Last night I arrived home at 11:30 p.m. after driving six very long hours in terrible fog and rain. When I unlocked the back door, I was welcomed by a large plunk of water hitting my head. I looked up to see that the ceiling in my breezeway was leaking, and I mean, BIG TIME. Having been gone for the better part of month on tour, I didn't realize it had deteriorated past the point of no return. Wearily, I put a roasting pan on the floor to catch the water and collapsed into bed ala Scarlett O'Hara telling myself, "Tomorrow is another day." Not surprisingly, around 8 a.m. the ceiling hit the floor along with a loud crash, tons of rain-soaked insulation and an accompanying waterfall.
I stood there and surveyed the mess, (I, myself, also a mess) trying to figure out what to do next. Water was pouring in through the hole. Insulation was everywhere. I was completely exhausted and totally apathetic about the situation. The obvious answer was to go to Starbucks for a coffee and post on Facebook that I needed a roofer. By the time I returned with coffee in hand, my best friend had shown up, had called her husband for advice and was ready to help me shovel up the shambles.
She hugged me and gently asked, "Are you alright? I'm so sorry you had to come home to a disaster."
"Yeah, it's all good. Thankfully, it's just a roof; just a ceiling. I have a rainy day fund, which I was hoping to apply toward a sunny vacation, but it's fine. I'm grateful it happened while I was home and I can get it taken care of." I said, calmly.
Honestly, I was amazed at how unstressed I was and how naturally I found positive aspects of the situation to be glad about.
Earlier this fall, I realized I was at a stalemate with several issues in my life, and concluded that my only hope for achieving peace was to shift the way I was feeling and thinking about them. I'm no stranger to thinking positively or expressing my appreciation. Deep inside of me, I knew I could free myself further by focusing on whatever was going right and giving thanks for every situation that was occurring whether I thought of it as "good" or "bad."
I found it just a little difficult at first. (Ha!) I recall standing in my garage looking at the banged up front end of my car and trying to say the words, "I'm so thankful I hit the wall while pulling into the garage!" :-)
I am however, thankful to have an attached garage. The snow and ice here in Wisconsin wreaks havoc on a car left parked outside. I'm still thankful even though this dang garage was built in 1923 and is only large enough to fit a MINI Cooper. I am also thankful to my neighbor who came over with a giant wood block and sledgehammer and moved the wall back into its correct place. That was quite a feat! What a great neighbor.
After that, I started focusing on sending the energy of gratitude to relationships with people in my life that could be improved. Each time I caught myself thinking, "Ugh! This is so frustrating!" I changed it to, "I'm thankful for the birthday card she sent me," or whatever small, specific act of kindness that had previously transpired between us. Within a few weeks, we actually started getting along better. The option to hold a grudge is always there, but wow, they are heavy to hold on to. Gratitude is as light as air.
My life's focus is to help alleviate some of the pain of grieving the loss of a loved one and to give people the tools they need to continue living fulfilled lives after a loss. During the holiday season it is especially easy to fall into depression over what is no longer an option for us, such as simply having time together with a loved one. What we are missing can cause crushing feelings that disable our ability to get through until January 2 with a reasonable level of sanity.
Here is what might work for you; it really worked for me.
Every time you find yourself slipping into a negative thought or thoughts of what you don't have in the present moment, express your gratitude for something very specific you remember which holds joy for you.
Change: "I miss my mom so much I can't breathe sometimes."
Into: "I'm so thankful for the butter cookies she always made." (also, go make those cookies!)
Put a full on stop to complaining for the next six weeks. Instead, try something new. Express specific gratitude to everyone you have a conversation with. Recall and hold onto the great memories you have created with living friends and family members. Thank people for things they did five years ago. Everyone craves validation and appreciation.
Make that your gift to everyone this season.
Your thoughts are a living energy that sustains you or drains you. You have the power to shift inferior thoughts to superior ones. You won't be able to put a full stop to your grieving, but think of it like opening the windows after you've badly burned a casserole. The air is clear. You'll breathe a little easier. You'll have a fighting chance of getting through the season feeling thankful instead of miserable.
Give thanks for everything. Be as specific as possible.
I'm thankful for all the letters, emails, cards and notes that so many of you have sent me telling me that I've helped you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
©Mollie Morning Star 2014 Short excerpts of this article may be shared on the internet provided a live link back to this original source is used. Reproduction in print is prohibited.