Thanksgiving Day always reminds me of the old Bill Cosby TV show – all the Thanksgiving episodes where the family sat around the big table and one-by-one, shared aloud the things for which they were grateful. For a few years that became our tradition as well, and I always liked it. Of course, I live far away from my family, so I don’t often see them on Thanksgiving, but the holiday still makes me grateful.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of my gratitude. I get trapped in the frustrations of daily life and forget to be grateful. Instead, I focus on everything that is wrong or all the things that irritate me. When that happens, the way I interact with people also changes. One of my goals in life is to treat everyone I meet the way I would like to be treated – to be nice to everyone and to never judge others – but when I am frustrated or stressed out I sometimes become sarcastic or downright rude. When that happens I don’t like myself very much, and that’s always an indication that I’ve lost sight of my gratitude.Recently, I’ve been working diligently on writing my book. Chapter one was completed at lightning speed. Chapter two, already outlined in my head, was to be a flashback, to a time 13 years ago when I was an active alcoholic and drug addict. I pulled out my old journals and began reading them as background. Of course I remember those years (in a fuzzy sort of way) but I was unprepared for what I read. I was shocked by the extent of the dysfunction that screamed from the pages of my journal. It made me thoroughly uncomfortable. Then I came across a line that stopped me dead in my tracks: “I am confident that I am on the right path – I have faith that the Universe will show me the way.” My God, I thought, that’s exactly what I say today. Yet back then I was such a mess that I definitely was NOT on the right track. Suddenly I began seriously questioning myself and all the decisions I have made over the past year. If I was so NOT on the right path back then, what makes me think that I am NOW on the right path? Have I made a huge mistake in abandoning a successful real estate career for an as yet unproven ability to write? For three days I obsessed, unable to read any more of the journal and certainly unable to write anything more of chapter two.
Then, just as suddenly as I had sunk into the morass of self-questioning, the answer came to me. I WAS on the right path back then. Had I not abandoned yet another career I detested (marketing manager for a chemical plant that recycled hazardous heavy metals), married for the second time for all the wrong reasons, moved to the Caribbean, and blown through what little savings I had, I would never be where I am today. Which, by the way, is 13 years clean and sober. So while my life back then was a nightmare of dysfunction and a daily exercise in emotional pain, it was what I had to go through to be the person I am today. If I could do it over I wouldn’t change a single day. Today I am overflowing with gratitude. I could go on and on, but I’ll share just a few of the most important things on my gratitude list:
- I am a grateful recovering alcoholic and drug addict
- I am grateful for my loving family and many friends
- I am grateful to have accomplished my life-long dream of going on safari in Africa and taking a long-dreamed of trip around the world
- I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to write
- I am grateful for my enduring faith in and connection with my higher power, the Universe
- I am grateful for my health
- I am eternally grateful for Alcoholics Anonymous
- I am grateful that, most of the time, I am grateful
Much love to you all and my wishes for a blessed and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving!