One day, when I needed to be reminded about gratitude, I came across Robin.
I had never read her work before, but she had left some thoughtful comments on my site.
On this particularly challenging day, I decided to take the time to go to her site and read more.
I am glad that I did.
Below is the first guest blogger that I have ever had. I’m honored that it is Robin from http://ourownflavor.wordpress.com
My most recent moment of gratitude sounds pretty silly. I got a great parking place on the street just one block from my destination and at the end of a row of cars so that I was able to just drive straight into it. My sense of relief was intense. My parallel parking is pretty bad and I’ve been known to walk quite a distance to avoid it.
But in a few weeks when my family assembles our Thankful Tree, writing our gratitude on paper leaves, I’m not going to write, “I’m thankful for that great parking spot when I was running late.”
My gratitude these days is complete and is the gratitude of a woman who has weathered a storm safely, who has reached solid ground and a warm haven. Sure, there are lots of trials ahead of us, but at the moment I am grateful we’ve made it through this far.
I thought I knew what my life held. I’d collected the complete set: husband, dog, mortgage, medical degree, and two children (in that order). I was working in a busy family medicine office and had just opened my own practice as a do-gooder hobby. My marriage was rocky (to say the least) but I figured we’d hold together for a few more months and life would get easier. And then we had our series of crises. I know the last few years have held whirlwinds of turmoil for many families. Ours took the form of two strokes (me), a deep depression combined with lifelong ADHD (my husband), and the realization that our kids were not okay.
After many months of being reassured by friends that my son’s meltdowns, hang ups, and weird noises were just his age, I suddenly one Friday realized that something was terribly wrong. This thing, whatever it was, had taken control of him a year ago and wasn’t giving him back. “This thing” turned out to be an alphabet soup of TS (Tourette’s Syndrome), OCD, ADHD, and others. And then when we reached the point that my son’s issues were defined, though not controlled, I opened my eyes to my daughter, my precious little one who was just seven months old when I had my strokes and at eighteen months could only grunt. She not only didn’t have any words, she didn’t have any sounds. At each well child check I’d ask about it but be told that her overall communication score was fine (when combining expressive and receptive language) and to not worry. I decided to worry. I called Child Find and we soon learned that our toddler was at the first percentile for expressive language.
And that was 2013 for us. 2014 has been spent digging out. Therapy all around (physical for me, speech for the two kids, occupational for my son, and psychotherapy for everyone…even my daughter gets to come along for family therapy and case manager meetings). Finding the right medications for my husband and son. Creating a medical practice that allowed me to continue working despite constant terrible fatigue. Learning to live in poverty because seeing a dozen uninsured patients a week doesn’t pay well. Learning to find a new normal.
And through all this, I’ve learned what gratitude is. Because I’m grateful we’re together as a family. I’m grateful we have a home and heat and a toilet that flushes. I’m grateful for all the therapists and neighbors and friends and family who have each done their small part to get us through. I’m grateful that none of us have a potentially fatal problem (except me but now that I’ve survived it, I’m safe). I’m grateful every single time something makes our lives just a teensy bit more manageable. And so I’m grateful for parking spaces that are easy for me to manage post-stroke, our cozy heated mattress pads, a good night’s sleep, the opportunity to write, and comfortable shoes.
When I think about what to write on those paper leaves to hang on our Thanksgiving tree, those things seem small, almost a joke. Comfortable shoes? A flush toilet? And at the same time, I realize that gratitude isn’t about what others may think of what I write. Gratitude comes from the heart. And if my heart happens to be overflowing with parking spaces and therapists, so be it. I have so much to be grateful for!
What are you grateful for that perhaps you’ve not mentioned because it didn’t seem “right”?
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This is so true…I often don’t express my gratitude for smaller things because they may appear insignificant to others. Thanks for the reminder that we can and should acknowledge all our gifts!
I think Robin expresses this so well in her writing!
Thanks Diane. There really isn’t a heirarchy of gratitude… It’s all great! 🙂
This is beautiful and it’s so true – the things that make our lives more comfortable, easier, and some days, allow us to not feel the extra stress of running late do deserve our gratitude. We can’t always be grateful for things that seem “right.” Often times, finding gratitude in the small things helps ground us into the deep and sometimes overwhelming gratitude for the big things – life, children, therapy, diagnosis…. I’m not saying this well but I hope you know what I mean. I’m so glad that I read this today!
Thank you for stopping by, friend! Robin’s words (and yours) serve as great reminders!!
Yes, I know just what you mean… And we both know the hugeness of a diagnosis, including the gratitude that goes with it!
I have gone through similar, though not the same, experiences in my life. I forgot how to be grateful for the little things and nearly lost my (and my family’s) sanity.
I’ve started as I’ve gotten older, to find gratitude in the small things. What a difference it makes in MY life, not to mention my family’s. (Still have a long, looooooooooooooong ways to go!
God bless you and your family.
Thank you for being a guest blogger. Reminders are helpful.
Thank you 🙂 So appreciate your visit! http://ourownflavor.wordpress.com
Hanging onto your sanity through the hard times takes so many ingredients. I’m still trying to get all the pieces together too!
Hi Robin, I loved your story and your style of writing. May I ask your age, and if you discovered the underlying reason for having a stroke. My husband is at high risk, and I am always trying to educate our family. So glad that it seems you and your family and on the mend. Wishing you continued luck, love, and good health.
Hi Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 My strokes were due to a vertebral artery dissection (tear in an artery in my neck) at the age of 31 (I’m 33 now). Everyone should definitely know the signs of stroke: FAST (face, arm, speech, time).
Stroke prevention is much better than surviving it! There wasn’t much I could do to prevent mine but common risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, diet, and sedentary lifestyle. We all have something on that list! It’s also important to remember we don’t control everything, either for ourselves or anyone else. I have patients who are so uptight about doing everything exactly right but then still have something bad happen. Peace, patience, acceptance, and ability to give up control are just as important in life as those other things!
Focusing on what I have rather than what I don’t is really the only way I have survived the crazy life of having three kids who all have some sort of learning difference and a daughter who has significant special needs. But sometimes forget! Thanks for the reminder! What a beautiful post! And many thanks to Kelly for introducing me to your wonderful site.
So glad you stopped by, Kathy 🙂
Yes…Robin’s words are inspiring!