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Giving Thanks (AKA how to get back to sleep at night)

Written by sarah pollak


Posted on November 23 2020

Life has changed and been challenging, in more ways than any of us imagined, for more months than we imagined. 

And, unlike in the past, that's not just true for new parents!😅

As a small business person, I'm going to be very honest, there is no way that I could have stayed sane had it not been for a relentless devotion to a daily practice of gratitude which I began long before 2020. I only wish that I had started it when my kids were young.  Alas. I give this as a gift to you. My kids are grown and fabulous, but, trust me, this will serve you well raising children, living in a pandemic, living life.

If you have looked at our blogs, you know that this "calming of the nervous system" is a favorite topic of mine.So, spoiler alert: Gratitude is the answer.

Oh, I know, that's all well and good, and we all have loads to be grateful for, but, as a composite of mamas have said to me in the past week:

"OMG have you looked at what's going on in our country!?!?!?!?!!" And, the kids are home, ALL THE TIME, and I've got a second full time job which I feel COMPLETELY UNQUALIFIED for and it's super important that I get good at it quick and I've farmed it out to a sister who is also unqualified, but at least she has another screen up and can look up how to divide fractions without the "class" seeing her, and that one that I married, who I really do love, and even like most of the time...who knew that "for worse" meant THIS?!?!?"

I hear you.

Look at the above composite "quote". Think of it as one of those puzzles where you try and find the things hidden in the picture. Sometimes gratitude is easy peasy, right there.  Some days it's not as clear.   These *may* be those days. (see "answers" below)

Here are some of the recent events in which gratitude has served me well:

  • Our business dropped 90%. Overnight. And, while it got a little better, emphasis on little.  We have closed 2 of our 3 shops. 

I am grateful today to have that one shop.

I am grateful for the truly wonderful clients who I get to meet every day! Seriously, you guys are the best!! 

I am even grateful for the very few clients who find something "wrong"(i.e. they fail to remove the hang tag prior to washing) ad are irate with us. They teach me. I am grateful for the reminder to pause, to consider that while they are directing their fury at me, we are ALL having a hard time. 


  • Both of our kids have lost their jobs. 

    I am grateful that they are both healthy.

    I am grateful that we live in a climate where we can meet outside with ease. 

    I am grateful for Lake Merritt.

    I am grateful that we have a backyard. 

    I am grateful that they have some form of support-unemployment and medicare, at a time when it would be hard for us to be that. ( As a parent that is very hard to say but, with the rug so completely pulled out from under us, it is the truth. )

    I am grateful that we have enough to be able to help them with mental health care as needed.

    I am grateful for the fact that in their early 20s they both have saved not insignificant sums despite not working in high income fields.

    I am grateful that they don't live at home right now.

    I am grateful to have them in my life because they are spectacular and hav taught me, and continue to teach me.

    I could keep going for days. Can you see how a thread can get going, and going and it just keeps going? 


    • I am "vulnerable", not as a result of any underlying cause, but because I have MS and the entire point of my disease modifying drug is to lower my immune system from it's overactive tendencies.

      I am grateful for disease modifying drugs.

      I am grateful that there is now a pill, no more syringes.

      I grateful for UCSF.

      I am grateful for all scientists.

      I am grateful for docs who understand the disease and keep my immune system in the sweet spot.


      • My father lives in Iowa. (I know, no one who has met me thinks of me thinks of me as an Iowa girl, but I am!) A place where masks were considered a political statement, not a public health matter, until mere days ago.

        I am grateful that my father is exceptional at taking care of himself.

        I am grateful that my father can keep himself completely entertained doing the craziest shit within the comfort of his own home.

        I am grateful for the smiles that his projects elicit, because, truly, my sister and I laugh in a loving way just thinking of the TYFWT TouchYourFaceWithThis that he invented in the early days of the pandemic.

        I am, oddly, grateful that my mom died less than a year before this pandemic.

        I am grateful that prior to the pandemic I got to soar above the clouds and see my dad regularly.

        I am grateful for airlines.


        So, how can you use gratitude to get by, to stay sane, and even happy? 

        During a busy day? It only takes a second during the day. Close your eyes and think of something or someone that you love.  Then open them.  Repeat hourly as needed. It takes a while, but eventually, you retrain your brain, and you just find yourself doing it.  Alarms can help in the meantime!

        At night?  Breath.  Breathe in thinking of something good that is not a physical thing, something you want or appreciate-gratitude, acceptance, beauty, courage, grace, freedom, hope....you get the idea.  Breathe out what you don't want-anger, frustration, fear, expectations, etc.  Get stuck? (Or can't stay on task?)  Try it alphabetically. List what you are grateful for starting with A. My first born is Alexander, so, that's an easy one.  Sometimes I just keep going with A's until I run out, then I move on to B.   X is hard, so I am grateful that rule breaking is a thing and so long as there is an X in the word! 

        Okay. In this EXACT MOMENT, what are you grateful for? 

        You've got this mama. 






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