As another year comes to a close, I am reflecting on what I accomplished, what I enjoyed, and where I see room for growth and improvement. Last January, I set a goal to focus on gratefulness and being present in the moment—regardless of the challenges presented that day. This was a topic that I researched for my upcoming book Open and became one of its main themes. In Open, one of the main characters was struggling to let go of her dreams, her vision for the future. She was depressed and frustrated, having trouble fully giving herself over to her marriage and her children. While her struggle was different from mine, the question of how to find gratefulness, deep in your soul where it fulfills you from the inside out, was one I wanted to explore. I wanted answers. I wanted hope.
As some of you know, I’ve had some health difficulties ever since giving birth to my second daughter a few years ago. These health issues have made gratefulness and living in the moment especially difficult. Living with pain, living without a diagnosis, being unable to care for my children, husband, and myself, is both incredibly frustrating and depressing. Health, fitness, and eating well were huge parts of my life until that point. To watch my body break down time and time again from doing every day activities depleted my soul. After seeing several doctors around the country, undergoing various treatments in eastern medicine, taking supplements and medications, with no improvement, I came to realization that the only way to make my life better was through acceptance, gratefulness, and kindness. Kindness to myself and my body. Forgiveness for all the days I pushed myself too hard, the decisions I made in the past, undue stress I put myself under.
Needless to say, this wasn’t an easy undertaking. Gratefulness is a topic much talked about in our society. When posed the question, most people can immediately list three or four things, without giving it the time or attention it really needs to make a difference. I needed more than affirmations, which floated out of my head as fast as I could say them. More then gentle breathing. Unclenching my jaw. Prayer. Instead, when something struck me—something precocious or cute one of my daughters said, hearing them giggle, a smile from my husband, a text from my mom—I took a moment to write it down. I’m a writer, so write I did! Writing out the words made me feel it more. Focus on the meaning. Let the moment seep into my bones. Blocked out all the sadness and frustration that the rest of the day brought and let the happiness shine through.
“Don’t be afraid to step into joy.” I can’t remember who said it—obviously someone very wise! But the saying stuck with me. For the past couple years, I feared stepping into those moments. As if it would negate everything I was going through health-wise. But the opposite proved true. It changed my mental health. My approach to life. My marriage. Being a mother. A daughter. A friend. A writer. While it only made incremental changes to my physical health, I am in a much better place.
So, my challenge to you as we welcome 2021 into our lives is to not be afraid to step into the joy. To be grateful for the little moments. Stop. Pause. Create a film inside your head. Write it down if you love to write.
Please feel free to post below and share your thoughts and feelings. I’d love to hear from you!