10 Things I’ve Been Grateful For in 2023

Last year, I amused myself by writing a 2022 gratitude list, tussling with the fact that practice of gratitude has so many benefits but also hating the hackneyed nature of gratitude lists. What’s a counsellor to do? I decided to write one anyway.

And why not do this again this year? I also decided that it would be interesting to write this year’s list without first re-reading last year’s, in order to see if there were naturally evolving common themes, new ideas and whether these variations or similarities were significant in any way.

10 Things

Of course there are many more things that I’m grateful for than the ten listed here, but I’ll limit myself for your benefit because I’m naturally very verbose (I’m working on that). I’m also choosing to idetify things randomly without deliberately prioritizing, because the little things count too:

  1. Finding out that I’m neurodivergent. Getting a diagnosis this year was life changing and made much of my early life make sense in a way that was revelatory. Has this changed who I am and how I behave? I’ve thought a lot about this. It’s certainly helped me see myself through a much kinder lens, allowing myself to let go of a ton of internalized ablism. But, truth be told, I’m still me, and that hasn’t changed. I’m just a heck of a lot more accepting of myself.
  2. I’m guessing that this is on the list from last year, but I have such lovely clients. Truly, I do. And yes, I love to boast about that.  Thank you for sharing your stories, emotions, thoughts, trust and your hearts again this year.
  3. Having time off. Doesn’t that just contradict the point, above? Having Mondays off and taking periods of time throughout the year allows me to stay bright, attentive and engaged. I think of it as a key part of counsellor self-maintenance: a portion of the self-care that allows us to be as present as possible for our dear clients.
  4. My son’s trans journey. I’ve had the honour of working with trans clients for over a decade, but it’s an entirely different perspective when it’s your child. I’ve learned so much this year about identity development, gender expression, legal documentation and more. And I’ve witnessed so much courage. (OK, I’m going to cry now).
  5. My cat’s silly antics and her desire to be close. Some of you know Baby from my Instagram and she’s as ridiculous as ever. Her favourite thing in the world, after human laps, is tissue paper (yes, I’m staring at a big shredded pile of it right now).
  6. Having such incredible care providers: my clinical supervisor always has my back and I have never felt so supported in my clinical work. And they won’t hold back if they think that there’s something I need to hear. Also, I’ve been attending physiotherapy and massage therapy for a few years now. While I’m tempted to simply acknowledge that they help me out so much with my self-maintenance, which is actually true, it’s more than that. Having a regular routine for looking after myself and making this a conscious part of my life has been very beneficial for my nervous system.
  7. A passion for learning. As much as I’ve grumbled about the BC College of Social Workers for requiring its registrants to complete 40 hours of continuing education every year, I always do more than that. I never run out of mental health-related books to read, resources to pursue and new interests to dig into. I consider this an investment in my practice that also keeps my mind vibrant.
  8. Family loyalty and kindness. Some of you know that I have a very small family situation but I like to think of them as “small but mighty.” I’ve received so much support over the years and I think of this almost every single day.
  9. Endless opportunities to let go. I’ve been revisiting my letting go practice—amping it up, if you will–because I’ve been taking a harder look at my relationship with expectations and how these are affecting my wellbeing. Personally, I find the practice of letting go hard, but I’ve come to believe that holding on is actually harder, in the larger scheme of things.
  10. Quality cups of tea (and I mean lots of cups). I love my tea, and although I can drink it morning, noon, but no longer night, it brings me a lot of comfort. This year, I’ve diversified a little, due to a water bottle recommendation that’s helped me modestly increase my hydration this year, which is no small feat!

Reflections from 2022 to 2023

  • I notice that this year’s list is shorter (by two items) and I’m actually happy with that. I’m choosing to interpret this to some pretty solid efforts this year at being gentler with myself—not pushing myself so hard.
  • I notice that it’s fun to re-read my 2022 list and reflect on the items—all of which still ring true! I’m not exactly sure why I’m surprised by that, but I am, and I like it.
  • Having last year’s internet-archived list seems to formalize my gratitude practice a little more, somehow allowing me to feel more intentional in my reflections, year-to-year.
  • I note similar gratitude themes around body mobility, gratitude for my clients, thankfulness towards my family and having incredible support people.
  • Somewhat different this year are some personal goals, particularly around challenging expectations I form in my mind and how these expectations can be a set-up for distress. I’m also seeing that reducing expectations can become a pathway for taking it easier, which has a lot to do with reducing pressure (expectations) on myself.

Thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my articles. You all keep me writing, learning and growing. I wish you all a safe and happy year ahead.