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HumankindNESS: More Than We Think

By Jennifer Richardson
A couple of years ago I had the kind of week that just takes the wind out of your sails.

Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. There was lots of work to be done, at home and at work, and I was missing my family. I experienced some disappointments, some hurts, and worried over some things I could not control. I was trying to recover from a lingering cold.

And I had approximately five hundred things to get accomplished–of course this is just sensational talk—but if felt like a mountain of tasks. After my work-day, I was helping several people with issues that had deadlines, planning a large-scale event, working on tax returns, and to top off my week, I spent a couple of days painfully passing a kidney stone.

It was a recipe for feeling sorry for myself, and soon I was.

I awoke one morning with the clear thought that negativity is waste, and I resolved to focus on those things for which I was grateful. I chuckled to myself at the challenge it would be to find things to be grateful for in this very stressful week.

The glow of the streetlight outside my bedroom window caught my eye and the dormant landscape reminded me of the cold weather. As I lay in my bed I was consciously thankful to be waking up in a soft bed in a warm home.

I wandered to the bathroom to begin my morning routine, and I had a random thought about my granny telling me stories of early morning trips out to the cold outhouse. I added indoor bathrooms and running water to my list of things to be genuinely grateful for.

I passed my husband’s study and saw him working at his desk. He was calling substitute teachers in the wee hours of the morning. He is a person who works early and late, and routinely gives his all for the things in life that need to be done, and who also takes time to hug me goodbye when he heads out for his day. I added him to my gratitude list.

Descending my staircase I saw pictures of my beautiful daughters and several snapshots of my one and only grandchild. My thoughts went to a person I know who struggled greatly to have a family, and my loved ones were added to my list.

I picked up a voicemail from my mother and acknowledged that I was so blessed to have a mother and father who have loved me every day of my existence.

A text from a friend helped me celebrate the fact that there are people in the world who would drop everything and come running if I told them I needed help.

I sat down at my computer and glanced through some photos from Christmas. The smiles, the family time, the traditions, were right there in front of my eyes. What a privilege to be a part of these customs that help make us who we are.

A banana from the kitchen reminded me to add available healthy food to my list, and a functioning kitchen. After getting ready for work, I hopped into my reliable vehicle and drove out of my driveway. I listened to music, cranked on the heat, and marveled at the ability to get efficiently and comfortably to where I was going.

Walking into my school building I recognized that I had the privilege of meaningful work, with people I enjoy, and for bosses that made the effort rewarding.

As students for my first class of the day filed into my classroom offering me high-fives and greetings, I realized that it was only a little after eight in the morning, and I would literally not have time in my day to catalog all the blessings I have that I generally take for granted.

Nothing in my life had changed in those couple of hours, except my perspective. I had so much more than I thought I did.

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