Finding gratitude in the least likely of places

I had the worst evening last night. Looking forward to a quiet night, reading in bed before falling into an early slumber, I let the dogs outside to go potty one last time. A great friend I hadn’t talked to in a couple weeks called to catch me up on her life. I let the dogs in, and wandered into my room while chatting with her.

A 25 lb weight of warm dog fur settled on my chest. And then, this scent assaulted my nostrils. Assault is the only word for it. I’m already sensitive to strong smells. And I gagged. On a scale of one to my older brother silently releasing a sulfurous fart in a car on road trips (which he did frequently), this broke the scale, and the next scale, and the next. There are no words.

Butthead (my affectionate term for Bentley, which I have accidentally used in front of my roommate’s six year old kid, resulting in a quick explanation why he shouldn’t use mean names just because he hears dumb adults do it) had rolled in… something.

The scent was so horrific that I couldn’t even lock him in a room until I was done with my conversation. It needed to be taken care of asap. I apologized and promised to listen to my friend while I poured Bentley a bath.

Soaking the stink off of him, he shook (as dogs do), spreading black globs of smell everywhere, including over me. I washed the dog. Washed the bathroom. Washed the tub. Washed myself (I was off the phone by then). I blow dried the dog. I settled into bed. He’d gotten “the scent” on one of my mom’s quilts. I resigned myself to getting up and cleaning some more.

Two hours had passed. I couldn’t get the smell out of the quilt. It’s now well past my bedtime. I head back to bed. Bentley jumps on me. He still smells. I get up. He gets another bath. At this point, he retreats to the living room to sleep, knowing that I’m not fun. The memory of the scent is so overwhelming that I’ve now sprayed perfume, brushed my teeth another time, and poured myself a late night glass of wine to help ease me toward sleep.

Like many people, I have a harder time controlling my emotions when I’m tired. The next morning, I was exhausted. I brushed away tears as I told my boss this story, in the midst of a talk about balancing my responsibilities for the week. I brushed away tears as I went into detail with my parents on the phone during a commute that should’ve taken 30 minutes, but took an hour due to construction. I told my dad, “It just sucks.”

To which my dad replied, “Yeah. It does. Life just sucks.”

And weirdly, that was what I needed to hear. Because immediately I started to feel grateful.

I’m grateful that I have a dog who loves to cuddle with me because what if I hadn’t discovered “the stink” until morning. I’m grateful I have a bathtub and shampoo and time and extra rags. I have a washing machine to wash those rags immediately. Yes, I stayed up late, but I’m grateful I planned to go to bed early that night or it could’ve been worse. I’m grateful that when I showed up to work super tired, I had access to free, good coffee. I have a boss who listens and supports me both in my personal and professional life. I’m grateful that even when I’m stressed out by my job, I’m still doing work I enjoy. I’m grateful I’m able to call two parents who love me and support me and listen to me. I’m grateful the friend I was talking to didn’t feel alienated by the fact I was attempting to multi-task and that she knows me and trusts me enough to know that she’s my number one priority even when I absolutely have to be doing something else.

My dad saying that life sucks was exactly what I needed to remember how much it doesn’t suck. To remember how many wonderful little and big aspects of my life contribute to my well being. And how easy it is to get mired down in the big, negative stinky crap instead of focusing on the positive.

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