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Finding gratitude in difficult times by Kristina Daniels

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

I sit with a cup of tea, staring at a computer screen waiting for inspiration. A cat brushes against my leg and my focus breaks as I drop my gaze and hand to feel a soft familiar head. After providing an adequate ear and chin massage, my cat begins rubbing her face against my sock. What follows is a fast pang in my stomach that rises through my solar plexus, followed by anger in my chest and with a deep inhale, I acknowledge the fucking socks.

The socks wrapped around my feet are warm, and for someone who can feel chilly in southern Arizona, they are a small miracle. I don’t know if it’s the brand or the style, they are Smartwool, made for camping/hiking. The socks were a gift from my ex-boyfriend, a man who at one time I thought I would marry. Luckily, I’m not the traditional type, which may be a reason why the ex and I didn’t make it. That and he couldn’t tolerate cats. He also likes the cold and I don’t, but for a time we bridged the gaps. The socks were a bridge, allowing me to travel and camp where before my journeys were limited by weather and season.

I might have suspected things were going downhill, because two Novembers back, for my birthday, he gave me an old card, one from his card box, not something he took time or consideration to pick. In addition to the lack luster card, I was gifted a familiar box of chocolates, similar to the one he gifted me the year before that then had seemed so generous.

While the relationship ended, the socks remained…for a number of reasons. First, functionality. My body temp runs cold and the socks are genius, they keep my toes warm while my feet never overheat or sweat! Second, my heart wanted the socks because for a time I thought he would return. He didn’t. Third, with the financial position I am now in, I cannot afford to replace socks.

The season of fall, and especially the month of November, offers opportunity for reflection and gratitude. It is a season where the mana from plants and agriculture have been reaped, and we celebrate by sharing our abundance with family and friends. Gratitude, according the Oxford dictionary, is defined as the quality of being thankful. It seems to be a thing these days as podcasters market gratitude a tool for self-care or spiritual awakening. Since I like this sort of thing, I keep a notebook of gratitude lists, and I enjoy the practice of training my brain to identify the daily positives.

This is a tough undertaking if you live and participate in western culture. If you are active in the practice of consumerism and want to practice gratitude, I highly recommend disconnecting from media, the internet, social networks, TV, radio- pretty much anything that is a platform to sell some-thing. Because the psychology of sales and the practice of capitalism is based on lack (what you don’t have). It is extra work trying be grateful (thankful for what you do have) while plugged into a system that actively brain washes us to believe our worth increases when we look a certain way, achieve a certain status, etc. However, a discussion on capitalism is not where I am headed (I digress).

Back to the practice of gratitude. I had lists reciting gratitude for friends, experiences and things. In time and outside my lists, I began noticing small daily events like a green light when I was late, the satisfaction of being able to pay my bills, having extra time to sit in the garden, receiving Smartwool socks from a thoughtful boyfriend. Once I began noticing the small things (by tracking gratitude), it became easier to be grateful for the bigger picture (accepting the good and the bad).

There are times when the big picture gets knocked down. My plan for a small business failed…twice, my relationship with a man I thought would be my forever companion ended, my financial ability to support myself dwindled. As a middle aged adult, I moved back into my elderly parent’s house. I no longer bask in the warmth of the Sonoran desert. This November, I am living in an area where there are four seasons and it was 22 degrees this morning! I am wearing the warmest socks I have.

My cup of tea has cooled since my hands have been occupied with the keyboard. The cat now sleeps atop of pile of blankets. I understand my heart carries memories and bruises, but it has healed enough for me to know it will expand again. Looking back down at these socks hugging my feet, I exhale the initial anger from old stories. I am deeply grateful for the mind that came up with the concept and design for this type of footwear. I am grateful for the hands that made them, shipped them, drove them and packaged them. And, while anger may still be around, I know how to lean into what I have, rather than what I have not. I am grateful for experiencing the altruism from a person who at one time, valued my comfort enough to gift me with warmth. I am wearing my Smartwool socks honestly grateful for every opportunity this life brings, and for the opportunity to share with you.


Kristina has written three stories, for animals of all ages, about a cat named Avery Finn, his adventures outdoors, saying goodbye to a friend, and making a new friend. Audio recordings for all three stories can be found at YouTube.

The Adventures of Avery Finn:

Avery Finn says Goodbye:

Avery Finn makes a new Friend:

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