By Vicki Hughes Posted May 15, 2013
In December of 2009 I broke by leg. Badly. Not that there’s a great way to break your leg, but I snapped both bones just above my left ankle, and had to have a small hardware store installed to put it back together again.
Part of the misery was that I was also about eighty pounds overweight at the time, which ruled out crutches for getting around. Enter, The Walker. If you would ever like to know how it feels to be eighty or ninety years old, try relying on a walker to get around. It’s educational to say the least. My orthopedic surgeon forbid me to place weight on it for six full weeks, and thus began a spiral of events that sucked, not to put too fine a point on it.
Let’s see…during my recovery process, I was fat, broken, John’s work was a misery to him, and was financially unpredictable, I was out of work, the snow that had caused me to break my leg in the first place, continued to fall for the next several months, and each day, while John was at work, and I sat around with my left leg in the air, our three goats would break out of their pen, and stand on the table on our front porch and try to break the front window of the house with their hooves, hoping to come inside and play with me.
I was having a hard time feeling thankful. I was feeling a tad unthankful. But one thing I was thankful for was the new laptop my Dad bought me (to replace the one that BLEW UP a week after I broke my leg!) Somehow, in this shitstorm of unhappy circumstances, I decided that the only thing that might keep me from taking my walker into the kitchen and sticking my head in the oven, was figuring out a way to refocus on the things that were good in my life. I vaguely knew they existed, but I was having a hard time remembering any of them. Between the pain pills and the crappy circumstances, I was having a challenge focusing on the good stuff.
It can be hard to feel thankful when you can’t take yourself to the bathroom, or bathe yourself without help, while you worry about losing your house, and it snows in your face. It’s hard, but not impossible.
And so I began an experiment. I created a group on Facebook called Life Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to be Thankful. Several years earlier, I’d been reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book, Simple Abundance, and I had been intrigued with her suggestion to create a Gratitude Journal. I had dabbled with that, and found it to be very encouraging. I thought that creating my own Gratitude Journal online, in a setting where I was putting it out there daily, might be the ticket to becoming more consistent. It turns out, I was right.
I invited a few of my friends and family members to join in, and they did. Some of them knew how challenging it was for me to find things to be thankful for at that point in my life, and some didn’t. Some people thought it was easy. It was not. It was necessary, and therapeutic, but it was hard. Sometimes I would sit there all day, trying to think up five things I could honestly feel thankful for. And then one of my online friends would post their five things…and I could remember again.
Here is what I have learned so far about belonging to a community of people who try to focus on what they are thankful for.
a) It’s contagious. You will cause other people to feel thankful to.
b) There is so much to be thankful for, you could never write it all down, even when life seems really crappy.
c) Tapping into gratitude opens you up for good things to begin showing up in your life, while ignoring the things that are wonderful shuts down the process
d) There are lots of people going through lots of challenges, and they still manage to share the good stuff, and that’s valuable.
Some people come and read what others post, and they don’t ever become part of the conversation. That’s okay. I believe they will join in when the time is right. It blesses me to know they stop by, and get a dose of gratitude, like a multi-vitamin to strengthen them through the day.
Other people tell us a little something now and then, and it’s like getting a card in the mail from an old friend. It reminds me that they are still there, still connected, still a part of this adventure with me.
And some people are actively helping me create what I consider the happiest place on Facebook. They tell us the big and the little blessings, five things at a time, that they recognize as the icing on the cake. And all of these 548+ people make me realize every day, that out of a really bad set of circumstances, you can make something really amazing. To all of you who are a part of the goodness, thank you. You are at the top of my list, everyday.
© Vicki Hughes 2013