This weekend as I sat on the deck looking out over the water, I closed my eyes and simply listened to the waves crashing against the rocks. I was overcome with joy. Many of the stories I often write about are from “conversations on the back deck” of our old home in America. My girlfriends and I used to laugh that between a few bottles of wine and a few hours on that deck, we were going to solve all the world’s problems.
I have no doubt that those same friends can and will leave their mark on this world and wholeheartedly believe it will be women who come together to make the world a better place. That aside, I realized as I sat on a new deck, in a new home, halfway across the world how much I had to be thankful for.
When we made the decision to pack up life as we knew it, none of us had any idea what was in store. There have been tears shed, bumps along the way, and some really tough conversations – all while trying to adjust to our new life. We had no idea what each fork in the road would lead to and as our own plans unraveled, what might happen next. There were moments of doubt.
Everyone kept telling me to give it a year just to adjust and that in year two, things would begin to settle in. I didn’t realize then just how right they were.
There was a time not long ago, I questioned everything – leaving my career, moving so far away from everything familiar, trying to launch a business, constantly wondering if the kids were adjusting, and hoping my husband would find his feet back home after being gone for over 18 years. And when everything is unknown, sometimes it feels easier to run from it all then to stand strong and let it play out.
And I am so thankful that we did and now find ourselves on the other end of doubt and uncertainty. I can’t help but be grateful for exactly where we are in this moment. But the thing I keep coming back to is while in times of difficulty we talk a lot about trust and staying the course, what about finding gratitude in the messy as well?
Our marriage hasn’t always been easy, in fact there were many times when giving up would have been easier than sticking it out. But even through those challenges, I forced myself each day to find something to be thankful for. It isn’t always an easy thing to do when life isn’t going your way. You must be intentional about how you choose to live and what thoughts you allow to take up residence in your head. It is hard to live a positive life if you are surrounded by negative thoughts.
The same can be said for people. Surround yourself with those who lift you up, who understand you yet challenge you, who push you to be your best, and who are unwavering in their support. Negativity breeds negativity. When you willingly allow it in your life there leaves little to no room for gratitude.
I used to be part of this amazing group back in the U.S, all of us had supported someone we loved through addiction. Some where parents, some were siblings, many were spouses. There was one night where this woman showed up, looking as though life had nearly stolen every breathe from her. She was exhausted. She was struggling with both her husband and her son. But even on that day, courageously owning that it was one of her lowest moments, she found something to be grateful for. It wasn’t easy but she did it. And she kept reminding herself to be grateful every single day.
Eventually she found her confidence again and came out on the other side of those circumstances.
I have also watched the same circumstances play out with a different response, one fueled by negativity.
A bad attitude is like a thorn in the side of life. And if you have ever spent any amount of time around someone who is constantly negative, you know just how exhausting it can be – an energy vacuum.
In my nearly 42 years of life, I have done my best to distance myself from people who don’t positively contribute to my life and overall well-being, but creating that space and distance isn’t always easy. We all want to see the best in people and I truly believe that for the most part, in each of us there is good – light that we allow to shine. The alternative is a life crippled by negativity.
Walking away isn’t always easy. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing, are the same thing.
Like most of us, I have had to let people in my life go. Some were certainly more difficult than others, but at the end of the day, if someone isn’t pushing you to be your best or supporting you, isn’t it better to walk away? If a relationship leaves you feeling empty, are you willing to sacrifice becoming a shell of yourself simply to appease someone else?
Shortly after we moved to Australia, one of my closest friends called me crying. It was her birthday and her best friend she had known her entire life had let her down. I listened as she described her disappointment. It wasn’t something new, as there had been many times before the same thing had happened.
At some point during that conversation, she stopped herself and simply said, “I think it is time for me to distance myself from her.”
Sometimes distancing ourselves from negativity, or in this case a disappointing friendship, can be as simple as limited time given to conversation. Other times, it can be physically distancing yourself from a person or situation. And then there are other instances, where tough conversations need to be had.
Whatever the circumstances, it is hard, but necessary. And even more important is to keep a positive attitude as you do so.
Life is short, why waste your time and energy on people or things that don’t reciprocate positivity back into your life? You can still be grateful for someone who was only in your life for a reason or a season. Even in the worst of circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for.
Though we are half a world away from those conversations on the back deck, I am still grateful for each one of them. And now that I find myself on a new deck, I am thankful for where life has taken me – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am thankful for all of it.
It doesn’t matter what you are grateful for, it just matters that you are grateful for something, anything.
Cheers to a new week!!