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The Attitude of Gratitude

Posted Jul 25 2012 1:00am
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The skies finally opened in the Midwest today, bringing some much needed rain to a drought-stricken area, weary from high humidity and scorching temperatures for weeks on end.

I was so happy to see it, though not nearly as happy as the local farmers, I’m sure. I shudder to think what the food prices will be this fall, when our pocketbooks realize what the farmers have known for weeks now.

But when you have a lot, it’s easy to take it all for granted. I often told my children when they were young and would complain about the food we had to eat, “Only those who have more than they need have the luxury of complaining.”

It’s just human nature, I suppose. To complain, to take things for granted, to be ungrateful.  Certainly when you live in a country like ours, quite literally a land of milk and honey, where we have more than the heart can imagine, ungratefulness abounds.

I’m not exempt from it either. I spend far too much time complaining, belly-aching, and throwing adult temper tantrums when things aren’t the way I want them to be. Yet, in all of my 55 years, I’ve never missed a meal. I’ve never been homeless. I’ve always had everything I’ve needed, and most of what I’ve wanted.

Before I entered perimenopause , I took my body for granted too. I was one of those women who never missed a period unless she was pregnant. I never had problems with my cycles and I had no compassion for those women who did. Having never experienced PMS, I was certain all of their complaints about their menstrual cramps, their headaches, their bloating and irritability was all due to a weak mind.

A headstrong and determined woman, it all seemed so simple to me. Just get up and get on with it. Why let something as insignificant as a menstrual cycle stand in your way?  But all of my harsh and condemning judgment soon found its way back to me.

When I entered menopause my life fell completely apart. I realized for the first time, just how little control and power I really had over my body. The mood swings and hot flashes were bad enough, but the insomnia darn near drove me into psychosis.

For several years I lived on prescription sleep aids, which did an okay job. I mean, I got some sleep, but it was never as sweet as the slumber I had taken for granted my entire life. An old Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi” comes to mind: “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Since I’ve been participating in Estroven’s Good Sleep Challenge , I’ve had plenty of time to think again about the value of something as simple as sleep, and how easy it is to take it for granted. Next week, I’ll have even more opportunity to think about sleep.

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