Gratitude is Gorgeous

My beautiful aunt gave me a wonderful idea recently that I know I need to share with you. A list of gratitude. Her idea could not have come at a better time. I have been so weighed down lately with the stress of a busy workload, conflict in my family, the pressures I put on myself as a mommy, and just LIFE. So rather than finish the Christmas wish list I began working on earlier this week, I decided to stop and reflect on the many blessings in my life. After spending a day mulling these over, considering each of the things the Lord has blessed me with, I highly recommend creating a similar list as a journaling / personal growth assignment. I know that focusing on this list will multiply the joy in my heart this holiday season.

Mental Health: This is something I have slowly opened up about over time, and only when asked specifics about motherhood or my baby, but I have decided I need to share this part of my story. During the first 7-9 months of my baby's life, I dealt with some pretty serious postpartum depression. There were intensely dark moments which I wouldn't wish on anyone, and there was even some self-harm. In a period where everyone was looking in, asking me "Oh my goodness, don't you just love it?" or "Aren't you so in love with your baby?" I was battling extreme mood-swings that at several moments became as serious as suicidal thoughts. I was finally able to move past it after talking about it with my husband and seeking professional counseling.

 I was so uncomfortable in my own skin when this was taken. Little did I know I would soon be so depressed as to wish for my miserable pregnancy back.

I was so uncomfortable in my own skin when this was taken. Little did I know I would soon be so depressed as to wish for my miserable pregnancy back.

And the reason I'm sharing this on my list of gratitude? Because I now see the beauty of days without dark and painful thoughts. And they truly are a gift to cherish. Enjoying a whole day, without escaping into fantasies or clinging to pain, that is something I pray I can stop and wholly appreciate. It has also helped me realize what a stigma surrounds mental health issues, how debilitating they can be, and how truly hard they are to talk about. 

Jesus: I would not have the courage to discuss this issue, nor would I have the amazing continued support of my family, without the grace of God. While this is not a blog about faith or my relationship with Jesus, it is the basis of my life, so I cannot write without sharing that relationship with you. I am happy to discuss it more in the comments or via DM through my Facebook page, but what I have with the Lord -- the joy that a journey with Him brings -- that is what provides me with life and creative inspiration and keeps my world on its axis. Without Him and His Word, I am just another being flinging through space with no purpose or meaning.

Husband: This may be gag-worthy, so anyone squeamish should just skip ahead. Ha! But seriously, my husband goes out of his way to love and cherish me, and I pray I never take him or his tender heart for granted. He doesn't simply love me in the way that he receives love, he has taken the time to learn what I value and works hard to do those things for me. He is usually the one who speaks up if it's been more than a month since our last date night, he works 7 days a week to provide, and he consistently seeks wise counsel when problems arise in our family/house/lives. In exchange, he (usually) comes home to a sink full of dirty dishes, a living room cluttered in toys constantly (ok, this one I try to cut myself some slack for because I have an insanely energetic toddler. My living room probably won't be clean again for another 10 years), and a wife who prefers watching makeup tutorials to keeping the house organized. He is my hero, and I am beyond grateful for his presence in my life. 

 My absolute favorite. He fills my heart with so much joy.

My absolute favorite. He fills my heart with so much joy.

Family: As I mentioned earlier, I have been having conflict with a couple of family members right now, but even that conflict (as heart wrenching as it's been) has made me grateful. Because it has shown me clearly which family members respect me. It's also reminded me that love without quality time is nothing -- it's empty words. Love is action, and that has been proven to me tenfold this year. My current situation will help me love the ones in my life with greater intentionality and purpose. And I am beyond grateful that the Lord placed family in my life that goes out of their way to show me and my little family love. Oh, and the 2 cutest men in the world live under my roof!

 Just looking at the smiles in this picture fills my heart with gratitude

Just looking at the smiles in this picture fills my heart with gratitude

Career: I love where I work, the amazing family culture in my office, and the fact that I’m working in a field that constantly challenges and excites me! Not only am I grateful for my job, but I'm grateful that Taylor and I have an affordable childcare option (Taylors grandmother and Taylors mom) where we can drop our sweet baby off and know that he's in great hands. Because I have peace of mind about my baby, I can be empowered to go to work every day and succeed. 

The Best Bestie (my sister soulmate): I didn't even meet my best friend until I was 22, but I cannot imagine my life without her. She is beautiful, godly, so stable and reliable (qualities I so appreciate since I am often spontaneous at best and flighty at worst), and so loyal. She is my ride-or-die and I am so grateful the Lord led us to each other. And BONUS: she also shares her sisters with me!

 Goofin' around on the best day ever with the bestie

Goofin' around on the best day ever with the bestie

In addition to all of the above, I am blessed daily with the following:

  • Health
  • Reliable Transportation
  • Clean Water
  • A Cozy Home (in a neighborhood with some of the best neighbors in the world)
  • An Extensive Wardrobe (and shoes galore!)

I am so grateful for all these and so much more! If you made it this far, first of all wow, but also thank you for allowing me to share my heart. Let me know what you're grateful for in the comments.