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Grateful, Not Grateful

By Lori Welch Brown

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude recently. Thanksgiving aside, I try to practice gratitude as part of my daily routine. There are the obvious things of course—grateful for my health, my family, the roof over my head, etc. Then there are the things that often get overlooked—grateful that I live in a place where I’m not awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of gunfire or bombs being dropped. Grateful that I have access to clean drinking water and medical services. Grateful I don’t have to rely on my hunting and foraging skills to eat. Grateful if/when I can fit in a particular pair of jeans. Grateful when my hubby offers to do the dishes.

Then there are the things that maybe I shouldn’t be grateful for—the modern conveniences I’ve come to lean on that actually aren’t good for me. Hubby and I just finished watching the docu-series Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones on Netflix. Author and researcher Dan Buettner travelled the world in pursuit of areas where people live longer than average to uncover the secret to longevity.  The ‘blue zones’ he uncovered are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.

And what do they all have in common? No Roombas, escalators, Vitamixers, electric chain saws, food processors, Instacart, Uber, Starbucks, or dishwashers. Heck—these people don’t even have a Gold’s gym. How are they living to be 100 without access to a stair master and/or treadmill let alone a $75/hour personal trainer?

And—fact—these centenarians aren’t squirreled away in some assisted living facility, curled up in a catatonic ball, being spoon fed? One rather sprite geriatric jumped on a horse to lasso calves while his senior counterpart was busy cutting his lawn with a machete. If you recall, the subject of my October column was about aging gracefully, and I was grateful to be doing Wordle and getting up from the floor without using my hands—that one time I did it with the help of the very detailed tutorial I saw on Instagram.

Apparently, you don’t need a monthly gym membership fee when you have to walk up the side of a mountain every day to get to your house or stone grind your own corn for Taco Tuesday. Their gym is their manual labor and the daily routines of their normal lives—which doesn’t include the Taco Bell drive through. They walk everywhere—up the steep inclines to get to their home, church, market, community gatherings. Oh—and they gather with their community a lot. And they drink wine. Good wine.

I’m rethinking my gratitude. These ‘modern’ conveniences that we take for granted—they’re slowly killing us. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not about to toss my Nespresso machine, but I may move it downstairs so at least there is some modicum of effort involved. It is conceivable that I could grind my own coffee beans, but I really do need caffeine before I do pretty much anything.

The people in Okinawa sit on the floor vs. a nice, comfy Pottery Barn sectional so every time they get up to do something, they’re working their core. They didn’t watch some IG reel to learn how to get up off the floor.  Visitors be warned—I’m swapping out my Ikea furniture for meditation cushions and bean bag chairs. 

But…I digress. These people naturally know how to do it because they don’t know anything different. They don’t know about those luxurious massage chairs they could be watching QVC from or Moby scooters which could not only carry them up the mountain, but also have storage space for their Supersized McDonald’s meals. Double win.

Obviously, food has a lot to do with longevity. You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about the benefits of a plant-based diet or the Mediterranean diet. The people of Nicoya subsist on the three foods readily available to them:  corn, black beans, and sweet potatoes. Of course, if that’s all I had to eat, I’m not sure I’d want to live to 100, but hey. If they’ve never tasted king crab legs, a ribeye, or Five Guys’ fries, who am I to judge?

I am grateful for things that have made our lives easier and healthier such as medical advances. My husband just had shoulder surgery to repair torn tendons which would not have been available to my grandfather. I’m very grateful my husband didn’t lose use of his arm because trust me—the first two weeks he was incapacitated almost killed him me.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to hand wash all my clothes like my grandmother did—although come to think of it, she once pulled a tree trunk out of the ground with her bare hands so I guess all that scrubbing was better than a Crossfit membership.

I have a bad habit of focusing on things in my life that are lacking or in need of repair. What’s wrong vs. what’s right. So—I’m working hard on shifting my focus to the people and things (health, security, my Nespresso machine) present in my life actually making it better (vs. silently killing me).

In that vein, I am truly grateful for my tribe—the people who show up for me, laugh with me, cry with me, and love me despite my moodiness, penchant for alone time, and exasperating Virgo ways. For them, I am both humbled and grateful—you know who you are. I am also very grateful for our faithful followers here at the Old Town Crier. You’re the reason I write.

It goes without saying that I’m grateful for the three sets of eyes who wake me up every morning—and the paws that pounce on me most nights. They give me unconditional love in exchange for a twice monthly Chewy delivery—a small price to pay for so much joy—although I would appreciate an uninterrupted night’s sleep once in a while.

And, blue zone be damned—I’m grateful for my Vitamix. I think every household should have one for making healthy smoothies and the occasional pumpkin spiced milk shake. No one wants to live to 100 without some indulgences.

From my house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for over 20 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.

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