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Being Grateful is a State of Mind

Updated on July 20, 2014

Looking for reasons to stay positive, do not look far

So it has not been the summer of my dreams. Not so far. We are plagued by loss, by illness and by responsibilities that have limited our ability to do what we normally do. It is very easy to become depressed or lose focus of what we have. So we must try very hard to be: Grateful.

GRATEFUL: 1.warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful: I am grateful to you for yourhelp.2.expressing or actuated by gratitude: a grateful letter.3.pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing: a grateful breeze.

Last month I had a health scare. I am often home alone with my son, who although high functioning, is indeed disabled and often does not respond to my calls. In addition to being non responsive, he panics and needs much direction. Doctors in the emergency room say if I had indeed fainted as I almost did at home and was alone, I might have had a stroke, heart attack or died. I feel very lucky, that my husband was home. That I made it back to my bed before fainting and he helped me stay conscious. I am grateful that he got me to the emergency room and they acted swiftly to get me in a better place. I have had this condition since I was a little girl with no answers. After 43 years of complaining about it, I finally made it to the ER while it was happening. Doctors have a diagnosis. This is truly something to be grateful for, that and that I have a very treatable problem.

It is very easy to be angry. Unlike previous summers my husband has been sent on a few business trips that have killed our chances to go to the lake we usually go to most weekends. It has also caused him to be so exhausted that even a day trip is not usually on the agenda when he is home. My son has a great job that he loves, but that has limited day trips during the week. He is also in a summer basketball league that disrupts our weekends as well, unless we leave him home. Weeknights have been kept busy with summer soccer and weeknight basketball, Again, I am trying to be grateful that I have kids who are healthy and want to be involved in sports. We have another vacation coming up that will be cut short by soccer try outs for the Fall High school season. I hate that they are in the summer, but this is the way it always has been since the season starts right after school begins. We are so limited by the jobs and sports, that it is easy to get down. It used to only be like this during the year, now it has crept into my summer days.

I guess this is a sign that my kids are growing and in a few short years, my husband and I will be able to pick up and go when we want just not with everyone anymore. I am not sure how I feel about that. Times change, people in your life change, circumstances change, but how you manage yourself and your life, that will stay by your side.

I do not have the contact with my family that I used to. A rift between a few of us years ago has made things tough. I have extended the olive branch many times, although I was indeed the one who was wronged, I am the better person. However, the branch was not accepted. I tend to stay away from the negativity, but sadly it has robbed me of family members that I would like to see and be in contact with. I do not want to cause tensions for them, so I stay away and let the others be part of it. Maybe that is wrong, but I have no energy for conflict. Or for nonsense. Life is too short. Even after my stay in the hospital or the loss of my dear friend, the family in question did nothing to contact me, offer condolescences, or a simple kind word of encouragement. Nothing.

Therefore I have to be grateful that I am rid of that in my life, as I am glad that we are moving forward past other places where the anger and hurt run rampant.

So I will try each day to wake up, thank God that I am here. Then pick something, anything that I am grateful for.

I am also trying to stay focused in reality. Although I love "It's a Wonderful Life", this would never happen in real life. We had a huge number of friends, or so we thought were our friends, but when the chips were down, most did not show up. There was no big rally of support at our feet, to be fair, some offered and we declined, concerned for their well being. But when we have huge bills, worry about eating, keeping the power on, making the mortgage payments due to circumstances we never planned on, there is no big party of people dropping their dollars into a laundry basket to keep us going. The words "no man is alone who has good friends" is a great saying, but it is always dependent upon who you are calling your "friends" I hear all of the time how the government helps and supports people, quite frankly, I do not see it, I am thinking it is a huge rumor. Tax dollars are simply robbed from us, and never used to help anyone. Everyone must help themselves. I am grateful for understanding that reality.

I am truly grateful for my parents. They are pillars of support. They have their own problems, but still manage and try to keep us going when our chips are down. They always try to offer a solution no matter how their day is going. It is invaluable. Irreplaceable.

I am grateful that we walked away from a program where we were volunteering when we did. What we have learned in the past few months is that all the work we did for others, did not matter. That only a handful recognized the dedication from our side and the corruption and lies from others. We are nothing to them anymore because our ability to be useful for them has expired. This is bridge we should burn, although we do not believe in that.

I am grateful that God has been good enough to give me three incredible children. All of them have talent and gifts. I am amazed at how much God has thought to give us in the form of these three. Our oldest is brilliant, although he has a diagnosis, it does not stop him from having a wonderful personality and he is a pleasure to be around. Our second is very funny, makes me laugh when I feel the world is coming apart. He is also smart and is following in his father's footsteps by inheriting his wonderful talent of being able to coach young kids in soccer and basketball. Our youngest is a unique individual who is an artist in every form. She can draw, work with graphic design, sing, write music and stories. She can play an instrument, act and play two sports. She also has the kindest heart of anyone I have ever met, but is not a pushover. Having two big brothers has taught her to be tough.

I am grateful to have friends for decades. One friend I have is one I met when I was 11 ears old. Many years can pass but she and I still have the connection. It is a beautiful thing. Life has not been easy for her either these days, but she keeps smiling, she keeps moving and forging ahead. She is an amazing mom and very talented artist herself.

Although I have lost a dear friend 4 months ago, I am forever grateful to have known her. Her smile in my memories can still brighten any day. I can concentrate and hear her voice when I am low, she guides me and makes me get going, No wallowing. She moves me to prayer and faithfulness. As she lived on earth, she still lives in Heaven.

I have made some fantastic new friends. I cannot imagine my life without them. It is like the old saying, "Keep the best, forget the rest" this has truly happened for me. A wonderful support system has emerged, for this I am also grateful.

After 22 years, I am still married to the same man. It is becoming increasingly rare. He is also the father of all 3 of my children. I cannot lie and say it has been smooth sailing, it absolutely has not been. But we have survived the bumps and bruises and even the major injuries. This may be what makes us work. We are both so stubborn, we do not give up. We have to finish what we started. If that is what holds the glue in place, then so be it. That means we are meant to be. I love him in a way I did not think possible. I also have days when I simply do not like him. Apparently he feels this way about me too. I am thinking this is a good thing.

So as I spend a Sunday that we had planned to be a beach day, but we are all still in our pajamas with mom and dad fighting miserable summer colds, I think, what more could I want? At the end of our lives, we are not going to think about all the fabulous parties and fancy dinners. We are going to remember the day our kids sat around all day with us, ate popcorn and played "Apples to Apples" or "Encore" with us and laughed. We are going to be grateful that we were the sort of parents that took the time to have days like that. We are also going to remember how happy we were when they scored a goal, made the big save, sang a solo, hit that jump shot, made a great steal and read lines from Shakespeare beautifully. We will be grateful that we did not miss any of it.

I thank those who are traveling this journey with me, for always being exactly what I need, when I need it.

Since it was fashioned on the turner’s spinning lathe
The old, ash walking-stick has wandered many miles
On bracken banks, in frost-glazed fields, by heather moors
And waited while I clambered on unsteady stiles.

It has, unpaid, supported me, through thick and thin,
A sure companion, much more faithful than those souls
Who only paid me homage when Dame Fortune smiled
But then like snakes, reneged and crept into their holes.

My silent friend, who never speaks his cold contempt
Will be the one that never strays far from my sight
And holds me up when other frail supporters fail
And helps me when I struggle on in darkest night.

Richard Miles


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