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Every Day Gratitude

Feed Freckles, make my coffee, write a little bit, jump in the lake, go in the hot tub, make my oatmeal, start the day. My day starts early, somewhere between 530-6 am. I love the early morning when the black sky slowly lightens and the outline of the trees and power lines and houses around me become visible. On lucky days, the sky might eventually brighten to a swirl of orange or pink or purple.


I love tiptoeing across the dining room floor so I don't wake Lucia below me. I love turning on the coffee pot that I prepared the night before, opening the fridge to get the milk, and steam it in the frother as I prepare Freckle's food. I love the moment when he gets his first mouthful of food and I get my first sip of hot coffee.


I love lighting my candle, sitting down at the dining room table, and writing the thoughts that visited me as I slept. I love the moment when I close my notebook, grab my towel, and robe to meet Genessa for our daily jump in the frigid lake. I love the short conversations we have to and from the lake. I love when we have time to jump in the hot tub for a few minutes to warm our freezing hands and feet. I love the tingling feeling that comes as my body goes from the extreme of cold to warm to hot. I love boiling the water for my oatmeal, greeting my family as they wake up, and talking about what the day ahead will look like. I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude by 8 am every morning.


I am a creature of habit. Regularity is like a big, heavy, warm blanket for me, the feeling I imagine a toddler has when her mother scoops her up and envelopes her after she's wiped out on the playground. Each morning ritual is like a deep breath, soothing me, and reminding me that I am safe and sound, that I'll be here again tomorrow, same time, same place.

The pandemic time has given me permission to live this heavily ritualized life in a way that I didn't before. Pre-pandemic, every day was different, depending on what appointments, plans, or meetings I had going for the day. Now a plan is a big deal. Going hiking with a friend means figuring out how to get there in two cars, where to pee along the way, what sanitizing products to bring. Even going to the grocery store includes thinking about the time and how busy it will be, reviewing my list multiple times to ensure that I get everything we need, and of course wearing a mask. I don't want to make plans anymore. It's too complicated. So I keep with the simplicity of the structure I've created.


What will happen when we return to how it was before? Will I be able to maintain this heavy, warm blanket feeling? Will I make time for these rituals that bring me so much comfort? Will the feelings I have now live inside of me in a way that I can touch back into when my life looks and feels very different?


I fear the next phase. As much as I want to hug my friends and live without worry and despair, I fear what I will lose when I am not steeped in this feeling of gratitude for the tiny moments of joy for coffee, oatmeal, the lake, the hot tub, my precious full mornings. When I taught yoga I would tell my students to experience the moments when they felt really present and alive, to be still with those feelings so that they could tap into them when they needed them during moments when they craved that peaceful feeling. "Try to embody this moment right now" I would say. Embodying comes from living something, doing it so much that it is in your body, like a new organ or appendage, whatever the thing is, it becomes part of you.


My hope is that when we come out of this pandemic, I will have embodied this sense of gratitude for the small things that I have now. That I will walk around with these tiny memories coursing through my body, reminding me of the possibilities that live inside of me. The future is unknown. I can't say if this set of beautiful morning rituals will be with me in one month or one year. All I can do right now is stay with them, keep practicing them, and taking time to feel the joy that comes from each and every moment. And then hopefully, in six months or two years from now, I'll remember this time and it will nourish me as it is now.

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