Count Your Blessings

count your blessings

“Talk about your blessings more than your talk about your burdens.”

This is a mantra I have aspired to my entire life, and dare say have been fairly successful. Complaining has never been my thing…I usually keep those thoughts to myself, and I definitely don’t gravitate towards those who make it a way of life.

It’s just that…well, to be completely honest with you, counting your blessings while depressed can seem almost impossible. And for 38 years on this planet, I just didn’t GET that. I didn’t understand how a person couldn’t just see past the gray clouds and celebrate the blue skies. Honestly, it seemed incredulous to me. “Why can’t they just choose to be happy?” is something I’ve said to myself 1,000 times. But then it happened to me. I sunk into an insidious and dank mental space that didn’t allow me to see past the gray clouds. The worst thing I could possibly hear from friends and loved ones was, “But you have so much to be thankful for, Sarah.”

And they were right. I have a bounty of blessings. But how could I count my blessings when I couldn’t even get out of bed? Or take my kids to school? Or do anything but fear the future?

These past few months have been scary and uncertain. But, you all, I’m working to better myself every day because I know this is an awakening. I’m morphing into someone who is more empathic, more open to change, less controlling and perfectionistic, and more at peace with who I am at the core.

One of the things I’m working on is practicing gratitude. I’ve made a pact with myself that upon opening my eyes in the morning, I will count my blessings instead of fearing the day or lamenting the previous. Because I do have so much to be thankful for…we all do, really.

Practicing gratitude. It’s harder than you think.

So when the universe sent me a huge “YOOHOOOO” yesterday, I just had to sit down and tell you all about it.

It started with a morning restorative yoga class. My very favorite teacher always ends the class with a little gem, and she spoke of starting the day from a place of gratitude. About opening your eyes in the morning and being thankful for all the wonderful things in your life.

I thought about it all morning, came home, wrote a short post here, and after publishing it, my father commented on the post with a link to this song.

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
I fall asleep counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

I had never heard this song written by Cole Porter before, and the lyrics socked me in the gut. It’s like I had a moment of absolute clarity that everything would work out and that celebrating my blessings would be an integral part of my healing. I ruminated on the lyrics for a bit and then sat down with the kids to have dinner.

While discussing the high and low points of Wito’s day, he mentioned learning a song in music class that he really liked. One thing I haven’t mentioned about Wito is that he has the most lovely singing voice. I know I’m a bit biased, but it truly is a pleasure to listen to him sing. When I asked him to sing the song, he looked me in the eye and with the most innocent and beautiful tone, he sang:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
I fall asleep counting my blessings

My chin hit the floor. I couldn’t believe it. What are the odds? Within the span of a couple of hours, two of the most important men in my life had gifted me with these words. It’s a gift I’m not taking for granted.

I’m challenging you to do the same. Every morning when your eyes first open, before going over to-do lists or the 100 other things on your mind, try counting your blessings. Maybe just a few. Maybe more. One of the blessings I thought about this morning is the encouragement you’ve provided to me over the years in this space. I am so thankful to have such kind, smart, and thoughtful people to rally with me. I am so appreciative.

  • gorillabuns

    October 9, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Rich and I had this conversation yesterday about being at peace and of acceptance. I looked at him and told him I’m happy. Withstanding some horrible shit, I am happy to have the opportunity to embarrass my kids in public and happy to hold their hand when they are nervous and scared. I can’t say I have felt this way in quite awhile. It is quite scary to think you will never feel that joy again.

  • Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}

    October 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

    You just choked me up, Sarah. Gift, indeed. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Lisa

    October 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

    This is how God speaks… through the ones you love. :) Many more blessings to you, Sarah!

    • whoorl

      October 9, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Absolutely! Thank you, Lisa.

  • SAJ

    October 9, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Whoa. Wow! So great. :)

  • Ali

    October 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

    What a wonderful post! Thank you!!

  • Kate @ Savour Fare

    October 9, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Irving Berlin, not Cole Porter, but the sentiment is appreciated (it’s in the movie White Christmas, which is a wonderful 1950’s cheese fest).
    I had a birthday yesterday and was feeling a bit morose, but really I have nothing to be morose about. I have so many things to be thankful for.

    • whoorl

      October 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks. I guess the music was written by Irving Berlin, words by Cole Porter.

  • Mary Sue

    October 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I am having a difficult time too, lately, and think waking up and feeling gratitude would be an excellent change. I agree that it is hard, sometimes, to remember all the good things when everything feels crappy. I’m glad you are seeing a peak of sunshine.

  • Kerri W.

    October 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. <3

  • Maria LeCrone

    October 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I have a total friend crush on you. One of my dearest friends, Anne, and I can’t get enough any and all videos you do with Kristen. We’re always saying how she is “so Kristen” and I am “so Sarah.” All that to say, so appreciate your honest writing. It makes you even more lovely!

  • Jessica

    October 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Something similar happened to me when I was going through a depression spell last year. I, like you, never understood depression and not being able to choose happiness until I was deep into it. I volunteer every week at a local animal shelter and a dog was relinquished that was a Australian shepherd/Chow mix. My fiance and I love Chows (we have a Chow golden retriever as well) and this guy was in such bad shape that we decided to foster him, knowing full well we would probably adopt him. He turned out to be the sweetest and MOST loving dog I have ever met. He follows me from room to room, sleeps with me in the bed when my fiance works nights and loves to lounge on the couch with me. I started to find my way out of the depression fog and have been feeling better since those very dark months.

    His previous owners named him Sammy and we tried to change his name but nothing would stick so we kept calling him Sammy (mostly Samuel because he’s fancy). I was talking to a woman about another animal named Samuel and she asked me if I knew what the name meant. I told her I did not, and she said, “Samuel means God has heard”. Every hair on my body stood on end and I felt this extremely strong overwhelming feeling of gratitude, peace and love. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us!

  • Becky

    October 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Whoorl, I’ve followed and loved you for years. I’m so thankful for this bright spot of joy after your difficult months. I have goosebumps, too. And I loooooooove this song. Perfect. Blessings to you and your sweet family.

  • Susan

    October 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Oh man, now I’m going to have that song stuck in my head all day. You must watch White Christmas this Christmas season – it’s one of my must-sees every year. While it’s no cure for everything you have going on, it’s sure to put a smile on your face. And Bing Crosby just makes that song beautiful – its a favorite of mine.

  • Kerri Anne

    October 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Love. So much love. For you, and for all of this.

  • Rebecca (Bearca)

    October 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    We saw the musical White Christmas last year and that song is in it. I had never heard it before, but totally cried my eyes out when they sang it! It hit close to home for me too and I didn’t know why, but I’ve had a soft spot for that song ever since. Glad it’s helping you. XOXO

  • Jen C.

    October 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    That gives me goosebumps. What an incredible story. And thank God for little boys, right?

  • Sarah

    October 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Wow! Tears are streaming down my face. I love how the universe works. Hugs and gratitude to you!

  • Kristin

    October 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    That is amazing! What a great story! I’m so happy that you got to experience that!

  • Jackie

    October 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    That’s the sweetest thing, it brought happy tears to my eyes. Sometimes the universe just knows. Thanks for the reminder.

  • lisa

    October 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Beautiful and amazing story :) love it!!! Thank you for sharing.

  • EmilysHollow

    October 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    It’s funny, in a way, because I’m much in the same boat. The difference being, I’ve been depressed/unstable/whatever you want to call it – before. And somehow I still managed to convince myself that I willed my way out, and that it was all my choice, and I had even LESS empathy (at times, in a way) than before. But now that I’m….struggling….again, I’m reminded that it’s not that simple, that clean cut, and that everyone everyone everyone deserves compassion, even myself.

    Thank you for sharing; it’s hard and scary but it’s also so helpful to so many people.

  • Claire H.

    October 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • jenny

    October 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I love that song, if you haven’t ever seen White Christmas you should definitely watch it as it’s also a feel good movie. Wito would probably enjoy too! I have anxiety and while it’s under control for the most part (a year in the making) and I use feel good songs, movies, and books to help me in harder times. I’ve read the book Cheaper By The Dozen hundreds of times because that book always helps. Sounds like this song can be one of your things especially with wito singing! Crazy that he had learned that song, fate! You’re not alone, and we’re all thinking of you.

  • Karen

    October 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    This made me burst into tears… What a sweet experience to look back on and savor, and count among your blessings every night!

  • Amber S.

    October 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    :*( So beautiful

  • Amti'b

    October 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    so something i have done here and there and also have e join me in doing so is to write down things we are thankful for at night, i found one of our journals yesterday and there are days when we have just a few things and others are a filled page. as someone who has had moments of anxiety & depression i feel for you and all of this side is hoping for the best and sending well wishes. i read some where that reinforcing those thoughts changes your hormonal signals for the better. i also pinned the burden quote!! xo

  • Angella

    October 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Gut punch of love. God is good, and speaking to you through those two men in your life.

    I needed this. xo

  • Amanda

    October 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I teared up when I read this post, Sarah. How amazing!

  • Christy

    October 10, 2013 at 1:35 am

    This is from the movie “White Christmas”. It is a truly lovely movie. Please watch it during the holidays this year!

    This post really resonated with me. I needed this reminder!

  • Ninotchka

    October 10, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Amazing and lovely. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us, Sarah. Means a lot.

  • Jill Parrella Vaughn

    October 10, 2013 at 5:32 am

    My chin hit the floor while reading that!

    We have these supports in our lives to help hold us up when we can’t stand. I still have a hard time allowing them to help – but I am learning and I’m glad to see you are too. It’s tough for those, like me, who never think they need help.


  • Terry Campbell

    October 10, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Awwwww, Sarah… What I wouldn’t give to have my dad here, moving me along with his golden bits of wisdom just when I need them (like your dad). He is obviously a gift in himself to you and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for mine who I miss so much every day. Thankfully (due to God or the universe or whatever forces are working), my son is my dad’s doppelgänger, right down to the mannerisms and temperament and even his name.

    Sometimes you can’t feel or see the silver lining(s) even though you know without a doubt that it is right in front of you. It’s ok to go to that dark place. Just know when to make a U-turn. Like you did. Thanks for sharing.

  • Molly

    October 10, 2013 at 9:13 am

    So incredibly beautiful. Thank you.

  • estelle

    October 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Thank you SO much for your honesty. You may have no idea to know how helpful it is to other women to know that they are not alone in their struggled. Not that I would every rejoice in another person’s pain and suffering, but having a candid conversation about it is a big piece of the healing puzzle. Also, I’m really happy to hear that restorative yoga is helping. It’s amazing to me when I find subtle adjustments in life that end up bringing about big, positive change. I wish you well on your journey.

  • Pamela

    October 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Wow, that’s amazing. I love it. Have you read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts? She writes about how a gratitude journal changed her life. She’s such a gifted writer.

  • Amy

    October 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    This really resonated with me right now. Thank you.

  • lillie-beth

    October 14, 2013 at 7:21 am

    i totally understand, sarah. so glad you are better. mom told me i needed to be sure to read this post. had a nice conversation with your mom the other day. cheers! it also gets easier to recognize a slide so you can fix it faster.

  • Heather

    October 14, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I really needed to read this post. It brought tears to my eyes, such a wonderful moment. God works in mysterious ways. Wishing you beautiful days ahead.