The Attitude of Gratitude.

You may have been hesitant to click on my post today. I totally get it. Gratitude feels like a light topic, a throw away or something we’ve heard about, know we should practice more but just don’t have time to stop and write three things down in a notebook everyday. I kind of agreed. In fact, I had another post set for today but yesterday evening  I had a strong pull to write about Gratitude in the midst of feeling very grateful. Go figure.

Last night I was feeling extra stressed about my upcoming week. I am starting grad school tonight so my anxiety is extra high.  And what do I do when I am stressed? Nothing. I literally become paralyzed. My husband knows this so when he walked upstairs and saw me lying on our bed doing nothing he began to pack my book bag for me for my first day of grad school. Side-note: I’m 30 and yes I got a book bag and school supplies.  I once again felt instantly grateful for him. Grateful once again to be reminded that he knows me better than I know myself. In the midst of feeling grateful for him packing my book bag I was overcome with how gratitude was the feeling I had been feeling all weekend.

Five years ago my husband started the AAmazing AAron Foundation. The Purpose: To raise awareness for addiction and to raise funds for the Livengrin Foundation, an organization that provides vital needs to addicts making a commitment to sobriety. This foundation was started on behalf of his brother, Aaron, who we lost to this disease 5 years ago.

This past weekend the AAmazing AAron Foundation hosted the fourth annual “Sober Night At The Ballpark;” a full day of tailgating, food, games, raffles, and a Phillies game to cap the night off. And just like the name says, to raise addiction awareness, there is no alcohol served at the event. Just juice boxes.

Five years ago, it was a vision. A way that for a couple hours once a year we could re-connect with Aaron and keep his memory alive. Sean and I didn’t exactly know how it was going to go. I remember the night before the first event us getting in a fight for no reason except I think we were both nervous. In all honesty, asking all your friends and family to tailgate a baseball game on a beautiful fall day without alcohol is a little uncomfortable. Furthermore, asking them to drive/train/uber to Philadelphia is a big commitment for a Saturday. Year 1 went GREAT! Exceeded all expectations and it’s gotten better and better ever since.

This year was especially hectic. Between Sean and I moving, him starting a new position, me starting school and numerous doctors appointments we didn’t dedicate as much pre-planning to the event as we had in the past. To top it off Sean had a business trip in San Diego the week leading up to the event. He had to take a red eye home friday night to be home Saturday. Therefore,  him and his mom had to get everything done prior to his business trip. I was at the dollar store at 9 pm on Friday night finishing off my latte station. And Saturday morning 3 hours before we had to leave my mom was adding ribbons and finishing touches to raffle items. Needless to say, I was a little worried it wasn’t going to be as good this year as it had been that last couple years.

On the way to the event, Sean and I were packed in the car, barely able to move refreshing weather.com.  I think our nervousness  caused us to subconsciously reflect on the past 4 years. We spoke about our families who are there rain or shine and offering help in every and any way possible. We talked about his parents’ friends who are so supportive they stay till the end of the Phillies game! We talked about our friends who make coming to the event feel effortless. We talked about our co-workers who have come year after year with smiles and support. We talked about our friends and family members who donate the most amazing items for our raffles.

See it’s hard for us to put into words what the day of the event means for us which is why we are so grateful.

About two hours into the event this year, I stopped and looked at the 70 people standing in the parking lot. They were throwing bean bags on the Cornhole tournament, drinking lattes, snacking on Philly pretzels and catching up.  I was instantly so incredibly grateful. It never occurred to me that an event set up to honor one of the biggest losses in life can fill you up the most.

I pulled three of my best girlfriends aside in the middle of the event. (Sandi, Erin & Sarah) It was important to me to tell them how much it meant to me that for 4 years that have been by my side and supported me both mentally and physically through this event. They help us set up, they are the first people to buy their tickets and they understand what this day means to Sean and I, even if we have a hard time putting it into words.

Then my mom pulled me aside and talked about ways to make next year even better. I loved how she was talking about next year and wanted to be an even bigger part of making the event bigger and better. The event ran long this year (due to mine and Sean’s lack of organization!) and the tailgate ended with a group of us planning next year’s Sober Day At The Ballpark. My sister started talking about next year because next year is Year 5…a milestone!  We talked about ways to make it bigger and better than ever. Their enthusiasm meant more to me than they will ever know. I woke up the next morning and couldn’t wait for next year. In a way, my friends and family are the event. They are the reason we are able to have this special day.

You may be thinking to yourself, great story Nicole but why the heck does your small non profit raising money for addiction have anything to do with weight loss? The notion that being grateful as a weight loss strategy might even sound ridiculous.

But when you are surrounded by candy, cookies, pizza, Philadelphia soft pretzels and crab fries, these feelings of serenity and quiet joy made it easier to resist shoving  handfuls of each and every one of these things into my mouth. By taking a few minutes to feel the warm feelings of appreciation fills you up in a way that food can’t.

So if you find yourself in a stressful situation, you find yourself unable to make healthy choices, unable to get yourself to the gym,  unable to button your favorite pair of jeans, forget all that and stop, drop and be grateful. Gratitude can be a shortcut to feeling good. You don’t have to wait until all things improve, you can be grateful in the moment. Gratitude pulls you out of the high pressure moment and helps me see what’s really important. Who is really important.

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AND AGAIN, THE BIGGEST THANKS TO EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO MAKES SOBER DAY HAPPEN!!!

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