Practicing Gratitude

This past week has been one of the busier ones of a season of busy weeks. More work, less sleep, more stress and less time. Needless to say, the benefits of a fun night out with the ladies didn’t last as long as I was hoping. Dancing? Anyone? I think I need a fix. ūüôā

But while this past week had its low moments… and this last month, some of the lowest I’ve had in a very long time;¬†if I take the time to reflect, there were also some really great “high” moments.¬† And some good advice to consider.

“Gratitude is the greatest emotion”¬†– I posted this on Facebook last night, remembering the motivational presentation of Isabelle Fontaine¬†that I attended the day before.¬† “I used to think that love was the greatest” she said (and I’m translating/paraphrasing here) “but then someone explained to me that love is too complex and that gratitude was the only emotion that can be simply and¬†totally positive”. The speaker encouraged us to take a moment to think about the moments in life where we so¬†grateful and so happy to be alive.

And as I took a couple short moments to consider “gratitude”…

I thought about my daughters.¬†I thought about the moments before and after they were born – difficult perhaps, but moments that are filled with¬†joy that¬†makes my heart swell with love and… gratitude. ¬†I remembered how the only words to come out of my mouth after Layla was born were “I have a baby… I have baby…”. For Meaghan’s birth, I remembered how scared I felt when I was told that it was time to start pushing; and then how proud and grateful¬†I was to experience all of labour, without the epidural – and then to have¬†the pleasure of holding my little one to my breast for nearly an hour and a half before they took her to weigh and measure. And I thought about how much they’ve grown in such a short time, how much they make me laugh and smile… and how grateful¬†I am for their very existence.

I thought about my wedding day¬†– the way that Brandon smiled at me as I walked down the aisle towards him. The support¬†we received and the celebration¬†we shared with family and friends in the months and weeks leading up to our big day… and flashes from the last¬† seven years of marriage. Full of love. And I thought about Brandon, my husband, his strength¬†of character, his contented approach to life, his love for my daughters and me. And I felt… grateful.

I thought about my adventures¬†from the last decade… a student exchange to France, the beginnings of my career,¬†early marriage and motherhood (which made me face a lifetime phobia of needles head on) fundraising and training and every step to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro… And¬†while I would gladly undertake a new project every year –¬†I am happy and grateful for the ones that¬†I have had the opportunity to experience and¬†for the memories that I treasure in my heart.

I thought about the people¬†that have supported me every step of the way. The words of encouragement, the demonstrations of support, the little gestes¬†that may have seemed¬†seem so small or insignificant but that touched me to my core…

…and for a moment¬†I forgot about my “problems”, my stress and discouragement (big and small). Why? Because I was practicing gratitude… and in light of all that I had to be grateful for, the negative, the not particularly ideal and the frustrations, seemed to fade.

Now, there’s really no need to go into why I’ve been feeling so¬†low… I may have reasons to be down, but I also have reasons to celebrate. What matters most today is that I’m making a choice. I will not let the¬†bad feelings take over, I will stop focusing on the negative and looking for the insults…

I will choose gratitude. I will choose happiness. I will choose love.

Because I can. Because I should. Because I must.

A.

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