Gratitude Friday 4

‘House Sparrow’ – photo by Richard Blackburn

Ok, I swore that I’d never do this – but there are so many things in my life that I am grateful for today, that this is going to be a list!  And since I’m no song writer, it’s not ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…..’.

So here goes:

The view from my sofa that looks out over our bird feeders and all the birds that come to them.

The cat sitting at the window watching the very same birds!

The gift of language so that I can write these words.

The buzz of the bees as they hover over the Californian lilac outside the kitchen window.

Gluten free muffins.

Three awesome daughters.

One amazing husband.

Sunshine and raindrops.


Satin ribbons.

The first cup of coffee in the morning.

The last cup of chamomile tea at night.

Poppies and aquilegia.

Freshly laundered sheets.

Mike Oldfield.

Freebies in the post.

Fabulous friends.

Oh, and you guys for your support and encouragement!

These are a few of my favourite things!  What are you grateful for this Friday?

Aquilegia (Granny’s Bonnets)

Gratitude Friday

Last week I talked about recognising what the important things are in amongst all of the angst of a distraught daughter.  Well this week there has been a huge turnaround.  On Wednesday I heard the four words we all long to hear – “Mum, you were right!”  Now, I understand that as Mums we are pretty much always right, but it’s nice to have it recognised!

“Ok,” you ask, “what were you right about?”  Well, all through Awesome Daughter Number One’s challenge to land herself a permanent teaching job, I have maintained that whenever she is turned down it’s because the perfect job hasn’t yet come up for her.  Perhaps the age of the children don’t fall into her preferred age range (she likes to teach eight year old and above), the geographical location of the school would make it difficult for her to commute, it might have classes with a high number of children, or she might find it difficult to get on with certain of the head teachers.  I have always been sure that the perfect teaching position would come along for her and asked her to trust that it would happen.  I know that when you feel like everything you have worked for is conspiring against you that trusting is the hardest thing to do, but that is the time you most need to do it!  And so “Mum, you were right” signalled the end of this particular journey for her – a job in a lovely school, with the right size of class, the right age group and, what sounds like, a lovely head teacher.  All right!

On top of this, Awesome Daughter Number Two, who has also had her challenges – four years of working a job to finance her way through University and many hours in the Lab or the library has resulted in a Class 2:1 Honours degree in (wait for it…) Biomedical Sciences specialising in Physiology!  Another BSc in the family!  She graduates next week and I’ll be there, heart swelling with pride!

Then, as if all this wasn’t enough, Awesome Daughter Number Three came home with an envelope full of certificates!  The Lower School prize giving takes place during school hours and parents don’t get to attend, and so, unexpectedly, she came home with seven Merit Certificates, a Gold Award (one of only six in her year) and a Certificate of Achievement for a project that she and a group of classmates took part in over the year to investigate the efficacy of a Biomass Plant and which they presented to two sets of judges!

How can I not be grateful for the blessings I find in my daughters!  I love that they are so much more than I was at their ages.  They know their own minds.  They know how to think for themselves.  They seem to know exactly who they are.  They are all building successful lives of their own.  And the amazing thing to me is that they come to me – for advice and support.  Equally amazingly, they highlight to me many lessons that I need to learn (usually unwittingly) and so, while I am able to support them on their journeys, they support me on mine.

 So, Thank You girls.  I love you!

Quote adapted from Laurel Atherton

Gratitude Friday 2

This post was written for Gratitude Friday, but the handfasting celebrations of my fabby  friend and a shopping day out with Tech Guy, have postponed it – so in the spirit of the kindness I have promised myself, I present it to you now – a day late, but no less sincere!

Written  on Thursday 21st June 2012

Cheer Bear. My eldest daughter’s favourite toy

It’s 2.00am and I’m struggling to sleep.  I had a phone call from Awesome Daughter Number 1 earlier this evening.  She was distraught and 120 miles away.  Feeling like her life’s dream is being taken away from her.  From the first day she walked into primary school at the age of 4½ she has wanted to be a teacher.  Her whole school life was dedicated to gaining the qualifications she needed to fulfil this dream.  She qualified with flying colours and embarked on her career.

Teaching in Scotland is currently a precarious profession.  There are 300 applicants for every job that comes up in Edinburgh where she qualified, but undaunted she has taken temporary posts to gain as much experience as she can.  She has worked extra hours and has undertaken extra-curricular activities and yet five years after graduating she still does not have a permanent teaching post.  This past year she has had a long term, temporary position at a school she likes.  She loves the children and has made friends with the staff.  She missed out on a permanent job last year, but thought that this year – with her experience and dedication – her time would come.  But no, the jobs were given to less experienced and less dedicated teachers.  And so, this evening she was on the phone breaking her heart, doubting her abilities and asking if this was the Universe telling her that she was on the wrong path.  Questioning how many rejections must she take before she accepts that it’s not her interview technique, or the interviewer that’s the problem, it’s her.  Not being able to follow her dream is making her ill – enough for her to consider giving it all up.

My beautiful, talented daughter feeling like there is something wrong with her – and I can do nothing to help.  I can listen to her sobbing but I can’t take away her pain.  So here I am.  Not sleeping, feeling powerless.

The TV is on, showing a programme about Great Ormond Street Hospital – a children’s hospital in London where they embark on experimental surgery and treatments.  I’m hearing about a young girl whose trachea is so narrow that she can barely breathe and babies whose rib cages are not growing so their lungs are compressed.  Without surgery these children will die.  With surgery they may die anyway.  Their parents are having to make decisions – not about whether their children will die, but about when.

These parents are worrying about their young children.  I am worrying about my adult daughter.  Yesterday I was worrying about being short of money and today I am reminded of what is truly important.  I am grateful for my daughters, their health and the opportunity to be there for them in whatever capacity I can be.

Gratitude Friday

Well, it’s Friday and since gratitude has been playing a large part in my life recently, I thought that this might be an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the good things in my life!  With this in mind I’d like to make this a regular feature here on the blog – Friday Gratitudes – a chance to reflect on the week that has passed and to consider what is good in my life.  I’d love you to join me in expressing gratitude for the good things in your life!

When life is challenging and difficult, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative.  However, this way of thinking can just pull us into a spiral that can ultimately result in depression.  What helped me to break this cycle was to begin switching my focus to those things in my life that were good.  They didn’t have to be big things – a really good cup of coffee, the intense colour of the flowers in the garden or the tiny detail in the markings on the birds at the local nature reserve – but they could be as huge as the love I have for my husband, the admiration for my daughters or the beauty of the full moon!  There is always something to be positive about.  One friend has a son who has challenges – but finds joy in his smile, another lives with a frail and demanding parent – but appreciates her time on the beach with her dogs.  When we change our focus, life seems better.  We can even change our perspective on the challenges we face if we can see these challenges as lessons which, when learned, will enhance our lives.

And so, today, I express my gratitude for my unstintingly supportive husband; my beautiful, accomplished daughters; Amy Palko whose Beautiful Beliefs project has had a huge impact on my life; learning to trust that I am good enough; the rain – because without it we wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine and oh, remember that cup of coffee….?

My cuppa!