Three Days of Thanks: Day Two

Life is definitely something to be thankful for.

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The view from our cabin in Idyllwild

Let’s be honest. There are about four million posts currently written about being thankful and gratitude. ’Tis the season, and since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I imagine there will be four million more posts before then.

So, why should you read my post about gratitude? You shouldn’t. Why waste your time finding out why I’m grateful? Chances are you don’t know me, so who cares what I think?

Well, here’s a thought. Perhaps what I write makes sense to you, reminds you to be grateful for everything you have, or touches your heart in some way. Perhaps what I write reaches the dark parts of your psyche and makes you act in a new and different way.

Or, perhaps, my writing does nothing for you at all. I’m ok with that, too.

Birthdays Get a Bad Wrap

Confession: I used to hate my birthdays. The older I got, the worse my mood deteriorated leading up to the big day. I’d be back to my normal self the very next day which is odd to say the least. It was as if someone waved their magic wand and Catherine was back, or at least back until the same time next year.

Getting Out of Dodge

Before a particularly BIG birthday a few years ago, I decided to drag my family out of town to help me celebrate. I made the decision to go to Idyllwild because I love the mountain air, the trees, and the much, much smaller population. I also prayed for snow. I love snow.

Heading to Idyllwild is like a mini vacation despite being only about two hours away from San Diego. It feels like another world and without the hassle of getting on an airplane.

Honestly, I was also leaving town because I didn’t want to run into anyone I knew. I didn’t want to have to feign happiness should they say those three little words that were causing me so much grief, “Happy birthday, Cath!”

I was, essentially, running away from home and my birthday.

The First Part of the Drive

I packed up the whole family plus one spare kid (also known as daughter #5), grabbed non-nutritious snacks for stress eating (and plenty of them), and headed to the mountains the day before my birthday. I drove the car with the kids in it. My husband drove himself in his new car.

I was quiet as we drove along, content to listen to the girls chatter and to the songs on the radio. I was settling into my wallowing and feeling sorry for myself.

We drove east for a little bit and then headed on the I15 northbound. I used Google Maps on my iPhone to get to our destination. My husband was using the navigation system on his car, which we learned later, was tied to satellite.

Soon after our journey began, we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic. I groaned. What the actual HELL? Ugh!

The cars inched along making the slowest progress in the world. I could not see what the hold-up was and couldn’t believe there was such incredible traffic on such an odd time of day. I guess I thought it was Christmas traffic.

However, I was going to learn soon that the reason for the traffic would affect my birthday and all future birthdays.

The Hold-Up

My car was stop/starting in the fast lane, the lane that borders the grass median that separates the north and southbound I15. I wanted to quickly get up to Idyllwild and start ‘celebrating’ my date of birth as quickly as humanly so that it could be over as quickly as possible.

What soon came into my view was not to be believed. An SUV was upside down in the grass, resting on its roof. There were police officers, firemen, multiple ambulances, and belongings strewn everywhere. I’d never seen so much stuff coming out of one vehicle.

But something was off. I noticed that despite the fact that the accident had happened within the last 15 minutes, no police officers, firemen, nor ambulance workers were rushing around. They were all milling about, talking, pointing, writing things down.

I quickly surmised that the reason nobody was running around was because the occupants of the SUV had died. The car I was about to pass probably had no living people sitting patiently in their seat belts, waiting to be rescued.

This fact alone hit me so hard as my car drove at a snail’s pace about ten feet away from the upside down SUV past the accident scene. The people who were in the SUV would not live to see Christmas, nor any other holiday ever again.

An Aha Moment

It was at this moment when I realized I had what the accident victims didn’t have: life. Any one of the occupants would have gladly traded where I was in my life vs where they were with theirs. I was a living, breathing human who had the privilege of whining , taking my miserable-assed self up to the mountains, dragging the family who loves me to the cold, just so I could wallow in a birthday I was lucky enough to be celebrating.

My attitude changed so quickly and so completely, you would have sworn that I had a near death experience. And I suppose I did, I was near death. My car drove past an SUV full of death.

Old Dog Learns New Tricks — News at 10 Because She Can’t Make It to 11

I am living proof you can teach an old dog new tricks. After moving slowly past the wreckage of the SUV, I continued my drive to the mountains but with a new lease on life. I sang along with the songs. I told the girls jokes. I stopped at a combination rest stop and gift shop because the girls wanted to buy stupid stuff that would break in a few hours — something I wouldn’t have ever done previously. Normally, I would ‘just want to get there.’

I celebrated my many years on this planet by living and finally enjoying every moment.

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I made a teeny-tiny snowman for my birthday, grateful for the leftover snow

Second Thanks

My second day of thanks is I am thankful for my life. It hasn’t always worked out the way I wanted or planned, but unlike the poor people in the SUV, I am alive.

Please pause from all of today’s activities and think of one reason you’re thankful. Just one. You can say it out loud to yourself, tell it to a friend, tweet it, Instagram it, however you want to do it, it doesn’t matter — just do.

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A beautiful sunset on a beautiful birthday I will never forget

Day 10 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge I dared myself to start (and finish).

Far more interesting internally than externally. I write to quiet the voices. Deleted Facebook & Twitter thereby immediately quieting 1000’s of voices.

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