I remain incredibly grateful for all your good feelings and prayers on my behalf, for the meals you cook, the driving you do, the fun emails and FB posts. All of it is uplifting and I know that I am incredibly lucky to be feeling so great.
When I am completely down and out, I am automatically grateful for every little thing: the feel of sunshine on my skin, a kind word, a drink of water. There is a piece of me that feels so open to grace that I want to keep that feeling without also experiencing some catastrophic event.
When I feel good, though, I become more critical of myself and others and have to consciously generate gratitude. For example, I took an extra week off chemo and on Saturday, I felt really good. We even had friends coming for dinner – something we used to love doing but a rare event in the past many years. I don’t have the energy to throw a dinner party, so we offered to take them to a restaurant.
On Saturday morning, my husband told me, “They said they would go anywhere we wanted. Where can we go where you can eat something too?”
I became really excited. I am not just vegan, but I also avoid sugars of all types (including fruits), vinegars, fried foods, processed foods, carbohydrates….basically, I eat vegetables and beans.
That said, many restaurants in our area fit the bill. Plus, I know that these friends are game to try anything and have even been juicing vegetarians in the past, so I took them at their word and rattled off three vegetarian restaurants.
My husband paused for a moment before asking, “What will the rest of us eat?”
Now, I know he has good intentions. He wants to be a considerate host and make sure that there is plenty of food that everyone will enjoy. But did my grateful heart focus on that? No. My critical, ungrateful side focused on counting the times I have gone to fancy restaurants and ordered a lettuce salad with olive oil and lemon. I don’t mind, honestly. I primarily go to dinner to enjoy the company of friends. But in this moment, I focused on a very selfish and manipulative angle, and it wasn’t pretty.
I snapped, “What do you mean? Everyone can eat vegetables. Why do I have to always be the one to make do?”
As soon as I said it, it didn’t feel good, but I’m not good at turning on a dime. So I walked away.
What was it exactly that was bothering me? My husband was only trying to consider everyone involved, including me. And once I turned it around and saw it that way, and was simply grateful that he was taking everyone’s preferences into account, I felt better.
I know from experience that being bitter, sad or selfish increases the pain in my body. I feel physically better when I focus on the good and keep my sense of humor and perspective. It took a tumor to teach that to me, and apparently, I am still learning.
Thank you for being in my life, and for giving me so many opportunities to practice gratitude.