Joyful Gratitude

By Donna R. Wood, Existential Coach

This is the time of year when we celebrate all that has been and the hope for all that might yet be. It has been 506 days since the first day of what I lovingly call my second birthday.

I was born with a congenital heart defect way back in the late 1960s. My mother was told in the early 1970s, after my open heart surgery, that I most likely would not live to see 50 years old. As a young teenager of 16 years old, I was told that I should probably never consider having children. It was kind of soul-crushing to be 16 years old and looking at a very bleak future that would last a mere 34 more years. I remember asking myself then, “What’s the point?“, and began to believe that somehow I was not meant to be here in the first place. Given the mindset of a 16  year old girl, it’s not surprising.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty. There’s a certain amount of clarity in it. When we look back at our lives we see all the times and places where things might have been different, had we made different choices. Usually, the reflection period comes during difficult times in our lives. We fight with ourselves, and beat ourselves up over decisions we made in a time that is now far-and-away. We wrestle with the fact that none of it can be changed, and we are left in the midst of our present, feeling rejected by life.

However, if we choose to turn the lens to the times when we made joyful decisions, we find ourselves in a place of being okay. They said I should live a careful life, and always be aware of my frailties. If I had done that I would never have had the experience of being a cheerleader and of being on the track team in high school. They said I should consider not having children, but I went ahead and three very beautiful daughters, who are the delight of my life along with my three grandchildren.

Five hundred and six days ago, I went ahead and lived beyond fifty years. For me, everyday is a joyful celebration, because it is a gift that I wasn’t predicted to get. I eat dessert every day. Literally, I eat some dessert every day to celebrate. I don’t drag around the previous fifty years everywhere I go; that was another lifetime. These next years are the gift I choose to celebrate by being fully present in every single day; by being joyful and peaceful; by choosing to be grateful for each day as it comes. 

Happy Friendsgiving Day (today), and Thanksgiving (Thursday), and Native American People’s Day (Friday).