OK, so it’s taking me a while to get through the chapters in Live Boldly. And I may have skipped writing about a couple of them.
In any case, it brings us to gratitude, as I highlighted it in my kindle version. (Next up is release which is probably a good thing for me right now.)
So, gratitude. That’s something I have a lot of. And, as Mary Anne Radmacher writes, “Gratitude wears many guises in my life experience. One of its most powerful applications is to experience gratitude for difficulties and hardship. The turning point often comes when I stop resisting and embrace the challenge, grateful for the ways gratitude is teaching me.”
Life brings odd changes and challenges. So many of them have turned out to be blessings and opportunities.
Last summer, before I had back surgery, the pain was so bad I needed narcotic pain medicine to deal with daily life. Which meant I couldn’t drive. Technically, I could. But I felt myself zoning out one too many times that I took myself off the road. This meant I depended on Adam and public transportation.
Even though — or maybe because — it slowed life down, I found hidden blessings. I was outside more. I had time to work or read on the bus (although one particularly engrossing book did cause me to go a couple of stops too far one day…). I appreciated the people sitting next to me, sharing this way of getting around. And I finally had an opinion on the EmX signs along West 11th and 13th (I’m pro EmX now, don’t know what I would have done without it).
And, once I healed from surgery and was back driving again, I’m even more grateful that I have the freedom from pain and of driving myself around again. The kids still ask to go places on the bus, though. They really enjoyed it.
Beyond the life circumstances I’m grateful for, there are so many people in my life, past and present, who I deeply appreciate. Even the hard relationships have taught me something (one thing being that I chose not to have those in my life now).
Mary Anne writes that “gratitude is also acknowledgement.”
Rather than just be silently grateful, I make an effort to let others know when I am grateful for them in particular. Sometimes that comes in the form of a donation to charities that have helped me or others I know. I am still so grateful — even all these years later — of the community food bank that fed me at Christmastime when we were rationing food and had nothing. So now I give to the Thanksgiving Basket Project at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center to feed others during the holidays. That food didn’t just fill my belly, it gave me hope.
Today, my massage therapist (someone I am truly grateful for) told me about her 10-year-old daughter saving money to go to camp this summer. She’s working hard, but has some anxiety about how she’ll manage the whole amount. I left her a note of thanks with $20, asking her to put it toward camp costs. I worry that she’ll somehow take it the wrong way. But I can help, and I wanted to, so I did. It won’t cover the cost of camp, but perhaps she and her daughter will know that someone is rooting for them.
Along that vein, I’ve been driving around for weeks with a pack of new socks in the minivan. My idea is that I’ll give them out to folks “flying sign” on the street corners. I want them to know that someone cares about their welfare, without giving money that could better be used through community service agencies. The only problem is that I have yet to get up the nerve to give them away. I don’t know what I fear? That I’ll be rebuked, my gift turned down and deemed unworthy, that I’ll be laughed at?
I just know that sometimes the gift of hope is more meaningful than any dollar amount. And I’m very grateful that, no matter what the interesting challenges are lately, I continue to have that.