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Sep 24, 2009

Grateful for the positive and negative

In this post, I am capturing Day 3 and Day 4 of the Gratitude Challenge. The goal for Day 3 is: write about something you feel grateful for today. Day 4's focus is on: Give thanks for something negative in your life.
Apparently, these 2 goals conflict with each other, but it turns out that they don't, really. Let me explain...

Yesterday (Day 3) was Wednesday, and one thing stood out in terms of what I was grateful for: being able to attend my weekly yoga class at night. The rest of the day was pretty good too: interesting work, playing with Daniel, connecting with friends, etc... And I am obviously grateful to have a great job, the most precious kid (OK, I am biased!) and a network of good friends. But I am really glad that, as a busy working mom, I am able to regularly add to my schedule 1.5 hour for myself, where I can unwind and take care of myself. I know this is not a given...

And I am particularly thankful for
- my husband for diligently keeping his Wednesdays nights open to take care of Daniel
- Daniel for usually being good with Bye-Byes, so that I don't feel too guilty (although I have to say that some days are harder than others, and I keep thinking of him while doing my stretch exercises - don't tell my teacher I am not always focused!)
- my teacher for inspiring me to come to class and do my best in this precious 1.5 hour, even though I usually feel tired, unfocused, and stressed about the work waiting for me at home.
- the many friends who share a passion for yoga and keep encouraging me and reminding me of the benefits of practicing regularly.

And this leads me to Day 4's challenge: being grateful for something negative in my life. I have to say that I had to think hard about this question. Overall, I am pretty happy with my life. The things I tend to complain about are trivial, and things someone as fortunate as me shouldn't even consider complaining about.
So, the only negative thing that might be worth talking about it is Time (or rather, the need to manage it very carefully and proactively). Time is definitely a key topic on my mind: from rushing through the morning routine, to constantly prioritizing my work projects to be done by 6pm sharp (or else I am late for pickup) and planning the best weekend schedules. I have to consciously determine my priorities and make time for the things that are important to me, otherwise they can be easily lost. I know a lot of moms know this feeling. And this lack of time and rush could be considered a negative in my life.

However, when I step back, I don't see it that way (although if you ask me at 7:30 tomorrow morning when I am chasing Daniel to get dressed for daycare, I might answer differently). I have always loved packed schedules. From the time I was a kid, I was in awe for my mom because she was the master of scheduling and efficiencies. She managed the entire family's schedule with ease and mastery, to allow my sisters and me to squeeze our many hobbies in the weekly calendars. I aimed to be able to do a lot of things at the same time and to excel at them. That's where my adrenalin would come from, and I loved it... still do!

So, in a sense, life with a kid isn't that different. Yes, I have less control over my own schedule (Daniel wakes me up in the weekend when I would rather sleep in, and he wants my undivided attention 100% of the time I am with him). But this doesn't seem like a big change for me, compared to the times when I would run from one hobby to the other every day. Actually, things have gotten more relaxing, even: During the times I am with Daniel, I rarely need to manage the time minute by minute to "get the most out of it". I let Daniel decide upon the agenda: drawing, reading, building towers, 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there... Performance and efficiency don't matter during these times. It's all about having a great time together and following his lead. And I take it as a break!
Coincidentally, a few months ago, I wrote a post explaining how our weekends have changed since Daniel was born, and how I actually appreciate them as they are, even though they don't leave much time for "exciting" adventures. I was drawing similar conclusions at the time, even without participating in the Gratitude Challenge.

So, to end, I am thankful for having a rich life, where time goes by fast, and to be able to share it with people that I love. Having the scarcity of time forces me to make conscious choices about what is important to me, and to proactively enjoy what I am living in the moment. And I wouldn't want to have it any other way.

Want to get inspired? Learn more about the Gratitude Challenge.


  1. Hi Isabelle,

    Your blog is great, keep up the good work!


  2. Thanks for visiting and for the nice words. Very encouraging. I like your blog too, and your mission is so inspiring!