“You, stop it!” he said sternly while cupping my face between his hands. Tears teased the corners of my eyes, taunting his blue to challenge the sadness emerging from my hazel gaze. I had already discovered quite quickly that Kelley was not one to allow pouting or sorry feels to be entertained. The fact that we would most likely be apart for over a month was not an exception. I sighed and glared. My words were useless. He was right.
The goodbye had turned into a short pep talk, he telling me to be excited about going kite boarding in the Philippines for three weeks and to be happy that I had vacation. I felt like that little kid whose parent was trying to impress upon them the belief that broccoli and peas are the best tasting foods in the world. “Honey- look you’ll love this! You love green and zzzhhhhooooommm…it’s like an airplane! Wow! Open your mouth…Now, wasn’t that yummy?!?” Little humans and big humans can truly be convinced of a lot.
Those little tears that wanted to explode into the world did find there way onto my cheeks once in the safety and quiet of my car. But, it lasted only for a minute, for even without his rebuke in that moment, I began thinking upon an option other than sadness. I began contemplating gratitude. I felt my soul transform. A smile spread across my face.
It’s scientifically proven that practicing gratitude has enormous benefits. People who are thankful sleep better, are less aggressive, and have better physical health, among other things. I was excited and so happy to be going to the Philippines. I was really thankful for my December schedule and the fact that I would get to do my favorite activity— kite boarding— in a new country. I was thrilled that I would see my friend Danny soon, and that my next work trip was filled with the names of incredible people who would add up to equal a fantastic crew and excellent trip. If I was to make a list of everything I can choose to be thankful for— because gratitude is a choice—it would be longer than an Oscar speech.
I’m blessed. I’m not missing. I’m blessed.
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When I find myself celebrating my friendships, family, experiences, and job, I feel lighter— my spirit more calm and at peace. Even when focusing on the aspects of life one can be thankful for, there can always be an equal and opposite downside. Gratitude doesn’t necessarily make a situation better; it makes you stronger. It redirects your energy into a more positive and worthwhile direction than paying attention to worries and concerns that you may not have any control over. My dad constantly tells me, when he catches me falling into negative thought patterns and self-critical behavior— “Kara! What are the questions you are asking yourself? ASK BETTER QUESTIONS!”
Being thankful for the multitude of other amazing things happening in my life does not take away the concerns I do have, but what it does do is it allows my soul be present in the moment. The present is a fleeting space that we so often forget to live in.
I will miss Kelley, but more than miss him, I am so thankful for the chance of meeting, the serendipitous luck of our schedules aligning, and the time away for both of us to enjoy parts of our lives that we love— Flight Attendant Life and Yacht Life.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!