3 Surprising Things to Be Grateful For

In midlife we become more acutely aware of the power of gratitude, and begin recognizing all the simple things we have to be grateful for. With the passage of time, we are reminded of the impermanence of what we love.

Family…friends and loved ones…good health. These three “blessings” always top our gratitude list, and rightfully so. But I’m also grateful for three things you might not expect.

Finding gratitude isn’t all sunshine and roses.

1. Doubters

I just love it when people don’t think I can or will do something. Don’t you? Yes, the voice in my own head is an asshole (thank you, Dan Harris), but the doubting and critical voices of other naysayers always push me to prove them wrong. Thank you, doubters! I am grateful for the motivation.

Them: "Her business will never last."
Me: 14 years, multiple awards, and a national client list later -- "Um, what was that you were saying?"

Them: "She'll never change careers to become a teacher. She won't make it through another full-time graduate program at 45, much less make it in a classroom."
Me: National State Teacher of the Year Award in the Oval Office of the White House with the President of the United States.

Them: "She'll never have the nerve to travel by herself. She gets lost going around the block."
Me: 70 days around the world, solo.

Them: "Bourbon? Ha! Right! What does she know about whiskey? She's never even been inside a distillery. No way she starts making bourbon."
Me: Made bourbon as a 61-year-old whiskey distillery intern, and then employee.

Them: "She'll never move to Portugal. She doesn't even know the language."
Me: "Eu leio Portuguese melhor do que eu falo Portuguese, mas eu vendi minha casa e vou mudar-me para Portugal."
Celebrating loss?

2. Defeat

Yeah, losing is not fun. Most people equate defeat with failure. Failure to win. Failure to succeed. Failure to achieve. In midlife, though, I’ve come to view defeat — a loss, rejection, or “failure” — as an opportunity for needed introspection. Taking time to observe and process what I’m feeling is something I do now in midlife. What emotions am I really feeling, and why? What stories am I telling myself? What facts do I know are true? What can I do next? I might not celebrate loss, but I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow from defeat.

Seeing clearly now?

3. Deceit

Grateful for lies and deception? Really? Hold on, hear me out. The most devastating experiences of my past have involved deliberate, calculated, and ongoing deceit by someone I trusted. Perhaps you have encountered duplicity in some manner at some point. If so, you can probably relate to the crushing feelings of betrayal, stupidity, anger, and heartbreak. Definitely not the stuff of gratitude. But… for me, these past experiences with deceit helped teach me to trust my intuition in midlife. They’ve helped me learn to see more clearly, distinguish true intuition from knee-jerk fear, and to heed the advice of Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you how they are, believe them the first time.” Deceit has been an effective teacher that, ironically, has made me stronger, more confident, and more resilient in midlife. Thank you.

Grateful for the “bad” stuff?

Doubt. Defeat. Deceit. A 3-D trifecta of misery? Sure. They can be. They have been for me at one point or another. But now, on the other side in midlife, they bring another dimension to my gratitude list. I can appreciate the motivation, growth, and discovery these three unlikely recipients of gratitude have brought me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and where I am is pretty damn good.

What about you? What “bad” things are you grateful for?

All images are my own.

The Hot Goddess


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  1. Great post, Natalie. I’ve experienced all three and, although, they’re not a motivation for me, I lean into the lessons that they’ve taught me and am grateful for the growth. I look forward to meeting in Portugal. Two gutsy solo travelers. Vejo você lá.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Natali💜 Recognizing and leaning into lessons so we can grow is tough but necessary work. You’re an inspiration, my fellow solo traveler, and I am so looking forward to connecting in Portugal!


  2. Same page goddess!! Hmm im grateful for my terrible childhood with my mother bc it made me sensitive and deep, gave me endless amounts of inspiration to make art, and took me on a journey of miracles and forgiveness teaching me about love, all from my mother. So I’m epically grateful for her and that experience. Would not change it!! 💖💖💖Great post!! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although it doesn’t seem so, I am grateful for getting old enough to appreciate how the 3-Ds enrich my life. Believe me, however, it does not always feel good at the time.

    When going through any situation like that, in the back of my mind I know that this who, what, or where that’s challenging me is really teaching me something. I pay attention.

    From my experience, I believe things work out as they were meant to.

    You are serving up lessons for us all. I appreciate you so much. ❤️‍🩹👉🏽♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Shirley, YOU are inspiring and wise. So grateful for you and your kindness and wisdom. “I pay attention.” Yes!! So often we don’t. I didn’t until age and experience taught me to do so. 3-Ds suck. Getting older and paying attention helped me appreciate the growth that follows.
      And speaking of learning…your blog posts are teaching me about woodworking. Your talents are impressive ❤🙌🏾


  4. What an inspiring post by a beautifully talented human being. I adore your gratefulness for these “hardships”. Likewise, each stumble, and hard thing I get today, I receive with open arms and a heart ready to learn more about my own humanity and that of others. Of course, that does not mean there isn’t a little kicking and screaming sometimes, yet I do not let it get me down. Opposite. It lights a fire within to do more, to be more. I LOVE this post, Natalie. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Jeff ❤! You are wise, sensitive, and self-aware, my friend. It took me so long to reach this point — one baby step at a time, with kicking and screaming — and my journey is not finished. I appreciate your encouragement! XO

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re most welcome, Natalie. Always. Thank you for that, means the world to me. I completely understand. I’ve done my share of kicking and screaming; and, I think, we are always journeying. ❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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