Friday, June 24, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Gratitude

Last night I was reading the private blog of a fellow Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor who wrote, what I think, are some very provoking thoughts on positivity and gratitude.  After being in remission for some time, she just learned that she has relapsed.  Here is an excerpt from her blog...

"I don't want any other cancer warrior to think I am bubbly and optimistic twenty four seven even after receiving such disappointing news.  There is a huge difference between being 'happy' and being 'grateful.'  The gratefulness piece is always in me. Always.  However, it was tough to get out of bed the last few days and to look at the bright side of things when the reality is that more treatment will continue in the future.  I think it's important for those that are ill or receive hard news, that we are still gentle with ourselves.  In the beginning I used to repress these feelings and ignore them, realizing they would only come out later to bite me in the butt.  Now, if I feel down for a few days, I let myself.  Usually after a week or two, I find myself back on my feet again and moving.  I am no superwoman -- none of us are, so I believe its truly important to let yourself 'be' in these types of situations."

Now, I am generally a very grateful person - and 99% of the time a very optimistic person - but I have to admit that this girl is one step ahead of me because I've only just learned what she already has, that it is ok to let yourself feel down when you actually do...and to let yourself 'be' when you need to.  Sometimes it is necessary to experience those feelings, and then they pass and you move on.  Like she says, for me the gratitude and hope are ever present, but I've come to realize that it is not just ok - but healthy - to let myself experience the emotions of sadness or frustration.

Over the past few months of dealing with chronic Graft versus Host Disease (since my previous post), I've had a few of these moments as my strength has been sapped and my body has been changing in not-so-pleasant ways from two months of being on high-dose steroids.  It has been a frustrating two months, and Wednesday I was admitted to the hospital yet again, while the doctors try to figure out why my blood levels all tanked over the past week.

Yesterday they performed another bone-marrow biopsy on me...and afterwards I decided that I needed to reward myself, since it is such a painful procedure.  This is another good lesson learned - how to allow myself rewards - and so I walked across the street from the hospital to Starbucks and treated myself to an iced mocha caffe with extra whipped topping!  Yum!  Now, that is something to be grateful for!  Also, during the biopsy I just kept thinking, "yeah, this hurts, but at least I'm not cutting off my arm with a dull pen knife!  (Have you seen the movie, 127 Hours?)

So, in addition to those two, I'd like to share a few other random things that I'm grateful for (in no particular order):

- back porches and hammocks
- having a car that is paid off
- dental floss (i love that feeling of freshly flossed teeth!)
- Sunday breakfasts with Sherri and Pam
- spring flowers and a mom with a serious green thumb

- chubby babies - they're just too cute!
- being one of the few people of my generation who has actually benefited from Social Security, and not just paid into it
- today I'm not sore from yesterday's bone marrow biopsy
- being able to encourage people
- wash -n- wear hair
- best friends, birthdays, ice-cream pie from Handel's, and licking the plate clean!

- the independence of being single
- joyful memories
- finding those perfect shoes that aren't just cute, but make your feet feel awesome...and then buying them in two colors!
- friends with campers who invite you over and feed you yummy camp food (Peggy)
- kids who innocently ask why that girl is wearing a mask, and parents who aren't afraid to give a real answer instead of embarrassingly shushing them
- new home office furniture that I will soon be's like a big jigsaw puzzle and I love it!
- Jesus, who never changes and is the source of my gratitude, hope, strength and life
- my laptop, cell phone, ipod, Netflix, and HGTV
- living next door to my parents
- wonderfully supportive friends at work who check in on me and two years ago helped send me to Europe
- looking forward to traveling again
- my nurses at the stem cell clinic who always make me laugh and smile with their antics

It's certainly not a comprehensive list...I could keep going - fruit, indoor plumbing, clothing with elastic, eyesight - but I'll stop for now and just ask this...

What are you grateful for?


Sherri, AKA Chica said...

I am thankful for YOU my mor'en my luggage girl, my covey and secret keeper, make me laugh out loud, talk on the phone for hours, spoil me rotten, bestest friend in the whole wide world - my Chica! Awesome post!

Monica said...

Thanks Amy! Your words and life inspire me :)