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My depression seeped into me like water eroding the Grand Canyon.
I felt like I woke up one morning and the damage was done.
I had experienced many of life’s ups and downs, just like everyone else, but it seemed like mine kept showing up like slow-flowing lava that poured all over my life, and I had no way to contain the stress. I went through a bitter divorce, my brother died of a drug overdose, and I was completely lost for a while, trying to put the pieces of my life back together.
It didn’t help that all my friends were having children, and their lives seemed picture perfect. I couldn’t help but question why I was so unlucky.
When I finally met and married my sweetheart, life felt great again. I was in my mid-30s and anxious to start a family. I got pregnant within months of our wedding and rejoiced in my good luck. It was a turning point, and it felt like magic to finally have the life I always wanted. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage and it took four more years to conceive a child. Every month for four years, I cried and felt my soul crush. Everyone around me was popping out 2-3-4 babies and everything looked glorious for my family and friends. I was truly happy for them and their blessings. But deep down inside, a piece of me was dying.
I finally conceived and was absolutely the most content pregnant woman in the world. The delivery was effortless, and my husband and I experienced the bliss and miracle of the birth of our son. It was absolutely the best of times.
Yet, I couldn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t feel a deep sense of happiness. I felt like I was in a fog. I could experience some joy, but it felt far away and paper thin. I believe my life’s circumstances chipped away at my happiness until one day, I just couldn’t get out of bed anymore. It was ironic that I finally had a child but was at the lowest point of my life. He was the only reason I crawled out of bed every day. I longed to be a great mom. I wanted to create wonderful memories for him, but I just didn’t know how to muster up the energy to bake cookies and kick a soccer ball in the park.
I devoured dozens of self-help books, and I have to say Dr. Wayne Dyer inspired me the most. He discussed gratitude and his connection to source in all of his books and seminars. He shared how he said “thank you” three times every morning before his feet touched the floor.
When I would hear him speak, I wanted to drink in his childlike bliss as he looked at everything in his life with wonder and awe. I kept hoping that the energy he shared in his books would somehow permeate my being and help me live a joyful life again. Every self-help book and seminar I attended lifted my spirits, but it never lasted more than a few days. It seemed like I would always plateau back to the fog. It would give me temporary relief from my depression, but it always seemed to creep back in. I just wasn’t able to find my enthusiasm, and it was sad to think that it was gone forever and that I was trapped in this life of sadness and gloom. Certainly my husband and son deserved better than this. This was not the life I had planned for us.
My friend Sharon suggested that we attend an Abraham-Hicks workshop. She was a Law of Attraction enthusiast and was always sharing video clips with me. I appreciated the concepts and attempted to practice them when I wasn’t feeling completely overwhelmed. We would get together for lunch, and she would share her Law of Attraction ideas with the enthusiasm of a great orator. I loved to listen while I sipped my coffee.
We would spar in heated intellectual conversations about where in our lives we could apply the concept of like attracts like. We were finally able to coordinate a date to attend a workshop, and as we waited in line to be seated to see Esther, my friend mentioned, “Why don’t you practice gratitude?” I didn’t answer as I stared blankly at nothing in particular. At that moment, I didn’t feel grateful for anything.
But the concept must have been permeating my being because I woke up one morning soon after and gazed into my closet. The doors happened to be open, and I realized in that moment, “Wow. I have a lot of clothing.” I looked at the closet floor and acknowledged the abundance of shoes. Then almost like Helen Keller discovering the association of words with the water flowing over her hands, my soul awakened. I made the connection of thinking about gratitude and understanding the gifts of my life. I felt this outpouring of love and appreciation for my family, my warm home, hot showers, hazelnut coffee, and my dog. I was overcome with emotion as I realized how much I love opening my front door and hearing birds chirp and feeling the heat of the sun on my face. I felt like the luckiest person alive.
That morning, I grabbed an old journal and filled a couple of pages with my grateful thoughts. This was no longer a whiny journal—that was the old Georgette I left behind.
My new journals are filled with all the wonders of my life. Now 15 years later, I still look forward to this ritual every morning and wake up while the house is dark to have quiet time to savor my thoughts. Sometimes, I write the same things over and over. Sometimes, I include affirmations. Other times, I focus on my goals. Sometimes, I spread my journals across my bed and reread them to acknowledge how far I have come. This routine has lifted my sadness and filled me with hope for all the possibilities that life has.
I think back to when Wayne Dyer was alive, and as much as he motivated me, I also always questioned, “Is it really possible that he is so blissful all the time?” Now that I practice gratitude with consistency, I understand what he was talking about. We all have our ups and downs, but there is so much beauty to life that I used to take for granted because I was moping around and not present to the wonder and awe of it all.
A few weeks ago, I was in Myrtle Beach with my family. In the past, I would have grabbed my beach chair, sunk it in the sand by the ocean, opened a book, and started reading. This year, I was in awe of my visit. I went for walks up and down the beach all day long and splashed in the waves. I giggled and laughed. I dug my toes deep into the sand to relish the sensation on my feet. I splashed my hair with salt water and let it tickle my nostrils all day long. I haven’t done that in years because I was afraid of damaging my hair. I forgot how great my hair smells when it is touched by the ocean. My level of bliss skyrocketed because of the new awareness I brought to the vacation.
Today, it is amazing how much time I can carve out to appreciate, savor, reflect, and smile. When I forget to take the time to journal, my crankiness quickly seeps in and reminds me to create a space that fills my soul and sets the mood for my day.
This powerful practice has helped me reclaim my life with a strength and confidence I never knew I had.