Yesterday was one of “those” days. You know what I mean. Sometimes before you go to bed at night you say, “Tomorrow I’m going to do thus and such. It’It is going to be a beautiful day and I’m looking forward to doing the things that I’m planning to do.”
A wise sister once told me, “We cannot always control our circumstances but we can control our attitude about our circumstances.” That is so true. So how do we do that? I believe that I have learned how to give thanks with a grateful heart and I am happy to share that experience with you.
The Best Laid Plans
Yet in “Real Life”…
I snuggled into my comfy bed, letting my CBD oil work its magic which allowed me to drift off into a deep, blissful sleep.
(In case you don’t know, CBD oil is a wonderful gift of nature. It is not liquid marijuana and it doesn’t make you high. If you find that little tidbit confusing or intriguing, the link above will take you to Effie who will patiently explain how it all works.)
Four hours later I woke up with the worst headache I have ever experienced in my life. At least it is the worst headache since the last worst headache I ever experienced in my life which happened several years ago since I’m not prone to headaches.
After about an hour of gentle shoulder stretches and the two-hundredth re-positioning of my pillow, I decided that maybe allowing myself just one Tylenol might take the edge off of the pain and allow me to sleep. After all, weekends are made for rest and relaxation, right?
By the time the Tylenol kicked in and the headache had abated, my brain was wide awake planning the day ahead. A quick glance at the clock informed me that it was 4:45 a.m. Close enough! Coffee time! Well. It would be coffee time if there was any decent coffee in the house. There is really no point in getting out of bed when there is no decent coffee in the house unless of course there is really good chocolate! Alas, even 70% dark chocolate with cocoa beans isn’t enough to drag me out of bed. It is too sweet for 4:50 a.m.
Thank (God, the gods, and the universe–or whatever powers that be in your life) for online friends to check in with. One had left me an encouraging message, one had shared a bit of humor, and another had been up working for hours and had a project to show me. After catching up with my friends, I was ready to get up and start my well-intended day.
As I rolled out of bed, I suspected the day may not go quite as I had planned. My hip had a little hitch which meant anything that has to do with standing, bending, sitting, or walking was going to present a challenge. (I have osteoarthritis and sciatica. You can read about that here.) Furthermore, twisting was not an option. Oh, well. That meant no computer work, no yard work, and no hiking. There were other things I could do with my time. Dishes, for one. Where there are hungry boys and men there will always be dishes.
I indulged in two cups of mediocre-at-best coffee, found a reasonably comfortable position with the aid of some pillows and caught up on some of my computer-based tasks. Hours later, I grabbed a quick bowl of oatmeal topped with an assortment of heart-healthy add-ins, threw on a dress, and headed out the door for a nearby funeral.
A short time later, I found myself seated at the longest–funeral–ever! At least that is what it seemed like as I sat there feeling a bit tired and appropriately sad on a bench that was too high, with a hip that couldn’t cooperate. In truth, we were celebrating a wonderful lady and I wanted to be there among people who knew her well and loved her deeply. I just couldn’t sit still and as I wiggled this way and that, trying to find a position that felt right, I noticed that my bench squeaked with every subtle movement. If anyone else was aware, they didn’t let on.
What really saved me was the fact that I happened to be in a United Methodist Church and United Methodists are big believers in lots of singing and especially keen on singing every single verse while standing on your feet. Sing a little, sit a little. Sing a little, sit a little.
By the time the funeral was over and I walked out into the outside world, it truly was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, spring blooms decorated the landscape and birdsong filled in the air. I hobbled to the car thinking that it was a perfect day for a walk in the woods or some yard work but I knew that those activities were not going to be an option.
After lunch, I ran to town to pick up a prescription for my ailing husband (who is recovering from carpal tunnel surgery) and while there, I had a brilliant idea! I could use one of the granny carts to walk around the store and hopefully loosen my hip without putting undue stress on my leg. I would have the cart for support if my leg would suddenly give out on me. It was a good idea, and it would have worked if I had not gotten one of those carts with a wonky wheel. It wibbled and wobbled all over the place and made me feel slightly woozy. That idea was quickly abandoned!
There are several routes from the pharmacy back to my house and I chose the longest, most scenic one that led me past pastures of cows contentedly munching on grass as cows were created to do. Behind them, farmhouses, orchards, and mountains drew my attention and I thought how cool it would be if my talented photographer/friend could be with me, capturing it all to savor on cold winter days when I sit by the fire daydreaming of spring.
Let the weak say, “I am strong”.
By the time I reached home, I felt determined to get outside and find some way of absorbing the wonders of the beautiful day. Somehow, I felt empowered to face my circumstances and push past my inability to walk with stability (I won’t say “disability”) across the kitchen floor. Unfortunately, my body was in disagreement with my mind. Step, step, step, oops–no leg! Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, oops–no leg! I have never actually fallen to the ground when my leg stops working but I have had many close calls.
Still, the outdoors was beckoning me. It’s spring! How can I not go out? Then I remembered the advice my online exercise coach gave me about grabbing a stick and going. Therefore, that is what I did. Meet my friend “Gnarly-stick”. I took Gnarly-stick for a walk and Gnarly-stick brought me home. Today I learned the art of stick-walking.
Gnarly-stick is not just an ordinary stick, but an extraordinary extra-long twisty-turny stick. With a stick like that, a person can do all sorts of compensations. Walking up the hill, I held Gnarly-stick in front of me, tilted to the left, and “rowed” my way up the hill. When my leg went “oops”, I held Gnarly-stick in front of me with both hands and let my “third leg” hold much of my weight until I was ready to move on. On level ground, Gnarly-stick walked beside me: step, clunk, step-step, clunk.
Let the poor say, “I am rich”.
One of my greatest life lessons comes from the Bible which says,
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” ~Matthew 12:34 NKJV
Whatever thoughts and feelings we carry in our hearts will eventually come out our mouths, often whether we like it or not.
I’m not one to promote “positive confession” or “affirmations” because, for me, that feels backward. We can go around saying positive words all day long but if our hearts are heavy and disagree with our words, positive change is not going to happen.
Here is what I suggest. No matter what is happening to you or around you, there is likely something good lingering in the background. Focus on that thing or those things because once you pay attention, you will most likely find many good things to appreciate.
When I look back upon myself struggling to walk around the block, I am almost embarrassed by what other people saw as I hobbled by. Without that stick, I’m not sure I would have made it. Whatever possessed me to think that it was a good idea to take a walk around the block, which is more than a mile long and mostly uphill when I could barely make it across my small kitchen without grabbing for objects to keep my balance?
Give thanks with a grateful heart
I’m not talking about a “conjured up” positive attitude. I’m talking about a joy beyond measure that wells up inside me because I am truly grateful for the good things in my life.
Those online friends I mentioned? My heart swells when I consider them! They have given me many truly amazing gifts: acceptance, joy, and laughter are among my favorites! When I am down, they lift me up. I cannot count the times I may be sitting alone by myself working on the computer when someone drops in and I suddenly laugh out loud at something the dear one has shared. Support and patience from family and friends is also something I am deeply thankful for.
On that walk, I was in tremendous pain! Somehow, at the time, that paled in light of the other sights, sounds, and feelings that were available to me:
- The scent of spring flowers blooming
- The sight of a father and son working together in their yard
- A man and his wife enjoying a quiet conversation on their porch
- They teeny little wildflowers in the grass at my feet
- The tiny beginnings of redbuds beginning to form on the tips of nearby branches
- Bulbs, likely planted by squirrels, coming up in the corner of my yard
- Birds flitting from tree to tree, or ground to tree with twigs for nests
In the midst of our trials and hardships, there are things to be grateful for. Focus upon these things and you will begin to feel lighter. Soon you will take notice of other things around you that are worthy of appreciation. As you continue to appreciate the good things, they multiply! The unpleasant things begin to melt away. As if empowered by a force outside of ourselves, it becomes natural to give thanks with a grateful heart!
What are you grateful for? What strengthens you when times are hard? Please share your joys with others by commenting below. Above all, if you think that this story may encourage someone you know, please pass it on!