Every so often, I find myself getting impatient with someone ambling across the street with a cane. It’s so easy to forget that less than a year and a half ago, that was me. Sometimes when I quickly get up from a seat, and stride very briskly to the other side of the room for something, I find it amazing. Unlike most people who are not impaired, I am acutely aware of how well I simply “walk” and never take it for granted. I know that just plain “walking” without losing balance, fear of falling, or having to hang onto the walls is a gift. Sometimes I become aware that my feet, belly, legs, and back are no longer numb and tingling. I look at my right leg, which was withered as if I had polio, and see a nice, plump muscular leg again. I know that not having my crutch parked beside my bed for help in the middle of the night, is something I never thought I would experience again. Just like anything, it is human nature to not appreciate what you have until you lose it. Things that I thought I would never do again, such as running (a run/walk now) I am doing. I was a prisoner to my disability, never being able to just pick up and go, and I will be forever grateful for that miracle bestowed upon me. OK, if I had not persevered and kept insisting that something was wrong with me, and not just accepted a life of an invalid, I would not have had that “miracle.” So, it all went together and my tenacity was in itself, divine intervention, I believe. When I remember to practice gratitude and appreciation for how I was literally given my life back from the brink, I have a better day. When I focus on the same old petty, annoying, neurotic insecurities (which I will probably never totally lose) I am lost. I know that I have been given a daily reprieve and there are no guarantees in life, but for now, my life is infinitely better than it was, and I cannot forget that.
As time goes by I am forgetting to be grateful. I have been in a state of flux and depression lately because I am putting too much emphasis on getting accolades. I wrote Being Your Own Cheerleader, but I have been having a hard time following my own advice. I think every human being needs some sort of recognition for what they do, even for seemingly small things. It is amazing how one kind or positive remark from someone can do wonders to carry me for a few days. But it just seems that when I write and write, and have no comments, I begin to doubt myself and all those negative tapes start playing in my head, that I am not good enough, and what’s the point, etc. Then my friend Jane, who has been in and out of the hospital since November, with complications of MS, calls and the amount of gratitude I feel comes flooding back. That is when I remember that back in March 2013, I was literally given another chance at life. Immediately after that surgery I was actually happy, because I didn’t take for granted simple things such as walking across the room without a cane. Now, over thirteen months later, I sometimes forget how horrific my life was and how amazing my life is now. I could compare myself to other people who have more money, a relationship, more friends, and feel insecure and small. But, when I compare myself to my friend who struggles with simple tasks such as just walking, cleaning, loss of autonomy, having to depend on people to drive her to appointments, I am filled with gratitude. When I think along those lines, and don’t let myself drift back into negativity, my day and life goes better.