It went by in a flash, this Christmas holiday, and now here I sit on a dreary Monday morning, dog beside me and computer in lap. Oldest daughter is back in California, and middle and youngest girls are in school. Later, I'll head to work myself, even though today is supposed to be a non-teaching day. Part-time is rarely ever truly part-time, but I knew that when I made some professional changes this year. And, overall, I am less stressed and more present for my kids, which was the goal. Who knows what 2016 will bring? Surely I do not. My philosophy is you might as well dream big, so that's what I'm doing, though to me confessing such big dreams would be like telling your wish when you blow out the birthday candles. I plan to keep my big dreams between me and the Big Guy, thank you very much.
Each morning I continue my practice of gratitude, and this has been the biggest change for me over the past year, a far more successful resolution than the other one I made in 2015, which was not to curse. The not cursing thing lasted until a very stressful (and not at all relaxing) summer break, and then I was back to swearing again. Now that the tree is down and all the decorations are tucked in their plastic bins, maybe I'll try the no swearing thing again. Or, maybe not. But the gratitude resolution I am sticking with in 2016. When I'm in the car alone, I list all the things I feel grateful for—body lotion or food or good health. All of it, no matter how seemingly trivial, counts. It's a prayer mostly, my way of acknowledging that in spite of my complaints, I really do see and appreciate the countless blessings in my life.
Appreciating the blessings doesn't mean I don't get to ask for things I desire. If I'm being honest, I admit there is a long list of requests, but not seeing what's already here all around me seems…well…tacky and thankless and not all all the point of a good life.
This morning during my gratitude session, I lamented to God about a mistake I made at work. It was unintentional, completely and utterly so, and it happened a year ago. It's a mistake I've apologized for more than once, including a handwritten letter to the person, but I sense I am not forgiven, which I hate. I hate that I wasn't perfect. I hate that my actions, in this case my inaction, caused another person pain. I hate that I feel I've lost a work friend, but at the end of the day there isn't much else I can do. So, this morning I let it go. I forgave myself for not being perfect. I forgave myself for making an error. I even congratulated myself on doing something that used to be very difficult for me, admitting I was wrong. In this case I was wrong, not egregiously so, but wrong nonetheless.
The sun is beginning to show itself from behind the clouds. The dog just groaned and shifted her position. The heat clicked on, and the ice is clattering in the ice maker, which means I am thankful for heat and a refrigerator! In a few minutes, I'll make the bed (I have a warm, safe place to sleep!) and put away the breakfast dishes (there was breakfast!) before heading out to face this first day back to reality (I have a job!).
Later today reality will creep in, and I will probably curse and forget this pretty moment of good will and clarity, but I hope I carry something of these few minutes with me. I hope I remember that it's painful not to be forgiven, and it is petty and a sign of moral weakness not to forgive. There is righteous anger, of course. And I believe God understands our righteous anger, but the little stones I hold in my heart must do some sort of irreparable damage. One by one I will try to release them.
I guess this means I have my resolution for 2016, to be more forgiving, to remember that everyone is mostly doing the best he or she can. A tall order, I realize as I reread this. Oh, I can picture a couple of stones that will likely need to be wrenched from my hard, tight fist. But I can also imagine the lightness that will come with letting go, and after way too much cream-cheese-bourbon-pecan poundcake, I could stand to shed some weight, even if it's only metaphorical.