On Being Grateful

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With Thanksgiving (and Erika Flower’s Golden Birthday) rapidly approaching, the internet is bursting with Thanksgiving how-to’s and lists on lists on lists of things we are, should, or could be grateful for.  Sitting around the plethora of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pies, discussion often falls on the things for which each person is grateful.  As is the norm, the traditional responses include family, friends, good health, freedom, and a general satisfaction and contentedness with life.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with these answers.  Of course these are wonderful things to reflect on and give thanks.

On this off day in West Yellowstone I spent the better part of two hours reading news articles and tid-bits from the internet.  Arthur Brooks wrote an article for the New York Times entitled, “Choose to Be Grateful.  It Will Make You Happier.”  In it he urges the reader to force gratitude even if you aren’t feeling gracious, and instead of focusing on life’s trials pay attention to the small victories.  He writes, “Be grateful for useless things.  It is relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life–a happy marriage, healthy kids, or living in America.  But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles.”  He encourages people to ignore the “emotional ‘authenticity’ that holds you back from your bliss.”  In other words, even when things seem hopelessly futile, force yourself to put on a smile and find something-anything-to be thankful for.

Racing is just around the corner, and with that first race comes a whole lot of stress.  After putting in months and months of focused dry land training, we are testing out skis, figuring out pacing, and putting our toes (and hearts) to the line.  This is stressful.  When you give 110% of yourself to training, racing can be an incredibly vulnerable experience.  Because if it doesn’t go well, it is surprisingly easy for the race to become a reflection of the self.

So instead of focusing on all of the stress, I’ve come up with 10 incredibly specific, small, but totally stupendous things I’m grateful for.

1. The Squirrel at the Packers-Vikings game

My dad happened to be at the game, and reported back that the Squirrel had “impeccable form, and more moves than Adrian Peterson.”  The Vikings (who lost 30-13…ouch) should take some notes from my spirit animal, the squirrel.

2. A perfectly fried egg

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3. My mom bringing me coffee in the morning

I’m all for independence, but something about my mom bringing me a cup of coffee this morning while I was dozing on the couch brought me an unquantifiable joy.

4. Seflies (or the closely related “ussies”)

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With mom and Val in West Yellowstone!

The selfie function (i.e. a forward facing camera), has got to be one of my favorite additions to electronic devices.  There are two kinds of people in the world: People who take selfies and acknowledge their love of them, and people who lie about taking selfies and lie about loving them.  I fall solidly into the former category.

5. Greeting Cards

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Some of my favorites

My favorite way to kill time in shops is looking at greeting cards.  Who doesn’t love getting a card in the mail, or by hand, or even just having funny greeting cards that make you smile?  I recently read that Taylor Swift always has birthday cards in her purse, just in case she runs into someone and it happens to be his/her birthday.  Similarly, I hate being unprepared, and you never know when a well-timed and well-intentioned greeting card will save the day.

6. Finishing a Crossword Puzzle without the internet, or any of the check/reveal buttons 

Even if it is the Monday puzzle (the easiest one), and even if I had a little help from my mom, relying on our brain power and not the google power brought me insurmountable satisfaction.

7. The first snowfall, even if it isn’t enough to ski on

unnamed-4Vermont received its first snowfall mere days before we departed for West Yellowstone.  Even though the snow really threw a wrench in our training plans (roller skiing doesn’t work so well on icy roads), the first snowfall always makes me bubble over with giggles.  I love the sparkle, the fresh scent, and the knowledge that the season is beginning to change.

8. Randomly being selected for TSA pre-check

unnamed-5 I don’t have to take off my shoes and I don’t have to take out my electronics or small bag containing liquid items.  Further I don’t have to wait, and I avoid the airport sweat that comes along with trying not to hold up the security line.

9. (speaking of travelling) Seeing my dad pull up in his truck to take me home from the airport

Watching my dad navigate the truck to the curb, hoisting my ski bag into the back of the truck, and then hopping in the front seat to a familiar face and smell simply can’t be beat.

10. Receiving insanely awesome texts from friends (and knowing your friends really get you)

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I’m not 100% sure when Annie sent me this, but I’m pretty sure it was after Climb to the Castle last year.  I was having a tough day, and instead of asking how I was feeling or what I wanted to do moving forward, she sent me the above. All of the feels.

There are my 10 things, and I encourage you to take some time and figure out some small things to keep you grateful and going strong.  It isn’t always easy to be thankful in times of stress, but I’m going to choose gratitude.  See you on the trails!