Counting my blessings

Counting my blessings

Growing up with an Italian, Catholic mother is about as stereotypical as you can imagine. She…

  • made a mean meatball
  • idolized her sons
  • never missed weekend Mass
  • ruled the house with the swing of a spatula

But my mother was also my first philosopher and spiritual guide. She had a long list of catch phrases that expressed her belief system and general approach to parenting, choosing the most pertinent one as the opening and closing remarks of any discussion. Things like “God doesn’t pay every Saturday” {for patience} “Put it in God’s hands” {let it go} “Walk a straight line” {live with integrity} and “Look at yourself in the mirror” {have a clear conscience} were an adopted set of commandments in our home.

By far, the most frustrating for me was “count your blessings.” No matter how big or small my teenage angst might have been she often responded to my tears, anxiety or insecurities with this simple statement about appreciation. Imagine coming home on a Saturday night enraged at the latest indiscretion of a friend only to be shut down at the height of your meltdown with “Count your blessings. Imagine what a child in Ethiopia endures.” Count among her blessings ~ a teenager who actually wanted to open up to her.

In all fairness, there is a level of wisdom baked in there; however, it hovers on the surface, not digging deep enough to satisfy the emotional needs of a child. Often I was left feeling selfish and spoiled that any negativity should enter my otherwise charmed life. At any age it’s hard to absorb a life lesson without context and relevancy to your ego-centric world.

When I became a mother I made a pact with myself that I would always listen to all of my children’s fears ~ reasonable or not ~ with an open mind and foster a dialogue where we sorted out emotional turmoil together in a more productive way. To be honest that hasn’t always panned out as sometimes the irrational mind of a teenager is closed to adult input and my idealized heart-to-hearts often begin and end with an eye roll. The best laid intentions….

As I’ve progressed through my yoga journey, gratitude has become a central theme to leading a content life. It is the anecdote to stress. It is at the heart of healthy perspective. It doesn’t dismiss or trivialize the very human emotions we experience but can redirect our focus when things seem otherwise cloudy and unclear.

I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t achieved through our external circumstances but more when we recognize, appreciate and honor the blessings from within. Connecting to the positive is a way to mentally recharge our energy and move forward confidently so that we can handle whatever life throws our way.

In a funny twist, gratitude has helped me make sense of my upbringing and my mothers unique style of discipline and instruction. Not only has “count your blessings” become a daily mantra for me, I have a $19.99 sign hanging in my kitchen to prove it.

Just please don’t tell my mother she was right.

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