For me, living with chronic illness has changed gratitude from something that can be a project that is confined to one month a year. Gratitude is something that I have to find every single day. It is a survival skill. It is what helps me endure the pain and suffering. In order to keep myself motivated to keep fighting a seemingly uphill battle, I have to count my blessings daily. I’m not fortunate enough to only focus on these things for a short time each year. If I lose sight of the things I am grateful for, I will lose the will to keep going.
My health issues also led me to shift the things that I am grateful for. To those who do gratitude projects at this time of year, please consider adding “health” towards the top of your list of blessings. If you can go to the grocery store by yourself; if you can go for a walk in the park almost any day of the year; if you can go to your children’s school pageants; if you can attend weddings and funerals; if you can go out with friends to a happy hour; if you can travel near and far; and if your lack of health does not limit the way you live your life, then you are truly blessed in a way that you don’t realize until you lose all of those things.
In the spirit of gratitude, I am going to share my list of things that I am grateful for. I don’t give thanks for all of them every day, but I do have to find gratitude for some of them 365 days a year.
- I am grateful for my three living children. During the worst times of this illness when there was little hope for diagnosis or cure, they were the motivation that kept me alive. They are amazing humans, and I feel so blessed that the universe has sent them into my life.
- I am grateful to have only endured the death of one of my children when so many women in the world lose far more of theirs due to natural disasters or preventable problems such as starvation and illnesses borne by poor sanitation. I hope that my remaining three children are blessed with long, healthy and happy lives.
- I am grateful for my metaphysical gifts which have greatly advanced my healing at deeper levels than I ever fathomed possible. Opening to them has changed my lie in ways I never dreamed of in my younger years. I am so grateful to be able to use them to help others, too.
- I am grateful for my health care providers who work to improve my overall quality of life. Through years of working intensely with some of them, they have also become close friends.
- I am grateful for both drugs and herbs which help me heal. I am grateful for the current progress we are making with my healing, painful though it may be.
- I am grateful that I have decent health insurance. Even though I pay for a large percentage of my health expenses out of pocket, health insurance does cover part of it. Everyone in the country should be so privileged to have the same or better.
- I am grateful that I am able to buy organic food. Eating organic is not a lifestyle choice for me. It’s a medical necessity. Food free of synthetic pesticides prevents me from having reactions that include extreme fatigue (even worse than what I normally endure), breathing problems, and fibromyalgia pain among others.
- I am grateful to have a home where I am safe and able to live healthily. For many with multiple chemical sensitivities, housing is a huge challenge. They can’t afford to buy a safe place and finding an affordable safe home to rent is almost impossible. I am also extremely grateful that the house is still standing and relatively undamaged after a lightning strike in 2009.
- I am grateful for an ex-husband who is such a loving dad to our kids. I am grateful for our amicable divorce that was completed this year. I am grateful for all of the positive changes and growth in my life that came through the divorce.
- I am grateful for the beautiful new name that I chose during the divorce. It makes me smile each time I sign it.
- I am grateful for my intelligence and education. The disease I am facing requires a large amount of research and action on the part of the patient, and I am able to find and absorb that knowledge. Without the skills I have, my healing process would not have advanced as far as it has.
- I am grateful for the good (relatively speaking) health days I have. Any time I get to go for a walk, go to a park, go to a farmers’ market, or go to a social event, I feel blessed.
- I am grateful for all that photography has brought to my life in terms of stress relief and in giving me a new way to look at the world. I see new things around me that I never noticed before (especially with my beloved macro lens involved!).
- I am grateful to live in Austin. Even though I may complain about the heat and allergens and lack of snow, I appreciate the liberal eco-friendly culture that abounds here.
- And last but not least, I am grateful for the friends, near and far, who have helped me keep some semblance of sanity throughout all of this.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance