Hi There! Today, I want to reflect on one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from losing my young husband, Andrew. My hope is that you will be inspired by my experiences and what I’ve taken away from them, so that you can live a life filled with even more gratitude and love. First off, I want to thank my new friend, Lulu, for the gift of her creativity in coming up with the title of this blog.
A couple of nights ago I was reading Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken the Giant Within, and I came across a quote that really got me thinking, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” Immediately I went into defense mode because the last thing I wanted someone to say to me was that Andrew’s death happened for me. I don’t believe that the reason Andrew died was so that I could learn some major life lessons. However, when I peeled back the layers of the quote, I realized that as a result of Andrew’s death I could choose to receive or to reject the lessons from his loss. Now looking back, I see that choosing to embrace the lessons is the reason why I’ve been able to move forward and create a life that I love. I want to share one of those lessons with you.
- Gratitude: I can remember a season in my early twenties where cultivating gratitude was like pulling teeth for me. I knew it was important to be grateful, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t bring myself to feel thankful. I chose a victim mentality where I blamed the people I loved the most for my unhappiness. I took life for granted, treating it as though I was entitled to the things I wanted and shouldn’t have to put in the work to get them. Fast forward seven years later, to when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That’s when the process of gratitude began for me. Watching Andrew lay in his bed day after day, getting poked and having chemo pumped into his body, made me start to see a whole different side to life. I started realizing that just the fact I was healthy was reason enough to be grateful, or the fact I could get out of my bed and exercise was a reason to be grateful. Feeling thankful organically started becoming a part of my everyday life just through observing Andrew’s world and the lives of the many families at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital going through a similar experience.
One of my heroes is Mo Anderson, the former CEO of Keller Williams Realty. She’s a godly woman with the biggest, most generous heart. I remember hearing her say that when she steps out of her car each morning she talks to God about how grateful she is for the sunshine, for the breeze, etc. I remember hearing this story in my early twenties and wishing I could be that grateful. Now I can honestly say gratitude is the single most important thing I’ve cultivated to become the woman I am today. I have to thank Andrew for that lesson because watching him be grateful during his illness (when it seemed he had little to be grateful for) inspired me towards a new way of seeing life.
Each morning I wake up feeling grateful for every little thing. I find that when I am in the zone of gratitude I don’t focus so much on the negative aspects of life or on sweating the small things. I’ve experienced what’s truly important and the reality of how short this life can be, so I choose to focus on the things I can control: my attitude and my outlook on living. If you are struggling to feel gratitude like I did, I challenge you to see the world through the lens of someone else. Volunteer at places like hospitals, homeless shelters, etc. These experiences can help us shift our state of mind.
I would love to hear from you. What do you do to create more gratitude in your life? What life experience have you had that has gifted you with feeling more grateful? Looking forward to hearing your stories. If you want to do work around experiencing more gratitude, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free coaching session. Thank you for spending time with me today! I’m blessed and grateful to have you in my life. Sending you love and blessings.
Bonus Ellie Story:
Yesterday I received an email from Ellie’s teacher with this sweet story (she gave me permission to share it with you). Below is the e-mail written by Ellie’s teacher:
I told the children this morning that today was Mozart’s birthday. We listened/danced to his music during Music/Movement time. We often listen to classical music, which the children enjoy. During snack, we sang Happy Birthday to Mozart. The kids asked several questions about him. During our conversation, I mentioned that Mozart lived a long time ago. Much to my surprise, one of the children asked me point blank if Mozart was dead. I answered yes. At this time, Ellie told a friend, (sitting next to her) that her Daddy was dead. She was not upset, or emotional in any way. Then, I was asked by the same student where Mozart was. I answered that he was in heaven. Ellie turned to me with a lovely smile on her face, and said, “That is where my Daddy is”! I told her that yes, he was. She then told me that he had died in Cuero. We went outdoors after our snack, and Ellie played and had fun.