Thanksgiving (In)Gratitudes

Being grateful and happy has always come naturally to me but this move has really thrown me for a loop. I’ll go from feeling on top of the world with little victories like the kids making a new friend to feeling gobsmacked and overwhelmed.

I was reviewing my blog post from last year at this time as I poured out our many blessings. It was a tough read. Life as we knew it was pretty darn perfect and I was so grateful for it. Two weeks later, I would receive the impression we were supposed to leave Colorado.

I think the toughest thing about moving from an idyllic  world to a less-than-ideal situation is expectations. I miss Colorado. I miss our friends. I miss that my friends were also the kids’ best friends and we did everything together. I miss my job and all its perks. Sure, I still own and run Mile High Mamas but ’tis the season for VIP event and travel invites…and I’ve had to pass them along to my writers, which I’m happy to do. But I’m not happy to be constantly reminded of what I’m missing by all those invitations. I need to build out similar opportunities here but I just don’t have time.

One of my major sources of discontent has been our new house. There are many things I love about it: The view. The kitchen. The charming old farm table. My office. The huge basement. The granite countertops and hardwood floors. The massive yard (that will be a ton of work to complete but will be amazing when we do).

But there are just as many things I dislike about it: The small  upstairs rooms (particularly the master bedroom with the tiniest closet in the house), the mud room (so small that there’s nowhere to put the laundry baskets), the small family room that makes it difficult to entertain. The list goes on.

The financial strain of this move continues daily as we bleed money. We had to order a newer, most expensive couch yesterday because the one we bought is already showing wear. Our builder, Utah Home Builders, took several shorcuts that are costing us a lot of money such as putting in a circuit board with no extra spaces; we had to drop an additional $1,000 to install a new one in order to have electicity downstairs.

I recognize these are first world problems but we spent a lot of money on this house and to be unhappy with the layout is a source of constant frustration. Part of the problem was we never really saw our house before moving in because all the models were sold. We had the builder’s plans so conceptually we had an idea of the layout but living with it is an entirely different ballgame.

It makes me realize how much we loved our old 5-bedroom house.  We hated our view and didn’t have fancy upgrades but all the rooms were spacious and spread apart–the four bedrooms were on separate quarters upstairs. In our new ranch, all three of the bedrooms and two bathrooms are crammed into one little area. Hadley wakes up at 5:30 a.m. for school and we all hear about it. Daily. Top priority: scraping together some money to finish the bathroom downstairs.

The first five weeks were rough. Unpacking. Working 15-hours days getting settled before I started my job. Hadley sleeping on the floor in my now-office. Jamie’s desk in our little bedroom. We hired someone to frame and drywall two rooms in the basement and we’ve done the rest. We finished last week and moved Hadley to her room and Jamie is in his new office. Space is still tight upstairs but at least we’re not living on top of each other.

When we’re finally able to afford finishing our basement, we’ll be just fine but who knows when we’ll have a chunk of money to complete it? For now, I’m just trying to live and love what we have while lowering expectations. Sure, we don’t have the tight-knit group from Colorado but we’ve already made a few good friends. We love our ward, the kids are doing wonderfully in school and love being closer to Jamie’s awesome family. I truly love living in this charming mountain hamlet. In fact, I wonder why I’ve lived in the suburbs of a big city my entire life. On Friday, I went for a hike around Soldier Hollow, the world-class cross-country skiing venue for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. It is a five minute drive from my house. This just blows my mind and I can’t wait to ski it this winter.

So, for those of us who might be feeling a bit less-than grateful this holiday season while also still recognizing our blessings, this article I quoted last year from The Atlantic still rings true:

Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.”

Photo taken by Willie Holdman of last week’s sunset in the Heber Valley

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