Gratitude - brings great things | Travelling Storyteller Photographer
We’ve all heard it before.
An attitude of gratitude brings great things
Yup…there was a time where I thought it was pretty hokey too. Just as many of the sayings go that cause us to cringe and wince at the cliche of it all, this one has me reaching for the wine/coffee/water/random garden bean (long story - it’ll be explained later), and clinking glasses with that I believe to be true (heck yes if it is in a glass I am going to raise it!)
This weekend we count ourselves just over the 3 month mark here in Europe.
We’ve travelled, petted more zoo animals than I can count, we’ve lived in more apartments that I did throughout university and have eaten more sausage and bread that I thought was possible. We’ve seen yodellers, fallen asleep to alp horns, we rise and fall to the chime of the church bells (I am officially the only person in our family who still loves them), and we walk at least 6km a day just getting to and from school. We’ve enjoyed incredibly warm weather and so much sun that this summer we begged for rain, we swam, met friends and settled into a great apartment.
In my piscean rose coloured glasses world, life is absolutely incredible! Through this lens, we are all 16 sizes smaller, currently making zero grammatical errors when we speak, have figured out how to make our own cheese with the help of Gloria the cow that we’ve befriended on our leisurely lunch walks to and from school and generally are laughing our way downhill through the fields of flowers on our daily jaunt to the grocery store were we never forget anything…ever! ahem…coffee.
Life is amazing when you look at it
But just like with any overwhelmingly amazing experience comes the down moments, the rose coloured glasses tainted by the mundane of the everyday - the troughs that make you hit what appears to be a bottom and then runs you across the rough surface enough to give you bruises in case you weren’t sure that it was quite far down enough. Gloria the cow is more like Doris the rain storm that shows up on your way home from school while carrying a beloved art project under the petite umbrella what was way more handy to pack than the practical larger one while cursing the coffee headache you haven’t managed to attend to because who has time to get coffee when there is laundry to be done in the parking garage with the little laundry card that doesn’t seem to work in the machine whenever you try to use it and your cell phone that you realize is your life line is now TOTALLY and completely on the fritz and the bandaid solution of simply letting it take regular naps throughout the day is no longer working and you automatically worry about how you will call the ambulance, fire brigade and police when the apocalypse happens because well we can’t just pause on the good for 1/2 a second because there is just too much fodder to twist into the best ‘worst case scneario’ story ever when one is tired and caffein depleted and most certainly NOT 16 sizes smaller because…the bread and the negative self talk and you pull the full on ugly cry in the department store restaurant!
The days where you hit the wall, wtf moments smack you clear in the forehead and your kids look at your pleading…WHY did you DO THIS TO US, when they once again forget something for school but were too afraid to ask because they had to go to the washroom too bad and their toilettes “Don’t have toilette seats MOM!!!” so we then have to run home - who has time to ask for homework?!?! And to top it all off, you have no idea where you left the milk that you were certain was in the back of the closet - because UHF - you are still challenged with the lack of internet in the apartment, hurry down to do the laundry in the parking garage because you don’t want to upset the concierge of the apartment to take away your current ‘do laundry anytime’ and bring it up to a rotation of 1-2x per month only to have your washing machine card go on the fritz after you just forgot your daughter’s gym class clothes which means she can’t do gym unless you figure something out QUICK and you are officially in the dog house…AGAIN. Not least of which your husband isn’t here and it has been 3 weeks and you are playing good cop'/bad cop with your kids and they have figured you out and know where the secret stash of bribing chocolate is….there are days where it just doesn’t go as planned.
Generally speaking, I think of myself as an optimist. But then on those days - the laundry card works, I remember to feed my kids breakfast and I manage to get to bed before 1am.
Optimism is generally a great state of mind and in my case I use it as a way to see the good, to carve out the negative and ultimately it helps me get S***t done. And so when it all hits the fan, then I figure it’s time to lean into it. The discomfort, the hard, the heavy and the yearning for home, it all gets to be too much and I know that the practice needs to start again. I need to slow down to say thanks.
It is without a doubt that when I take a moment and just breath, slowing down enough to see what is happening around us, stopping the list making, the incessant internal negative self talk, the endless whining of the kids, what I see is rather miraculous and the shift ssslllvllooooowwwwy changes from groan to wow.
As our family went from 3 on one side of the pond to all of us together, another shift happened and we have been learning how to do it as a team of 4. Adapting to the new at different times has us swimming in different directions but slowly the current is drawing us together - it’s a bit of us against the world getting it done. Figuring it out. And when we need to…..slowing it all down to take it in. We just moved to Europe!
Wow…This weekend my kids played Rapunzel out of a castle window.
Crafting hasn’t always been in my genes, but I like to think that my internal “Camp Karin” is ever present when someone comes up with a new and great idea for a future Swiss party or BBQ - hey…one is never too old to play!
When away from so much of that which is familiar you are completely unencumbered to do whatever…. On the other, it is a feeling of what to do, how do we manage ourselves and how do we fit into this new schema of ours? And mostly…how do we do this together as a family?
Being out together in a world where sometimes it feels all too familiar and in a second feels more than completely overwhelming with time spent away from those closest to us and we realize that despite the urge and yearning to open up our wallets and drown the guilt with things and sweets that would make any dentist cringe and parenting guru shrink away from what obviously is not a good idea…we realize that the thing we needed to happen shows up in the most glorious of ways.
Inevitably throughout our travels just when we thought we were lost, weren’t sure of the way or simply didn’t know where to look…something or someone seemed to be pointing the way renewing our spirit and knowledge that we’d be ok.
It is a funny thing really, just when we think that we need to numb the discomfort with things, stuff or furry animals (you want a dog, a cat or a pony…? Sure!! I’ll just tell your teacher that our newest family member George the pig is a companion animal. Given that they are prone to being on time no matter where they go perhaps they will motivate you my dear daughters - to get out the door to your bikes on time…maybe..?) you realize what is actually fundamental to the day’s happiness and it’s rather simple really….
I’ll admit it, I am a social media dimwit at the best of times and often wonder how the heck to use the platform and what to share - who cares what I ate for breakfast, I rarely know where I am checking into unless it my apartment when I don’t forget the key and who really wants to know where I am headed…will they help me find the way? Last year I started a 365 photography challenge with the intention of practicing my skills and seeing change over time. IG seemed like a great platform to keep myself organized and as my hard drive exploded with images, my tidy highlight reel allowed me to see what my eye enjoyed over the year. What I never realized was that the images I was creating and the stories I was telling were going to resonate with others and in so doing would connect me with incredible people around the globe! FRIENDS! I realized finally (always late to the party this one..) that social media was a thing and could actually….gasp…connect people! From Monday morning runs, to mountain top walks, to lake side chats 3 hours baking in the sun and walking away from a new encounter with a bounce in my step, there is such joy in connecting with others in a meaningful way.
gratitude brings great things
So despite the crazy, the harried, the little people talking nonsense in my head and the sense of being oh so far away which can wreak havoc on one’s perspective….slowing down enough to see what is right in front of us, being grateful for the little things has me tuned into the amazing opportunities that present themselves at the most opportune times. Through all this, I have learned that Gratitude is an Attitude and with it…it brings great things.