Moments of Gratitude 1

Since being diagnosed with brain cancer I’ve experienced many moments of gratitude. They warm my heart, make me stop and acknowledge the many positives in my life, and help shape my overall attitude. Prior to just now, I’ve kept them private. I’m choosing to share some publicly now for three reasons:

1) it’s the first time I actually thought about doing it,

2) sharing publicly takes my gratitude to a higher level, and

3) I’m hoping it helps others see that in the hardest times, good things (blessings if you believe) CAN still happen. This is NOT unique to cancer. It can be any hard time a person is going through.

Going forward, I’m hoping to share some gratitude-acknowledgement moments on a more regular basis. I don’t want to set a schedule for posting because these moments show up when they show up, but I’m generally thinking of posting a select few a year. I also welcome readers and fellow bloggers to share theirs either by commenting or by including links to their posts on gratitude or similar events or acknowledgements on one of the gratitude blogs. Anyway, that’s why I added the number one to this title- in hopes that it becomes a regular part of my life as well as a regular portion of this blog. Let’s get started!

Moments of Gratitude #1:

This week I’m grateful that I’m on a trip with my oldest daughter looking at universities. We flew into one state and visited the first university she was accepted into. They had information sessions, scheduled tours, lunch, etc. Today we’ll drive into an adjoining state and visit two more she’s considering, then we’ll hit another city and purely to have fun together. This area is a place I visited and enjoyed in the past that she wants to experience with me, so that’s an honor as well as a fun trip! Finally we’ll turn in the car and fly home. I’m so grateful she planned this trip, chose to do it with me, and I was able to do it!

Even if I was living a normal life, this is something I would be grateful for. In my life, there’s even more to it though. When I was diagnosed with brain cancer and following surgery, I was told there may be some changes that were likely or possible to come. Additionally, I was given a life expectancy. The following includes some of that information and how it contributed additionally to my gratitude:

-I was expecting my post-surgery life to have many physical changes. I could possibly be in a wheelchair, have trouble with balance, have weaker limbs, etc. I have NO changes in this department and would say I’m at the non-professional top of my age group in physical strength and abilities (other than self-neglected flexibility- need to get back to yoga…). Instead I’m bolting through the airport with my heavy suitcase and hot coffee keeping up with my college-bound daughter. GRATITUDE!

– flying- I wasn’t sure I could take the pressure changes and wondered if I’d ever fly again. I worried about luggage falling on my head (I like aisle seats). I’ve flown many times with no pressure-pain and this time was amazingly special. GRATITUDE!

-College visits are amazing but my gratitude goes even deeper than that. I didn’t know if I’d be alive for these! I was initially given a longish range of time (for brain cancer) but also told that it WILL be back and I’ve seen that in others far too many times! I had a timeline I was shooting for, I wanted to be there for both of my daughters to at least graduate from high school (I really want so much more but this is a huge step). That was more than four years ago and my oldest will graduate this year! Man, am I GRATEFUL!

-My husband has been on this ride with me. Although the cancer patient obviously goes through a lot, I don’t know if society sees how much our spouses/ significant others and caregivers go through. I’m grateful for my husband and pray that I can use my time and skills to be more supportive of him. He’s been through emergency mode and a new normal too. I want to be involved in many wonderful days and things coming his way! I am GRATEFUL! I hope he and my younger daughter are having very special times together while we’re apart too.

-Lastly, this one seems unrelated but isn’t, I’m grateful my youngest dog came into our lives when he did. We have an older one I’m also very, very grateful for, but there’s another connection with the young one- read on. We got him as a puppy I felt called to get because we just lost a dog and I thought my older one would die of loneliness. We’re generally a 2-dog family but it felt kind of quick. In hind-site I think my passed dog selected him for us (but that’s a whole other story). Anyway, three months after getting him I was diagnosed with brain cancer, had surgery, and started chemo. All of this with a puppy! We never once thought of rehoming him. He has become a (non-professional) comfort dog inherently knowing just what all of us need. Sometimes he’ll lay with someone who’s sad or play with someone who needs fun, motivate us to get out of the house and go do something (with him, of course). He really has helped us all by clueing into our feelings and pushing us in the right direction. GRATEFUL!

In closing, reflecting on my gratitude has made it even stronger. It’s not luck, but perspective. Yes-some things are better and easier to BE grateful for, yet looking for things to be grateful for in tough times is a better place to be than complaining on an emotional level. Obviously, we still have to deal with things.

The format of this post is simply how it felt this time for me to communicate. It will probably look different next time and if you want to comment or share your gratitude, please do it in a way that feels natural for you. Even if it’s one word.

I hope today is a day we can all be grateful for! Have a wonderful day!

*picture from Vidablogg on Pinterest

7 thoughts on “Moments of Gratitude 1

  1. Hi Lahla,
    thank you for your words on gratitude ( I am grateful for them 😁!)

    First of all, congratulations for your daughter achievement. Congratulations for the new puppy too. Coincidentely, we at home are pondering adopting one as well. However, this illness and its brutal them tratmentwears me out in a way that does make me feel well or fit enough to take good care of one little dog. I know how much physical effort these lovely critters demands from us (it is not at all easy to adequately raise a puppy at home…☹️)
    I do also feel (and wish )that, despite the horror implicit on the menace that this illness imposes upon our daily lives there are room for good things to happen (as you so plainly showed in your post) and that we have to make an effort to recognise and be grateful for them.( but, as stated below, I am not much sure why) Despite that, I intuitively feel that We should really write about them, for it may help or sooth other people’s suffering. People that may be in very similar (or even worse)situations as ourselves. Yes! Gratitude is a good feeling and, as such, it may help to improve our mental health in such hard health situation. I hope you’ll be able to share more “gratitude”experiences with us and show how gratitude can make us less fearful of what may come; or even feeling a little bit physical better – who knows…) Although gratitude stories are good starting points, what do you think are the actual mechanisms through which the feeling of gratitude might help us Or posed in other way: why feeling grateful, and recognising this feeling would help us It is not obvious to me (would that be “just”an anti-depressive” mechanism of defense?)why would the effort of being grateful and recognising moments for which we should be grateful be worth the effort in terms of improving our well-being. Would that be “just”something personal that works for some people but not oeverybody or something universal to anyone who practice gratitude? What do you think about that? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Johannes,
I apologize for taking so long to get back with you. Thank you for your congratulations, comments, and questions! I love the relationships and digital communities that blogging and reading builds 😊.
I’m really glad you brought up the challenge of getting a new pet. We actually got our younger dog before I was diagnosed, so although we never thought of getting rid of him, it was not a post-diagnosis decision. I was just recognizing how grateful I was to have him in my life. I don’t think I mentioned it, but my family helps a lot and loves/wants/needs the dogs too. I don’t want to suggest that a cancer diagnosis is a good time to get a new pet. Everyone should think very carefully about and act on what is right for them. I, personally, would NOT have gotten a puppy right after being diagnosed and without a better understanding of my life expectancy and major conversations with my family. Thanks for allowing me to clarify that.
I do feel that my blog about gratitude helps other people who read it, but it also helps me. I chose to stop and focus on good things and to recognize their impact and celebrate them. We all have 24 hours in a day and we all have things that happen in our lives- some we have control over and some we don’t. Gratitude is a powerful choice which fills your 24 hours with more positives than negatives. For some it comes easily and some need to work on it by searching for positives and having some changes of perspective when it comes to things in the middle. An easy example of changing perspectives in the middle or neutral area is, “is the glass half empty or half full?”. I’m not a professional in this area but I think it does take some training to look for positives.
People don’t need to be grateful for everything, though. I’m NOT grateful for cancer and some other things too. Shitty things still exist in life. Being positive and grateful isn’t a false reality. I try to deal with tough things the best I can, and spend the rest of my time looking for the good things that are also there. I can chose to focus my free time more on the things that make me smile than the things that kill me. When I chose gratitude, not a false reality, but just focusing most of my thoughts and eyes on the positive, my same life feels better than when I don’t. It’s really just choice and focus, but they change my attitude significantly.
Although I believe gratitude helps everyone, I’m not a professional in that area and can’t say that officially. I know for me, it has to be true focus, value, and recognition, not just a list. It takes work to even change the way we look at things. In my heart I think true gratitude helps everyone, but doesn’t negate people’s needs to work through problems and issues in their lives- some we have to just accept and deal with the best we can. It’s where you chose to look and linger when you can- more on the good than the bad. Focusing on the good, it feels energizing, even healthier. Even with cancer, I can find great people, things, and times in my life. For me personally, I’d rather go out feeling the good I chose to bring in than the bad I let in without even trying.
I hope this helps. Johannes. I really enjoy talking with you! I wish you well!


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      1. Hi Lahla I absolutely agree with you ; especially when you so lucidly say: “I chose to stop and focus on good things and to recognize their impact and celebrate them “That’s the spirit! The best way to go ahead! We tend to forget to recognize and celebrate thegood things that happen to us.Hopefully, Your words will reach and chear up all the people who need them. Thank you for your reply

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      2. Thank you, Johannes! Your spirit and words are powerful and I’m grateful for your conversation and perspective. You’ve encouraged me to stop and think more clearly and I believe you will spread cheer too 🙂

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