A family leans on a porch railing, looking out from their house to the sunrise.

How Gratitude Changed Everything

Gratitude is one of those buzzwords we hear constantly these days. So much so, that it actually makes me cringe a bit when I hear it. However, there’s no other word with such power and promise. I use the word promise here because it is a promise…a promise to change your current state of being and that can mean EVERYTHING.

Painful couple of years

The past couple of years have brought much pain and suffering for me, personally. I went through a series of difficult experiences, all within a 2-year time frame. I ruptured the plantar fascia of my right foot while exercising. I spent 12 months in an air cast boot 24/7 and was unable to exercise at all. Did I mention I have a full flight of stairs to get up to my apartment? Haha…not fun! I then ruptured the plantar fascia of my left foot (along with having bone marrow edema) from the stress and weight put on the foot due to wearing a walking boot on the opposite foot. I discovered toxic mold in the wall cavities of my home, which required me to move out for over 5 months so that remediation and reconstruction could take place in my apartment. I needed to pack up the majority of my apartment in order to do the remediation (an apartment I’ve lived in for over 20 years…so lots to pack up and move out).

Emotional stress was paralyzing

You can imagine the stress and physical difficulty this created. The emotional stress was paralyzing at times…there were so many things that needed to be researched, considered, and decided on. All of this was on me…I had no one to come in and rescue me from this nightmare. To top it all off, I was (and still am) living with IBS-D which made things…well, a bit more cumbersome. Anyone who has dealt, or is dealing, with IBS understands how this one thing can make everything else worse! Things like having a bathroom, and privacy to use it, now became a timing game. The stress also made my IBS worse, as it does for many people.

Living with my parents

During the first couple of months being out of my apartment (while work was being done), I needed to live in my parent’s home. I’m sharing this little tidbit of information because during this time frame…they inquired about my abundant toilet paper usage. I know. Embarrassing, right?!? They already knew about my IBS struggles, but it was still embarrassing. Just what I needed…to feel worse over the fact that I used their toilet paper at such a rapid pace! Ha-ha! Shame, embarrassment, guilt, fear, worry, anger, resentment…these were all feelings I experienced due to the life circumstances I was dealing with. These emotions didn’t just wash over me ...They consumed me! They kept me up at night. They created an emptiness no food or indulgence could fill. They isolated me…and then, they led me to gratitude.

Seeing the light

Gratitude isn’t some woo-woo, free to be-you and me, wishful thinking kind of thing. It’s truth…and truth can be what we need most during our worst moments. When we are completely truthful with ourselves, we can see both the dark and the light. Gratitude is that light. It’s a reminder of all that we: are, have, create, feel, and find. I focused on how incredibly fortunate I was to have my loving family open up their home to me. I reminded myself how wonderful it is to have people around (and I also reminded myself that I wouldn’t have to be there forever – ha-ha!)

Finding gratitude despite it all

When my insurance company was able to put me up in a hotel, I felt grateful for the space it provided just when I needed it most. I also loved being able to give my parents back their own personal space in their home. I found the silver lining everywhere and anywhere I could. I made a point of looking for things I could be grateful for. A clean hotel room that I didn’t need to clean, a good meal that I didn’t have to cook, a person greeting me with a smile. Grateful for an insurance agent that supported me through this hellish ordeal. Grateful for my feet holding up as best as they could through countless steps moving things and getting to where I needed to be every day. Grateful for my breath, which was able to calm my nervous system down when I was at my breaking point many times, many days…most days in fact! Gratitude was always available to me if I made a conscious effort to look for it. I was able to change my thoughts, and therefore change the experience I was having.

That is the promise gratitude makes. It offers not only the ability to change our thoughts in the moment because it’s really hard to be angry/sad/resentful/etc. and grateful at the exact same time (believe me, I’ve tried…ha-ha)! It offers all of us the opportunity to change how we experience life, moment by moment.

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