Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving.

Today is Thanksgiving.  I know for many it is the beginning of the holiday season, where food, buying presents, being stressed out are some of the headlines.

However I am a big fan of being grateful. For years I have been writing in a gratitude journal, and I am sure it has changed my life. Allow me to explain.
Years ago I was at a personal low point in my life. I was bulimic, felt lonely, constantly tired and just tired of life as I knew it. I really couldn't see a way out. I loved my son, but life with him was very challenging.

Someone told me to start a gratitude journal. I must admit that what I thought of that idea I can't really say here, but a lot of  %@&*$($^#   words were part of my thoughts.  However, I trusted this person so I promised to give it a try.  I did. I was told to write down 5 things a day, I was grateful for. I would lie if I said it was easy.  It wasn't.

But I stuck with it. In the beginning it took me a long time to find 5 things.  There were days when I wasn't even grateful for being alive. I may even have said I was grateful for something I probably wasn't, just to get the 5 things a day.

 I knew I had to find 5 things, so I started looking for them and writing them down and after a while I started feeling differently. I discovered that it was easier to find the 5 things a day I was grateful for and very soon the number 5 was not enough.  I discovered how much I actually had to be grateful for.

Being grateful didn't change the hardship I was facing and lived with, but I changed the way I look at it.  Change your thoughts and you change your life.

I truly believe that the energy you send out will come back to you as a boomerang.  However just because you change the way to look at life, doesn't mean that everything is now going to be great and we all live happily ever after.

It is easy to focus on what is wrong in life, what we don't have and how big out obstacles are . If we are not careful, we loose sight of all the good things we actually do have.  We take our family, friends and health for granted. When we go through a disappointment there are two ways to look at it : Nothing good ever happens to me, or I should have known that this would happen.
Or the more positive way: When one door closes, I know God is going to open up another door. It is all about perspective and how we choose to see a situation.

We all have thing going on in life, that if we focus on them, they can steal our joy and course us to be mad, angry and upset. However, if we are going to be happy, the foundation is to have a grateful spirit.

Seeds of discouragement can not take root in a grateful heart. 

If you are not happy today the quickest way to turn it around is to be more grateful for what you do have, instead of focusing on what you don't have. 
Instead of focusing on how far you have to go, turn around and take a look at how far you have come.
If we complain about where we are, we will never get to where we want to be.

I know that sometimes it is difficult to change your perspective. When my son died, I found it difficult to find something positive and I had days where I just wanted to follow him to where he went.

However when I started looking at Martins life as a time line it occurred to me that I only focused on the last day of his life instead of focusing on the almost 17 years he was here on earth and all the lessons he taught me and all the love he gave me and opened up for.

This year I have so many things to be grateful for.  I have a nice house to live in. I am married to a wonderful man, who sometimes tests my positive outlook. I am grateful that we got our dog Henry. I could focus on how much he sheds, but I focus on the amount of unconditional love he gives and how much joy we have because of him.

I have many good friends here in the US and I live in a very beautiful part of the US.

 The book I wrote about my life with Martin, may not be a best seller, however a lot of people have read it and given me very positive feed back. For that, I am truly grateful.
 But I must admit that one feedback were more powerful than any other I with gratitude have received.

I come from a family where love and praise was never expressed other than through sarcasm and jokes.
I was very nervous giving my parents my book, because there would be something in it, they didn't know about me and I wasn't sure how they would react. But I didn't let it stop me. I had a message to get out.

I have read through my old journals and one of the red threads were, that because I never thought I had my fathers approval. I made some bad choices in life and at other times it kept me from doing things, because i never believed in myself.

After Martin died and  I moved to the US, our relationship changed. I think we all realized what was important. My father told me that he was very proud of me and what I had written and how I handled my life with Martin. I am 48 and yet it moved me to tears. Even if I had learned to live without his praise, I was surprised how I reacted when I got it. It was so unexpected and yet so wonderful and heartfelt.

Without knowing it, it took away so much self doubt. I believed in myself on another level. I took contact to different places to set up workshops. I contacted a bookstore to get a book signing and I got my story in the local paper. All because my father said he believed in me. That is certainly something to be grateful for.

This year I will be spending my Thanksgiving with good friends.  I look forward to it. Thanksgiving has become my new favorite holiday. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Christmas is now hard and emotional to go through without Martin. But it is also a time to remember to be grateful for what you have.

I know there is a lot to be stressed out about this thanks giving. But do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to write down what you are grateful for.

May all your days be days of thanks giving.