I cannot even begin to express how my focus on gratitude has changed my life, but I will try.
When I started this practice, my brother-in-law had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma. It should be noted here that I nearly raised my younger sister and we have always been very close (let's just say we didn't have a good childhood and leave it at that; I was the oldest and 8 years older than her, so for many years, was more of a mother than a sister). She met my brother-in-law, Tom, when she was 16 years old and when he was diagnosed, they were a few months shy of their 20th anniversary. He was the only man she had ever dated.
In the midst of making 2 emergency trips from Kansas City to California as he was treated at the City of Hope medical facilities, I was trying with every part of me to be supportive of my sister as her world was being ripped apart. Her husband was in the ICU more than once over a 2-month period. I would just sit in the ICU waiting room waiting for her to come out whenever she took breaks. I made trips to a little store they had at the hospital and would get her bananas and anything else healthy that I could find that I could save for her to eat on her ICU breaks. To this day, we still occasionally tell each other to eat a banana, but now we can at least smile when we say it.
I had to leave her twice in the midst of this to return to my job, which just killed me. When I had to go, I would hug her and tell her to breathe, eat and hope. Then I would come back to Kansas City and feel pretty helpless, so I coordinated with City of Hope staff and started a blood and platelet drive for Tom via e-mail.
Tom died 8 weeks after he was diagnosed when the chemo treatment caused a lung to collapse. Then more challenges came as my sister was a social worker not making much money in the LA area and Tom had been unable to get more than a $10,000 life insurance policy because he had hepatitis C. He had been the one who really earned the money and they had purchased a home about 4 years earlier, so house payments had to be made. It was a huge struggle. I helped my sister financially every month for nearly two years.
If I had not been involved in my practice of gratitude, I don't know how I would have survived all of this. It was a horrible period of time for my family and six years later, we're still seeing some of it. Because of this practice, I was able to put my focus on what I/we DID have instead of what we had lost. Sadly, my sister didn't have this in her, so I also had to deal with her anger (rightfully so and part of the process), debilitating grief, her disconnects, and much more. On her 40th birthday, she was flying back to Kansas City by herself to bury her husband.
I should add to this story by also sharing that it was about this time that I starting getting to know Maha and learning about the support we provide each other in this practice, in so many ways. Maha sent me CDs of Stephen Levine on healing meditations for the grief process. Her support, and those meditations, also helped me get through that horrible ordeal.
Ever since Kathy formed this group (how long has it been, AT?), I have both started and ended my day by focusing on what I have to be grateful for. As some of you know, I start each morning on Rebecca's thread - December 2012 Gratitudes - Welcome - and then end my day posting on this team board. By doing this, I feel that I start my day with an attitude of gratitude, and then end my day, and set my dreams, to also follow an attitude of gratitude. Occasionally, if I'm super busy, I will alternate days in each place, but this is my MO. It works well for me.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Maha, Kathy (our fearless leader here) and Rebecca (our fearless leader on her message board) in person. When you meet somebody in person that you have shared all of these things with on a daily basis, it's like you already know that person. It's an incredible experience.
I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you - for sharing your thoughts, your lives, your dreams, your heartbreaks, your fears, your journeys - for it is in doing so that you enrich my own life and my own practice of gratitude. And with this, I bow in gratitude to each of you for being part of this.
Wishing you all of the joys of a peaceful holiday season ...
| Pounds lost: 2.5