First, let me begin by saying that I have been mulling over writing this post for some time now. I’ve had a number of different working titles in my head ranging from “GrowGratitude…Really?!?” to “GrowGratitude Wants to Gripe” to quite frankly, “F@#k GrowGratitude!” But what it really boils down to is nine months ago I made a decision to challenge myself to seek and find the silver lining in every life experience, and in the process, share my experiences and effort to do so with you. My hope was that if I could always manage to find a “silver lining”, and hence, grow grateful – no matter what, then you could too (just in case you thought you couldn’t). And if I routinely grew more grateful and you routinely grew more grateful, then GrowGratitude would be worthy.
But here’s what else I believe. I believe that what you put “out there” comes back to you and I also believe in the importance of being, as author Don Miguel Ruiz puts it, “impeccable with your word”. However, my very next thought is be careful what you ask for.
The past 12 months has been one of the most challenging times of my life. (“Challenging” is GrowGratitude’s word, not mine). Of course that‘s completely relative and subjective. Trust me, I’m grateful that things have not been worse and am absolutely aware that they could have been. I guess I see the past 12 months as a sort of series of unfortunate – or in my case, ironic events. I’ve always tipped the scale when it comes to irony and one of my fears is that when I leave this world, I’ll do so ironically. Like the guy who died at the motorcycle rally to protest mandatory helmet wearing, and somehow managed to get in an accident during the course of the rally. His death was attributed to not having a helmet on at the time of the accident. Notice I didn’t mention him by name. That’s because I don’t remember it. I just remember the irony in how he died and my thoughts of “checking out” equally ironically. But I digress.
I’m having a moment, but I’m human so I’m sure you can relate. What I’m about to tell you might be the equivalent of what old school taught us not to do, which is air our dirty laundry. So know that at this moment, I’m a bit uncomfortable. However, my “airing out” my dirty laundry will not reach the equivalent of what is seemingly prevalent in today’s “reality” culture. Don’t know how that makes you feel, but here we go. I’m about to hit auto-rewind and take you along for the ride. Be forewarned, there are moments where all we can do is hold on.
Last year at Thanksgiving, I lost my job. Sucks, right?! But given that my career for two plus decades has entailed working on grant-funded research studies, the possibility always existed. So, I was grateful that in 24 years of having a grant-funded salary, I had never been laid off before. And I was grateful for the 2 month forewarning that I received of the potential lay off contingent upon a rather sizeable grant application being funded. And you now know how that ended. Unfortunately, the two month forewarning that I received proved to be more “painful” than the actual lay off. Watching your position (and perceived value and purpose) being phased out over the course of two months is not for the insecure. Talk about feeling useless! But still, it was holiday time and with the small severance package (received with great gratitude), my benefits and pay continued into January. This was an opportunity to experience the holidays with my daughter as I always dreamed of without the added responsibility of working full-time. And with the fast approaching New Year, comes a new beginning. Bring it on, I’m ready. Happy New Year!
On January 3rd, my grandmother passed away. She was an amazingly strong woman, having endured unimaginable loss throughout the course of her life. It wasn’t until her death that I realized what a tremendous blessing it was to have had her as a member of our household throughout my childhood. She was 96 years old! Awesome!
Next stop, the Presidential Inaugural Ball. It was my experience at the Ball and my save-savvy inclination to utilize what could amount to thousands of dollars in therapy by reviving my use of writing as a cathartic outlet that gave birth to GrowGratitude. In case you missed it or care for a refresher, you can read all about my time at the Ball here https://growgratitude.com/2013/02/07/where-is-the-silver-lining-when-you-feel-let-down-my-night-at-the-official-presidential-inaugural-ball/
But don’t leave me yet, there’s more…let’s wrap up January by withdrawing my daughter in the middle of her Junior year from the school that she attended for years and fully expected to graduate from. This could amount to some serious culture shock, amongst other things! Are you ready for me to cue the violins? Well, you’re going to have to wait. After all, this is MY daughter we’re talking about and GrowGratitude is still hanging in there.
So what did my daughter do? She did the damn thing! She adjusted to a completely different academic “vibe” and experience and completed the semester with her name on the honor roll. No easy feat by any means. Take a breath. No, wait!
Note that we have just slid through several months and are now in June. Wondering if the previous months were uneventful? Of course they weren’t! But the old school in me, time, and the length of this post prevent going into the sordid details. Let’s just say that during those months, my daughter and I both learned who our real friends are or at least what values matter with who we choose to call “friend”. For me, that’s nothing new. But for my daughter, that was an invaluable life lesson that completely reinforced what I have tried to ensure she understands: people SHOW you who they are AND you TEACH people how to treat you. Although those months were filled with deep disappointment, my daughter and I began to consider what (or who) did not serve us well. If I had a bucket list for invaluable life lessons that I would want my daughter to know before I left this earth, this one would most definitely be on it. Grow, GrowGratitude!
In August, my daughter, fully equipped with her natural GINORMOUS curiosity (don’t know where she gets that from) took to the internet to research some symptoms she was experiencing. I’m all for information gathering as long as the source is valid and reliable and that what you do with what you learn is productive. My daughter knows this. So when she told me what she thought was going on, the doctor’s appointment was made, tests were taken, and her self-diagnosis confirmed. We were then introduced to our new normal. That’s the best way I can put it. So we take it one day at a time which is all any of us can do; it’s just now we’re more inclined to be mindful of it and proceed accordingly.
TIME OUT!! Truth of the matter is I really want to stop with this positivity thing. It’s been exhausting and I’m really pissed. When I started GrowGratitude, I thought it would be fun, even entertaining, to capture the year’s events and share my effort and success in finding the silver lining. That’s what I put out there. But when I said “challenge myself”, I certainly didn’t mean like this! WTF?
OK, I’m back. I figure like this, that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger. I also believe everything happens for a reason and life’s events unfold in an effort to prepare us for our greatest purpose.
And now last, but most definitely not least. I recently learned of the death of my first and forever love. I could dedicate an entire post, if not blog, to how much he meant to me. It’s an amazing love story with what currently feels like the most tragic ending. Most of it unfolded decades ago, but I never forgot him. I never could. Even my daughter knew who he was – she was the one who informed me of his passing. And as I learned from his daughter upon meeting her at his memorial service, it was painfully clear that he had never forgotten me either. I now know how it feels to have a hole in my heart.
So, as we approach this holiday season, I hope the year has been good to you and no matter how life unfolds, may you always be blessed with love, health, happiness and the ability to find the silver lining. As for me, I’m going to continue on my path to GrowGratitude – it can’t be bad…and who knows, maybe I’ll meet you there!
See You Next Time! OXOXOXO