Sunday, December 6, 2020

Gratitude and 2020

This year, it feels both harder and easier to be thankful.  2020 has been overwhelming.  The pandemic, climate change, civil unrest, political polarization, racial injustice, social isolation, school closures, and pregnancy after loss, have all brought up a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.  But at the same time, 2020 has forced me to do a lot of inner work and to appreciate things that I took for granted before.  Uncomfortable feelings have led to growth, awareness, learning (and unlearning), slowing down, solidifying values, and self care.  I'm not anywhere near where I want to be, but I have been able to devote undivided attention to both collective and internal issues that have flown under my radar for far too long.  Truthfully, neither the external work nor the inner work will ever be done to my satisfaction, and disappointment is certain.  I realized that I needed to come to terms with this by being at peace with myself.  To be fully present for learning opportunities, to create sustainable change, and to show up for others, I had to show up for myself.  For me, practicing gratitude during these torn times has helped me to move away from a place of guilt and go forward with a sense of hope.

Perhaps the biggest responsibility either of us has ever dreamed of holding is now on the horizon.  We are about to be parents of the next generation.  This has put us in both a vulnerable and empowering position over the last seven months.  To put the timing into perspective, I had literally just finished all of the infertility tests before things shut down, I was six weeks pregnant when we marched in a Black Lives Matter protest, my second trimester was overshadowed by the wildfires, and the elections were happening as I was entering the third trimester.  Throughout this time, we have had many conversations about how we can raise our child to become a socially responsible and self aware adult.  Our conversations always go back to how important it is for us to model what we want to see.  So, there is no better time to stop beating myself up, to stop acting like things need to be in my control, to stop hiding my weaknesses.  There is no better time to practice gratitude to reconcile vulnerability and empowerment.  I've been feeling positive and courageous about raising our kid together and about making progress as a society, even in this messy world, even though I'm still cleaning up my own mess.  I think that a big part of this is recognizing the good in the world, and the good in me.  

I feel grateful to start a family together, grateful for the opportunity to both teach and learn from our child.  I feel grateful for my health and my family's health.  I feel grateful to have our comfortable home.  I feel grateful that I have reconnected with hobbies that fulfill me.  I feel grateful for a job that satisfies me and for every parent, child, and teacher who has touched my heart through the Internet in the last eight months.  I feel grateful to have a supportive, smart, and selfless circle of friends.  I feel grateful for the 6-foot-distanced outdoor chats, phone calls, text messages, Instagram interactions, Facebook comments from people near and far.  I feel grateful to be breathing, grateful to be alive.  Grateful to give my all to what's to come.