By Jennifer Norman
What feels like a short while ago I began posting lists on Facebook. I called these lists “Jenn’s Tens.” It seemed like a small act at the time. My goal was to find ten things I was thankful for and if I could not, then to look at the small things in my life that I could make myself grateful for on the hard days. I have been writing these lists for ten or so years. They often include references to socks, which I detest, and things my children say or do that I find humorous. What I could not anticipate was the wonderful responses I have received from my friends, family and community members. My small observations have welcomed the people in my life to enjoy the levity of any situation and to share in my odd perspectives on life. It seems that my lists have become a source of joy and humor. For this I am grateful.
Last year, I began running again. I have arthritis in my feet. It can be painful to run, but my need to run is strong. I searched for a long time to find a pair of running sneakers that would support the deterioration of my poor bones. After an exhaustive search, I happened upon a pair of sneakers called “Kuru” shoes. They are made for the elderly and arthritic and those of us who have old feet and youngish bodies. I bought a pair in the hopes of some relief. I was surprised when they arrived. They really did not look like the pair I thought I purchased on the internet. They are black with purple and silver laces, something I might race (I do plan on racing) around a nursing home in much later in my life. I spent a few days staring them down, examining them on the shelf, and generally holding them in middle-aged disdain. Finally, I put them on. The beauty of these shoes is not in their appearance. They are certainly very ugly. The beauty is in the construction. They are designed to realign and re-educate the body to move in a fluid and natural way. Stiff at first, I soon learned that I loved them. The bones of my feet are gently but firmly positioned. My hips now sit level and equal on a horizontal plane which allows my upper body to relax into a healthier posture. I am able to sit back in my stride. I am running again. For this I am grateful.
Gratitude is a disposition. I believe it is one crafted through acts of being grateful. Especially now in the ongoing pandemic, cultivating positive acts that allow us to be grateful for what is right and good in our lives strongly builds the disposition of gratitude. It is often challenging to be grateful, when you feel like your vision and unique perspectives on the world are not appreciated or when you no longer enjoy activity because you have physical pain. By challenging myself to explore the smallish things— lists of the casual normal and a remarkable and simple redesign of shoes— I am deepening my disposition gratitude.