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The pursuit of gratitude
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This, for many reasons, has been a challenging year.

There have been moments this year that have literally brought me to my knees and I really wasn't sure I would be able to dust myself off and go on.

But, so far, I have. I am doggedly stubborn that way, it seems.

Or maybe I am a glutton for punishment as well as cheesecake.

I just know this year was not the year I had hoped it would be by a long shot.

It has been full of deep, painful grief and loss.

There were moments that I had to fight harder than I have ever fought, even through exhaustion, just to make people do what was right.

And there have been some huge disappointments - where you are counting on someone to keep their word or a friend to be there for you only to see

Needless to say, this year has been one of simply trying to get through each day, rather than one of thriving or flourishing.

No matter how bad it was, I had to force myself to stop and remind myself of what I had to be thankful for.

When we lost my husband's youngest brother this year, it made me so grateful for the phone calls we had and reminded me how we never know if the last time we are speaking with someone may be the last.

Almost losing my Mama this summer made me realize how thankful I was for each phone call, each text. It made me stop taking for granted that I can talk to her every day.

Then, my uncle had a serious health scare just a few weeks ago.

I would have to stop and realize, there were times that are painful but we can find something to be grateful for in the midst of it.

It can be hard when we are in the middle of the storm and don't know when it will end.

It can even harder when we are tumbling from one storm to another and see another one brewing on the horizon.

This year has felt like it has been a battle that has been kicking my tater.

But I am going to chase down those things that I am thankful for.

These things may not be perfect.

In fact, nothing in my life is perfect but that's just fine.

I am thankful for all the messiness and chaoticness of my life, too.

It keeps me on my toes and gives me variety.

I am thankful for the adventure that life is and can be and that I have a few folks willing to take this journey with me.

They may be slightly more warped than me to do so, but I am thankful for them.

And, I am thankful for each day, which as corny as it sounds, really is a blessing.

Even on the days that hurt like heck, there is still so much to be grateful for hidden in the ruins of the day.

Sometimes, it's the fact that we have people that love us - which is a pretty big thing, actually, especially on the days that life kicks us and we kick back.

Or that tomorrow is a new day.

My child asked me what I was thankful for the other day and I honestly said, "That this year is almost over."

And while I am thankful it's almost over, I am also thankful for the lessons it taught me.
To love fiercely, especially those who love you.

To be quick to listen and slow to judge...and if we do judge, to put ourselves in that person's shoes.

To extend a little more grace and compassion than necessary, because someone else may need it more than we need to be right.

To never, not ever, take anyone for granted.

And in those moments where the gratitude or the blessings are hidden, we just need to chase them down with all we've got.

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."