Friday, 8 January 2010


grateful for moments of fleeting beauty

Gratitude is kind of a loaded word for me, as is grateful. I know that really feeling gratitude can be incredibly powerful and life affirming, but I also have quite a lot of internal resistance to the word.

I would guess because the way that the concept of gratitude often seems to be used to try and negate or invalidate your own feelings, but telling or implying that you should feel bad about x that's happened to you because of y that's happening to someone else, which is clearly a lot worse.

This happened to me a lot as a young teenager, when I had terrible eczema. It was horribly painful, and I I had areas of permanently raw skin, and even just walking upstairs hurt, as semi healed cracks reopened. The embarrassment of taking my tights off in the changing rooms at school and having a whole load of skin flakes fall out too was almost as excruciating. (In the end it got so bad I couldn't do PE, which at least solved that problem.)

Inevitably well meaning people would try to console me by telling me it at least I didn't have another ailment or disease. The result that I still felt unhappy about my skin falling off, because, really, who wouldn't, but also felt vaguely guilty about the fact that I wasn't grateful for being afflicted by it, instead of something else.

So, having got that off my chest, I hope I've established that what I'm going to be doing is being grateful for things that have actually happened, rather than for disastrous things that haven't befallen me. Positive gratitude rather than negative gratitude if you will. There will be a list, every Friday, and I'd love it if you shared your positive gratitude too.

  • Starting my new job and finding out that everybody seems a lot nicer than at my previous job
  • Having a really easy journey home from training on Wednesday, despite the snow causing most of the trains to be cancelled
  • Seeing a crazy beautiful pre dawn sky on Wednesday, where the whole horizon was tinged with pink and the bowl of the sky was an intense blue
  • The snow covered landscapes I've seen from the train
  • Quality cat snuggling time
  • Having that fizzy excitement feeling about starting my MA next week
  • An interesting publicity idea for my charity


  1. This week I've mostly been grateful for skiing clothes, which may look silly but keep me nice and warm in the snow.

    And I'm grateful for log fires, and interesting studies, and friends, and books.

    And for being me, with all the complexities which that entails.

  2. I am grateful right now for my Taurean groundedness and digging in whilst squatters refuse to leave my London house - how is that for turning a negative into a positive??

  3. It sounds like you had a lot to be grateful for this week.

    I'm grateful that my car runs well and has heated seats.
    We have a wood burning stove that helps keep our house warm.
    I live in a beautiful place.
    My family is healthy.
    My dogs are happy to see me when I get home.

  4. I've had to focus a lot on finding the "small" things in life to be grateful for, in order to get through large spaces throughout my life. Today, out on my walk (which I was grateful to be able to take because the roads were clear of snow) I realized that I felt grateful for being alive, even though feeling a bit crummy. I was just sort of thinking about the miracle of being me. Or the miracle of anyone being anyone. But then, that's sort of one of those negative positives because it's like being grateful for not being dead, I guess. But who knows, when the time comes, maybe we will find gratitude in death as well!

  5. J, I read this, and then read it again... I like it, I like it alot... the honesty... the pangs of remembering similarly embarrassing moments from high school for different reasons. And the positive affirmation of moving on... It sounds like there are some good things going on in your life now, and some good real reasons to be grateful... may all of 2010 continue for you in a positive vein...

    Cheers !

  6. You did have a way of seeing things. I always thought of grateful to good thing happen to me not about bad thing happen to other people instead of me. I suppose you can see the cup is half empty or half full. But I am glade to see your positive attitude to your daily life.

  7. I'm grateful for good health, a good husband and a warm house to live in. I can identify with your high school experience somewhat because when I was a teen, I had very oily skin and bad acne. My mom tried to make me feel better by saying, "Well, when you're older, your skin won't wrinkle as early as many other people's skin does." That didn't comfort me when I was 16!

  8. Rachel - ski clothes are definitely something I'd be grateful for this week. I've been grateful that I didn't throw out my wellingtons when one got a small split in the side, as I've been able to fix it with duct tape, and whilst it doesn't look uber-classy it's saved me from havaing wet, frozen feet.

    Catherine - Being able to cope with that sort of situation is definitely a blessing - hope it gets sorted out for you soon.

    Louciao - I would say that being grateful to be alive would be a positive statement of gratitude, as opposed to thinking 'at least I'm not dead, like x' would be negative. Look at my inner pendant (hmmm, not entirely sure I've spelt that right, which is somewhat ironic) running free!

    Developing the ability to be happy to be alive and appreciating 'the [cliched] moment', even when there are things that I'm not happy about, is something else that I'm truly, deeply grateful for.

    Owen - Thanks. Why is it that teenage embarrasment is so horrifically acute? (I suppose it has to fade otherwise civilization would grind to a halt!)Even looking back at those sort of moments can be excruitiating, although I've often found they can be eased by a conversation amongst friends and a bottle of wine!

    Grace + Bradley - That's a good way to put it!

    Pat - I have very dry skin, and I had the opposite fear, about premature ageing, but seeing as I'm 27 and still getting ID'd regularly for alcohol (you have to be 18 here) I've stopped worrying about it!

    Mountain Mama - I do indeed, and writing this post helped make me realise how lucky and happy I am.

  9. I'm so grateful for my health and that of my family, for our warm house, and for all the mountain blue skies and sunsets that I am lucky enough to enjoy.