This is a hard post to write. Not because it's hard to think of things to be thankful for. Dude... it's hard to think of things not to be thankful for. This is a hard post to write because it's a hard topic to talk about.
This month, November, is the month when we traditionally give thanks, or as I'd say in yoga class, a time to practice gratitude. (I do think "practice" is the right word. The more we practice being grateful, the more naturally it comes, and the more truly appreciative we become.)
Mark and I have been enormously blessed. If you ask either one of us, we'd describe our lives as semi-charmed. At least once every day, one of us will say, "We're so lucky," and the other one will vigorously agree.
But it feels weird to share that publicly. It feels like bragging.
There are so many people who are out of work right now, or who have lost their homes. Poverty is rampant across most of the world and much of the U.S. And a lot of people practice thriftiness every day out of necessity. Not to mention a whole host of non-financial hardships and illnesses that also afflict plenty of people. We come face-to-face with that reality every day in our work, around LA (it's not all like Beverly Hills), among our friends, in the news, and on the blogosphere.
And we feel guilty.
I love sharing our lives with you on this blog, but I find myself constantly trying to downplay certain things. Oh sure, I can talk about how I shop with coupons and try to save money whenever possible, how hard we work to build up our savings account, or how I buy only a couple of pairs of shoes a year and all of Mark's clothes are nearly a decade old. But the truth is that we didn't get to buy a second home, in California, because I clipped coupons (though that did help us buy it sooner). Part of it is just being a little farther along in the careers we've worked hard at, a huge part is not having kids and all of the accompanying expenses, but the biggest part is sheer luck.
I ain't saying we're rich. We're not. But I'm still sure millions of Americans would be thrilled to trade places with us. Not to mention everyone in developing nations. And we don't like knowing that. We almost didn't send out moving announcements for our new house, because we thought it sounded too braggy or entitled.
So even though we feel kinda guilty and don't like bragging, we're also super excited and feel lucky absolutely every day for what we have. Not only the house, the condo, and the stuff. Those are nice to have, but they could all be gone tomorrow; the constant threat of earthquakes and wildfires in California makes it hard to forget it. We're enormously thankful for the relationships we have -- with each other, with family, with amazing friends -- for the opportunities we've both had, for living in a place we love, for getting to work from home in jobs we enjoy, for our shared life goals, for the sunshine and blue sky we wake up to (nearly) every day.
I don't think we acknowledge that out loud enough. But I think not voicing our appreciation makes it sound like we sit around saying, "Oh, woe is us! Our life is so hard because we feel guilty that we're so fortunate!" And that's definitely not how we feel.
We're so thankful. Every day. And we try really hard not to take our life for granted, or to believe that we "deserve it" more than anyone else. Because none of us deserves anything more than anyone else does. Plenty of people work extremely hard throughout their lives, and still have very little to show for it. Or their lives are struck by tragedy. Some of us are just lucky enough to have had more opportunities, to have been prepared throughout our lives to take advantage of those opportunities, and to be spared from tragic events. To forget what a big role good luck has played in our lives would just be delusional.
If you're still reading, thank you. If you have any reactions to share, I'm all ears (or, um, eyes)!
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