Gratitude Prompts: Days 12, 13, and 14

I know, I know…I missed a few days of gratitude this week, didn’t I? Oops! Well, let’s be honest. I’m not perfect, and sometimes things slip through the cracks, and this was just one of those weeks…and it hasn’t even reached crazy capacity just yet! I can’t wait to share more with you guys next week, but I will tell you that right now, this is one crazy, hectic, amazing week!

So, to catch up on day 14…I owe you days 12 and 13, too!

Today, my husband and I should be on a plane. We should be on our way to St. Kitts and Nevis to spend 4 days in a Nevis Peak Suite at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbor Resort. We were so looking forward to it, but the Coronavirus said no. We are disappointed, but trying not to let it get us down too much. So, that said…here are my gratitude prompts for the past few days and today.

Day 12: What keeps you grounded?

My husband, for sure. He is the exact opposite of me. He’s calm and cool and collected to my very temperamental hotheaded kind of crazy. He is always reasonable when I’m emotional. He doesn’t panic. He is calm, and there is always a logical answer to any situation. He keeps me grounded in every manner of speaking. When I’m mad, he reminds me that things aren’t that big of a deal. When I’m sad, he reminds me I have so many more things to be happy about. When I’m overwhelmed, he reminds me that it’s my choice to be overwhelmed and I should let go of my obsessive compulsive need to do everything myself and ask for help (well, he’s nicer about it than that, but you see what I’m saying). He’s my rock, and I love that about him.

Day 13: What is the biggest miracle of your life?

Honestly? Once again, I’d say my husband. How I managed to find someone who is so good to me and so kind and such a good father and such a strong person is beyond me. Especially at such a young age! We found one another when we were only 18. That was more than half our lives ago. The biggest miracle, to me, is that even after almost 19 years together, it’s not boring. We share an office. We have four kids. We are together like 98% of our lives, and we aren’t tired of one another. I’m still so attracted to him. I still love him so much. I still need him and want him even more after so many years together. I can’t explain it, but it feels like such a miracle to not only get to spend every day with someone I love so much, but someone I just plain like a lot, too. I don’t take that for granted.

Day 14: What does it mean to be free and fulfilled?

Can I just stop for a moment and tell you how much I love this question? It’s such a good question! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: for me, freedom and fulfillment go hand in hand. For me, being free means living life on my terms. It means not answering to someone else every day of my life. It means making my own schedule and my own choices and my own opportunities. It means not being on someone else’s terms every single day. It means going to the store and never worrying about price tags. It means being free of fear and the mundane.

Fulfillment is so similar to me. It’s that feeling of going to bed at night with a full, happy heart knowing that I don’t dread the following day. There is something so fulfilling about knowing each day, each season, is my own choice. It’s knowing that I can create all I want in life, and that I can do it around the things that are most important to me, like being present for my kids. It means knowing that I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and so much more is just an added bonus. It means loving where I am, and being excited about where I am going.

Gratitude Prompt Days 9, 10, and 11

I love when I get to go into a long weekend worth of gratitude…though I wish I had the time to do them all one day at a time! No, that’s not true. I love that I don’t worry about things on the weekend. I focus on having fun, making memories, and living my best life. That brings me to days 9, 10, and 11 of gratitude.

What’s a moment in your life that was pure joy and light?

The first night both of the twins were home from the NICU and we were able to put them into their sweet little bed in our bedroom, together, for the first time. Carter was discharged a day before Charlotte, and we had to leave her behind. They were in the NICU for a week after they were born, and we lived in the hospital with them – even after I was discharged, they let us keep our room.  We were in the NICU every three hours, 24 hours a day, to feed them, cuddle them, and spend time with them. When Carter was discharged, we made the decision to stay as late as possible, go home and be with our older girls, take them to school in the morning, and then come back. I cried all the way home with a broken heart. I never imagined being in a position where we’d take one baby home but not the other.

My heart was broken all night long, and I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital to be with our girl the following morning. When we got there, they were so excited to tell us that they were sending her home with us. She had a very rough night – as did Carter – which wasn’t something they’d ever had. They were both so upset and inconsolable for the first time since they’d been born, but when they were together again…they both relaxed, calmed down, and were happy and content once again.

The moment we got home and had all four of our babies together, the twins together, was the sweetest moment of pure joy. It was the first time the girls got to hold Charlotte (they held Carter the night before when we got home) and see the babies in person because of NICU rules. It was the most magical moment.

What season are you grateful for?

When we had Addison, we knew immediately we wanted all the babies. When we decided to have number two, we were shocked, crushed, heartbroken, and horrified when I suffered two miscarriages before our sweet Ava joined us. That season was the single worst thing we’d ever been through in our lives separately, together, and in our marriage. Losing babies is debilitating – even when you never got to hold them.

I would never wish that season on anyone, ever. But, it is the season I think that I am most grateful for in hindsight. We’d never been through anything difficult in our marriage or life until then. To go through that was a moment that hurt more than anything in the world, but to see how much stronger it made us, how much closer it brought us, and how much we leaned on one another during that time…that’s strength, and I cannot tell you how much more we appreciate one another, love one another, and how much less we taken for granted in life as a result.

I hated that season, but I’ll never forget our sweet Ava the day she asked us a question that made me realize that God’s timing is flawless.

“Do you think Carter and Charlotte are our angel babies we never got to meet that went to Heaven? Because I think they are. God decided we needed them,” and that’s when I realized that our season was awful, but she’s right. We did need them. If we’d had them before, we never would have known Ava, and what would life be like without her? God knew what we needed, and He provided.

What was the best thing that happened today?

Well, I’m writing this in advance, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what the best thing is that happened to me on the day that I’m writing, so it’s not specific for the day this blog is going live (full disclosure and stuff).

It’s still early in the day, but this is the moment that delighted me beyond measure already today. Per usual, I was awake and enjoying a cup of coffee while working in our bed. Charlotte woke up, woke Carter up, and went into the kitchen to ask Craig to make their breakfast. I could hear Charlotte telling daddy all about her dreams from the night before, and Carter came into the master to say good morning. He never misses a morning of coming to see me when he wakes up before I have a chance to put things down and come out to hang out. He walked over to me, he reached his hand out for mine, and I put my hand in his. He then pulled my hand up to his sweet little face and kissed the back of my hand very gently and said, “I love you, mommy,” before he told me he had a dream about chocolate muffins the night before.

That little moment just melted my heart. What could be better than that?!

Gratitude Prompt Day 8: What You Love Most

You guys…it’s Thursday. That might not mean much, but it means that we are coming up on the most exciting night ever – our first date night outside of the CAR! We’ve been having our regularly scheduled date nights almost weekly during the pandemic, but they’ve been in the car. Like, put the second and third-row seats down and have a picnic in the car kind of date nights. It’s been a lot of fun, we have some photos that will literally bring us so much laughter the rest of our lives, and we made some seriously good memories, but we get to have date INSIDE A RESTAURANT. I get to dress up. I get to wear heels. I get to DRESS UP. You guys…nothing else matters right now. I cannot wait.

What do you love most about life?

The people I share it with.

Cliché? Probably. Cheesy? I’m sure. But, the people I share my life with are, without a doubt, the absolute best thing in my world. They’re what I love most about life. My husband, who makes me smile with his kindness and his sweet demeanor, his handsome smile, and his desire to be with me 24/7 even after almost 20 years together…that’s everything to me.

Our kids, who make us laugh like crazy when they’re not making us literally crazy. They are so perfectly imperfect that I cannot even stand it. Just look at them. They are amazing! To get to be their mom is such a gift. To know that they’re cool, and funny, and that they are witty and just sarcastic enough to be funny without being impolite or rude, and that they are loving and kind and happy and generous and selfless and that somehow that’s primarily because of us is the coolest feeling in the world.

Our friends and family, with whom we live our best lives. They are always there for us. They’d do anything for us. To know that no one is ever going to go to the front door let alone ring the doorbell or knock, to know that they’re going to bring me the very special laundry detergent we use for Sweet Charlotte because of her sensitive skin after I made – and promptly forgot – a comment about how it’s getting harder and harder to find it with all the pandemic stuff going on because they saw it in the store and knew I needed it, or that I’m going to grab them toilet paper because I know they’ve not seen any lately, or to know that it’s always filet Friday/Sunday/Wednesday or that their bar is always stocked with our favorites and vice versa, to know that our kids all feel at home in one another’s homes and everyone just helps themselves, and that there is literally nothing off-limits in conversation…ever.

The people I share my life with – they are everything. They’re amazing. I don’t even know what I did to deserve them.

What do you love most in life?

Gratitude Prompt Day 7: Personality Traits

How’s everyone doing with their gratitude prompts? It’s hard to keep up with all that needs to be done each day. Some, in my opinion, require a little more thought and a little more time – there’s more to say. Others, still, are quick and easy. This is one of those for you.

What’s one of your personality traits that you’re grateful for?

This one is so easy for me, but I do have two that are right up there.

Number One: I am so grateful that I have an open mind and the ability to entertain thoughts that I don’t necessarily agree with. I find one of the least attractive personality traits in the known universe is a know-it-all. You know what I mean – the kind of person who is always right, whose opinion is always superior, who is never wrong, who becomes immediately defensive if your opinion or thoughts differ from their own. The type that makes you avoid certain topics of discussion at all costs. I love that I can have an opinion, I love that I can carry on a debate and still remain calm and respectful even when I disagree with others. I love that I can see things from other points of view not my own, and that I am generally not an asshole about things.

Number Two: I am so grateful that I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others. I feel a profound sense of sadness for people who compare themselves or try to one-up everyone. I imagine it’s an awful way to live, and it must suck so much happiness out of life to feel that way rather than to feel the desire to celebrate the victories of everyone around you. I am so grateful I feel happiness and pride when people accomplish things, or when good things happen, or when people are killing it. I also love being invited to the celebrations mainly as an excuse to get a babysitter, dress up, and have some champagne – so call me if y’all are celebrating anything. I mean, literally, anything – because I’m thrilled for you and ready to raise a glass!

What is something about your personality you’re grateful for?

Gratitude Prompt Day 6: My Proudest Accomplishments

As I sit here writing this, it’s still the weekend and it’s early. I have my coffee in my office where I’m watching my husband water the flowers around our front porch. Our hibiscus is growing vibrant pink flowers that make me smile every time I see them. Our gardenia is overflowing with fragrant white blooms that we can smell from the driveway on the far side of the house and along the walkway all the way from the driveway around the garage and to the front door.

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The French doors are open to the lanai. The picture windows along the front of the house downstairs are all open letting the cool air in, and the girls are playing quietly on their own. Our son is following daddy around ‘helping’ him with the watering. I’m reminded that these are the mornings I have always pictured in my mind when I thought about life as a grown-up. I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and of gratitude and of calm happiness. Life is messy and loud and chaotic and crazy most of the time, but it never fails that those moments are fleeting in the midst of the simple things that mean the most. Which brings me to today’s gratitude prompt – the sixth this month.

What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?

That is the single most loaded question in the world, isn’t it? What are you most proud of that you’ve accomplished? What is an accomplishment? Are we talking personally or professionally or something different? I feel a great sense of accomplishment in knowing that I began a successful business doing something not even remotely related to the educational path I chose – something I love with a passion – when I was 25. Something that’s grown so much over the past 12 years that I never would have imagined happening.

I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment that I was able to birth four beautiful babies, but especially two at the same time, and that we have raised (mostly) well-behaved, polite, kind, funny, silly, intelligent little humans who are a lot of fun. I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment at the fact that we didn’t follow the ‘standards’ or the ‘norms’ when it came to our life in any capacity. We don’t have ‘traditional’ lives by any means. Growing up, our generation was always taught you go to college, you get a degree, you go to work for someone else Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 and you bring home a paycheck and you go on a vacation every year with your family somewhere okay, and you raise kids who play sports, you go to church, you donate both your time and your money to good causes, you buy a nice, normal house and you dream of ‘one day’ living in your dream house, and you sit around waiting on raises and retirement and ‘the golden’ years to show up.

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I feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment at the fact that the above scenario is not our life. I can’t imagine working for someone else. I can’t imagine being required to be somewhere and do for others what I do for myself. We both work from home. We share a home office. We were 29 and 30 when we bought our dream house in our dream neighborhood after already building our first home when we were only 20 and 21. We don’t wait around and think about ‘one day’ having what we want and doing what we want – we live that every day. We travel. We have fun. We enjoy our lives and our time, and we don’t fall into the norm. That’s an accomplishment to me.

But, at the end of the day, are those the accomplishments I’m most proud of? I don’t know. I can say that I feel a profound sense of accomplishment in things that are a lot smaller…simpler might be a more appropriate phrase.

I feel so much accomplishment being almost 37-years-old and surrounding myself with the same core group of friends I’ve had my entire adult life – almost all of whom are living life on their own terms working for themselves and running successful businesses and have made their dreams come true. People who are so like-minded that there is no negativity. It feels like an accomplishment to find people to do life with who are always interested in what’s going on with you, and who always cheer for you and celebrate successes with you, and want to be part of every detail of your life. People who just want to see you succeed and aren’t worried about comparison or keeping up with anyone else or trying to outdo one another. For many years, I thought this was normal – but it turns out, after being exposed to some other groups of adults, this is apparently not the ‘norm’ and it’s rare to find people like that.

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To have a group of people who are so close that our kids were born together, have known one another since before they were born, and whose successes and accomplishments I feel I’m part of. When they succeed, I feel like I succeed, too. Watching them grow from the time we were young adults through now and seeing them killing it makes me so proud and so happy, and it’s because I love these people so much. We love them so much. Between my family and my friends, I am surrounded by the greatest people in the world, and that is the most amazing accomplishment. The kind of friendship where you spend multiple days/evenings together every week and always look forward to it because there’s nothing better than being with people you love making memories with your family, with them, with the kids…that’s what life is all about.

I feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment in the fact that I get to live my life according to my own terms. It’s a powerful feeling to embrace a Monday while the rest of the world detests it. It’s a powerful feeling to know that I’ll never have to dream of the weekend or live for Fridays (I mean, they’re great and definitely the best days, but I don’t have anything to escape from, and that is a big feeling). It’s such an accomplishment to know that if I think it, I make it happen. So many people spend their lives talking about what they’re going to do, discussing ‘one day’ and how they’re ‘going to’ year after year until they one day wake up and realize that one day was that day and talking about it isn’t the same thing as acting on it. I feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that I didn’t settle for anything.

I feel a great sense of accomplishment at being comfortable with myself. In knowing that no one else’s opinion matters nor does it bother me. In knowing that if you love life, it loves you right back. In knowing that I can honestly say I’m living my best life every day, even when the day isn’t the best one.

So, what’s my biggest accomplishment? It’s living a life I love in every aspect. Balance is hard, but we make it work, and that’s a gift.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Gratitude Day Five: Do I Actively Practice Gratitude?

Happy Tuesday!

Today’s gratitude prompt is such a good one, because it’s more of a question than it is a prompt. It’s a little bit more in-depth, and I love that about it. That said, I’d like to go ahead and dive right into this one today.

Gratitude Prompt Day 5: Do you actively practice gratitude?

YES! Every single day. Not only is the beginning of every prayer I pray one of gratitude throughout the day, I also keep a journal. I picked it up at my local Home Goods store months ago, and it’s been so good to me. It’s called the “Intentions and Reflections Daily Journal” and it allows me to get up every morning and not only write down my goals, what I’m thankful and grateful for and how I feel, but also how I want to feel, what made me feel that way, and how I can keep that up. It’s like a diary I can go back and look at because it prompts me to use it first thing in the morning as well as before bed. It’s a bookend to my day.

I love it because it forces me to sit down at my desk first thing in the morning and outline my gratitude and my goals for the day. Those are two things that are so important to me. I’m immediately required to think of things I am so grateful for each morning, and that begins my day on such a good note. It also gives me a chance to sit down a few moments before I go to bed and write down all the things that I am thankful for that occurred that day.

Essentially, I’m waking up thinking of what makes me grateful, and then I’m going to bed thinking of what made me grateful each day. That’s a powerful tool, and it’s one that I highly recommend to anyone who is struggling to find reasons to be grateful.

Trust me – not every day has the same thing list. Many of them do, of course, but some are a lot heavier than others. Some are a lot lighter than others. Some days are a struggle. Some days I am just grateful that our kids go to bed without arguing because one more minute of them that day would have pushed me over the edge. But, being able to focus on that calms me, reminds me of how fortunate I am, and it helps me focus on the things that are important.

For example, there’s something that I’ve been focused on so much lately, and it’s been getting to me. My husband is so distracted with his clients and his work and with the kids home, and with their new school schedules, and with all the extra things we are now required to do for them throughout the day, and there have been a handful of occasions lately where we’ve had a conversation and he has no recollection of it. That enrages me (I mean, everything I say is obviously more important than anything else in the world, right? Right? I mean, riveting…) because I dislike repeating myself (we have four kids. I repeat myself a lot…and I don’t want to do it to a fifth person).

But, one thing that my journal has helped me to realize is that every single time he was thinking of something else when I was speaking and he totally forgot or didn’t hear or comprehend me, he’s quickly apologized and then gone above and beyond to make that up to me – every single time. And being forced to look past my frustration and to see that he’s going above and beyond to make sure I know that I am more important than the occasional distraction has been so good for me. He’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. We make mistakes, but being forced to look for reasons to be grateful when you’re not feeling it is a good thing – it helps me see past my own anger and hurt and see that it’s not intentional and it’s not from an ugly place.

If you’re not doing something like this, I recommend you start. It doesn’t take long to make finding your gratitude morning and night a habit. And it doesn’t take long to make your attitude change, either.

Gratitude Prompts: Days 2, 3, and 4

Happy Monday!

I figured I’d add a quick disclaimer on here; I’m not blog posting my gratitude on weekends…I save those for my family. But, I’ll be adding my additional gratitude for those days on Mondays or maybe Fridays so we don’t miss throughout the month. Does that sound fair? Here we go…

Gratitude Prompt Day Two: Describe your happiest memory.

This one is so easy. November 17, 2007. My husband and I had been married a few years at that point, we’d been traveling the world, living our very best lives, and enjoying our time together immensely. I didn’t think that we could be any happier than we already were. We had all we ever wanted, plus so much more, too.

But, that morning was the morning I was officially six days away from starting my period for the month. When we were in Hawaii for my birthday just a month before, my sweet husband asked me to have a baby. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I gave it some thought. Ultimately, he was born to be a father, and I knew that. So, we decided to go for it. I didn’t think I’d be pregnant, or even that I’d get a positive test result with one of the ‘try this test six days early and find out,’ tests. But, I had to try it out because I could not wait any longer.

I’d bought the test the day before. We both work up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to take the test because we could NOT wait. We had plans to go to Gainesville that afternoon and attend the Gator football game, and I was so excited. I took the test. We sat on our bed, and we waited two minutes. We prayed together. Then, we got up and we went to the bathroom to read the results. I couldn’t do it at the last second. I just couldn’t look at it if it didn’t say what I wanted it to say, so my husband did it for me. His smile told me everything before his words formed, and I knew the test said, “Pregnant,” and we were having a baby. His face. His excitement. The absolute happiness in his smile, his eyes, and his voice; that was the best day of my entire life.

Gratitude Prompt Day Three: What makes you happy to be alive?

My family. What else? That I get to live the life I love with the people I love is everything to me. It’s literally everything. Sometimes, I find myself ready to complain about a bad day or a bad moment, and I am reminded that I get to live this life. I look back and remember when every single thing I have and get to do right now was just a dream in the minds of my husband and I when we were planning our wedding. We wanted to live in a big house in this beautiful neighborhood. We wanted to have a family to make memories with. We wanted to both have the freedom and ability to work from home and create our lives together. We wanted to make our own rules and our own paths, and we get to do that every day. This family of mine. This life of mine. It makes me happy to be alive.

Gratitude Prompt Day Four: List the treasures around your life.

Happy kids. Faith. A husband who still compliments me and calls me pretty and sexy and wants me every single day, who makes me laugh, who is always on my team even when we don’t see eye-to-eye. Friends who love us and who we love so much. Extended families who are so amazing.

I have a lot of treasures, many of them materialistic, but these will always be the ones that meant the most to me.

Gratitude Prompt Day One: What I’m Most Grateful for In My Life

Happy first day of May!

And, happy first day of our 31 days of gratitude journaling! I’ve been working on this for a month now. I began working on it when we were somewhere in the first few weeks of our quarantine, and I wanted to get it just right. (Fun fact: I use social media to post things all the time, but I rarely take the time to scroll through. I know, I know…) But, I did notice that when I did take the time to scroll through social media, when I received texts from my loved ones, when I paid attention to the articles I was reading online so many people are unhappy.

I get it. I do. I’m not always happy. Sometimes I’m downright cranky. Sometimes, I’m a raging bitch. But, at the end of the day, I don’t have many reasons not to feel good about my life and where I am, and those are the things that bring me back to my reality when I’m in a cranky mood (didn’t get enough sleep, I’m hangry, my monthly visitor is making me bloated, which automatically makes me cranky…etc.).

This whole life situation we are all living right now is weird, and that’s all right. It just took me a moment to realize that not everyone was happy to be home, and not everyone has spent their entire adult life working from home, and not everyone has spent the past four years sharing a home office with their spouse, so this is an extreme change for many. It just wasn’t for us, so we don’t relate to everyone whose entire lives have changed.

However, I’ve always found that gratitude is the answer. When I make the decision to appreciate life, it appreciates me back so much more so than I ever could have imagined. However, many people forget to be grateful. So, I wanted to take the time to create a challenge for all of us – 31 days of gratitude. I’m beginning with our day one prompt – and I hope you take note, write it down, and join me.

Gratitude Day One: What are you most grateful for in your life? (Choose just one thing)

Health. First and foremost above all else, I am grateful for good health in our lives. Above all else, I am so thankful that when we go to bed at night, it’s with healthy minds, bodies, and hearts. We are both healthy and vibrant, our kids are healthy and vibrant, and that’s all there is to it. I cannot tell you enough how incredibly thankful and grateful I am for this because I know all too well how it feels when good health is not part of your life.

After two miscarriages and a difficult pregnancy with our middle daughter, she was born with a hemangioma on her face that was thought – initially – to be cancerous. A biopsy showed otherwise, thank the Good Lord. She was thought to have Downs Syndrome when I was 20 weeks pregnant because of the echogenic intracardiac focus on her heart. Thankfully, our Good, Good Father had other plans for her. After a week in the NICU with one 3-pound twin who had respiratory issues at birth and her twin brother who ended up failing his hearing tests and being diagnosed as partially deaf in both ears at 6 weeks old, I get it. That same little man suffered a grand mal seizure when he was just shy of his 5th birthday for no reason at all – we still don’t know what caused it even after every test in the world and four days in the hospital.

I am so, so thankful and grateful each day for good health. It’s the one thing I thank God for each and every single day. Without good health, I wouldn’t have this sweet family to love. I am so grateful for this.