Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Did I Forget Today?

I am forgetful. There, I said it. My name is Sally and I’m memory impaired. There should be self-help meetings for folks like me. We could call it the Forgetful People Society. Unfortunately it would likely disband quickly. The members would forget to show up.

I can’t even blame my lapse in memory to my advancing years because I remember forgetting (is that an oxymoron?) from a very young age. I can’t tell you how many conversations in my youth went something like this:

MOM- Sally, stop squinting. Put on your glasses.
ME – I can’t remember where they are (an excuse, but it was true).
DAD – I swear you wouldn’t know where your head was if it wasn’t screwed on top of your shoulders.

To help compensate for my lack of memory, I make lists. I also tend to take the same roads when I travel, put things in the same spot (heaven forbid someone move MY cheese) and I’ve learned to rely on the kindness of strangers and ask for help when needed. There is a good side to my hazy memory. I don’t hold grudges, I forgive easily and I assume the best in folks. It is way too taxing to remember every hurt or unkind word, thought or action that may or may not have been intentionally directed at me.

However, other than the standard problems that go along with a fuzzy memory, there is one severe drawback that I’m trying very hard to correct. It’s forgetting to be grateful. There are so many wonderful things that happen every day that we take for granted. So I started a new routine. When I wake up, the first thing I do is say that I’m thankful for another day. As I become aware of my waking senses I express gratitude that I can see, hear, walk, taste and smell. As I go on throughout the tasks at hand, I try to remember how fortunate I am to have wonderful friends and family, that I have enough to eat, that I have a roof over my head etc.

When things are going great, it may be hard to think about gratitude. The old saying about “You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone” is so true. So I’ve decided I’m not going to wait. I think about several things that I am grateful for every day and take a moment to say a little thank you out loud. I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m some Pollyanna with no real problems. Not true. I’m not going to provide a litany of complaints, but I will mention one malady. I have splitting migraine headaches. I get about six of them a month and they can really set me back. When I wake up without one, I say how thankful I am for my health and that I don’t have a headache. When I do have a migraine I express my gratitude for the medication that is available to me (yeah Imitrex!)

Another example is the going-back-to-basics-gratitude stimulator. I go camping for about 3 weeks every summer. I was never a big fan of camping, but I like to travel and car camping is a very inexpensive way to visit new places. CB and I sleep in the back of our little camper on the back of our Ford F-150 pick up truck. The SMALL camper is stuffed full of things (sometimes even our pet rabbits and their cage). There are times I feel like I’m in a sardine can (and between the bunnies and the lack of a shower we all smell like stinky sardines as well!)

But I love hiking in the forest, sitting by a babbling stream, gazing at the brilliant stars in the evening sky, and taking in nature’s beauty. I’m not that fond of cooking over a fire or Coleman stove, picking dirt out of my food, fetching my own water and wondering when my next shower will be. But by the time I get home I want to sing Hallelujah to the refrigerator, stove, clean sheets, running water and flushing toilets of the world. If I didn’t spend a little time without these things I wouldn’t appreciate them so.

So in the morning and evening, and sometimes throughout the day, I try to offer an internal tribute to the little things in life, as well as the big things. My life isn’t perfect, but neither am I. And yes, I’m forgetful. But not so forgetful that I can’t remember to say thank you for a few of the many things I am grateful for.

In closing, I would encourage you to remember to feel gratitude in your life, even if it’s only a few things each day. If you must forget, than say goodbye to the little inconveniences and aggravations you experience. Let those nasty little thoughts go by the wayside before they choke off any happiness that is trying to filter through.

"Better by far that you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad." Christina Rossetti.

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