Sharing the Gift of Gratitude with the Ones You Love
Are you being thankful and living every day to its fullest?
This has been another challenging year when I find being thankful difficult. And yet, I’ve been given great opportunities to see the power of grace, gratitude, and thankfulness in action. With the world seemingly in chaos with natural disasters, fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, the threats of nuclear war, an absurd government, as much “fake” news as actual information… We have all this craziness surrounding our everyday lives, and then there is life. I am reminded this year, more than ever, how precious life really is.
My step-son has been battling lung cancer for the past year and a half. As I write this, we are not sure how much time he has left. By the time this posts he might still be here, or he might be gone. But what I’ve seen unfold in what just might be the last few weeks of his life has been amazing! You see, my step-son Logan believes in miracles. He has fought through it all without complaint. I’ve never heard a “why me?” or even a second of sniveling because he hurts, feels like crap, can barely breathe, has difficulty speaking, chemo has kicked his butt twice… There have been surgeries, stem-cell therapy. They’ve tried almost everything! Up until a week or two ago he was still going to the gym, playing golf, and even continued to play ice and roller hockey with his buddies. Can you imagine playing hockey and sprinting up and down the ice post-chemo with only one working lung? Now, as tumors have spread from his lung to his spine causing pain and paralysis, he’s still putting on a smile. He has more energy than the rest of us and eagerly and graciously wants to see and speak with everyone that is stopping by to show their support. At any given moment, there are at least 10-40 friends and close family at the hospital - all packed into his room swapping stories, sharing laughs, and cherishing every minute we have to be together. This is the art of being thankful in action.
I am thankful to have been gifted the opportunity to have Logan as a step-son. I am filled with gratitude to see the army of “earth angels” that are surrounding him to show their support, love, and compassion. Logan’s presence is a gift to us, and our presence is a gift to him. The energy exchange is palpable. And while there is sadness, it is still being overpowered by pure joy.
Why am I sharing this personal story? Because it’s the best example I have right now of being thankful. Sure, we give lip service to this idea on a regular basis. But why wait until push comes to shove to live in gratitude and be filled with thankfulness? Can you imagine what it would be like if this concept was a part of our actual being? It is for some people. Like Logan. Every day is a miracle, and he exudes thankfulness from every fiber of his being. And it’s reciprocated ten-fold by his close friends, their wives, mothers, and fathers. In fact, everyone who knows him.
We shouldn’t wait for big, life altering experiences to be thankful. There is a lot of power in embracing the gift of gratitude for the little things in life, too. A wet kiss from your puppy, watching a butterfly, the sun on your face, wind in your hair, listening to the birds sing, children on a playground, music, art, good food, friends, a restful night’s sleep, a funny joke, the purr of your cat, listening to a thunderstorm, learning something new…
My clients have expressed thanks over the years for things that Pilates has helped them achieve to enjoy a better quality of life: being able to get up off the toilet, being able to bend over and tie their shoes, the ability to balance on one leg to put their pants on, being able to more easily turn their head to check for cars for a lane change, walking without foot pain, using their arms without shoulder pain, being able to take a deep breath, being able to walk up and down stairs without fear of falling… and the list goes on. None of these are earth-shattering challenges. But, to live and enjoy a healthy life, it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference; we shouldn’t wait until we’ve lost it all to appreciate and be thankful for what we have.
Give yourself the gift of gratitude and appreciate how the power of being thankful for what you can do, the health you do have, and the support that surrounds you impacts your well-being. The mindset of being thankful can help carry you forward with grace and gratitude.
This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take a moment and reach out to people in your life that you are thankful for. Perhaps you’re already close and see each other often. Don’t take your time together for granted – tell them how special they are and how thankful you are that they are a part of your life. Perhaps you have people in your life that you rarely see or visit with, but in some way, they have made a huge impact on your life. Reach out. Thinking about someone is nice, but sharing your heartfelt appreciation with them is better. Maybe it’s just a note, phone call, text message, or email. Create a quick video to send them to share your thoughts. Or maybe you are fortunate enough to get together for an old-fashioned face-to-face chat. Cherish your friends, be grateful for your family, and give thanks for your mentors.
We’re on this planet together, let’s show each other how much we care.
I challenge you to reach out to 5 people who have made a positive impact on your life and share with them your gratitude for their love and support. Let them know the role they’ve played and how important they are to you. Put into practice the art of being thankful. It’s a beautiful thing.
Ready, Set, Go forth and Give the Gift of Thankfulness.
(Logan Vinopal, 7-11-1988 to 10-28-2017)