Okay, I am finally home. After three weeks of amazing travels and reuniting with family and friends on the European continent we have returned to our home base. It feels so good to be home, but leaving anywhere is rarely fun. Saying goodbye to people you love is definitely not fun and I am a little bit going nuts because of jetlag and going back to work and trying to put all of the feelings of leaving vacation and re-entering the real world and it being the new year and holy moly this is a train that just does not stop somewhat like this sentence.
Deep breath. So, it’s a new year. 2020. It sounds like it’s going to be a good year and I like how round and even all of the numbers are…so, I feel like that must be a good sign.
While we were traveling for over 20 hours I had a lot of time to think about what I want to get out of this year and what I need to make my priorities. The lists of my priorities are so long I had to prioritize the lists of my lists. And to be honest, you reading a list of my lists of priorities seems pretty boring, so I’m going to tell you about the other thing I was thinking about on the plane.
While we were on our trip, I had the most incredible fortune of catching up with an old friend in her new home in Innsbruck, Austria. My friend, Alex, and her favorite guy, Dominic (she got herself a Dominic too when she saw how cool mine was…kidding…kind of…) gave us an amazing tour of their city, they took us exploring and sledding—which ended with my accidentally losing control of my sled and it flying directly into their car…cut to me calling our insurance agent yesterday morning trying to make a claim for the damage I did to their car and her only response was, “thank you for making me laugh on a Monday morning.” So, well, there’s that. But sled riding and car destroying aside, they showed us their amazing world and we had an incredible time. Towards the end of our time with them there, Alex took us up to a rooftop bar overlooking the city and as we sat amidst a backdrop of the imposing and incredibly stunning, Alps, the conversation drifted towards our gratitude for the many blessings we have found in our lives. The list of our blessings is long, so needless to say this was a long conversation.
At some point amongst the jockeying for who wins the most blessed award, Alex mentioned that she is in a German class with a lot of refugees who are now living in Austria and how we really all have no idea what challenges in life are until we have seen what some people have had to go through. What we face daily is nothing compared to what so many people are suffering through and all of the sudden our conversation started to feel a little bit wrong and a little bit icky. We started to feel guilty for our blessings.
Why do we have so much when so many have so little? Why are our lives so easy? Should we be struggling more? Why are we so privileged and should we feel guilty about that?
As we kept talking on the subject I remembered a conversation I had, had with my Dad when I was in high school. I had asked him a similar question. A why me? Question. How did I end up with this life with so many blessings? It didn’t seem fair. And he told me that it would be a huge waste of the blessings the universe had bestowed on me to spend time feeling guilty about them. He told me it’s not about being guilty; it’s about being grateful. It’s a daily reminder to be grateful for every single blessing even the ones that seem somewhat frivolous. To be grateful and then, he told me, “When you have the means, you have to give back in some way.” I remember his exact words, “Look Chels, someone is always going to have less and someone is always going to have more, but it’s about doing good in the world and being grateful every day, not sitting around and feeling guilty because you may have it easier than someone else.”
I hadn’t thought of that conversation in many, many years and I was so grateful to Alex for the reminder. I am not shy about admitting that I live a very privileged life and always have, but I always remember to be grateful for my blessings because my Dad engrained that in me.
Growing up watching two parents that are so grateful for every little thing in their lives was the easiest way to learn gratitude. Both my Dad and my Daddy led by example in this. There is nothing that my Daddy looks at and doesn’t feel and express gratitude for. Literally everything he sees is a blessing and makes him well up with gratitude…as a kid sometimes I thought it was overkill, as an adult I am even weepier about my gratitude than he is. Watching that taught me what gratitude looks like. For the big and for the small.
There’s no need to feel guilty for what you have been given. Your blessings are your own to cherish and all of ours look a little bit different, just like all of our anxieties and all of our struggles, nothing is better or worse, just different.
I thought about that conversation a lot on the plane and it made my goal for this year really easy, it’s time to be more grateful daily. And in being more grateful for my blessings I also aim to care for myself more and to beat myself up less, to choose relationships that feel good in my heart and aren’t just convenient, and to know that when I feel gratitude I also need to remind myself to give back more this year. So, please, do me a favor and hold me to this because I tend to forget things quickly and I need someone to hold me accountable…thank you in advance.
Happy Tuesday friends, I am back, I am grateful and I am jetlagged. Happy 2020, it’s going to be a good one xoxox, CAMDW
PS We miss you and we love you so much German (and new Austrian) family, we’ll be back for you soon. xoxo