Our lives are comprised of ordinary moments. We are creatures of routine, immersing ourselves into our personal merry-go-round. Each day is much like the one that passed before. What will we remember? Will it be the moments that we discounted as too ordinary as we were living them?
As a mother and a writer, my feet are firmly in the middle of things. In the morning, I try to squeeze in running or writing before my daughter and husband begin their day. As soon as they are up, I take on the role of wife and mother, making breakfast, assembling lunches and checking to determine if my daughter placed her binder in her backpack. Almost an hour later, we grab shoes and a water bottle as we head to the car. The morning commute to her school takes almost 15 minutes depending on traffic. When I return, my focus becomes full-time writer. I ink out revisions on my memoir, compose a blog piece or work on an article for freelancing. I may study a few concepts on scene, dialogue or character. Sometimes I even make time to jot down a few notes in my journal.
When afternoon hits, I am mother again. I spend time in the line at the carpool lane waiting for my daughter to board her personal “train” for the ride home. Then a quick succession of things occur: emptying out her lunchbox, helping with homework, making time for dinner and also hearing about how my daughter’s day turned out in school. Of course, other errands may creep in, like a last minute grocery store run, chauffeuring my daughter to an after school activity or play date or another must-do that pops up sometimes during the day. As the day closes its chapter, I hope for more time to write or read or reflect. Sometimes I commit to another activity that requires my attention or other times, my pillow offers a more enticing invitation. Then the cycle begins again for the next day.
It is so difficult sometimes to incorporate gratitude in our daily lives because we are mired in our routine. So how can we make room for something that might seem so unnatural? I’ve learned that it becomes a choice that we must practice. In the morning, I am always grateful that I have the ability to move my legs to walk into my office to write or lace up my tennis shoes to go for a run. I try to take a deep breath before I engage in either of these activities to appreciate the gift of my own life and in that moment I pay homage to God. As I make breakfast, which may consist of smoothies, I look at the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables at my disposal. I am fortunate to have the ability to choose what and when I can eat. I never worry about where my sustenance comes from. When my daughter laughs or kisses me on the cheek, I sense her unconditional love. Even the days when it all seems too much, I still realize that at the end of the day her affinity for me will not waver. She loves and forgives like it is an endless supply of running water. To be on the receiving end of this kind of affection lifts me and physically infuses me with gratitude. And then there are those moments I can write. Although some days the pulse of the pen doesn’t hit the paper quite as I like, I still relish in my ability to think and write. Writing is not only my chosen profession, it is my therapy too. I’ve crawled out of many dark places where writing proved my safest refuge.
Gratitude doesn’t have to be unreachable. It takes a few minutes to pause, look up and around and acknowledge the treasures that fill your ordinary days.
This post originally appeared on The First Day.