Giving thanks, even on difficult days

November 13, 2023 | Life in My 60s

I had a bit of a health scare this week. A major blockage (80 percent) in a major artery required a stent. But I am feeling great — and grateful. It all started when I was in Assisi a few weeks ago and felt crushing pain in my chest on the walk up the hill to the Basilica of St. Francis. I had to stop walking. My husband wanted to take me to a hospital. I trudged on assuming it was due to jet lag, exhaustion, the stress of travel, and the overabundance of delicious food. The next night, as I ran for a bus in Assisi, I experienced the same pain. Again I assumed it was due to other factors since I had never experienced anything like this at all. And I have a ZERO (even now) cardiac calcium score, meaning I have no hardening of the arteries, no calcified plaque. I have a normal EKG and normal blood work. BUT I have an extensive family history of heart disease, so I was on high alert. When I returned home and felt that same pain while rushing to my car one night, I knew I could not ignore the danger signs. Fortunately, there is such a thing as a cardiac walk-in clinic in my region, and I was able to get my condition evaluated in two hours, with urgent tests ordered for the days immediately following. By the end of the week, I was at Albany Medical Center getting my shiny new stent.

When I got home from the hospital on Friday, I wrote my usual three things in my gratitude journal before bed and realized I was nearing the end of that particular notebook. I decide having a new lease on life was a good time to start the next journal in my ongoing series. As you can see from the image, I wrapped up the current journal at 7,734 things for which I am grateful. In recent years, I continue the count with each new journal, so that number represents about seven years of gratitude. But in the past I used to keep journals and start new counts at one each time. So… in total I have more than 10,000 blessings noted in various journals.

I wasn’t always as faithful to the practice as I am now, but I always came back to it because it works. Some of my notebooks date back to when my kids were little. There are beautiful little snapshots of moments in our lives that I took the time to write down. Not always big things. Sometimes something as simple as making a snowman, sipping cocoa, finger painting in the kitchen. Or as in recent days, sometimes something as big as someone helping my blood keep flowing through my arteries. It takes only a few minutes each night to write down three things for which you are grateful, but is a transforming practice. Try it; you won’t regret it. It is amazing how seeking beauty and blessing in your daily life — no matter what else is going on — can shift your world view from one of lack to one of abundance. It is a complete gift and grace.

If you’d like to read more about this practice, you can go HERE for a previous post.

Or listen to my podcast on the importance of gratitude HERE.


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