Sometimes life is just tough. You know what I mean? Of course you do. Everyone passes through trials and tribulation -“Triiiiiiiiiials and tribulatiooon…..oh I’ve had my share” – (Princess and the Frog, obviously). At times it can feel like too much at once. But such is life.
Currently I’m in San Francisco with my dad as he’s in the hospital with some health problems that we’re trying to get worked out.
On top of that, about a month ago my sister-in-law suffered a stroke at the young and healthy age of 30. (Learn more about her experience and inspiring recovery, and also an opportunity to contribute and help their family)
Right now Jason is job hunting and having less success than we would like, leaving us uncertain and in limbo about the future.
Last week, with all of this fresh and weighing heavily on my mind, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and as if our family was getting hit from all angles.
I’m doing much better now and I have a few reasons why, but they all revolve around one simple thing: gratitude.
Last Wednesday I felt that I needed to come out to California to be with my dad, so around 11:00am I booked a flight, and by 3:30pm I was 30,000 feet (I don’t know, wild guess) in the air on my way to California, filled with feelings of fear, frustration, confusion, exhaustion, anxiety, and a million other feelings that were not serving me.
Now, many days later, I’m feeling a million times better. Gratitude makes a huge difference. Despite the fact that my dad is sick, I’ve only showered once in 5 days, I’ve slept on a hospital chair the past 5 nights, I’m running on very little sleep, and my nutrition has been less than ideal, I still feel better than I did when I arrived. And I blame my attitude of gratitude!
The turning point was on Friday afternoon. My dad was sleeping so I took the opportunity to get out of the hospital and get outside for some movement and fresh air. On that wonderful, simple walk, I decided to think of a few things I was grateful for. And it turned into a much longer list than I had planned! I thought I would share just a few of them here and perhaps a few tips for if you’re feeling discouraged and heavy laden with emotions such as mine.
1. I’m grateful for fresh air. The moment I stepped out of the hospital it was invigorating to inhale and breathe in something other than the disinfectant, sterilizing scents I’d become accustomed to over the past few days. It helped ground me and made me aware of my senses and just feel overall refreshed. Just get outside. Even if it’s just for a minute. Even if it’s raining, snowing, or blistering hot. Feel the change of temperature and the breeze on your face, take a few deep breaths. This is the best tip I could give someone in the midst of a trial.
2. I’m grateful for beauty. You can take this one however you’d like. But for me, it means paying attention to the little things around me, the small details. Mostly the views, the architecture. Such simple things, but something I always pay attention to, especially in new places. Something that inspires me and gets me excited about life in general. Wherever you are, find the beautiful things around you. Get creative if you must. But I promise, beauty is there.
3. I’m grateful for exercise. Or my able body. Exercise is always an easy way to put me in a better mood. It pretty much always works. But especially after sitting in a hospital for days on end, getting my body moving is a must. I didn’t have time to go to the beach or go on a hike or anything, but I did walk to Lafayette Park, which is like a little oasis in the middle of the city. So green and luscious and wonderful! It was exactly the escape I needed, and a beautiful place to get my body moving.
4. I’m grateful for modern medicine. There’s really not much more that needs to be said about this one. I could not be more grateful for incredible doctors, nurses, medications, and really just life-saving modern advances in medicine. Especially given the current circumstances with my dad and sister-in-law.
5. I’m grateful for an incredible support system. I’m so grateful for so many people in my life. Family who made sacrifices to come see my dad (and me), friends taking every opportunity to help in any way by offering a place to stay, feeding my hubby while I’m gone, prayers and positive thoughts, my sweet husband who stayed home to work and keep things going, my employers who were more understanding than I could have imagined, my dads employers. This is definitely a trial, but amazing people in our lives make the heavy burdens feel lighter.
I know applying gratitude in our lives will ease our burdens and lighten the loads we may be carrying. If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, depressed, anxious, or anything of the sort, try thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for. Just 5. But my bet is that you’ll be able to come up with more than that. If not, use mine! I’m more than happy to share. What tips or experiences with gratitude do you have? Comment below! I’d love to hear yours!