One of the things I like best about my relationship with Kelly is the sheer number of "Thank you's" that I hear in our house (and in the garden, and in the studio). The other day, I was standing in the backyard, pondering the growing corn, when Kelly stopped, looked at me and said, "Thank you for bringing so much green into my life and our world." I was a little taken aback. I plant things on the porch and backyard because it feeds my soul, it connects me to my father and grandfather, and because it keeps the Covid despair just ever-so-slightly at bay. I am not digging and moving rocks out of any obligation or duty in our relationship.
But Kelly's real, heartfelt gratitude had a big impact on me. I felt seen. My work felt seen and appreciated. Not that I needed the external validation, but it felt great and it made me lean in toward Kelly, emotionally and physically.
Without ever talking about it, Kelly and I seem to have agreed to offer far more gratitude than correction, criticism, or even requests. We thank each other for everyday activities like emptying the dishwasher or doing the laundry, tasks that are so regular and mundane one could easily take them for granted. We thank each other for important behaviors. “Thank you for being so responsible with the bills.” “Thank you for always caring for the cats.” And, critically, we thank each other for courage and vulnerability. “Thank you for telling me you felt scared.” “Thank you for sitting and listening to me.”
And the beauty of offering frequent gratitude is how it affects both the giver and receiver, knitting us each tighter into supportive relationships. The receiver of the “Thank you” gets validation, acknowledgement, and a bit of motivation to keep at it. The giver of the “Thank you” gets to live in gratitude, gets a moment to see the abundance or ease or safety in the house anew, afresh.
There are lots of things to complain about in this house. I am not easy to live with, I am sure. And I have a few beefs with how Kelly does things. But we choose to live in “Thank you.” And that choice, repeated several times a day, makes the little quibbles fade. Plus, I just much prefer to hear gratitude rather than complaints come out of my mouth. Like Stasia Rivera says, “Vote for the person you want to be.” I vote for grateful and appreciative.
Are there things or people in your life that you would like to thank more?