Finding gratitude in an uncertain world
It is slightly stunning to me that Thanksgiving is this week, starting the whirlwind holiday season. And a stark reminder that the year is quickly winding down. I can’t believe how fast the year went – a testament of the fun and adventures creating my Best.Year.Yet? Or the reality that life seems to speed up the older you get? Hmmm, I’ll choose the first. Haha.
Life is always going to be a series of ups and downs, right? For every fun adventure, hard-won accomplishment or satisfying moment, you will most likely encounter a moment of disappointment, heartache, frustration at points along the journey. Even love, as beautiful as it can be, often takes us on a bumpy road toward happiness.
During this time of year, it seems that people focus on gratitude and kindness. I’d love to see people be more dedicated to this practice year round, but am happy to see the practice done at all. And even though I try to focus on daily gratitude, I too pause a little longer this time of year. Such is the time of year, right?
I’m going to be honest – I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the approaching holidays. A lot flits through my mind lately, emotions to sort and decisions to be made about the future. I have to remind myself to focus on the present too. Which leads to opportunities to give thanks for all the current goodness in my life. Because I am very lucky. To be alive 20 years past a bone cancer diagnosis. To walk on my own two legs after having my femur replaced with titanium. To find happiness, courage and calm after restarting my life on my own a few years ago. To trust the people in my life. To be optimistic about my future.
Several family and friends have commented over the past two years they are happy that I’m happier than I seemed in the past. I know the decision that led to the feeling of a heavy weight lifting from my shoulders because I vividly recall feeling startled at the change. I didn’t realize I was carrying so much emotion in my heart and “on my shoulders.” It was equally startling when people randomly commented on how much happier and at peace I seemed. I guess you think you’re happy and content, or convince yourself of these feelings, until you step away from a situation and the clouds clear. Regardless, I’m thankful for how far I’ve come in the past 20 years, and even past few months.
I trust in myself and the journey I’m on. That took a lot of work and focus on what and who I want in my life. And then finding the courage and commitment to make changes, if needed, and embrace the new experiences with arms wide open and no hesitation. I knew I no longer wanted to settle or stay in a situation because I felt obligated; I instead knew I had to listen to my heart, understand who and what I need, and pursue those in order to have what I truly want in this life. Without apology or hesitation. Life is much too short – and you never when it will change or end – to not focus on who and what you need to be happy – not just sort of happy and content, but REALLY happy. I can not settle for less, not now that I’ve felt and seen the difference. Nor should you, my friends. My heart opened to giving and receiving love, which brought amazing people into my life. I’m still surprised I didn’t meet certain people earlier in my life, but I’m so grateful for their presence now, and hope they’re forever walking with me along our journeys.
I’m grateful for many things occurring in my Best.Year.Yet. I never dreamed I would log more than 1,400 miles on my road bike this year (compared to barely 300 last year, and probably less in previous years), including a trip across Iowa with LIVESTRONG teammates. I overcame a lot of mental, emotional and physical challenges to accomplish these goals. I’m so very grateful for my healthy body staying strong 20 years past diagnosis, letting me walk every day on my own two legs and reminding me of how far I’ve come since cancer treatment. I’m grateful for the opportunities to help many others affected by cancer, through mentoring, writing, advocacy, meetings with legislators, and simply coming together with like-minded people to make a difference. What an honor and pleasure these moments are for me!
I’m grateful for the opportunities to explore the world through my travels. And even more grateful for the people who accompanied me, and those I met along the way. So many memories to cherish.
There are so many people and things I could add to a gratitude list. I am a lucky woman. Wonderful people surround me, my health holds strong, my heart is full of love and happiness. While I admittedly am someone who likes to look to the future (I’m naturally a planner!), I have also learned to embrace every day, and find at least one thing to be grateful for in that day. Because there is always one thing, even if it’s simply waking up (actually a pretty major thing to be grateful for!). One of my favorite quotes is “Wrap your arms around life and give it a hug.” A beautiful daily reminder for all.