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Being grateful

For me, it’s been a hard week. Perhaps its the full moon, or staffing issues or possibly even in long term care we have turn-over on the floor.  Whatever the reason is, I’m pretty burnt.

However, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the holiday. I have no problem cooking dinner or something like that, and I’m certainly not adverse to a challenge. But everything on the table in the correct sequence, and that many courses (three is a challenge for me, so sue me) sort of takes the fun out of the holiday.  By nature, I’m an introvert, so I’m happy with my family. We don’t invite anybody particularly. I don’t need more pressure in my life.

With all that, there is something about the holiday I can get behind. It is important to be grateful. About this point, my cynical side wants to know what we are being grateful for? There are lots of reasons, but whatever is not happening to you, is happening to someone somewhere. What can they be grateful for?

I think that being grateful is an attitude, and without being annoyingly (and unrealistically) optimistic, with every moment there is a reason to be grateful. Beyond the fact that one can always imagine a worse scenario, there is always a reason to appreciate things. I love fresh air, sunshine and a lot of trees. Other people like jewelry and the deal that they got on their latest pair of shoes. Others are happy that the Patriots won (or that they didn’t).

In mental health, not to put too fine a point on it, we work in the middle of pain. Where I work, we don’t expect that these illnesses will get better. Schizophrenia can be managed, but so far we can’t cure it. In my personal life, autism is something that I anticipate I will have to live with for a while. My son runs differently than most kids his age, and I have to accept that.  But I can appreciate the little things that he does. For example, we recently adopted two kittens. Surprisingly, my son is very good and very gentle with the kittens.

I can appreciate the little things that happen on the floor. Because at night, the staff is a lot smaller so I get to know people better. I like that. We are up all night but we aren’t dealing with 30-odd residents doing odd things all at the same time. I like that too. Furthermore, we get to wake them up, start them off on the new day, and by our attitude, make the atmosphere on the floor for the morning shift. We are important.

Appreciation is a state of mind. I’m learning, slowly to appreciate my life. It is absolutely a work in progress. So thanksgiving is about seeing accurately, and appreciating whatever you can.

That alone makes it valuable. Of course I confess a total addiction to pumpkin pie, so that’s a plus too.

May you appreciate the little things, whatever those may be. Happy Thanksgiving.

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