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Strength through Gratitude?

Posted May 28 2009 12:18am
For probably the last six months or so, I've been on a journey, following Oprah's recommendation (which she got from a book), where each day I write 5 things that I am grateful for that day. I've noticed that over time, slowly little changes are happening in my thought processes.

When I look at my day, to evaluate what I'm grateful for, I find I have to push away the thoughts of any bad or negatives of the day, in order to find what I'm grateful for. Sometimes it's really hard to do that. Sometimes writing my gratitude blog at night is almost a chore. At other times, it's really insightful and fulfilling. Despite the differences in how I feel day to day, I find some days I spend my days looking for things to be grateful for. When I do that, I experience more joy in the day. On other days, I don't think about it until doing the blogging gratitude log. Having to in essence "wash out the bad" as I look for the good, helps me to define my day more positively. Doing so every day is teaching me to change my outlook on life, as well as to truly live and appreciate so many little small things each and every day.

I have learned that we only have now. Tomorrow never comes, yesterday is but a memory. The memories are pleasant and joyful, when I was truly able to appreciate my experiences when they are happening, "in the now". The worries about tomorrow are less, when I realize I have no control over it, and the worries have the power to ruin my now. The truth is though, life has it's challenges, and sometimes it even has it's tragedies.

Recently, I found out a friend of mine lost the small baby she was pregnant with. I read the blog she kept during the weeks long ordeal that led to the loss of her precious son. What really clicked with me, was an entry she wrote in the midst of her ordeal. She was in the hospital, and suffering. Her post read like the most precious gratitude log. She thanked so many people, stating in profound terms all that she was grateful for. It was clear that even in the midst of tragedy, she found a way to be grateful, to appreciate all that she DID have, and all the help and love coming her way. While reading her blog, it is clear she is dealing with this tragedy in her life with such strength and such love. She is also relying on her faith as well as her family through this.

The particular entry that she wrote, which seemed to me in essence to be similar to a gratitude post has struck a chord in me. How much of her strength has come from really appreciating her life and all that she has, rather than railing at the fates and God for what she is having to endure? Maybe gratitude helps to replenish one's very core and soul. Regular readers of this blog, and/or family members, know that my brother-in-law Dick, taught me great lessons as he fought and and lost his great battle to live. One of the things that he taught me was to treasure life. He found a way to be happy and be grateful for all that he had in his life. He truly treasured every moment. While he didn't write gratitude logs, I know he lived a life feeling gratitude and joy, as well as giving service to others. I wonder how much of strength he had in tragedy and through trials came through his ability to be grateful.

I'll actually share publicly (vs. privately in my gratitude blog) the things I'm grateful for today, since it fits the theme of today's entry. I'm so grateful that I have a wonderful home and family to share a life with. The moments with the children, as we smile, laugh, play are moments of their life that I'm honored to shared. I'm grateful to wake up in a household and see people I love every morning. I'm grateful to my siblings who share their children and grandchildren with me. I'm grateful for the awesome friends that I have. Most of my friends are long time friends. They've stuck with me through the good and through the bad. Through the bad, I had to have been a terrible friend, as I wasn't happy, and wasn't able to truly appreciate them. I'm grateful for having some of the best friends in the world, as they're still my friends despite it all. I'm grateful for the technology we have today that allows me to connect with, and to share in a small way, parts of life with family members far away. My blog has made me closer to a couple of very special nieces. My recent joining of the Face book community is starting to connect me with nephews who live further away, and with whom I ached to connect. I'm thrilled at the connections coming through this awesome technology. I'm grateful for the gift of hearing. My cochlear implants allow me the joy of sound, the ability to not only hear, but to over hear. I'm grateful for former students of mine who have grown up and still manage to be in my life. Some of managed to stay in my life for years, honoring me with their friendship, others lost touch, but are re-connecting with me on Face book. How grateful I am to realize the lives that I've been fortunate to share some small part of. I'm grateful that despite all my shortcomings and challenges in the past, I was able to touch some lives. One young man who I just reconnected with on Face book, told me I was his best teacher ever. How awesome to be remembered by someone that way. I'm honored. I'm grateful for my parents, who are long gone. I miss them greatly, but their strength, integrity and love have allowed me to have so much strength in my own life. I have parents who I always knew supported me in any way they could. They "had my back". I'm grateful for the many giants in my life, the people who teach me just by how they live their lives. I'm grateful for life itself. I'm grateful for every day having the opportunity to "start over". If I make a mistake, make a bad decision, or need to learn and grow, each fresh morning provides me the opportunity to do so. I'm grateful for holidays, as an opportunity to just spend time with those you love and appreciate them. Happy Holidays everyone.
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