Gratitude and Appreciation

By Diane

Thank you for joining me on this journey as I share with you in 2017 the 12 Chapters of my soon to be book, A Woman Alive. The 12 Principles for Living Alive. The 12 Guiding Principles are all of the lessons I have learned along the way, all of the tools and ideas that have helped me to re-frame the story of my life.

Our second Guiding Principle is
“Express Gratitude and Appreciation Daily.”

As I rang in the New Year on December 31st of 2014 I made a commitment to make 2015 the year of Gratitude. December had been a rough month. I was feeling sorry for myself because I was single and alone. I had just moved to a new town where I knew not a soul. I was totally blind in one eye due to a detached retina surgery and the clouds in my other eye made vision a challenge. I was deep in the process of ending my consulting career and knew I wanted to teach yoga and coach full time. Yet I could not quite figure out how to make that happen. I felt like a deer in headlights. I knew I needed to move into action in some way but I felt glued to the moment, glued to negative thoughts and feeling like nothing in my life was going right.

As the clock chimed midnight, I sat alone in my apartment blinking away another round of tears. I realized the only power I had at that moment was the power of my thoughts. It was time to change my thinking, to change what I was saying to myself. So in that moment of lonely terror I choose Gratitude. I decided then and there to focus on, think about and talk about only the things that were positive in my life, the things that I was grateful for.

I remember calling my Dad often during this time and we would go through the list of all of the great things about my move to Port Jefferson. At first it was a challenge and we would laugh trying to think of what could be positive about my having to go to the laundry mat to do my laundry, or not being able to read because of my eyes. Yet we always found something to add to the gratitude list! Slowly over time the list grew…

I was grateful for the time alone to plan and think through how I desired this next phase of my life to look. I was grateful for the long walks through the beautiful neighborhoods of antique colonials, rolling hills and windy beaches. I was grateful for the new friends I began to meet slowly over time.

I remember some time ago my sister in-law and I were talking about the power of language. She shared with me that she had changed her language from “ I need to ___________” to “ I get to ______________.” I began to apply this language to my journey each day. Instead of having to do things, instead of being a victim to tasks of daily living – I got to do things. I became ever more grateful for small moments. My focus began to shift from what I did not have to what I did have. I found myself noticing and appreciating moments of time that in the past had slipped right by me. A phone call or visit from a friend, a great meal (even if I had it alone!), the sunset in Port Jeff Harbor, and I would think to myself, “how blessed am I?” I found myself being kinder to and more appreciative of others – the customer service person on the other end of the phone when my wireless crashed, the waitress at the local restaurant, the guy who pumped my gas in the freezing cold.

And my life became richer. Not because it had changed all that much, but because I had changed my perception of things, of my situation, of the people around me and even the way I perceived my loneliness. Even loneliness became a gift of time, time to go inside and to rediscover myself.

I realized through this process how powerfully negative thinking slams the door to possibility, how pitch black and dark the room is when we are stuck in our ungratefulness.

As I was able each day to uncover more gratitude, to appreciate each moment for its gifts, each person for their service, kindness and friendship, the light of possibility began to shine more brightly. As the darkness in my words and thinking brightened, the dark-black bubble in my eye began to shrink and the light began to shine through the edges. I remember thinking it looked like an eclipse of the sun – the world goes dark but slowly the sun comes out from behind the shadows, and because you are so appreciative and grateful for the sun’s reappearance it seems to shine more brightly then ever before.

Victor Hugo wrote, “All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.” May we all find the light and live more alive in the seeking out of gratitude and appreciation.