Gratitude Journal Entry #3

 

Today, I’m grateful for inspiration in the form of a co-worker and teacher who, this week, passed away due to stomach cancer. He taught mathematics and dance…both exceptionally well. He threw himself into everything he did with no regrets…especially his marriage, which was only a year old. His life teaches me that even though we worked together for just one year, the impact he made on the community was powerful. It really is true that one person can make a massive difference in many people’s lives in a short period of time. Thank you Colin for sharing your passion and life with me.

Gratitude Journal Entry #2

 

Today, I’m grateful that I’m feeling so much better. I’m grateful the fevers didn’t feel the need to visit me, which is lovely since I told them yesterday they were no longer needed. I’m grateful that I slept well last night. I’m grateful I live in a peaceful town where I can sleep during the day and not be disturbed by business sounds. I’m grateful for the sun on my bed and the nap attack that ensued this afternoon. I’m grateful for the desire and energy to sew. I’m grateful for the Farmer’s Market today and delicious and nutritiously healing organic dinner that resulted. I’m grateful that my mom went to the Farmer’s Market and cooked dinner for me. I’m grateful for a quieter brain and a more centered soul. I’m grateful for my eyes so that I can see the vibrant colors around me. I’m grateful for my furry supervisor helping me sew my vibrant fabric this evening. I’m grateful for compassion. I’m grateful for love.

Gratitude Journal Entry #1

 

I’m home sick today. Some days, being sick really gets in the way of life and all my plans, and I greatly resent the illness and my body. I also am not the kind of person who easily stops, so when I have to stop because of illness, usually the illness is rather severe. And then, I whine…just like Bear in this, my new favorite picture book. My favorite part is when Bear, in dramatic irritation and resignation, admonishes Mouse by saying, “I fear you don’t fully appreciate the severity of the situation.” Some sick days are like that.

Today, however, I’m deeply grateful to be sick. I’ve needed a break from my daily routine so that I could care for myself and have some down time…releasing the old and recalibrating myself to the new. My dreams have been wonky and I’m refusing to analyze them or meditate on them at all because I’m ready to just let it all go…whatever it is that I no longer need. So, rather than fight this and grumble and moan, here is my gratitude list for today:

I’m grateful that I now have a job that provides accumulated paid sick leave. I’m grateful that I’ve almost maxed out the number of hours one can accumulate for paid sick leave and that I have to use it. I’m grateful that I have a job that is flexible enough to allow me to use my paid sick leave. I’m grateful that my boss is supportive of me taking care of myself and encourages me to take off whatever time I need in order to feel better. I’m grateful that while society doesn’t yet recognize the value of using sick time for mental health days, my body has accommodated this need for time off by providing just the exact symptoms I need in order to have to stay home. I’m grateful that today is pay-day. I’m grateful for the beautiful roses in my bedroom. I’m grateful for the wee bit of rain that helps me relax and sleep. I’m grateful for cozy fleece blankets under which to snuggle. I’m grateful for my kitty snuggling with me on the cozy fleece blanket. I’m grateful for tissues for my nose that are gentler than the tissues I experienced in Africa as a child. I’m grateful for a warm bed in which I can rest and heal. I’m deeply grateful for the beautiful quilt my aunt made for my bed, under which I rest and heal. I’m grateful for healing food in the form of tea and brown rice that my mom brought to me this morning. I’m grateful for my essential oils, herbs, neti pot and foot bath. I’m grateful for sleep. I’m grateful for abundance. I’m grateful for love.

Gratitude

I remember the day I learned what Gratitude is. I was standing in my apartment, desperately fighting off a panic attack. It was the middle of winter, there was a foot of snow on the ground, and the daily temperature never climbed above 0° F. In my hand was my utility bill, which, in retrospect wasn’t very much…maybe $30. However, at the time, that was my weekly budget for groceries, gas and cat food and cat litter. Either I paid the bill on time and neither ate nor provided for my kitty, or I paid it late, incurring a late charge which would probably double the bill. In that moment, all my financial frustrations closed in on me, threatening to suffocate me…it took everything I had within me to keep breathing. As I stood there, struggling for breath, my fingers and toes tingling, my vision blurring, my soul desperately wanting to run away somewhere, I felt a strange calm descend on me. For just one moment, I didn’t feel all that panic…and in that one moment, I looked around me. 

What I saw was this: I had a full tank of gas in my car that would last me a week; I had groceries in my refrigerator that I could stretch for a week; I’d just bought cat food; the cat litter would last another week; my apartment was warm and efficient; I loved the colors on my wall and the way I’d decorated my apartment; I had warm blankets; I was safe; the snow was beautiful; I lived in a stunning neighborhood on a gorgeous lake; I had a job; I had a bed; I had running water; I had never-ending hot water. In short, I was ok…my needs were provided for. 

As I slowly descended back into my body, the peace came with me. I calmed down, took a deep breath and paid my utility bill, tears running down my face. I realized what it was like to be a dove, sheltered in a rock crevice, while a storm raged all around. I also realized in that moment that life is never fully good nor fully bad…it’s all mixed up together. I also realized that as long as I kept looking for that “perfect, fully good” life, I would always be miserable looking for the unattainable…and, I would miss out on the beautiful and unexpected miracles that inevitably happen in the midst of messy life. From then on, whenever I faced an overwhelming situation, I stopped, took a breath, and chose to notice the amazing and wonderful things around me in spite of the hard things looking at me, unflinchingly, in the eye.

Three months after this experience, I was offered my present job in sunny Southern California allowing me to live my heart’s passion…including making more money than I’ve made in my life. My life isn’t “perfect” according to my perfection standards, but when I think back to where I was 4 years ago, I stand in awe. My life has changed dramatically…and not just financially…in all ways. And, I think a big part of that change is because I expressed gratitude, or, as the Hebrew translates, recognized the good that also exists in every moment.

As I journey through my present challenge of personal healing and transformation, struggling to find words to express the experience or even be able to understand the experience, I know I can always fall back on gratitude…for I am surrounded by amazing and wonderful good even in the midst of this challenge. So, for now, I share my gratitude with you.

Yes!

 

I recently posted a status update on Facebook describing my gratitude for the blessings flowing to me as a result of saying, “Yes!” One of my friends’ reply indicated that she suspected I had been proposed to and was now getting married. I chuckled at the time, realizing I’d never considered that thought when posting the status…and that her reaction was a bit extreme. 

Now, a month later, I realize that she wasn’t so far off the mark. Not in the engagement-to-be-married bit, but certainly in the extremely-important-response bit. It was and is a big deal. Saying, “Yes!” for me, is extreme and significant.

Saying, “Yes!” is a terrifying experience for me. It means I’ve committed to something. And, perhaps, there might be a moment in the very near future when I realize I don’t want to be committed. It means that perhaps, I’ve just stepped into a situation that has no way out…no escape…no options. It means I might be trapped. Then the panic sets in and I want to run and hide. 

Saying, “Yes!” also means accountability. That means that I might really mess it up…or not do a good enough job…or fail utterly and completely. It means that someone is going to notice and possibly criticize. It also means that others might depend on me and my results and if I completely muck it up, I could really hurt someone or let someone down. The greater the number of people potentially affected by the agreement, the harder it is for me to say, “Yes!”

Saying, “Yes!” also means that I have to do something. Effort has to be made on my part or else I absolutely will fail. And sometimes, I’m just so tired. Sometimes I just don’t want to see people. Sometimes I just don’t want to leave my house. Sometimes, I just want to take a nap. And, if I’ve said, “Yes!” that means that it doesn’t matter if I’m tired, or don’t want to see people, or don’t want to leave my house, or that I want to take a nap. Saying, “Yes!” means that I have to do something even if it’s the very very last thing I want to do in that moment. 

Saying, “Yes!” also means that if other people are involved in the “Yes!” project, I lose control. The more people involved in the “Yes!” project, the less control I have. This means that I run the risk of not only failing, but failing because someone else has mucked up…and that’s worse than failing all on my own.

So, for me, saying “Yes!” is a very very very big deal. It’s so much easier for me to say “No!” and walk away. But, then there’s the inevitable let-down of disconnect with the aftermath of “No!” And, at some point, my desire and craving for connection and intimacy requires that I say “Yes!” and the fears are confronted yet again.

This time, though, saying, “Yes!” was different. This time, “Yes!” was out of my control from the beginning. This time, the “Yes!” project, that involved many people, originated from my mouth…the words just flew out before my brain even knew words were coming. I found myself volunteering and agreeing to something that I hadn’t yet mentally comprehended. Panic definitely set in and it took a couple of days for me to remember similar experiences in my past…experiences that taught me that such moments are indications that The Universe is in control and I just need to flow along. 

I did.

Blessings abundant.

Gratitude.

Transformation

I must confess…I didn’t take this picture. To be honest, I’m not entirely certain this picture is real. I once burned through three rolls of high quality Fuji film trying to capture the perfect artsy picture of just one of these butterflies…a whole group of them seemed a bit like trying to herd cats, so I didn’t even try. Even still, I didn’t get a single picture showing the blue…only the brown on the undersides of the wings. Needless to say, bitter doesn’t begin to describe my feelings of three entire rolls, each consisting of 36 photos of brown smear, completely wasted. So…I’m pretty sure this photo, that I lifted off the Squidoo site, is completely digitally constructed. But, I’m also pretty sure this is what my photos looked like when I pressed the button. Why the film doesn’t reflect that continues to be a mystery to me.

My life at the moment is going through a massive transformation…one that requires me to stop every few moments and take a breath, send myself some love and take a step forward. Some days those in-between moments  are as long as an hour…other days those moments occur every time my heart beats. I’ve been too overwhelmed by all the changes to put words to any experience until this week. This week, a Monarch Butterfly danced across my path. It reminded me of the Blue Morpho Butterfly, my favorite of them all, and the messy process they go through to get from caterpillar to this unbelievable shimmer of blue joyous magic flitting through the air. They don’t live very long compared to the amount of time I live, but they certainly do it with grace and flair…something that certainly inspires me.

I’m not certain that I’ve even emerged from the cocoon, much less opened my brown wings to reveal the blue…but I’m hoping, and at times trusting, that I’m on the right path because if so…the other side is going to be amazing!

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