May 12, 2015

How to Navigate Life’s Detours with Gratitude.


“Why me? How could something like this happen?”

We don’t search for answers to these questions when we are happy.

When our sudden stops, turns, re-routes and surprises in life are amazing, we celebrate. And if we are the luckiest of people, we extend gratitude with happy and loving hearts.

But what about when tragedy arises? When people pass to another realm, families are broken, wars rage on or health diminishes? What about when our wellbeing is affected in a negative way and our hearts race, our bodies fade and our minds fall weak?

These events leave us searching for answers to questions like “Will this pain ever go away?”

None of us are immune to the dark twists that life and fate give us. But we find ways to survive them, all of us.

Gratitude is something I seek—in myself, in others, in the people who surround me. I look for people with hearts like mine, or at least the heart I aspire to have. One that is loving, forgiving, compassionate, gentle, graceful, and beautiful.

Gratitude is more common in my life because I pursue it.

It’s not always right in front of me. Sometimes it’s a soulful thought away, sometimes an hour in my body and mind, in breath, sometimes it’s waiting for me at the end of a battle. But, it always comes back to me, and I come back to it.  Gratitude has been a friend to me when I’ve needed one most.

As much as I seek gratitude, pain has been part of my life, too. No one is lucky enough to avoid it completely. And when these tragedies come, we are faced with choices right away.

Do we allow our grief to consume us? Do we fall to a puddle on the floor and simmer in a slow and violent exodus of emotion? Do we force the pain down until there is nothing left to do but numb ourselves somehow?

Or do we work to balance feelings of grief and gratitude with craft and precision?

I have searched every ray on that spectrum after suffering a few unforeseen blows in my life.

When my son was 15 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare chromosome abnormality, which explained his growth and developmental delays but made us feel like our world was crashing down around us.

I have cried few times in my life to that level of emptiness. But I had my husband around me, waiting for me to gain the strength to stand again. And when the tears dried, we stood up together and asked the only thing a parent can ask: “What are we going to do?” The thought of standing still one more second wasn’t an option.

I’ve learned that sometimes our resolve to resolve comes slower, with much more thorny brush to cut down. We encounter our foes and our demons and our battles, and we react slowly, making one choice, then another until we are either banging our heads against a wall or moving to progress.

But eventually we move. Somehow we muster the inspiration to breathe. We find words like strength and wisdom. We offer gratitude and receive courage. We begin to ground our feet deeper, lift our hearts higher and find the ability to get through.

We stop listening to the voice that asks the question “Why me?” and begin to know that this too shall pass, if we let it.




Author: Toni-Ann Yates

Apprentice Editor:Kristin Bundy / Editor: Renée Picard

Image: scyllarides/Flickr

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