Yesterday was the final day of my Gratitude Project. I'm proud to report that I succeeded in posting a FaceBook status every day in November to list three things I was feeling thankful for. As a strong believer in the power of positive thinking, I jumped into the challenge looking to strengthen my own gratitude practice and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Initially I found the project easy and fun. I posted my list each evening as I reflected on my day. I challenged myself to ignore negative things that had happened and find the silver lining when I encountered an undesirable situation. And then I got sick...
I am not one of those stoic people who can continue on when they're sick without disruption of daily life. I am not a pleasant sick person. I try to be, but I can never pull it off. Instead, I'm a weepy pouty sick person who shuffles around wearing a bathrobe all hours of the day, leaving a trail of damp snotty tissues. It's been more than two weeks since I first felt the inklings of what I thought was a head cold but turned out to be a sinus infection, which turned into bronchitis. For more than half the month, when I was supposed to be focusing on feeling good and thankful, I felt like crap and I was grumpy! At first I tried to power through. I truly tried. I had to leave a roller derby practice when I got nauseous after skating a few laps despite feeling dizzy. I went to a football watching party and a game night (in the same day) even though my ears crackled and felt like they might burst. I took NyQuil and DayQuil and rested for a few days, but I kept getting worse. After witnessing a violent coughing spell that forced up my breakfast, my usually mellow boyfriend approached me with a stern look on his face and convinced me it was time to go to the doctor. So I went. That was Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, the same day his parents and two siblings arrived at our house for the holiday.
As I've mentioned before, there's been some negative feedback to the gratitude movement on FaceBook this month. Fortunately, the responses I've gotten personally have been nothing but positive. Just yesterday I received a message from an acquaintance that re-newed my faith in myself, that I had lost while feeling low. She agreed that I could share her note here:
"Hi, I know we never got to know each other much but I wanted to thank you for sharing your work and positive affirmation with your coach. I have struggled my whole life with negative thoughts and need to concentrate on happiness. If you have any advice I would appreciate your input on how to do it. I need to retrain my brain... Lol. Thank YOU for putting yourself out there."
Isn't that beautiful? I responded and let her know I thought it was. I took on this Gratitude Project hoping to inspire others and look, I did it! It made me stop and think about the past couple weeks in a different way. One of the things I work with most with my life coach is not being so hard on myself, especially when it comes to making mistakes. She taught me one of my favorite mantras "Nothing is good or bad, it just is." I've been beating myself up for pushing myself when I felt so sick, for not being able to keep my cool. There's nothing I can do about it now but forgive myself and learn from my experience. Looking at those words written down, it seems so much simpler than it is in my head!
I'm finally starting to feel like myself again, even though my bronchitis symptoms still linger. The house is back to normal after having guests, the dining room table takes up less space without the leaf and dogs have taken back their spots on the couch. The holiday didn't go perfectly but then again nothing ever really does. We just expect it to and then feel disappointed when it doesn't. I've learned a lot this month, about some of my FaceBook friends and about myself. Today marks the start of the final month of the year. It's a time I typically spend reflecting on the year that's past and planning for the one to come. But this year my goal is to stay in the present, to continue to look for things in each day to be grateful for.