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Finding gratitude through the fog

Collectively, we've experienced massive amounts of disappointment this year. Nothing has gone as we've planned — 2020 was supposed to be our year, right? We all had big dreams, set goals, committed to new habits — and then the pandemic turned our worlds upside down.

I have not dealt with disappointment well throughout my life. It usually manifests as anger and I take it out on anyone and everyone around me. In fact, one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Brene Brown — and she probably quoted it from someone else — is something like "Expectations are just resentment waiting to happen."

But it's something I've been working even before the pandemic, and what I've found is that gratitude is the way out of anger, resentment and disappointment. I've stopped attaching myself to the disappointment and anchoring myself in my gratitude. I've stopped telling myself it's not fair or I deserve this or other feelings of entitlement.

If 2020 has taught us anything it's that we're not entitled to anything in this world, even when we do all the "right" things. But when we can be more aware of the good things in our lives and recognize them through gratitude, even the little things we're thankful for can multiply to the point where the disappointments don't seem so unfair.

I planned a weekend getaway with a couple of girlfriends last weekend. I wanted to mark off a few more hiking trails on the bucket list and have some relaxation time before the holiday madness is upon us. Saturday was gorgeous — I picked Katie and Michelle up at 8 a.m. and we headed toward Linville Gorge Wilderness.

We couldn't have picked a better trail for that morning — Hawkbill Mountain Trail — a 2.5 mile out and back to a summit with some 650 feet elevation gain along the way. All the way up I was just so filled with joy and gratitude for the present moment with these women, but also gratitude for all the trails we've taken together in the last year that brought us to such a perfect day.

I savored the 360-degree views from the top and the sun on my face and the friends by my side. We then traveled to the other side of the gorge and hiked the Linville Falls before making our way to Linville Winery just down the road. Satisfied with the 5 miles we hiked, we found a sunny table in the breezeway and ordered flights of wine and a charcuterie board full of yummy meats, cheese and other snacks to enjoy.

The flights turned into a full glass and then that turned to us all buying a bottle or two to take with us to our hotel room in Banner Elk. There's just no better medicine than laughing with friends over a glass of good wine, in my humble opinion. We even recorded a Bitch & Wine episode together to talk about Women of Waynesville, of which we are all members, and to talk about the WOW charity calendars. You'll get to see that episode in next week's Rumble.

The next morning everything was covered in fog. We pushed through with our plans and drove over to Blowing Rock in the thick of it for breakfast at Village Cafe. We hesitantly got onto the Blue Ridge Parkway afterward to get to a trail up to Rough Ridge. I've been seeing other people's pictures of the views on Facebook and couldn't wait to do it myself.

I kept hoping the fog would lift, but it became clear about half way up the mountain that wasn't going to happen. I was disappointed. I wanted to stand on those rocks shooting out from the mountain and take pictures with the mountains behind me, but all you could see was fog.

I could have let that disappointment ruin our day and be angry that the hike I drove two and a half hours for wasn't going to be what I had expected, but instead I enjoyed the hike we were on for what it was. It was foggy and eerie but it was also peaceful and magical. I appreciated the experience for what it was instead of what I thought it was going to be.

I also kept thinking of how grateful I was to have that time with my friends to share stories, share food and wine, laugh and act like giggling teenage girls for 24 hours. We all agreed to come back in the spring and hope for a clearer day, giving us something else to look forward to next year — whatever madness it may bring.

No matter what the rest of 2020 throws at us, practice gratitude. When you feel anger or resentment bubbling up to the surface, sit down and write all the things you're grateful for and you'll be surprised in what a difference it makes.

Disclaimer: I do not support toxic positivity. We're not supposed to feel joy and happiness all the time. It's OK to feel anger, disappointment and sadness, but it's not healthy to dwell there forever. Acknowledge those feelings, feel those feelings, and when you're ready to move through and away from those feelings, gratitude will get you to where you want to go!

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