When my sister died I vowed that I was going to start living differently, to live each day to its fullest, to not take my life, others, things for granted…to be more grateful. The grief process and what followed for me was extremely difficult. I remember thinking about that vow and feeling like I had failed at that because I wasn’t happy, the challenges seemed too insurmountable and more times than not I wanted to just give up. What I have learned, however is that the storms of our lives test us, teach us and show us what we are made of. While it appeared to me that I had lost my way, that I was not being true to the vow I had made to myself, I was indeed. Why would I think that the trails would be without sweat and tears? Each step walked in rocky terrain with hopes of greener softer turf was in fact dangling that commitment to myself like a carrot in front of a horse at a race. Fortunately for me, I have reached a softer time, an easier time, gratitude comes more naturally and it is typically my first choice. I am living my life in accordance to that vow I took several years ago at my kid sisters funeral. I wonder sometimes if it has been the accumulation of disappointments, difficulties, or the tried and true manner that no matter how dark times had gotten, I was blessed with more days, opportunities to start anew. What was it that brought me to this point? Why is it that for many of us, it takes trauma, life altering illnesses or events to truly appreciate our lives? Yet I realize for some, they never get here.
I have stated before that I am no longer tolerant of “drama” and I have little patience now for what I call “luxury problems”…a broken nail is a broken nail, it will grow, it is not the end of the world. I remind myself not to compare with others but to relate. I have and do live my life one day at a time because for one, I am easily overwhelmed with the possibilities of tomorrow that may NEVER come. The things I fear and found myself fearing in the past? Typically never came to fruition. I have not only survived, but grown through the very few things I feared that did come true. I was always given the strength, the people, places, the fortitude I needed to prevail.
When trespassed or violated, harmed by another I have learned to forgive as quickly as I can and move on. I need not tell the other person that I have forgiven, as selfishly this internal act is really not even about them. It is a gift to myself. It frees ME from the torment, the rage, the victimization that all keeps me from the very state that I so desire in my life…. peace, serenity.
I heard the expression last night in my cancer support group “Who do you pray to?” While this was asked more as “Who is your God?, Higher Power?” I ask myself daily “What are you grateful for? What is more important to you?” Getting pissed off about something that happened to which I am truly powerless over, allowing something to snatch away my peace, serenity is giving away the one thing in life I DO have control over, and that which is most important to me. Because without either of these, my decisions, choices, the manner in which I view my life, love myself or others all goes to shit.
There are so many gifts in being diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease… you begin to look at what is important in your life and start to pluck out the weeds and invasive plants that threaten your personal “yard of life”, you learn to protect it at all costs. You learn that in doing so, things take a natural order, they work out as they will, without your giving up hours, days, weeks to worry, without your trying to unsuccessfully control that which you truly cannot, thus you realize you are blessed with time to just enjoy the very essence of your life, your existence, others existence. The white picket fence goes up to protect your new found discovery that your life really is very fragile, it has nothing to do with how pretty it looks, that is just a bi product. The veil of denial drops as you realize, you ARE touchable, you are not bulletproof, oh how dear the simple daily things become. And you begin to focus on all that is right in your world and spend time in the quiet solemn of knowing…Gratitude is in fact an attitude…and where you place your focus, “who you pray to” or not, will either guide you or dislodge you.
I am so grateful that I know enough to BE grateful for the little things in my life. Everyday I am granted more opportunities to let go of the small stuff, and you know what? That little book is right, it’s ALL small stuff!