'Tis the Season to Be Grateful

Thanksgiving… Great food… Turkey … Family … Friends … Laughter … Pumpkin pie. It’s all part of a wonderful day… But midst all of those great things, don’t forget ‘tis the season to give thanks!

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time. Yes, every family has an Aunt Sally or Uncle Billy, or someone who creates havoc on the holiday. But hopefully yours will be one filled with fun, laughter, but most importantly a time to give thanks.

If you’ve not read my blog about the healing power and importance of gratitude, you can read it by clicking here. Just a moment of gratitude puts us in a place of being centered, making good decisions, experiencing a boosted immune system! At the same time, it takes any anxiety or depression down significantly.

I often think back to the first Thanksgiving in the 1600s. Although 102 people had boarded the Mayflower, by the time Thanksgiving occurred there were only 53 left. Disease, starvation, and the cold took the lives of many. 

They had made it through the first harvest and celebrated in the fall of 1621. I’m certain they had so much to be grateful for:

  • Although they had reason to be sad, because likely half of those who did not make it were beloved family members. Yet they had made it!
  • The local Wampanoag Tribe had befriended them, and ensured that they had plenty of food while they planted and harvested their first crops.
  • Their first harvest had been successful, bolstering their chances of survival and ability to grow a great community (and ultimately, a great nation)!

I think it’s quite interesting that they were able to give thanks … Despite heartache, hard work, unfortunate situations.

When I think I have nothing to be thankful for, I consider them. The journey on the ship had been dangerous, tumultuous, and long. 

They had lost many precious loved ones.

They arrived in this new land with practically nothing. What we would call Ground Zero.

They had little supplies or sustenance with them.

They worked very, very hard to till the land, plant the crops and learn to do so with very little help, and no Internet to Google how to deal with soil that was so very different from theirs back home.

Sometimes when I have a difficult moment, and I know (as outlined in my earlier article on gratitude), that gratitude is the way to regain my sense of purpose, renew my hope, and give me the strength to carry-on. Yet we all have those moments when we think things such as: “what’s the point?“ or “I’ve been through too much and I can’t do this anymore.“ or “But you don’t know what I’ve been through.“ You are so right! No one knows better than you what you’ve been through.

But regardless of the betrayal, the devastation, the disappointment, the heartbreak… Gratitude has the power to help you keep on keeping on!

One of my clients that I see electronically, recently said to me when we were discussing the need to practice gratitude because of a very difficult life situation… “But it’s easy for you to say when your life is fabulous.” And fabulous it is! But only because of the grace of God, and practicing gratitude.

Since they’ve never seen me in person, they have no idea about the new torture device I have on my arm. They had no idea that earlier that morning, I had seenmy surgeon had told me that I would be having a fourth surgery. They had no idea of the accident that I had three years ago. 

It was November 28, 2016. I had just had my right shoulder replaced just 2 1/2 weeks earlier. I was excited because I knew that in just a few more weeks, I would have full use of my shoulder again.

I was working on a Christmas Extravaganza that my amazing church did for many years. (We provided a toy store where parents, who otherwise could not have provided Christmas for their children, came to shop). We had been collecting toys, and as on every Monday morning, I recruited help from my incredible volunteer team to help me carry the toys upstairs to the mezzanine where we store them until the Extravaganza.

Because I was one armed, I needed help. I grabbed all the toys I could in my left arm and ran up the stairs to turn on the lights so that my volunteer could help me carry the toys up. I’ve been up there hundreds of times and knew exactly where the lights were. What I didn’t know is that at the top of the stairs, someone had left two plastic chair mats (meant to roll office chairs on carpet) stacked on top of one another… On polished concrete!

As I stepped on it with momentum, I began to sail across the floor, and it was one of those moments when everything imaginable flashed before me. No not my whole life… Just telling myself this is a lot like surfing so I put the one arm I could move out by my side in order to balance yourself.  I told myself, “Ride the wave. You’ve done this many times… You can do it”. My shoulder flashed through my mind. My need to get the Extravaganza done flashed through my mind. Then suddenly, the movie in my mind came to a halt because the mats hit something that abruptly ended my ride on the wave and threw me into the air. I flipped (not like a skilled gymnast) and landed on my right side, crushing it. The only thing that survived the concrete with my 2 1/2 week old titanium shoulder.

The day after you receive the email to link you to this blog, it will be three years ago. I shall never forget. Regardless of a replaced elbow, plates and screws holding my shoulder blade together … three surgeries and countless hours of PT (they call it Physical Therapy, I call it Physical Torture!)… I am still grateful.

Grateful that the prognosis of a six month recovery to perfect restoration has been extended due to struggles with Worker’s Comp to pay for my care? No!

Grateful for otherwise unnecessary surgeries that my surgeon calls one of the most egregious things he’s ever experienced due to lack of care being approved? No!

Grateful that I’ve needed help with so many things like my hair, lifting things, carrying things? No!

Grateful that I made it? Absolutely!

I remember at about 6 AM when my surgeon came in to check on me after completing my surgery around 2 AM… He said, “Be grateful that it wasn’t about 2 1/2 more inches. It would have been your head and you would have never made it!“

Even in adverse situations we can find things to be grateful for. Friends and family watching me struggle and do my best to carry-on would say things to me like, “You need to sue somebody!“ 

Were there ever moments that I wanted to lash out? Of course!

Some people who I had thought would always be on my team were not. Some people that I thought I could always count on were not there. But I knew the power of gratitude and I simply refused to focus on that. Some people were shocked and others were even angry with me for my response.

But I knew I had to keep that kind of poison out of me and focus on gratitude in order to be healed emotionally … as well as for my poor arm to recover.

What on earth was I grateful for?

  • When I was in the first hospital where the ambulance took me, the orthopedic surgeons were standing at the foot of my bed saying my arm couldn’t not be fixed other than with a rod. “Except for one surgeon in a five state region and there’s no way we can get her into him.” Then I heard the magic words: Timothy Schacherer. It took all of my strength to clear my mind (from all of the drugs pumping through my body) and get enough breath to say, “That’s my doctor.” They commented on how sad it was that I was on morphine and insinuated I was having hallucinations.

However, my niece was in the room and heard it all. As they discussed my pitiful prognosis, she called my surgeon and the next thing I knew … she handed me my phone and said, “Dr. Schacherer wants to talk to you.” They were appalled and astonished.

I was on my way to the one doctor in a five state region who could fix my arm. Coincidence? HARDLY! I was in excruciating pain, but thanked God all the way there.

  • For the amazing Occupational and Physical Therapists who cheerleaded me, tied my shoes, fought for me to get the treatment I needed. Dried my tears, laughed with me. They will be lifelong friends!
  • For my sister who fixed my hair hundreds of days. For my hair dresser who is now “family.”
  • For the people who stopped me at Target, the mall, dance studios, etc … asking what happened. They prayed for me, they wished me well. Employees of stores I frequent have always known my face. Now they know my name.
  • For the sweet older lady on a walker who came to where I was in line at the Golden Corral and offered to fix my plate for me.
  • For my clients who didn’t “disappear” when I could not see them for long periods of time.
  • For friends and family who chauffeured me while I had a two-mile driving restriction for much of the past three years.
  • For being “smarter” because I had to learn to write with my left hand. (They say lefties are smarter? Any lefties want to chime in?)
  • For people who cut my food up for me.
  • For all of the laughs when people said things like: “Wow, I’d hate to see the shape the guy you hit is in!”
  • My list could go on and on!

You see, my life is just as imperfect as yours. No matter what we are going through, we ALL have something we can be grateful for. Maybe not for the awful thing you’ve experienced. Maybe not for the bad diagnostic report. Maybe not for the situation that broke your heart. Maybe not for the job you lost. Maybe not for the financial crisis you find yourself in. 

But always remember … there is greater resourcefulness, better creative thinking for solutions and next steps, less anxiety and depression, and more hope … when we stop and practice a moment of gratitude.

Was I grateful the day that my client told me that it was easy for me because my life was fabulous… When I had just learned from my surgeon that a fourth surgery was eminent? No!

But am I grateful that I have a surgeon who is just as determined as I am to restore my arm? Absolutely!

Am I grateful for the opportunity to share my story with you, so that you can find yourself in a more thankful place? YES!

I loved our time of giving thanks at the Thanksgiving table!

When I was a little girl, my mother had a tradition that at the Thanksgiving table we would all bow our heads and say what we were grateful for. She told us that when you are thankful, that it multiplies the good things and the blessings in your life. She had no degree in neuropsychology, but somehow she knew what was true. I’m so glad she taught me that early on.

It’s never too late. No matter where you are, no matter what you are experiencing… Take a few moments, not just on Thanksgiving day, but every day … and GIVE THANKS! Be grateful! I can assure you that you will see your life take a positive giant step forward.

No matter where you are, no matter how you were feeling, take a few moments to practice gratitude.

I’ll close this today by saying to you how grateful I am that you are reading this. My cause and my mission is to share information with people that will be helpful or healing to my readers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart … YOU help me fulfill my mission! Happy Day to you … whether you read this on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or an ordinary day! I wish you the BEST!