Acceptance and gratitude…what 2011 taught me

Looking back over 2011, this was the year where I got serious about doing the deep soul work that you try to put off but eventually realize you have to do if you want to grow. I have always struggled with gratitude and acceptance, like so many it’s easy to take what I have for granted and want for more. Yet early this year it hit me that in my search for more, I am missing my life; instead living life through the eyes of the want monster and comparing myself to others.

Occasionally comparison can be good, but too often it sucks the life out of us. I have chosen a career path where by choosing to work at small grassroots sized agencies, the reality is a large salary is simply not going to happen. Fact is small agencies rarely have the budget to pay out large salaries and perks. Yet I have been fortunate, my hours are flexible, the type of flexibility that is a blessing when you are a parent who works outside of the home. When the six year old is sick, rarely do I have to figure out what to do, instead I can delegate to a staff member or worse case simply make the decision to be closed for the day. I am fortunate that my office is also a ten minute walk from my house so when the car decides to break down, I can walk to work. I am embarrassed to admit though that too many times in the past I have looked at my professional peers who are at larger agencies or friends who don’t work in the non-profit sector and felt bad about my career. Instead seeing people who can afford vacations, fancy toys and other things that my budget simply does not allow for and pretty much getting caught up in the woe is me dance. That dance sucks!

No, this year I have struggled to stay present in my reality instead being thankful for the blessing of my basic needs being met. Some may say that is simplistic, but all around I see those who are struggling with day to day needs and these are not my clients but friends. When I realized that several people I consider friends are regularly going to the food pantry to feed themselves and their kids, it gave me a reason to pause. I haven’t faced food insecurity since I was a kid, not even when I was a young single Mom did I worry about food. I may have worried about getting out of debt and building a nest egg but I don’t worry about the roof over my head or food on the table.

No, I don’t have health insurance since my employer is unable to offer it and my partner is self-employed but thankfully we have the means to pay out of pocket for routine care. I have to pay slowly but even my dental needs are being addressed on an on-going basis. I have an acquaintance that has identical dental issues and is unable to even afford to pay to get a tooth removed. That gave me pause. When my root canal failed and it was clear I needed to do something, I was able to get the damn thing removed.

Turns out when I am living my life, while I may not have the bells and whistles, I do have what I need and even some of what I want. There are no guarantees in life, so I accept that at this time in my life I am okay. While I have made a lot of progress with gratitude, I admit acceptance and I are still battling. For the past few months, there has been something I have wanted, but it’s starting to look like it’s just not going to happen. Mentally I have accepted it, as painful as it is but emotionally I am still working on it….to quote Bob Wiley from one of my favorite films What About Bob? “Baby step to four o’clock. Baby step to four o’clock.” It’s all about the baby steps.