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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

Thank You, Universe: Choosing gratitude when faced with life's challenges

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You mamas know how it goes, sometimes life just gets in the way and we've got to roll with it. Like when your 4 year old throws up all over the sheets you just washed earlier in the day. At 3:30am. In your bed. Hard as we may try, there's no controlling what challenges life sends our way. But just as we give our little loves choices ("do you want water or milk? No, my iced coffee is not an option."), we too have choices available to us. Do we choose to be defeated by challenges or do we choose to be grateful for them?

I've always thought of myself as a positive person, though I'm not sure I was truly grateful. Sure, I was aware of having more than my basic needs met and that there were people who had nothing. I'd say I was grateful for what I had, and I appreciated having a home, and a bed, and food, but I was grateful because it's something we're told we should be. But I wasn't mindfully grateful. I wasn't making a conscious choice to have an attitude of gratitude. And then I got woke.

As I started to recognize the nuance of hardship and the beauty of resilience, within myself and others, I began to see things differently. Through my work as a therapist, my own personal reflection, and becoming a "spirit junkie," I was led to the crossroad of choosing gratitude for all life has offered me, including and especially the difficult moments of my life, or going the other way. I didn't know it then, but choosing gratitude probably saved me.

Choosing gratitude helped me make meaning out of my experiences, which is a powerful vehicle for healing from life's hurts. Looking through the lens of gratitude gave me the gift of understanding that I had been given certain challenges to navigate so I could become a skilled guide for those who hurt after I had healed. It got me through learning how to parent a newborn, exhausted and sweaty but happy to have my baby in my arms. But most importantly, gratitude became an anchor, tethering me to the healthy and hopeful part of my soul when I became lost in the fog of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

Because I had already developed a gratitude practice - the gratitude powers that be suggest that to experience the full effect of gratitude, it's important to list what you're grateful for in whatever way you choose and not just have an attitude of gratutude - my brain was in a way programmed to have grateful thoughts on replay. At my worst, I had trouble hearing them as destructive thoughts are always the loudest, most obnoxious frenemy in the room, but some would sneak through, reminding me I was still in there. I remember thinking one night, while bathing Daniel and seeing that stream of yellow arc like a fountain and into the bathwater, that at least it wasn't poop. Yep, I was still in there somewhere.

At this point in my healing journey, choosing gratitude has taught me to wonder what lesson the Universe is teaching me, revealing once again that I was given a mountain to show others it could be climbed. This Thanksgiving season, I feel healthy, hopeful and incredibly grateful for all that's been given to me, both the blessings and the blessings in disguise.

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