It can be both easy and hard to express gratitude. As much as it is easy to express that we are grateful for a warm cup of coffee in the morning or a cozy blanket in the Winter, it rarely shows in our actions.
Danny in a The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle once said;
It is against human nature to truly savor every moment and continually remain aware of all they have to be grateful for. They couldn’t live like that. They’d never get anything done.
Gratitude is a practice and I am one of those people. As a Christian, one would think that I shouldn’t have a problem with expressing gratitude but you will find yourself sorely mistaken if you ever thought Christians are perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I can easily work with spring greens when I wanted arugula, but I struggled with being truly grateful.
I never was allowed to date or drive in high school, hence I missed out on high school parties and the ever glorified senior week with my class the summer after graduation. Instead of seeing my parents intentions of keeping their precious only daughter pure and close to God, I felt lonely and misunderstood missing out on one of the best times of my life. But what was I missing out on? Experiences, yes, life is short, yes, but looking back, I feel grateful that I didn’t rebel against them sacrificing their trust for something worse. But I didn’t see that then. I was young and that was my defense.
My loneliness spiraled into an odd comfort for sadness and anxiety. Emo bands like Dashboard Confessional, Linkin Park, The Rocket Summer to hard rock like Creed became my after school soundtrack. I befriended the outcasts and wallflowers for awhile until we all eventually went our own separate ways.
Flash forward to my relationship with the Orthodox Gentleman. We rarely fight about each other ever, and I don’t mean that to brag. I say rarely because the gist of our arguments were during our wedding planning process. We were forced by external factors to put off our wedding not once but twice. Being told by Father to remain calm seemed easy to do on it’s own, while together, but functions with extended relatives force you to become honest when everyone is looking forward to a celebration, older ones who were looking forward pass away and it doesn’t help (and depending how big or small your social circle is) that at least there are a few new engagement announcements or wedding announcements every year. I cannot help but wonder, Okay we spend so much time together and are head over heels in blissful love, but when is that going to be us?
But without wanting it to happen, I ended up taking everything for granted anyway in my attempts to rush through life without stopping to savor this present life one morsal at a time.
Why would I wanted to rush through our all of our date nights and talks over cucumber lemonade on the porch? The holidays we spent together and parents birthday parties he tried to be at despite his busy work schedule. He has always tried his best for me. Okay, I probably would have wanted to rush through my first ever experience with food poisoning. How many of us dread getting sick in front of our dates or loved ones? *raises hand* One of my worst nightmares happened on one of our first day trips alone together, as I struggled with my first ever bout of food poisoning, and he was there every step of the way nursing me back from sick Vanessa to his healthy, smiling, funny (oh gosh, now I’m bragging) Tweety bird.
So, perhaps I don’t 100% agree with Danny, and that’s okay. Books aren’t always right though I am not saying The Kindness of Strangers isn’t a good book. It is a good read. It’s about a mom who becomes a foster mom to a child with Asperger’s condition, which is a high functioning form of autism.
Gratitude is joy and grace from God, but by turning away from gratitude is like turning away from God which will reap lessons that become harder and painful to realize to understand as we grow older. And we can wonder if we only knew then what we know now for the duration of the summer but we can only hope we find our way back.
Speaking of a juicy fruit that’s always around for the duration of the summer, look no further than a big, ripe and slightly dusty watermelon.I was at the organic farm market a few days ago where I wanted to buy some arugula for arugula and watermelon salad which is a favorite of mine for lunch or supper in the summertime. I know what you’re thinking, salads? How boring!
And salads can be boring or too big or not satiating enough despite doc’s orders and constant parroting from our neighborhood nutritionists that we should eat more. Yes, they have a point. And chances are you’re not getting the textures and flavors right.
That’s why I am starting off with my arugula and watermelon salad which has the right balance of sweet, juicy, crunchy and pepper to keep things interesting. However, on my trip to the organic farm market a few days ago, I had to stall my craving for arugula in it’s tracks for they were all out of arugula…and much of everything else.
What was left? Still plenty of heart and livelihood at this organic and chemical free family farm.
I stocked up on some pretty spring greens I did find and a bunch of lemon basil that I love using in my own lemon herbed dressing for this recipe when I can get lemon basil. If working with the lemon basil herb, you will definitely want to store it in water as how all herbs should be stored in the refrigerator. If you are a herbivore, expect your refrigerator will look like a garden. If this were Facebook, the neighborhood nutritionist and doctor would like this.
I only like to use dark, leafy greens in this salad – not because it’s healthier or doc’s orders but because regular cabbage won’t work with the watermelon. They are both water dense and won’t be satiating, think about it. I add a few walnuts and a my own lemon herbed dressing where the oil base is coconut oil. Fat is necessary for absorption of the vitamins and minerals you’re getting from the salad. With that combination, you’ll get the health benefits too.
(Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy Free, Heart Friendly, Gluten Free -buy unpackaged without additional flavored walnuts-), Soy Free, Olive Oil Free)
3 cups of fresh watermelon, sliced and cubed
3 heaping cups of arugula or spring greens
walnuts, 1/2 cup
for the dressing
Juice from 1/2 lemon
garlic, two cloves
1/4 cup lemon basil leaves (1 teaspoon of dried basil and 1 tsp of dried oregano is fine.)
sea salt and pepper
1. Make the dressing. Combine ingredients in a food processor adding any acids (the lemon in this case) first until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
2. Rinse greens, pat dry with a paper towel and toss into a mixing bowl with sliced and cubed watermelon. Drizzle in dressing. Shake bowl a few times to mix everything thoroughly. Move to a serving bowl or dishes.