In the time we were away, I don't think I ever saw my feet as they were black with dirt the whole trip, no amount of cleaning could keep the dust and leaves from the inside of our tent, my boys (2 and 4 yo) were perpetually covered in marshmallows, fresh greens and veggies were hard to come by and the enjoyment of a morning coffee could only be achieved by boiling water over a campfire first (that is, until we discovered "fresh" coffee at the campground store). Clearly, camping gets us WAY out of our routine.
But, as much as I love the camping experience, I REALLY love getting home. It's like that first great day of Spring weather where you finally don't need a coat and you can sit outside and enjoy lunch. It's the feeling of true appreciation for all the little things that you otherwise took for granted.
Immediately upon arriving home, my kids got a spa experience; a bath with a total scrub down, nails clipped, hair washed & conditioned, skin moisturized, lovies (their essential must-bring-everywhere security blankets) laundered and clean sheets put on their beds. I brewed gourmet coffee, got a great workout in with my gym equipment, whipped up a fresh protein shake, loaded up on farm fresh veggies from down the street, filled the fridge with on-sale organic meats, did loads and loads of laundry and have used every toiletry in my closet so I can feel like a real human again.
Creature comforts. Routine. Rituals.
While I would love it to be the case, my daily rituals like eating whole foods, getting an intense workout in, writing, meditation, cooking, etc. - basically, all the things that keep me balanced and happy - can get out of whack from time to time. Because life happens, a camping trip happens, or things just start to feel monotonous.
It's perfectly natural for our gratitude for these things that really do fill us up and make us happy to get lost then, in the hustle-bustle of life...and for them to start to feel stale and without purpose. We can take them for granted and wonder why we even do them anyway.
And sometimes, we don't get that gratitude back until we've had the rug completely pulled out from under us. For me, I remember back to High School when I went through five knee surgeries from sports injuries. I had never appreciated walking as much as I did then. To hell with playing soccer again, I just wanted to walk down a flight of stairs without crutches or a brace. How does that saying go? You never know what you had until it's gone. Yeah. That.
But, perhaps we don't have to wait for a crisis to spark up our gratitude for the little things. Maybe we can use our "camping trips", those periods in our lives where we can't keep up with the rituals for a short time, to remind us how lucky we are to be able to perform those things that keep us on track.
A daily gratitude practice is a great way to start.
Yes, I realize how ironic this is as we're talking about building yet another ritual but I promise, over time, this one supersedes the rest. Because, it's a ritual that we can practice daily, no matter our circumstances...in the middle of the woods, down and out with an injury...anytime.
Gratitude, after all, is our readiness to show appreciation. To look at what we have, not what we've lost. To look at our blessings, to find the silver lining. To appreciate the little things (like toilet paper, haha).
And as it applies to our wellness routine; the more we appreciate our ability to do those little things each day like getting in a workout and making great food choices, the more likely we are to keep them up. Rather than feeling like their things we are sentenced to do, we feel empowered by doing them. We value all the little things that have to be in place for us to maintain consistency.
And how do we value them? We notice them more.
Start your gratitude practice
Simply choose a time of day where you can reflect for a few minutes; maybe in the shower, on your commute, as you're doing dishes. In this window, name three specific things you're grateful for, like: "I'm grateful my ankle injury hasn't flared up in many months", or, "I'm grateful I had time to make a great breakfast this morning", or, "I'm grateful that I was able to do one more round than usual of my workout today".
Practicing gratitude regularly conditions our mind to look for more things to be grateful for.
Today, I feel grateful that I was able to enjoy an amazing concert with my husband last night (something we used to do regularly together before having children), I'm grateful that I have a yard that I get to take care of; planting new flowers, ripping up weeds, making it mine, and I'm grateful for lazy weekend breakfasts of farm fresh eggs and maple bacon.
What are you grateful for today?
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