A Moment of Gratitude

I was mid-workout at the gym today when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that struck me so deeply I needed to pause and take a moment of gratitude for where I am in life, and the fact that some days I am blessed with, and can appreciate, moments of pure unadulterated joy.

To backtrack for just a moment, I feel like I have to explain a few things here . . . I haven’t been writing much, mostly because I’ve been away.  We just got back from (another!) trip to Disney.  This trip was special though . . . this trip was a real family trip . . . my parents took my family and my brother’s family for a week in the Magic Kingdom.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  I can’t remember the last time our whole family was so happy.  I will forever remember my parents walking around the Magic Kingdom holding hands wearing ear hats.  I will never forget the Husband and my brother pushing strollers wearing ear hats around the Magic Kingdom either!

But I digress.  Five years ago, our little family of four made their first trip to Disney.  Five years ago, on that trip to Disney, I was forced to face the fact that my symptoms were not getting better, they were getting worse, and it was after getting back from that trip that I started in earnest down the path that would lead to my diagnosis, and everything else that followed.

In 2 weeks, I have my annual follow-up MRI and checkup  And after that’s done, my 5 years post-treatment will have passed, and I will officially be declared “cured” by the medical community.

I will admit that going into this trip I was thinking that the timing of it had worked out pretty perfectly … What better way to mark the end of this chapter of my life.

But looking back, this trip didn’t feel like an ending … It felt like a celebration of a new beginning.  A lot has changed in the last five years …. (I know it’s gratuitous, but I had to throw in these before and after photos – the dress my little one is wearing in the first phot was given to her by my amazing friend that she is named after, making this a very special photo for me) ….

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But most of all, I’ve changed.  I know now that things change.  All the time.  And that it’s not always good to hold on to the past or what is . . . because some really good things can come from change.  This has really been reinforced over the last few weeks as I’ve been working gone my #the100dayproject.  The sky is constantly changing, sometimes it gets cloudy, sometimes the clouds give way to clear skies, and sometimes, there is just a sea of blue sky.  Just like life, sometimes bad things happen, but the bad times do end, and give way to happier times.  And sometimes, there are nice stretches of happiness.

I also know now that I know how to take care of myself when things aren’t so good.  I  know how to properly nourish myself and my family.  I know what my, and my families’ sleep needs are.  And I know how to take care of myself and my family on an emotional level.  And so, when something that’s “not so good” happens again (we’re human, it will) I have an amazing set of tools to rely on to get me and the family through the tough times in a much better way that I ever could have before.

In my old role as a banker, I would be taking this time to sit down and plan out the next five years.  To envision where I’d like to be, what I’d like to be doing, and to think of the steps that need to get taken in order to get there.  But what these last 5 years have taught me, since none of it was planned, mapped out or premeditated,  sometimes, it’s just better to go with the flow; to do what feels best for you in your gut/heart/soul, and that as long as you come at things from a place of love, things will be ok.

And as I finish up this post, I am again faced with that deep sense of gratitude.  I am so very grateful for all that has happened since that trip 5 years ago.  And I am so very grateful for the place I find myself in today; a place of pure joy.

 

Love Notes & Intentional Gratitude (or how I was Inspired by Chanel)

There is a lovely little-known tradition in Chanel stores around the world; if a man purchases the classic Chanel handbag for the woman in his life, he is asked to write a love note to her.  For on the inside of the front flap of the bag, there is a little zippered pocket, put there by Coco herself, for the express purpose of hiding love notes.

I was lucky enough one Christmas a few years ago to receive one of these purses from the Husband (it was December 24th, he hadn’t purchased my gift, he’d known I’d always wanted one, it was the first Christmas post tumour and we were in a celebratory mood . . .).  Anyway, as I unwrapped the gift, and realized what he had done, the first thing I did was to look for the love note.  As I unzipped the little pocket, there it was, on a small piece of white paper . . . a lovely little declaration of his love for me.  And every time I use that purse, I am reminded of the little note that’s there and I feel, well, I feel loved.

So, a year ago, I was inspired by something I read to write love notes to the Husband and the kids each day for a month.  I thought it would be an awesome way to show the three of them just how much I love them.  The first day was easy.  The second, wasn’t so bad either.  By the 3rd, it was starting to get challenging.  And by the 4th, I had reduced my goal to just getting through the week of my challenge.

That is not to say that I don’t have an infinite amount of love for the Husband and the kids.  But rather, it’s hard to put pen to paper to describe these feelings – or in other words, to put the intention behind this kind of all-encompassing gratitude that I have for them.

As I continue to work with this idea of pairing my gratitude with intention, I think I will try this love notes experiment again.  Perhaps I won’t be as lofty with my goals . . . perhaps I will try a challenge like the one I ready on the Art of Manliness blog (this is an awesome post, by the way) because one note a week seems infinitely more do-able . . . perhaps I will rotate who gets the notes each week . . .but regardless of how I end up carrying out this project, it is already making me smile.  Because I know much those few words on a scrap of paper hidden in the inside of a purse can make me feel . . . and I want to give the three most important people in my life that feeling too.

Gratitude – With Intention

I haven’t posted in a few days.  I have had lots of little thoughts, but nothing that coalesced into something bigger, worthy of an actual post.

When I got to the gym this morning, they had this amazing Tony Robbins quote up on the chalkboard wall, which got me to thinking, which lead to the idea for this post.

I am a lover of lists.  I use all manner of products to produce my lists – depending on what I need the list for – and I usually have multiple lists going at all times.  This weekend was a particularly busy one with halloween and my son’s family birthday party (which seems to be getting bigger each year with new babies coming almost every year for the last little bit).  Anyway, I know myself well enough now, that I was aware of the potential of turning into a whirling dervish by 10am if I didn’t sit down, take a few breaths and map out exactly what it was that needed to get done.  And so I did . . . a took a fresh clean piece of paper and wrote about 6 different lists on it.  As the day progressed, the Husband and I, without talking about it, went about our business, efficiently ticking things off the list.  And as we sat down to lunch at noon with the kids, we looked at each other and acknowledged that we had gotten the ENTIRE list done.  Before noon.

And with that, I finished my lunch (cauliflower soup with leftover sausages sliced up and thrown in – sooooooo good), and headed upstairs for a little quiet time.  And while I lay down, I turned on one of the Sounds True podcasts – one featuring Danielle LaPorte.  In the podcast, Danielle talks about the importance of gratitude.  But that gratitude itself is not enough; you need to understand the intention behind the gratitude.  For example, I’m grateful for the coach that introduced me to crossfit BECAUSE in turn, that lead me to completely changing my life for the better.  Long story short – it’s an awesome podcast – you should listen to it!

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to have some interesting conversations with a variety of people about “nutrition” (aka what food I choose to put in my mouth and why) and the WHO study about bacon and processed meats.  Most people I know, and this isn’t a criticism or a judgement, choose not to think about the QUALITY of the food that they ingest.  They may think about the quantity and the composition of it (i.e. they will choose more veggies over candy), but no one is really interested in going deeper and experimenting with what a change in what you eat might do to how you feel.

Which brings me to my point.  I am extremely grateful for the Coach (who is also a nutritionist) for introducing me to the idea of wholistic nutrition BECAUSE it has changed the way I feel and the way my body responds to my chosen lifestyle (I prefer to workout every day, that makes me feel better, and the food I eat can positively or negatively affect my performance in the gym, never mind in life).

But, I am confounded as to why it takes pain for people to change as opposed to joy.  Look, I won’t lie – fertility issues, a pituitary tumour and a brain tumour primed me to look for ways to minimize my changes of getting “sick” in the future.  But why does it take disease for us to look at what we’re eating, our lifestyles?  Why can’t we look, enjoy and feel grateful for all that we have now, and look for ways to ensure that we continue to feel that way???  When will we stop looking for the cheapest, fastest, most efficient ways to feed ourselves, and instead, look for the healthiest, cleanest, most enjoyable means of sustenance?

So that, well, that’s my big thought for the day.

I hope you are able to find some gratitude, understand why you’re grateful for whatever it is that you’re grateful for, and make something really good, clean and TASTY for yourself!

When Gratitude Just Isn’t the Right Word

Today is a milestone in my life.  A day to remember where I’ve been, to think about where I am, and to dream about where I want to be in the future.

Four years ago today when the alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning, I had to try and kiss my sleeping little ones goodbye, not knowing what the journey that lay ahead of us was going to look like.

This morning, as the alarm went off at 4:30, the only kisses i was giving out were to the Husband as he left for the gym.

At this time 4 years ago, I was prepping for my pre-surgery MRI.  Today . . . well, I’m writing this, helping my son build some lego, and hoping that my daughter is up soon so we can make a special breakfast together.

Right about the time I was heading into a 12 hour surgery four years ago, this year at that time I’ll be doing school drop offs and then (thanks to the miracle that is the universe), I’ll be heading to Yorkdale to a little shopping . . . after which I’ll be heading to the gym.

I am beyond grateful for this delightfully ordinary day.  And am beyond grateful for all those that have helped me over the last 4 years with a recovery process that has had it’s moments.

And above all, I am beyond grateful for the amazingly talented surgeon who went the extra mile, took the extra time, and made sure that he got out as much of my tumour as possible.  I was fortunate to be able to participate in a video tribute to Dr. Gentili a few months ago.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, take a look; we are so lucky to have the doctors we do in this country.

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