I have to be honest – January has been a shit show. By which I mean, it has been an anxiety-filled, sleep-deprived, and self-sabotaging month. It’s never an easy time – it’s not Christmas anymore, pretty much everyone is broke, and the world is spouting bullshit about weight loss and diets and reinvention. Also, it’s fucking cold.
But I’m making a conscious effort to see the good in the world, to return to gratitude for my experiences and the lessons I’m learning in life.
If the word gratitude makes you cringe, I don’t blame you. It’s something that gets thrown around by the wellness world a lot, and that can be incredibly off-putting for anyone sceptical of the ‘health’ movement. I get it.
I also get how uncomfortable it is to be told that gratitude is the key to happiness and peace when you have a mental illness. It feels like being told that if you ‘just changed your outlook’ then everything would be fine, you’d be ‘cured’. It feels like being told that your illness is your fault. (Which, in case you need reminding, is BULLSHIT).
I have gone through periods of writing daily gratitude lists, meditating on gratitude at the end of each day, weekly gratitude practices… and of course, times when I’ve not prioritised gratitude at all. I can honestly say that it makes a difference – which is not to say that it ‘fixes’ everything. But I’m a ruminator, and tend to go to bed filled with bad thoughts. Interrupting that with even just one small thought – be it ‘the sunset was pretty’ or ‘I enjoyed my lunch’ – helps me to sleep better. It doesn’t necessarily make the bad stuff go away, but it does create a tiny break in my thought pattern, a little crack where the light gets in.
Years ago, I would sometimes share my daily gratitude lists with my friends via Instagram, and they all loved it. They told me it made them start to really appreciate the small things more, and that it made them feel hopeful. I want to bring that back – in a slightly different form – because I think we all need some inspiration right now.
So. January, as ever, was tough, and I’m glad as hell that it’s over. But amongst its grimness, January brought me plenty of things to be grateful for.
What I feel most grateful for this month is horses, and the privilege I have of getting to ride them.
I spent the first few weeks of the month at home, which meant I got to go horse riding quite a few times. I am grateful to live in a town so near to the countryside, to live somewhere that gives me easy access to brilliant stables.
I am extremely grateful for the financial privilege which allows me this beautiful hobby.
I am grateful to have parents who recognise the importance to me of this activity, and who are thus willing to drive me to lessons, and listen to me go on (and on… and on) about horses.
I am grateful to the stables I ride at, that the horses are so well looked after, and that everyone who works there is truly passionate about what they’re doing. I am grateful to be taught by non-judgemental women, to be challenged but to have my limits respected and understood.
I am grateful to my body, for all that it is able to do, for the fact that it enables me to do what I love.
I am grateful to the horses I am lucky enough to ride, for allowing me onto their backs and trusting me. I am grateful that they cooperate with me, and that they also sometimes test my patience – because I learn a lot from those moments, too.
I am grateful for the time I get to spend connecting with another creature, and for the way it connects me to my body, too. I am grateful that I get to do something that makes me feel so alive.
I am grateful to have discovered this wonderful thing, and I am grateful to myself for returning to it again and again in spite of the things in my head which tried to take away all joy. I am grateful that I have found something that helps me to heal.
What are you feeling most grateful for right now? Please let me know! You can tweet me or share it on Instagram + tag me (both – @hurricanegrrrl ) – I’d love for you to join in and share some goodness!