Cultivating Gratitude Amidst Difficulty

Published On: November 16, 2023Categories: Blog

As it does each year around this time, the month of November and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday draw me to reflect on all the happenings in my life so far this year. Every year, there are experiences that bring incredible joy and fulfillment and others that challenge and push me to my limits and experiences that bring sadness and frustration. I am of course not alone in this, as we all walk and sometimes stumble through life in all its messy complexities.  

Many of us that are hovering around middle age have learned to lean into all that life brings as every experience is a lesson and all behavior is information. Part of the journey is discovering what it all means for each of us and believing that ultimately it all works together for good. 

This idea is a difficult concept to embrace, especially in a world with multiple wars raging. When we’re seeing horrific images of the death and destruction of children, families, and communities on the news; and where suicide rates among teens and young adults especially, are at an all-time high. Our children, friends, grandparents, and neighbors are struggling. They’re struggling to know their intrinsic value, that which says that you have value because you exist and that no other criteria are required.  

We need to do a better job of teaching our children to love themselves the way they are. To recognize their individual skills and gifts while also recognizing the things that may challenge them as all being a part of the secret sauce that makes them special and unique. It will take nothing less than ruthlessly reminding them of their worthiness and value to combat the messages perpetuated by a society that politicizes difference, that speaks to creativity and individuality but rewards sameness and glamorizes impossible wealth and beauty standards. 

Everyday at Everline Counseling, we see clients of all ages and demographics who are seeking mental health services for similar reasons. The details are different and the consequences to the individuals, couples, or families that we see vary, but the core issues are largely the same. They don’t feel seen, they don’t feel heard, they feel stuck and don’t know how to get “un-stuck” or they are so fearful of failing to meet some standard set for them by someone else, that they don’t trust themselves to make decisions and often don’t even trust their own feelings. They don’t have a sense of themselves. I have been a licensed marriage and family therapist for nearly 20 years and these core concerns that drive people to seek counseling have been stubbornly consistent.  

So, this year, in addition to the many other things for which I am profoundly grateful, I am adding becoming an employee of the Greater Austin YMCA. Being given the opportunity to develop a mental health counseling program that is designed to serve ALL people in the Central Texas community that need or want treatment regardless of age, race, gender identity or station is an absolute privilege.  If you or someone you know is looking for affordable mental health treatment in a welcoming environment Everline Counseling is here to help. 

Kristen Pierce-Vreeke

Senior Executive Director

COA/North Austin YMCA & East Communities YMCA

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