So, this gratitude stuff is sometimes easy. Sometimes, not so much. Last Friday, I got a really frustrating call from my apartment management company basically saying that they would not be willing to compromise on a contractual issue that I had raised with them. This means that I’m going to have to spend more out of pocket than I had accounted for. FRUSTRATING. And, instead of coming up with SOME sort of counter proposal, or thinking about the mutually beneficial ideas I came up with, they simply said no and told me where to send my check. Specifically, they chose to be complete unyielding jerks which will now necessitate that I have to either fork over money that I hadn’t planned for or get a lawyer to address the situation. Happy Lent to me!
As you can likely tell, I was really angry about the whole situation. So much so, that I stormed out of work at the end of my day to meet a friend. I fumed as I took the subway down to Soho… And, it took me a LONG time to settle down, once I sat to down to dinner. I just kept complaining — How could they be so terrible when I had lived in my apt for 6 yrs, always paid rent on time and was a good tenant?! As I complained, I got more and more dramatic… one negative thought gave way to another… then another… then another.
Clearly, this frustration made it SUPER hard to think about gratitude. Heck, it made me a horrible dinner date until I was able to shake it off. It dawned on me, however, that as I was sitting across from my friend sulking and complaining, I was wasting precious time; instead of engaging with this awesome person who wanted to spend time with me, I kept complaining about my apartment management company. How did that make any sense?
How many times do we let tiny, frustrating things, relative to the grand plan that is life, push us away from happiness that’s right in front of us? (Or, in my case…that was sitting across the dinner table from me at a super fun restaurant?)
It made me remember that life happens — the good, the bad, and the really ugly. The way we react to what life throws at us makes all the difference in the world, however. You can choose to be positive and try to seek a solution. And, if a solution can’t be found, you let it go and move on to the next thing.
Now – sometimes that’s harder than it sounds… And, we all certainly need to vent. But, it’s really important to vent a little, then move on to find a solution. Or, to let it go and refocus on new things or the good stuff currently in your life. So many people hold on to sad or bad things for longer than they should. And, when you do that, it starts a downward spiral that is really negative and never good. It’s truly hard to rebound from this sort of spiral. I can’t imagine that God wants us to fester in bitterness or negativity. Actually, I know He doesn’t, thanks to this lovely quote from Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
So, while it was harder than the previous days, I did write down my list of five last Friday. Below, I’m actually including my top ten from the weekend. Before that, however, I just have to say that I am thankful for this lesson last Friday as it will help me to persevere on my Lenten journey and beyond.
Top Ten From The Weekend (These are just some of the things for which I am grateful..I’m finding that the more I do this, the more I write about every day)
1. The amazing Sunday mass readings this weekend. The juxtaposition of the creation story of Adam, Eve and the serpent in the garden (the first reading) to the gospel reading, where Jesus is tempted by the devil, is profound… In the gospel you see the redemption of the sins of Adam and Eve by Jesus’ denial of the devil. Jesus knew to do that which Adam did not. As such, we are all redeemed through all that Jesus is and does for us. Definitely loved that reminder!
2. If/Then The Musical and Idina Menzel (or Adele Nazeem, per John Travolta) I got to see this musical in previews and it was amazing! I’m excited to see how it evolves, once it opens. The music was breathtaking. I believe that they are still tweaking the plot line, but, I truly loved it all!
3. Amazing weather — we’ve had a taste of Spring in NYC! I’m cautiously optimistic that the harsh winter is over.
4. For some really great quality time with my friends this weekend — new friends and old. A packed NYC weekend of social activities along with great weather does so much to uplift the soul.
5. For the gift of experience and perspective…specifically, knowing when to ‘hold ’em’ and knowing when to ‘walk away.’ In times past, I was always quick to shoot off an angry email to someone who was a jerk or being passive/aggressive. I didn’t take the time to reflect on whether it was the right thing to do or not. Anyhow, I received a snippy email and I took the opportunity to pause, instead of just zipping off an equally rude response. With time, I got over it and wrote back in a very polite manner. As I meditated on this, I remembered to myself that I had no idea what she was going through…and that compassion is way easier than perpetuating more misunderstanding.
6. For an amazing time hanging out with my pregnant friend — this will likely be the last time I see her before she has her baby boy. We talked about a ton and shared a lot! It was an amazing time — one of those snapshots you take in your mind of a time you never want to forget.
7. For friends that take the time to communicate with their hearts and listen with their minds and souls. I’m completely blessed to have so many of these people in my life!
8. For a sweet, lovely, older woman sitting between me and her daughter at the bar on Sat night. She basically told a guy who was unabashedly hitting on me that he wasn’t being nice enough for someone as beautiful and smart as me. What a sweetheart! (And, to be honest, he was AWFUL, so it was great to get some help in waving him away)
9. For upcoming challenges and opportunities.
10. For the opportunity to congratulate my friends on their wedding over a delicious brunch at an awesome restaurant. I adore this couple — they have so much love for each other and for their friends. It was wonderful to catch up and to share some fun news with them!