. In fact, I”m getting ready to blog about being a multi-cultural family that celebrates Hanukkah, Christmas, Bodhi Day and Chinese New Year. Again, thanks.

  8. jocellita November 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Wow, that’s really good and certainly something I needed to read. Thanks! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. 🙂

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      So that’s what happened! I wondered where all of these comments were coming from. Thanks for the kind words.

  9. hshquilts November 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    I totally relate to your blog! Just recently I was talking to some friends and they were all saying that when you give a gift you can’t be upset if the recipient doesn’t like it. I had to disagree with them. Both parties are allowed to be disappointed and show it. I think too often people are put in compromising situation by acting like they have different feelings then they really do. I’d rather know someone doesn’t like a gift I’ve given them rather then be giving them a similar gift later on and them having to graciously accept that one as well! I think that starts a vicious cycle that can end relationships of all kinds.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks! I try to give people the kinds of things they give me. My mom loved to give clothes, so giving clothes to her was a sure bet!

  10. PCC Advantage November 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Well, you had me laughing near the beginning when with the whole, “Santa has to buy all the branded stuff”, and by the last line, you had me respecting you so much! What an amazing post!

    You certainly deserve to be Freshly Pressed today! Congratulations! 🙂

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks! I’m humbled, to say the least.

  11. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson November 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    This is a really beautiful piece. I think your title is off-putting and you might not get as many readers because they may fear that they’ll be getting something snarky — which this is not. I’m so glad that I decided to go beyond the title.

    “I will not rush to gratitude through the challenges in my life. I will sit with them; I will honor them. Then I can give myself completely to thanks.”

    These words feel true to me. I wish I had written them.

    Nice to meet you. 😉

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

      Nice to meet you, too. Titles are always tricky; I try to be amusing but don’t always succeed. They say that you should put “ten tips” or stuff like that in the title to make people more likely to read them, but that doesn’t feel real to me. I’m glad you went past the title, too. I’m known for being snide and irreverent. Glad it didn’t get snarky! And thanks for the lovely words.

    • Anne Schilde November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

      I agree it was misleading, especially under “snide reply” but we clicked it anyway. I just wasn’t expecting what I read.

      • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

        Food for thought, Anne.

  12. Rae November 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I really enjoyed the honesty and beauty of your post. You really deserve being Freshly Pressed!

  13. Dounia November 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    This is such a honest and heartfelt post. It was beautiful to read, so thank you for sharing such deep sentiments. And congratulations on being freshly pressed – it is very much deserved.

  14. Go Send or Disobey November 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Yes, I am one of those bloggers who often posts a list of all the stuff they are grateful for however I agree with your last paragraph, “I will not rush to gratitude through the challenges in my life. I will sit with them; I will honor them. Then I can give myself completely to thanks.” That is what I am often doing on the days I don’t post a gratitude list. Being perpetually grateful is difficult and quite often detracts from the lesson the experience is designed to teach us. I do believe that gratitude does develop a better attitude about life but there are sometimes when we just need to be gloomy and snarky.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  15. kitkatlikereflexes November 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Excellent post. In a world of politically correct robots, it’s nice to hear someone speak about real emotion. Congratulations!

  16. patricemj November 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Thank you. I hope you won’t mind if I say I am grateful for your post:). When we own our suffering, we actually do the world a favor. People who deny theirs, tend to make more trouble for the rest of us. If you don’t shed your tears, somebody else will.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

      I don’t mind your gratitude at all. Thank you.

  17. sweetsound November 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Beautiful

  18. sarahpalma November 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    This is refreshing and honest. Thank you, and congrats!!

  19. Sarah November 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Gratitude is great & healing. Fake gratitude is fake, as is any emotion or attitude we try to take on without doing whatever it takes to get there. Thanks for the “be where your feet are” advice. Thich Nhat Hanh is so clear and understandable. I also have found Stephen Bachelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs tremendously helpful.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

      I will have to check out Buddhism Without Beliefs. Thanks for reading.

  20. She's a Maineiac November 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Thank you for this post. And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    This is something I’ve learned over the years: it’s okay to be angry, it’s not the end of the world to feel frustration, even sadness. We aren’t going to die if we experience these emotions. Sometimes, we need to experience these emotions, not sweep them under the rug to only fester and grow later on.

    I am sorry you’ve lost your mom. My dad died years ago and I fully let myself grieve for him then, and still do allow myself to get sad and cry even though it’s been 20 years. I miss him. I am sad he’s not here to see his grandkids. It’s okay that I feel this way. I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s ‘You Are Here’ book (I’ve read all of his books but that one is one of my favorites).

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks! I haven’t read “You Are Here.” I enjoyed “For A Future To Be Possible” very much and it’s the last I read of his.

  21. thewaiting November 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Congratulations on being pressed, freshly! 😀 😀 😀

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Oh, man. Who knew what mania it would produce!? Thanks. I’m kind of dazzled at this point, trying to moderate all the comments, etc. Looking forward to a Bebe update!

  22. societyred November 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Really great! And inspiring. I love your reference to running and building muscles and how pain is related to permanent positive change.
    Thank you and congratulations!

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

      Well, you’re welcome and thanks to you, too, for the nice words. Are you a runner? I’m a little obsessed with it as my kids will attest.

      • societyred November 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

        Until a couple years ago I loved running but unfortunately my knees demanded that I slow the pace. My replacement obsession is now hiking and grandkids 🙂

  23. gayle wu wei November 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    I never thought that appreciating or showing gratitude was mutually exclusive with having/feeling honest emotions…though I do think the point is to evolve past suffering–especially those pains and hurts we inflict upon ourselves through our expectations and judgement.

    My bf’s kids too often act just in the manner you describe…pouting and whining and refusing to feel thankful for what they did get, somehow believing the world owes them exactly what they want, when they want. Sorry…I absolutely lose it when I hear that. And even more so, when I hear or it’s implied feeling that way is A-o.k.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      I think most kids grow up to be grateful adults. I’m sure I was pretty unbearable…wait…I know I was unbearable. Being immature is what being a kid is about. Now, if they are still whining, etc., when they are adults, then they will pay the price because adults don’t put up with that stuff from adults. Thanks for reading!

  24. valentinedee November 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Excellent post. Straight from the hip. I like that.

    http://valentinedefrancis.wordpress.com

  25. scribblechic November 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    For me gratitude is my mother’s voice reminding me that even in times of difficulty, my life is not without blessings. That said, I love that you honor your feelings by embracing sadness with the same measure you embrace happiness.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

      You remind me that something my mom said to me about my son has kept me going at those moments when I just wanted to give up. Thanks for your kind words.

  26. storyofalice November 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    I really, really liked this part:

    ‘When my mother died, there were days I could hardly tell you who I was. There were days I expected to be swallowed whole by sadness. I told myself, “This is me afraid I will be swallowed by sadness.” When I missed her terribly? “This is me missing my mother.”’

    and I wish I could embrace the same emotions, but I’m afraid.

    Certainly something to think about, thank you.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

      Oh, it has been a long road to being able to even talk about my mother’s death. This is the first time I have written about it, though I did write about having a dream that I should write about it. When my son was little, he would have terrible tantrums. One day, he told me that they were so bad because he was “afraid the mad would never go away.” I think that’s what frightens us about loss. You can’t grieve and then be done with it. I hope you find the courage to deal with whatever it is that’s frightening you.

      Thanks for your kind words about my writing. It means a lot to me to reach people.

  27. ashaustrew November 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    I’m glad you were on Freshly Pressed. I needed this today.

  28. Anna November 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    I love the analogy with running (actually, I love running!). In recent years, I have learned that emotional pain helps me become stronger and deal with more emotional stress as it is dealt (and there has been a lot of that recently). You put it so much better than I could though! Each “new normal” is a stepping stone toward the next.

    Great post! Thank you!

  29. Trick Brown November 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    Very nice to read some sensible advice. You are who you are. You change every day. Sometimes life is just being who you are today.

  30. Anne Schilde November 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    This is the third time in as many days I’ve been reminded of Robert Browning’s poem…

    “I walked a mile with Sorrow;
    And ne’er a word said she;
    But, oh! The things I learned from her,
    When Sorrow walked with me.”

    Sitting down with our challenges and honoring them is the right thing to do. I hope when the time comes to stick your hand in the hoodie pocket, you find something to be extra grateful for.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      Oh, I’m so forgetful that I always find something interesting in my hoodie pockets. Often, it’s money I left there a few weeks before. Thanks, Anne.

  31. Anne Taite November 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Reading this post was well timed for me tonight. We should allow ourselves to sit with our emotions, validating them for what they are. I honestly believe that is the way to be comfortable with them. Thank you for putting words to this!

  32. luckythirteen05 November 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    No thank you after finding a gift card in the hoodie?! I would have pitched a fit… You’re a bigger person for that..

    Honoring emotions–I like that. Good or bad or whatever. It’s better than feeling numb… We should enjoy our feelings no matter what.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      I think I wrote that I didn’t flip out. I did make him say thank you and he was, indeed, grateful. Boys aren’t the best at expressing feelings, at least my boy isn’t. You’re right; feeling is much better than numb. Thanks for reading.

  33. another cog in the blog November 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    not only is this very nicely written, but the content is phenomenal as well. as a counselor, this is the perspective i help people shift to. it follows the concepts of mindfulness, which i also practice. thank you so much for sharing your wise and inspirational thoughts. i will definitely follow your writings!

  34. MJ, Nonstepmom November 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    I really hate the Santa thing; with my son, he was taught it was just a story from the get go. but my stepdaughters are firm believers. Once when the discussion of children not having a nice Xmas was discussed the older girl announced “if they were good santa would bring them stuff!” I just hate the whole scam. Sorry for your loss, really enjoyed reading!

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

      Thanks! Once, when I was talking to my daughter about what Santa would bring her, her older brother whispered to me, “So, you’re going to lie to her, too.” Thanks for reading and the kind words.

  35. Huffygirl November 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Wonderful points and so well put. I have felt for some time that the young people in the US are growing up with a sense of entitlement, despite the best efforts and parents and others to teach gratitude. Perhaps it comes from a combination of growing up with instant gratification. Our young people never have to wait for anything – they have their phones, music and the web at their constant beck and call.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed – always a great ride.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

      I’m trying to teach my kids that there is a difference between “want” and “need.” They are actually getting good at it! Thanks for the kind words. Great ride, indeed!

  36. brendabrooks November 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Interesting thoughts and sensibilities nicely expressed. Thank you.

  37. faithandstagefright November 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    I think you hit the nail right on the proverbial head at the end: “I will not rush to gratitude through the challenges in my life. I will sit with them; I will honor them. Then I can give myself completely to thanks.”

    Your thoughts and feelings are uniquely YOURS, and they should be honored. You should never apologize for feeling a certain way. False gratitude is worse in many ways than ungratefulness or entitlement. Everything in life has a process, and for each person the journey is different. Honor that first: Real gratitude comes naturally after.

    Great perspective!

  38. Mediamichele November 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Boy oh boy I wish I had written this post!! I totally am on the same page and just can’t find it in me to feel the gratitude when things are so bad everywhere. Thank you for your wise perspective. I can’t even get the energy to write this month.

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      Writing and running…two things I love that I frequently have to MAKE myself do. If I don’t, then I get in a spot like today. Didn’t run yesterday. Told myself I’d do it today and then had an emergency with the dog! Hope you get your writing mojo back soon. Thanks for reading.

  39. delicio8 November 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    I want to add my thanks to everyone else’s. You touched something that many people needed to hear. You also gave me a new teacher to check out! Thich Naht Hanh. I love being shown new doors. So this is me, feeling thankful!

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

      What a lovely comment! This is me, hoping you love Thich Naht Hanh. If you get a chance, check out beliefnet. They used to have a guided mediation by Hanh. He has the most darling voice. So soothing.

  40. brooktrout November 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    You have an excellent voice. You make me smile. Congrats on being FP.

  41. Life Normal November 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Great post! But how do you have time to write so much?

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      I wish I could write more! I write when the kids are gone or when my husband will keep them out of my hair. I don’t have a full-time gig so I have more time than many others do, but I also have less money. Still, I wonder where the time goes when it’s the end of the day and I haven’t done what I intended. Thanks for the compliment.

  42. wutheringwillow November 22, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I feel guilty too when I feel sad, when I feel bitter about things gone wrong, when I feel angry as I see that no matter how much I achieve I can never please those around me. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      You’re welcome. Thanks for reading.

  43. The Hook November 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    Very engaging post, young lady. You touched my heart – no easy task!

    • jmlindy422 November 22, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      Thanks. It’s been gratifying to know I touched so many people but especially someone with a Batman gravatar. LOVE Batman.

  44. Karaboo November 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    This was very inspirational for me tonight. My blog from yesterday has left me nervous that my family wouldn’t understand my perspective on the subject (a family tradition). I wish I had read this earlier in the day – it would have saved me some grief that I have been giving myself ever since I posted it.

    Thank you!

    Oh – and congratulations on being FP’d!!

  45. thenextlapp November 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    really beautiful! thank you for that.

  46. paulaturner November 22, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    “Then I can give myself completely to thanks” – that’s the part some people get stuck on – they do not get past the negativity or the anger or the frustration – they hold on to it. I believe that “sitting with” your emotions is a HUGE part of what one needs to do to deal fully with an emotion and then give themselves to thanks. I know many people, though, that dwell on the negative aspects; it’s as if they are most familiar with chaos or negativity. Grief is an emotion all unto itself – I grieve for people and relationships and lives that are long past. I do not think that is a negative emotion. Missing someone or situations simply means they had value in your life.
    That being said, I love to find gifts for others that I think will be “just right”. And sometimes I am “just so wrong”. I have come to understand that it is not a reflection of the person’s appreciation for the thought, or even the gift, just that it does not actually “fit” their needs or wants. It does not change the joy I have in giving.

  47. MyTwoCents November 22, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    This was an awesome post. I wish more people had that “be where you are” attitude. Feel what you/re feeling until you/re done feeling it, or being it. Then regroup and proceed!

  48. Aurora, HSP November 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing timeless messages 🙂

  49. scream911 November 23, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    I like hoodie’s. I also like this post. A lot.

  50. kartoffelpfannkuchen November 23, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    I’ve just had a profound experience concerning “gratitude”.
    After ten years of separation, I met a guy who -after initial irritation- fell in love with me.
    At least he said so about 3 to 5 times a day, claimed I am the woman of his life, a 100%-match, that he’s looking forward to spending his entire future with me and didn’t get tired to point out how much he misses me whenever we weren’t together.
    Sounds too good to be true? Yes, possibly. Though, he’s usually a highly serious and reliable type of guy, not a romantic sap at all. Being middle-aged, he showed me “the time of my life” for a short time. And that’s exactly why our falling-apart in the end hurt so much. Should I be grateful because he shared experiences and pleasant times with me
    not just a few other women probably never experience or should I be irked and hurt
    because he promised me so much and kept so little in actual effect? Wouldn’t it have been better never to rise to these dizzying heights to avoid the fall? I know they say:
    “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”, but I’m not so sure:
    What you don’t have, you cannot lose, right? You can miss it plenty, though….

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:43 am #

      Oh, the stories we all have about loves lost. Thank you sharing.

  51. Darcy Isla November 23, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    A very refreshing point of view. I am quite proud of being familiar with my emotions and being happy to let them wash over me in turn, so this rings true to me; I think it is important to acknowledge every feeling and accept it, let it take place, and only then can you get on with your life with a healthy mind. Thank you!

  52. Edward Hotspur November 23, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    This was beautiful. Your kids are lucky – they have a parent who has really figured something out about life.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks. I’m pretty sure my kids don’t thing I’ve figured anything out, though!

  53. ldsrr91 November 23, 2011 at 5:44 am #

    Nice work. Word of caution, the gratitude thing, it doesn’t get any better with age. Be ready. A couple of years ago, I quit getting stuff for our kids, now I just take the money that I would spend on them at Christmas and I give it to the waitress in the cafe, I tip the kid who helps me out on the weekends, the mailman, stuff like that.

    They seem to appreciate it the most. Our kids on the other hand, do not.

    The one that gets me is the “tip jar” on the counter of the coffee shop. I am supposed to tip you for serving me, give me a break.

    DS

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Love the idea of giving the money to others. Thanks for the compliment.

  54. Josh November 23, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    This post made my night! I’ve enjoyed reading it from the beginning til the end – which I anomalously don’t do with such lengthy blog entries. I really felt the emotion you’re trying to portray. Excellent syntax of writing.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:40 am #

      Thanks. I know I write long, but it’s what feels right for me.

  55. littlemisswednesday November 23, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    This was truly a great read. You are so right! Thank you

  56. Natasha Devalia November 23, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    What a refreshing post. Mind if I share?

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:38 am #

      Sharing is fine as long as I’m credited. I had a post ripped off once; it didn’t feel good! Will have to check your blog out. Thanks for the nice words.

      • Natasha Devalia November 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

        Hi! I’d just introduce your post and send the readers over to your site – full credit. I fully understand our concern. Thanks for dropping by my site and for leaving your thoughts. Interesting that your daughter in from China and that you were actually thinking of bringing her to Chengdu. My husband is away in Chicago for work right now! Look forward to reading more of your stories.

      • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

        Sounds good! You know I’m in Chicago-ish, right? Naperville is a suburb of Chicago. Safe travels home for your husband.

  57. KL November 23, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Great Post! And your kids will be so grateful that you aren’t angry at their ingratitude! 😉
    I think I drive my son crazy with that same philosophy you have mentioned. When he gets mad or frustrated or disappointed that he didn’t get what he wanted, I say,
    “Sweetie, I can see you are really disappointed about that. It’s made you feel quite angry that you didn’t get what you wanted hasn’t it.” I think I’m just helping him label his emotions and be with them. He probably thinks I’m super annoying!

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:36 am #

      Oh, my god, the “honor the impulse” stuff and the super-calm mom thing. They drive my son insane. Labeling the emotions was very important when he was younger, though. Hey, moms are supposed to be annoying!

  58. thecubiclerebel November 23, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Now this was a really great post. Really. As I was reading about your son and the hoodie I thought of my two nephews who I gave and gave relentlessly to, particularly birthdays and Christmases and how they seemed so ungrateful, esp. as they got older. I FEEL YOU ON THAT. I totally relate to just sitting in whatever emotion you’re feeling. The world is far too fake and so-called polite. So many people are so rehearsed and superficial. The meat is in true emotions. Too many people are mere side orders.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks. My son loves the hoodie, by the way.

  59. kefuoe November 23, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Gosh. That was really amazing and lovely and so, so right.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks. I really seem to have struck a chord.

  60. Elizabeth November 23, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this post! I felt it right along with you… I have 3 kids and I struggle with the same issues.
    I have been attending the KAdampa Buddhist Temple in my home state and it has taught me some very powerful things, first and foremost to find what I seek within myself first and the rest will follow. Some days I find this hard but I remind myself to be who I am inside and out and the rest will be what it will be as long as I allow it to be!

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:24 am #

      I wish I’d been able to find a sangha that had children’s programming. We went to a Unitarian Universalist church for a while, but moved away and having found anything here that we like yet. Thanks and good luck with those kids!

  61. melissajayne93 November 23, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    wow! This post made me think back over past Christmas gifts I’ve received. I hope i’m always grateful, only thing is as a kid you don’t really think about your parents feelings or your reaction to their gift. Consideration and appreciation are qualities humans seem to gain with experience. Thankfully I’m at an age now where I really do appreciate the thought behind things, rather than the material.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      I’m hoping my kids grow into thanking people without being poked in the side. My daughter is getting the hang of it; my son is a hard case.

  62. lastboomerstanding November 23, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Eloquently written… and good advice. The purpose of this realm is, perhaps, to experience all that makes us human, rather than sitting on the mountain top seeking enlightenment. Even in the deepest sadness, there is an underlying joy in being – miraculously – here to experience it. Well done!

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:21 am #

      Thanks. I would love to sit on a mountain though!

  63. Rebecca Latson Photography November 23, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    I’m so glad you have been “Freshly-Pressed” or else I would have never found your blog site. I loved this post and laughed out loud while reading it, later on getting teary-eyed reading about your mother. I have an 86-year old mother who, thankfully, is doing well, but I know she will not be around forever, and I will feel like you felt. Awesome post!

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      You’re so lucky to have your mother around. She must be doing something right! Thanks for the compliment.

  64. mattjay97 November 23, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Very nice to read 🙂

  65. girl November 23, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Great writing and even better voice throughout post.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      Thanks! Love the “femmeldehyde” name.

  66. mediaudio November 23, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    What a great post!

    Holidays and big events in general tend to bring out some of the best and worst qualities in people. There is an inherent feeling of finality once the ‘big day’ arrives, even at a very young age. When it does so in a manner we hadn’t anticipated, it might feel as though somebody or even the entire world forgot about us, as if we missed our only chance at happiness. We are reminded that our hopes and wishes were exactly that. Whether judging ourselves or others, we assume this is due to a lack of gratitude or being petty or even greed. Is this merely a part of the human condition?

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      We learned, when we were kids, that the holidays were NOT the place to have drama. Not that we never had drama, but I remember the worst dramatic moments happening at non-holiday gatherings. Thanks for the nice words and the deep comment. I’ll have to ponder it.

  67. mybakingempire November 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Great post. I’ll be honest, yoga was one way in which I was able to really start feeling my feelings. They stress that when an emotion comes on, invite it in and feel it – don’t suppress it. Also, I thought this was a really beautiful line, “it is in repairing the tiny tears running creates that my muscles grow,” a great metaphor for much more than just running.

    • jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      I keep reading that yoga is a great cross training activity for runners. I’ll start some day soon, I think.

  68. Constance V. Walden November 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Regarding your mother and all human beings… The body dies, but the soul never does. I’m thankful for the fact that there is a Heaven, and I, through Christ am spared from Hell. Thanks for sharing. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  69. topiclessbar November 24, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Really good post. I haven’t talked to my parents in over two years. Maybe I’ll write an email. That’s basically what I thought after reading your post. : )

    Anyways, congrats on being freshly pressed! Now go find a teaching job!

    • jmlindy422 November 24, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      Good luck in reaching out to your parents. I hope they’re welcoming. Thanks for the good wishes.

  70. dollf8ced November 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Man this was really powerful. It really puts things into perspective. Thank you for this entry.

    • jmlindy422 November 25, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      You’re welcome. I’m glad I touch so many people with it.

  71. philosophermouseofthehedge November 26, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Nice post. My grandmother (elderly when I was born) always gave my brother and I a roll of assorted flavor Lifesaver candy. Not much – but 1) we didn’t get candy at my house and 2) we knew she didn’t have much money. My dad continued the habit after she died. I still smile when I see those candy rolls – and gave them as Christmas presents – which most just laughed about and tossed, but I didn’t care. A small memory that meant a lot to me – so I guess that memory each year was a gift to myself. I agree. Relish and savor small things in leisure especially at busy times. Thanks for the post

    • jmlindy422 November 27, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      I just may put Lifesavers in my kids’ stockings this year. I’m sure I’ll hear, “Lifesavers? You gave us Lifesavers?” and I’ll think of you.

  72. Queen Linda November 29, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Congrats on FP. A gremlin with pointy nails and bad breath slid off my shoulders after reading your last paragraph. You have done an enormous good for me today. I’m going to rest on the knowledge of a burden lifted and savor every second of it.

    • jmlindy422 November 29, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Thank you! I have my own gremlin sitting on my shoulder. The one that tells me it’s ok to skip running two days in a row. Of course, the 22 mph wind outside doesn’t help with resisting the urge to slack off. Enjoy your savoring.

  73. readingrisa November 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    First time on your blog. Love it. Your writing is poignant. Thanks for this post. It was exactly what I needed to hear, even though I didn’t realize I needed it until I read it (hope that makes sense).

    • jmlindy422 November 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

      Thanks! I’ll have to check yours out.

  74. readingrisa November 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    So poignant and just what I needed somehow. Thanks for this beautiful post!

  75. Writer Jobs December 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Great post today thanks. I really enjoyed reading it very much. You have an excellent blog here.

    Love blogging and writing? Join us today.

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  76. Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface December 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    I sometimes wish Santa had never been invented. I think it would be so much nicer if children could just appreciate gifts from their family. Perhaps children would grow up with more realistic expectations, ones not involving “magic”. I think Christmas would be just as happy, if not more.

  77. wantonwordflirt June 15, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    BRAVO! One of the best blog posts I have read.

    • jmlindy422 June 18, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Thank you so much. Writing about gratitude has become an annual Thanksgiving task.

  78. tdawneightyone October 28, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Wow. What a moving piece. I mean literally moving…I stood up and clapped half way through. This is what got me – “It’s not that I’m not grateful for the good things in my life. I’m just getting really tired of apologizing for expressing disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, resentment and the range of other emotions we’re told are negative and will eat our souls if we let them.”

    One of my truths is life is full of disappointments, some greater than others. If we don’t live within the realm of emotions that are a result of those disappointments, we’ll never grow to recognize how high the highs really are.

    Motherhood is full of gratefulness rhetoric that I am growing rather nauseous of so it was great to read something that combats all the happy, shiny people. Cheers to your vulnerable words.

    • jmlindy422 October 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Thanks, so much. You got it! This was my first post about gratitude and it got Freshly Pressed. I wrote one again next year ’cause a good friend challenged me so I suppose I have to write one again this year. I am enjoying the picture in my mind of you clapping.

  79. jgroeber December 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Thank you for finding me so I could find you. This is exactly what I needed and totally on the mark. Be where you are, but in a way this busy over-achieving fake-smiling Mama can understand. Be where you are.

  80. jmlindy422 November 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Thanks, mothershood. I like your blog theme! BTW, I’ve had kids biologically and through adoption. I just mention because I saw the “secret decoder ring” terms and thought that was a hoot.

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