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Smell the Coffee: Grateful for the weeds in life

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A few friends have been spending this month embracing an "attitude of gratitude" where they make daily proclamations, usually on Facebook, about something for which they are grateful. Their responses have been somewhat predictable, touching on such obvious subjects as family, health and work.While I get that it's important to take note of and express gratitude for those major markers, it occurs to me that there's much that's easy to miss.Like weeds.I'm grateful for weeds.For this, I blame the slow-speaking Eeyore, who once said (via his creator, A.A. Milne), "Weeds are flowers, too. Once you get to know them."I've grown a mighty crop of weeds over the years, and they've frustrated me more than words can express. Many times I've tried to yank them out by their roots to no avail. These weeds will be with me forever.But for that, I've become grateful. Turns out, most every one of those weeds has been there for a reason, though it's often taken ages to understand what that reason might be. For every broken water line or exploding appliance, I learned a new skill, met an interesting new repair person, found ways to finagle finances. Gained respect for myself for not giving up. Each new setback has eventually been followed by a reward or understanding or appreciation I doubt I'd have otherwise reached.So for the weeds that were well-disguised flowers, I am grateful.But there's so much more I'm thankful to have in my life.I'm grateful for those who practice random acts of kindness, like the person who recently fed my meter (and left a nice verse on my window) when I was delayed while parked in front of the federal courthouse a few weeks back.
I'm grateful for friends like Anna James, who can persuade a dedicated homebody like me to go out, and that her gregariousness resulted in meeting new friends and forming a Thursday Therapy group.I'm grateful for my parents, who saved the day for me a few times this past year. Grateful that they're still strong and healthy and funny as hell. And grateful that my daughter, now a junior in high school, is still fine with being written about.I'm grateful that I don't work for one of those coldhearted retail stores that are open on Thanksgiving, robbing their employees of enjoying the day with their families.I'm grateful every time I think of a Christmas present that's clever or funny (and that I can afford) that makes me bubble with excitement over the anticipated reaction.
I'm grateful for the smell of heat when the furnace kicks on. And for those rare occasions when I can beat my cats to the best floor vent in the house.I'm grateful when a craft project or a recipe turns out anywhere close to resembling the photograph that inspired me to attempt it.I'm grateful for emails from readers. Writing can sometimes be a lonely business, and the emails and shared stories can so make my day.I'm grateful for my best friend, Pam Hanson, a fellow writer who understands the frustrations of that weird world we live in, and who pushes and encourages me and reframes disasters each time I'm ready to quit.And most of all, I'm grateful for having gone to my class reunion, where I met Didier, who keeps changing and expanding my life in the most wonderful ways.In a world with such horrible sadness and deliberate atrocities, it's astounding that anyone can feel happy or grateful at all. But what's even more amazing is that all you have to do is look around -- really look around -- at unspoiled nature and unheralded kindnesses and the miracles we take for granted because they happen so often they appear commonplace, and you wonder how anyone could be anything but overwhelmed with gratitude.
Or wonder if we'd appreciate the beauty of the flowers without the aggravation of weeds.Reach Karin Fuller via email at
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