Several studies* show that gratitude is one of the clearest predictors of good mental health. As a person suffering from major depression, it’s easy for me to list all of the things going wrong. I could probably list 20 without taking a breath. Gratitude is something I need to work on. And when the going gets tough–like right now, when Squeaker is eating non-food items like marbles and cardboard and going into fits of violent rage–it’s even harder to show gratitude. Regardless, it’s important to try. After all, finding more reasons to smile means less depression and less stress. And as a parent of a child with special needs, the less stress you have, the better, because you have to stay level-headed when things come up, whether it’s meltdowns, or fighting for services, or dealing with bullies or school.
Anyway, today I decided it would be a great day to come up with 10 Reasons to Smile. So, here they are, in no particular order.
1.) This morning, a Masked Avenger paid a visit to my house. What’s particularly special about this visit is that this was made possible by a friend of mine, who, at the last minute, watched Squeaker yesterday when I had to go to the school yesterday to meet my new coworkers. He LOVES his new mask.
2.) Listening to Big Guy talk to ducks. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever heard. I got it on video, too. I’ve had trouble uploading it, or I would let you hear it. Oh Em Gee. It’s adorable!
3.) Caterpillars. Eastern Black Swallowtails to be exact. We’re watching them grow and go through the cycle to turn into butterflies here at the house. I’m so excited to share this experience with the boys.
This is also courtesy of the same friend who watched my son and made masks with him and her children. She had some caterpillars in her garden, captured them, and saved them for people to keep as projects. Great friend!
4.) I met my new team yesterday and everyone seems really nice. I was scared of what I was walking into and I’m glad that not only was everyone willing to meet before we actually had to be there, but they all appear to be friendly.
5.) This year, I’m going to be the Team Lead of my EC Department. I’m slightly intimidated by the task, as it’s a huge opportunity, but it’s what I wanted. It will help me grow as a teacher and a person, and it gives me a chance to be more of a mentor.
6.) Squeaker’s mentor is able to help out for the first two days I’m back at work and The Manager is able to take off all of one day next week. These teacher workdays can be stressful when it comes to having him taken care of because he’s not in school and is not able to go to any type of daycare due to his need for one-on-one attention, so it’s a huge relief to have him taken care of. That’s one more year juggled (12 more to go, give or take)!
7.) Squeaker got to have a really special camp this summer, made just for children with Autism, thanks to our local chapter in coordination with a local recreational therapy center. He loved it and couldn’t wait to go every day. The weeks they had off were rough and he totally hated not going those weeks. But, those weeks he got to go, those were awesome. I’m so, so grateful that he had that camp. Camp Smile made us smile.
8.) My letters to various legislative offices have already elicited some responses. I’ve gotten emails and phone calls already. I found out today that we were supposed to have received a letter stating that our request for Intensive In-Home Services has been denied so that we can file an appeal. When I told the lady at DMA that no such letter has been sent to us thus far, she told me that was the first issue…and while she was the wrong person to help me, she was going to make sure the right person received my complaint. Silver lining? Maybe! Somebody fucked up somewhere, it sounds like.
9.) Going out and test-driving cars with The Manager. I’m going to get a new car in October, so I did a test drive of the Mazda CX-5 and the Chevy Equinox LTZ. The Equinox made me feel powerful, which makes me want to buy it, but I’m looking at the gas economy of the Mazda, which is just as beautiful and a close second, and it’s 3mpg better than the Equinox in the city. So, I still have a little thinking to do. Driving those cars felt so awesome, though. That new car smell. Just something about it!
10.) This joke, told by Squeaker today…
Him: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Me: I don’t know. Why?
Him: To get smooshed by [Squeaker]’s monster truck. QUACK!
First joke, ever made up by him, to ever have a recognizable punch line. Isn’t it awesome?
I’m so glad to have found 10 Reasons to Smile today. I hope you have too.
*Wood, A.M. et al (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review.
Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M.E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Happiness Studies.