Sometimes it is a few special people in your life who teach you more about yourself than you had thought. Gratitude is the emotion of thankfulness and rather than being what I would call “happy” being grateful is what I am. I have experienced so much joy in my life but also sadness and this past week I have found myself at the beach, at some of the most stunning on the east coast and as I have sat and felt the sun on my back, I am reminded and prompted to be grateful. Health, family, friends and nature are the ingredients in my gratitude journey and I am grateful for all of them in making my daily life wonderful.
1. Health- At the moment I am experiencing what it is like to get older and not be able to do all the things I used to easily do. Using my hands for nearly everything I do I have had to change many of my daily living habits and my teaching job and how I manage it is suddenly in question. My hands can’t quite do what they used to and going to the bathroom, washing my hair and even writing have been a challenge of late, so I’m grateful I can one finger tap on my laptop and phone. Doing up my bra, cooking like a chef, stacking the dishwasher and basic housework are suddenly debilitating and I’m like an 80 year old literally in my success in the pinch and hand grip tests at the physio. The culprit is arthritis and why I’ve had a massive flair up I’m sure can be pinned on the flu vaccination I had. Although technically the evidence based deduction is that my flu shot would not cause an arthritic flare up- my intuition tells me the inflammation in my immune system from the vaccination set off an inflammatory trigger. Having had a mild traumatic brain injury two years ago, it tested my health and well being and thankfully clean living, a healthy diet, regular exercise and daily doses of nature have helped me overcome the debilitating mental fog and chronic pain as a result of my injury. It has been little steps every day and some days were dark but the restorative power of sleep, meditation, sun, yoga and time have helped me and my brain fully recover. Two years on I can say I am all good- brain wise at least, then my hands decided to test my patience and make me question what I am doing with my life. Note to self is no more contact with anything that will inflame my immune system.
Brain and neck injuries are complex and the trauma to my neck and head set off certain triggers in my body. Thankfully I have faith in a few key professionals, like my physiotherapist, chiropractor and massage therapist who all work their own magic to help me live as pain free as possible. There was a time when I was addicted to pain killers. Dealing with and managing chronic pain whilst holding a stressful job is difficult and this past term has been tough, really tough. Painkillers, cortisone and gratitude have got me through some difficult days and I hope that the debilitating days of chronic pain are long gone. The health remedies I take, combined with resilience are so far keeping me mostly healthy and whilst cortisone is seen as a no go by some – the pain in my joints welcomes this temporary magic.
2.Friends- I have lovely friends and they help me through my days in ways that I am grateful for. One of my friends is in a difficult place at the moment and in messaging her, I in turn have become even more grateful for my health and well being. I don’t have a lot of friends but the ones I do have are gold and each one of them is special in the qualities they bring to our relationship. I have a desire to be the type of friend I would like in my life and not having a sister or huge support network in my life, it is my friends whom have been my angels.
Mindfulness has been a huge factor in my managing my well being and health and each day I am more in tune with just the moment of time I am experiencing and showing compassion to myself is my new mantra. I am learning to be my own best friend and be grateful for just being. I have always overcome obstacles and telling myself they will pass has always been one way I have managed in my life.
3. Family- I am so grateful for my children. In fact I am blessed. They are the most amazing humans and as I reflect on the awesome people that they are, I can now relax and celebrate the hard work in bringing them up. In fact I have learned to sit back and say wow I did an awesome job but I also recognise I’m exhausted. My body I have realised needs to rest, it has experienced huge stresses in life and my immune system can no longer deal with the demands of a stressful life. As a single mum I have worked fucking hard – there is no other way to say it. There was no time to feel sorry for myself in the past fourteen years and anyone who thinks I didn’t have it tough- just remember sometimes the people who say the least are often going through the most. It also takes a village to raise a child and my village of people was awesome.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say and the warrior that I am knows that there are so many things to be grateful for. Humility is one quality I have passed on to my children and the successes I have in my life are not due to luck or good fortune but bloody hard work, grit, resilience and masses of unending commitment. I am a Taurean and being stubborn might be a negative Taurean trait but not giving in and being determined are positives to developing resilience and rather than shoutout my success in dealing with all sorts of challenges in life, I humbly turn up and live my life each day whilst always being thankful for what I do have. I see this in my children and it is a blessing to see them succeed beyond expectation and to be humble in doing so.
Regret is a wasted emotion but there are things in life I would change if I could. My integrity has stood alongside me in many moments and thankfully I do not have any huge regrets. Sometimes, I wish I could tell my conscience and integrity to bugger off and let me do what my head and heart most desires but I know that the person I am does not choose to inflict pain or be deliberate in hurting another and I have the wisdom of life experience to tell me that some choices we make in life are not worth it. Fantasy is always prettier than reality and I have faith in the universe, myself and serendipity, so with my integrity intact I can continue to live with hope and dream.
So, as I ruminate on my life I am so grateful to have lived with my adoptive family in Australia, to have foolishly but resolutely got married at 21, had my children young, and at 51 I know my freedom as an unencumbered mostly healthy person is just beginning and for that I am so very grateful.