get up 10: a lesson in gratitude
I had a nanny gig that paid $15 for about 35 hours a week for one family. Let’s call them Family A. I’d also worked mid-evenings for a family that had a full-time nanny whose shift was over before the parents got home. The cutest, most curious twins I’d ever met. Family B. The business of nannying works well when contracts are in place. I didn’t have contracts outside verbal discourse, email and text communication. Family A ran me ragged. Moving into a new home, setting up doctor’s appointments, obedience training for a bulldog named Forbes— you get it. Not to mention, I was also taking care of a child with a Mom who was always home micromanaging while she fulfilled her dream of being both an essential oil salesperson and holistic mommy blogger.
Family A fired me the day after my parents’ eighteenth wedding anniversary. Then Family B ended our work agreement because Dad lost his job and would be home with the kids. Where did that leave me? Without a job and no means to pay my rent. I went home and sent the most polished email blasts, Facebook posts and phone calls to my entire professional network. I needed a job and FAST!
I eventually landed a great contract with the wrong nanny share. Great people— we just didn’t vibe as well as we thought we would. The summer months were spent begging my parents to help pay my rent and feeling guilty. The summer months were also filled with blazing at the beach after dark and dancing around my apartment naked to Sango. Great times.
At the end of September, I landed a job offer with the perfect family: POC, kind, meaningful careers in social justice and education, two cute kids. They were and continue to be wonderful and supportive of my creative endeavors. I’m grateful for meeting them everyday.
I work and come home during the week. I go grocery shopping on Saturday mornings with that big ass hiking backpack (you know the one). I meal-prep. I sort mail. I feed Domme, my cat. We cuddle. I watch Cooking on High on Netflix or Bon Appetit’s Youtube channel. I masturbate. I sleep. Then, we’re back to Monday.
I needed more living space. So I decided to do what anyone would do, headed to the internet. To be honest, I was complacent with my comfortable box of a living space. It wasn’t until my godmother, a Taurus, told me “You can do better,” did I even consider the thought.
I was at work when I got an email notification from my leasing office and opened it. I skimmed it, realized I didn’t like the outcome of this decision and shed a tear. On January 9, 2019, an email from my previous leasing office stated that they wouldn’t be renewing my lease and I had until March 31, 2019 to move. I helped the kids finish their lunch, changed them, and got them ready for a nap before I called my mother. Holding tears in my throat, I listened to her. “It’s okay,” she said. “You wanted to move and have more space. You got what you asked for. Now go out and get it.”
I started looking for places with the following criteria: close to work, accessible to public transportation, 1-bedroom with utilities included, a space with hardwood floors and sufficient natural lighting— all for anywhere between $950 and $1100. I found two such places and scheduled tours of both units on the same day. I spent the rest of the week packing up my life. I got up on Saturday, picked out my best clothes and went to see these properties.
I looked at the first apartment, shivering. The man showing the place didn’t speak much— his presence read as if my very existence annoyed him. The place was so dark. Something couldn’t get free in that place. I had some follow-up questions a few moments after I left and the man hung up on me. I was hurt, but I kept on. I went to the second apartment and it was on the top floor in the east corner of the building. I walked through and was bathed in the silvering light of gray clouds shingled in the sky. I walked through every room and could see myself in each one— both now and in the future. I asked this young man with a man-bun for an application and about next steps.
I left that building complex and went to therapy. While there, I printed pay stubs, filled out the leasing application, made copies of documentation and faxed everything over the same day. This is Saturday, keep in mind. I went home and packed— praying while I packed.
On Sunday, I wrote a list titled ‘Gratitude for [REDACTED ADDRESS], Unit [REDACTED]’:
My first apartment.
Enclosed garbage cans so I’m less afraid, if at all, to empty my trash at whim.
Laundry in the building because dragging clothes down a few flights of stairs or an elevator is more convenient than putting on a coat and walking a few blocks to the nearest laundromat.
A relatively quiet building, it helped me to notice living alone as well as stillness.
I adopted Domme and had a home to take her to. My home became our home.
A ‘most of the time available but always successful’ handyman that lived in the building.
Only losing one package from Amazon.
The neighbor on my floor that told me I could get those less-than-flattering French doors taken off.
The handyman Mike who took a month to take them off (this gave me time to vision a purpose for this new space.)
A new stove top days before Thanksgiving.
Mike unclogging the tub drain today.
Making this space work for me. Being mine, no matter how long it was for me to be mine.
By Tuesday, I got an email stating that I was approved to rent and could move in as soon as possible. Because it’s Chicago in January, I moved in during a light snowstorm— by any means necessary, right? On Saturday, January 17th, 2019, I claimed my blessing.
From this experience, I learned how to move forward and accept more. I accepted something closer to what I envisioned for myself and did not doubt myself. Gratitude is all about noticing. Where is your attention going to in relation to the things around you? A gratitude list gives you a point of reference to access your blessings from a place of grace, understanding and thoughtfulness. When you show gratitude, you are making it known that the very existence of a thing as it is, pleases you, not just how and when you find it to be of use to you.
Tips for Writing your Gratitude List
Dream and dream big— larger than what you believe your current circumstance is allowing you to.
Trust that what you want is available to you.
Be very specific about what you are grateful for.
Work like that blessing has your name (your whole government name) on it.
Believe more often than you worry."*
*Notice how I didn’t say that you won’t worry. You will, at least a little. Try not to let your worry overwhelm you. Cope as positively as you can while doing the work your blessing requires.
At Apartment 605, now called Axis, I am establishing roots. Warm, brilliant light filled roots. I see and feel everything happening in the Axis. Domme playing with the ribbon bookmark of a copy of Lucille Clifton’s collected works. The loud, swirling flush of the bathroom toilet. Domme loves the many closets and corners she hides in.
Come through for Sunday brunch. Yes, it’s vegan but I replace Champagne with Hennessy in my mimosas.