By Jan Lambert
I’d had to quit a job I loved and go on Disability because I was ill. I did not have the strength to fix proper meals. I began to eat whatever came to hand in hope of getting energy from it. Chocolate is every woman’s mainstay, of course. A few Almond M&M’s here and a few there and I could make a bag last for days. My next trip to the doctor, and a quick run of a blood sample, showed a blood sugar value of 475. Type II Diabetes had set in. Fear cleaned up my dietary act. I became very fond of broccoli and cauliflower.
A few years later, a little bit of overexertion brought on some heart damage, and I was subject to frequent attacks of tachycardia that would leave me feeling weak for days afterward. If I could not make it resolve at home, I had to call an ambulance and go to the emergency room. Sometimes the “cause” was chemical. They would adjust my medications. Sometimes it was simple dehydration; I began drinking water from a gallon jug.
But somewhere in there, I began to realize how BLESSED I was. I was poor. I lived on Disability, which was about one-third of my former take-home pay. Not an easy adjustment. I had “enough” money to live, but just barely. I bought yardage at Walmart ($1.00/yard) and made my own clothes, something I had not had to do since my days as the wife of a Navy Seaman. I wasn’t strong enough to sit up at a sewing machine, so I hand-stitched the articles while lying in bed. But I wore them with pride. Nobody had clothes quite like mine. The staff in the fabric department admired my work.
My realization that I lived better, as I did, than most of the population of the world came slowly. I read of the poverty of rural populations in Asian countries, yet the people were happy and raised their children with joy and humor. A story of a woman in South America who lived in an ‘area’ beneath a tree, with only that tree for shelter, yet she was happy, and loved God, and loved people around her gave me pause for thought. What was wrong with me, that I was not more loving toward others, when I had a snug little trailer house, a fenced yard, enough money for utilities to keep me warm in the winter, and run a fan in the summer to keep me cool? What did money have to do with being happy? In their terms, I was rich. WEALTHY! My needs were simple. I didn’t NEED a fancy car, the latest fashions, a new cell phone every time one came out, that expensive laptop.
So I stopped praying for the things I didn’t have and began expressing gratitude for my snug and safe home, my sweet, brave, protective Service Dog, my cats who also gave love as well as more entertainment value than all the cat food I would ever buy for them, my horse, that I had a car that ran well and got good gas mileage, that I had enough money to pay the bills and buy the groceries and medications I needed.
It’s easy to quickly think about “an attitude of gratitude” but can I truly cultivate it so that when a tire on my van explodes, in a strange town, on the hottest day of the year, can I be GRATEFUL that it happened right then? I was. I was grateful that I had decided to delay a long drive home until the weather report predicted it would be cooler; that I did not have that blowout on a busy freeway during rush-hour traffic (that time of day), or on a lonely state highway in mountainous country with few areas where my cell phone would work so I could call for help. Can I cultivate it so that when my seventeen-year-old cat dies, I can express gratitude for all his years of loving sweetness and the things I learned from him, instead of crying and feeling sorry for myself for being abandoned by one I loved so dearly? I work on it daily, so when I write in my Goal statements, “I am joyful and grateful now that I have…” I can truly feel it, and know it is coming to meet me.
The Law of Relativity reminds us that nothing is good or bad until we compare it to something else. I work hard at keeping that in mind, because what’s in my mind affects what is attracted into my life.
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