December 4, 2013

How to Wake Up with Gratitude. ~ Kathleen Emmets

I turn towards the window and the sun is shining. I’m still in bed, but I begin to smile as I rub my eyes.

It’s a new day. How great is that?

I’ve been battling cancer for two and a half years. The question I get asked the most is, “How do you maintain such a positive attitude?”

The answer: I wake up.

That seemingly simple act fills me with immense gratitude.

Before my feet even touch the ground, I give thanks for the day. However it may be. I’m grateful to have a day ahead.

When we don’t take life for granted, when we are given a peek behind the curtain and find that we all have expiration dates, we realize that getting up in the morning is more than many get to do. Honor that.

We’ve been given another day to get one step closer to becoming the person we were meant to be.

Maybe that means we start meditating or eating better or beginning the yoga certification class we’ve been on the fence about. It’s in your head for a reason. Do it.

We have that day to reach out to the homeless person we see every morning but choose to ignore, though it momentarily gnaws at our soul.

We have the chance to repair relationships. Whether it’s with our parents, our partners, our children or our friends—we can say I’m sorry or I forgive you. Whatever it takes.

We have the day to love ourselves. Whatever that means to you. I used to see myself as damaged, my body destroyed by cancer and chemo and surgeries. Then I realized that as long as my soul is intact, I am whole.

Yes, my body is scarred, but my heart is pure. I tend to it every day like a garden. Whatever it needs that day I give it. Sometimes it needs a Nicholas Sparks movie and some popcorn. (Who am I to judge what the heart wants?)

Other times it wants to sit by the lake and be awed by natural beauty. I quiet my mind and listen to its needs.

Do whatever fills your heart even if that means emptying it first with a good, solid cry; let the tears release the pain. Then try to remember that the very fact that you are here is a gift.

Though we all face adversity and hardship at certain times in our lives, it need not define us. What defines us is our response.

I choose to respond with gratitude, not for the cancer, but for the lesson it has taught me: to wake up every day grateful for a new beginning.


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Editor: Michelle Margaret

Image: elephant journal Archive

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