I’m resisting the urge to write volumes on the subject.
Because I could.
It’s that powerful.
It’s that game-changing.
It’s that essential. . .
To all that’s good in life.
But, I promise to keep it short and sweet.
Because the truths speak for themselves. . .
Four simple truths about gratitude
Gratitude is a choice. Living life with a grateful heart doesn’t always just happen–especially when life sucks. You may have to choose it-over and over and over again–even if it hurts, even if it doesn’t make sense. Because eventually, it will make sense. It will become part of your DNA. You’ll wonder how you could breathe without it.
Gratitude is self-pity’s kryptonite. Try feeling sorry for yourself and being truly grateful at the same time. It simply cannot be done. I know this because I’ve tried. More than once. And I’ve failed. Every. Single. Time.
A joyous life is absolutely impossible without gratitude. So is a peaceful one, or a content one, or a loving one, or a courageous one, or an abundant one. . . And you get the picture.
Practicing gratitude will save your life. I know this because it’s saved mine.
So what is stopping you,
Despite where your life may be at this moment,
From living your best life?
The one that includes you with a grateful heart. . . and a joyous soul.
As somebody once said, “There is always, always, always something to be grateful for.”
As I was listening to the choir sing a verse of “Silent Night” this morning in church, a tremendous feeling of peace washed over me. It was instantaneous, pretty awesome, and in fact, I swear it felt like the Holy Spirit was thumping me in the forehead and saying, “PEACE, DO YOU GET IT, C’MON!?” I felt myself take a deep, deep breath and just soaking up that amazing moment. In an instant, I was relaxed and just breathing, not something I do very well, ever. I wish I could bottle that feeling because it was I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. Then, as if I didn’t really get the message, I came home and read this in an email. . .
“Where is this peace to be found? The answer is clear. In weakness. First of all, in our own weakness, in those places of our hearts where we feel most broken, most insecure, most in agony, most afraid. Why there? Because there, our familiar ways of controlling our world are being stripped away; there we are called to let go from doing much, thinking much, and relying on our self-sufficiency. Right there where we are weakest the peace which is not of this world is hidden.” ~Henry Nouwen
Powerful, powerful words. In our weakness, we find peace. . . and Lord knows I am weak.
As we hustle and bustle our way through the next couple of weeks of the Christmas season, my wish for you is that you find at least a moment of peace. May you find it through your brokenness, your insecurities, your agony, your “to-d0” list, and your fears. Let it wash over you like a gentle breeze and soak it in.
A friend and colleague shared an article recently about the things grieving people often experience. More specifically, the stuff nobody tells you, the messy stuff. You know, the stuff you really need to know that isn’t always in the neat little pamphlets that you get. It’s straight-forward, easy to read, and brilliant. The entire article,”64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief,” can be found here–http://whatsyourgrief.com/64-things-about-grief/ and it is WELL worth five minutes of your time to read, whether you are grieving or not. Any human being on this planet that lives long enough will experience loss and the subsequent grief that ensues. I highly recommend taking a look. You can never be too prepared to enter into the world of grief, trust me on that one.
So often society seems to get caught up in the “if onlys” and the “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s” when it comes to grieving. For instance, “You should, be over that by now” or “You would be over that by now if only you would _____,” or “You could be over that by now if only you could just let go.” And while most people are not ill-intentioned when trying to offer help, to a grieving person (well, me for sure) those comments often sound like the adult voices on Charlie Brown, you know, “whah, whah, whah. . .” (Sorry to digress, but humor now and then is essential when grieving. Here’s the link to check it out if you aren’t sure what I mean or just want to reminisce http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss2hULhXf04.) Grief is simply not that simple. You don’t just get over it. You don’t just let go. Closure doesn’t automatically happen because a socially allotted amount of time has passed or because a perpetrator goes to jail. Everyone grieves in their own time, in their own way. Grief cannot not be put into a neat little box. We each have to figure out a way to weave the pain of our losses into the tapestry of our life stories, even if it is only one tiny thread at a time. Then, we need to figure out how to move forward or as #58 on the list says “get used to it.” I couldn’t agree more with that terminology because “getting used to it” is about all we can do some days. In fact, there wasn’t a single thing on the list that I couldn’t relate to or agree with on some level. . .
#2- Stop avoiding and be present. Being present is ABSOLUTELY one of the hardest things to do when you are grieving. Being present means you have to acknowledge your pain and quite frankly, that sucks! BIG TIME. Unfortunately, healing can’t take place in the past or in the future, it has to happen in the now. FYI: This one becomes harder to do as the numbness of early grief wears off. Work on staying present in small doses at first because it is difficult. But, keep trying. Work on it. I make staying present an intentional part of my day, every single day.
#9- Death and grieving make people uncomfortable, so be prepared for awkward encounters.People will avoid the subject and maybe even you. I am ashamed to say that I have done this in the past to others when I should have reached out. It is totally okay if you don’t know what to say. Most times just a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” and a hug will do.
#16 and #17- There is no such thing as closure. There is no timeline for grieving. You can’t rush it. You will grieve, in some form, forever. Not much to add here except that, it’s okay to not close that door. Loss is part of life. We don’t expect closure on the good things in life, so why do we expect it when life’s difficulties arise? We don’t need to worry about closing those doors, we need to figure out how to make our losses part of our story without continually living in the past. It’s SO hard to find the balance between the memories and moving forward. It takes work to arrive at some form of acceptance. Do it in your own time.
#23- Grief doesn’t come in five neat stages. Grief is messy and confusing.LIFEis messy and confusing. Why would grief be any different?
#27- However badly you think it is going to hurt, it is going to be a million times worse.All that I have to say to that is AMEN! Wowsa. So true.
#33 and #34- You grieve your past, present and future with that person. Big life events and milestones will forever be bittersweet. The word bittersweet has become a regular part of my vocabulary. It’s these bittersweet moments (graduations, holidays, and wedding planning currently in my case) that have proven to be difficult to navigate with grace.
#63- You will never go back to being your old self. Grief changes you and you are never the same. And that is totally okay! So don’t try to be the same person you once were because that would be impossible. That very moment that your loved one was lost, you were forever changed. It’s okay to be your “new” self, whatever that new self may be, as long as you are not being self-destructive. (See #60.)
It seems every time I read this list, something else jumps off the page at me. In a nutshell, whatever you are experiencing as you are journeying through grief, is quite possibly normal— even if it seems weird at the time. If you feel that what you are going through isn’t normal or if you have questions, seek help from a professional. It’s totally okay to do that (see #53). We aren’t meant to walk through grief alone.
I strongly disliked my name “Melissa Faith” growing up. Now, I cherish it.
I am working very hard at restoring the creative and musical side of me that I successfully squashed years ago. My mom would be so proud.
I marvel at and thank God for the absolute awesomeness of my kids. Every. Single. Day.
The places my soul is happiest are California, New York City, Africa, and the mountains of Colorado. Also, anywhere I am with my family and/or by water: the ocean first, mountain streams second, and after that pretty much any river or lake will do.
My dream job would be traveling the world rescuing human trafficking victims and slaves. I would bring the hub along for muscle power to put a little hurt on the slave owners as we depart. I shared that dream with him a while back and he wasn’t as enthused as I was. My other dream job would be to travel the world photographing and writing about what I have seen and experienced. Sunrises and sunsets on every continent? Could happen.
I have had to “get over myself” several times throughout my life. I deeply regret the times when I was less than a decent person.
At my core, I am an adrenaline junkie. Having children tamed those urges significantly as the need to be responsible outweighed my need for recklessness– although barely, at times.
I have learned to appreciate and crave silence. This came only after I exorcised the demons from my head.
I LOVE music of all sorts, especially of the alternative and hard rock genres. The only exception to this is the fact that I STRONGLY dislike country music, unless it’s the old stuff. A little Patsy Cline anyone?
I love and miss my family around the world and country intensely.
I am a thrift storeaholic. Most days, all or a good portion of the clothing I am wearing is second-hand as is most everything in my home.
I have the best friends in the world and have had all throughout my life– as far back as I can remember, even when I wasn’t deserving of them. I am deeply grateful for all of them, old and new.
Running has saved my life.
I LOVED dinosaurs when I was little. Still do.
I am adopted.
I could eat pizza, watermelon, ice cream, and cereal every day.
I have learned that practicing gratitude will lift you from some pretty dark places and that faith in God will sustain you, despite what life dumps on you.
To my Aunt Lori who will be earning her very own orange headband this weekend. . .
Think of all the amazing athletic accomplishments of the last few years of your life– the dashes, the tri, the half’s, the marathon (and not to mention the fact that you are now a certified instructor) and you will realize before you even cross the starting line that you’ve got this little Mudder thing down no problem. F-E-A-R no longer exists in your vocabulary.
But in case you are still a little anxious after my brief pep-talk above, keep the following in mind when tackling the Mudder:
The ice water compares only to jumping into a frozen Minnesota lake in January. It hurts and it will LITERALLY take your breath away. Wait a few seconds for your breath to return, and then go for it. Don’t panic, just breathe.
Being shocked also hurts. It can stop you in your tracks, but, the pain lasts for only a second or so. Don’t panic, just breathe. The faster you go through, the better. Electricity be damned. You are a mudder.
The walls get slippery and are a bit higher than the dash. Take your time, it’s worth it. If you slip a bit, hang on tight, don’t panic, and just breathe. (I saw a lady biff it off the tall wall from half-way up. She didn’t land too prettily. Can you say ouch?)
Wear clothing that won’t hang to your knees when it gets wet and stretched out. See my photo below. Not the best look or very comfortable or conducive to wall climbing and crawling under barbed wire.
Lastly, SOAK UP EVERY SECOND OF THE AWESOMENESS! BREATHE IT IN!
To anybody else that may be reading this and are contemplating the Tough Mudder (or any other big physical challenge) know that YOU CAN DO IT! I was 210+ pounds, 43 years old, and could only run (and I use that term loosely) just over a couple of miles at a time when I completed the Mudder. My best advice? JUST DO IT! You never know what you can accomplish until you choose to try. FEAR is nothing but a four letter word and life is way too short to just stand on the sidelines.
To my Aunt Lori and anybody else facing some fears this weekend as you set out to accomplish new fitness goals, don’t panic, just breathe. YOU CANT DO IT BECAUSE YOU ARE AWESOME!
“The journey of healing is often painful. It requires much effort and endurance. . . It is hard work, but along the way we learn that there is a place in the journey where we are able to celebrate. This celebration comes from knowing that all of the effort is worth it. It is from this place that we can begin to feel hope and we can begin to glimpse joy. We are no longer driven by desperation but by determination.” ~ adapted from A Healing Celebration