Last week, we drove to Longview, WA to visit our friend Majean. The road trip was fun and it made me miss the Pacific Northwest. The landscape surrounding Red Bluff is beginning to turn brown, so seeing green trees and escaping the heat made me smile. Also, the trip helped me get out of my head and into the world. I love exploring new cities and connecting with friends because it sparks my creativity. For example, while we were in Longview we decided to take a day trip to Astoria, OR and I ended up having a serendipitous chat with Tara Gentile and Adam King, at Street 14 Coffee.
In addition to brainstorming sessions and coffee drinking, we spent our time eating luscious cupcakes, salads with homemade poppyseed dressing, and walking in the park. One of my favorite parts of the trip was an evening dinner at a small bistro in downtown Longview. During dinner, we talked about downsizing and told stories about my step-dad, Mahlon, and our friend Nils.
The one-year anniversary of Mahlon’s death is approaching quickly and Nils died three months ago. During our trip, it felt odd not having Nils and Mahlon around. The trip brought up a lot of emotions including sorrow, joy, and feelings of gratitude. In “Resilience” the authors talked about gratitude as a form of reappraisal. They explained, “A surprisingly high percentage of people who survive a major crisis later describe the crisis as having affected their lives positively . . . Individuals who reframed a crisis positively were less likely to develop post-traumatic stress symptoms after being exposed to natural disasters, and adjusted better after losing a family member.”
I can relate to this bit of research. During our trip to Longview, Logan and I had a conversation about gratitude. We talked about how making the decision to simplify our lives has given us time to spend with people we love, the flexibility to go on mini-adventures, and boundless gratitude. William Arthur Ward noted, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”