Category Archives: Gratitude
November is Caregiver Awareness Month, when we honor the people in our support system. Three years ago, on this blog, @aBodyofHope named November 13th, Caregiver Appreciation Day, otherwise known as Supporter Appreciation Day!
On this day, we can reflect on the ways people around us make life a little bit brighter!
It’s rare to find those who care, even after tragedy strikes. In crisis, our circles tend to thin out, and only the very special remain in our lives, trying to fight along with us. We try to convey how much we care as often as we can, but words can feel inadequate at times to express what their presence means. A sweet little reminder always helps to drive the point home! 🙂
Your support system may include a friend, your spouse, a family member, a physician, a home care nurse, a neighbor, an online support group, or people from your church. How touched they’ll be when they’re sent this surprise from you!
Consider the small and big ways they bring light into your world. Share one of these specially made images to convey your gratitude.
Because of my personal losses in the last couple years, I didn’t know if I could continue doing this campaign each November. In time however, the people who remained in my life cheering me forward, reminding me of my strength, now appear sweeter and stronger than ever. More than anything, I wish I didn’t need any help at all because giving is simply easier than recieving… It’s such a learning curve, but I try to be more grateful than guilty as much as possible. Any way to inject more kindness and smiles into this world is something I want to fight for. I hope you will help spread the word!
If you are a caregiver to someone with a chronic or terminal illness, if you’re in the support system of a loved one with mental illness, or if you are supporting someone going through a major crisis, this is a reminder how much you matter. We can’t run away from the hands we’ve been dealt. You might have that choice, yet you’ve chosen to stay and fight along side your loved one. You lend your own emotional, physical, or mental strength at times. Someone like you is so very rare. Thank you for being you!
This collection was created as a collaboration between charcoal artist, CRPS and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome sufferer, Robyn Triscari and myself as a gift to you! Robyn wanted to give the chronic illness community a way to thank our supporters and “champions” so we worked together on this year’s Supporter Appreciation Day! Thank you, Robyn for your generous idea, and for sharing your artistic talents!
To my readers: It’s so meaningful to me that you follow this page, leave such encouraging comments, and share these messages with your friends. I treasure your readership and continue to pray for you. You challenge yourselves to learn all you possibly can from your lives, and your comments continue to challenge me. You make my world so much brighter, and bigger! I want to thank you on this supporter appreciation day for your impact on my life!
You may save these images to your phone or computer, share them with your loved ones on social media, and we would love for you to print them if you’d like to frame one as a gift or send as a special card.
We encourage you to include your own personal message of thanks along with it.
If you have a “champion” in your life, someone cheering you forward, this is the perfect occasion to say, you’re the best.
We hope you will help us pass on the Caregiver Appreciation Day message!
For your convenience, I have also made these images available to share individually from the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/chronically.inspired
Please share in comments who you are appreciating today!
More poetry, Quotes for Caregivers, and what it means to have a Home Health Aid here
This is my first attempt at linking downloadable printables here, so your feedback is appreciated.
To be thankful while you are suffering is one thing, but to be thankful for suffering….
Once in a while in the support group I administrate, there is someone who makes a statement that is so powerful, it catches me off guard and it sets my soul on fire. In truth, this isn’t a rare occurrence. I guess you could say that those suffering so deeply every single moment of the day have some profound insights to share. One thing that inspires me the most is when people say they are thankful for their illness. That is a bold statement that I believe one would never come to lightly- and no one would EVER openly say something so provocative in a support group setting among a band of individuals with severe chronic diseases, unless they truly meant it. That’s why it always gives me pause whenever I hear such powerful expressions.
It’s not unusual for those who go through a near death experience or a serious short term illness to find deeper meaning and purpose. It’s no less real, but it is more common when the storms have an end, and suffering can be left behind. While it’s not rare for those with ongoing illness to eventually find new ways to appreciate life again, to say they are grateful for their illness, it is so much more rare in cases of chronic disease. Why? Because an illness that is daily, constant, and does not see an end- is far easier to hate than to get excited about. A condition which may be degenerative, becoming more painful and physically or mentally compromising over time, isn’t easily beloved…as you can imagine. To me, it’s almost a miracle hearing that anyone would be happy or thankful that they became so sick. Others with chronic illness can find statements like these offensive, even. These ideas of “illness gratitude” certainly border on the extreme, but make one wonder where their personal journeys have lead them to truly embrace their infirmities.
I’ve heard people claim to be thankful they are in pain and chronically ill because it transformed their lives. It made them see the world in a different light. Their conditions allowed them to shake off the clutter and stress of a life that they realized didn’t have substance, and focus on a life of greater meaning and value. They once believed losing their career meant losing their purpose, but I’ve spoken to those who say that they are so thankful they became ill because now they found their true calling. Some have said that their new life of chronic illness has enabled them to be there for people in ways they never could have in their “healthy” life, so they are forever thankful for their new sick bodies, and how useful they can be to others through deeper compassion and connection. Sometimes people are grateful they are in pain because it has brought them closer to their faith, and they cherish a higher spiritual connection they never could have had without constantly being pushed to the edge of what they can endure. They are forced to cling to God instead of their own strength, and in that comfort, they find gratitude for suffering that brought them more enrichment spiritually.
Again, these are extreme statements, but thought provoking and inspiring nonetheless!
Most often, people I encounter long for a cure or pray to be healed. That’s normal, and that’s not at all unhealthy. Research in psychology equates the loss of health or a limb to losing a family member or spouse passing away. It’s earth-shattering. The losses just keep coming. With chronic illness, the grief starts over again and again. It’s cavernous, and there’s no end to the emotional roller coaster or the physical fight. Hoping for a cure, for healing, or for remission is what we all are desperate for, and that focus can at times become crucial for survival. But for some of us, restoration of health becomes a worship in itself, and begins to supersede everything else. Seeking a cure or healing can become such a focus that illness becomes nothing but a betrayal of God, of government, of doctors, and family. Nothing feels real except wellness and full restoration.
Obviously these are 2 opposite sides of the spectrum, and balance is always the goal.
When I was diagnosed at 22, I spent the first years asking God WHY? Staying up every night in excruciating pain, my leg felt as though it was breaking, nerves like being electrocuted and burning pain like nothing I could have ever imagined before. Full body spasms, tremors, the room spinning, my heart racing and palpitating, wondering how I had planned and worked so hard for everything that had lead me here, just to lose it to this “incurable degenerative” condition that no one seemed to be taking very seriously to help me try recover from. It didn’t make any sense. As much as I tried to analyze it, I couldn’t crack the code. It only made sense for me to get better, so I searched for my panacea, and prayed (demanding) that God must heal me. At the time, I wasn’t a big prayer person, but illness has a way of connecting you to your higher power. In the Bible, yes, there is healing, but there is also so much pain. The importance of learning through pain, finding ways to share strength or comfort inside of infirmities, these are scriptures that have been so encouraging to me.
I eventually felt lead to make a decision. I believed God would heal me, and I still do believe that is true. But, I decided that if I was going to spend any period of time living a “sick life” I was going to explore it. As much as I was desperate to go back in time, moving forward is all I could do, it’s all any of us can do- Even if it’s slowly, frightened, and with tears in our eyes.
I cannot go as far as saying that I am thankful I am chronically ill. I can say that at almost 12 years, I’m so grateful I made that decision to press forward and try to find myself inside of this life. If I had stayed so distracted by my past, or so focused on what I might be losing in the future, I would have missed every bit of the beauty, the miracles, the blessings, the generosity of others, the opportunities to be of use, and purpose found inside of this pain.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:19
It’s easy to be thankful for your home and your family. Most people are thankful for their health and their careers or education. We should always treasure the people who are good to us, the comforts of home and our abilities, as life is so fragile. Those familiar with serious illness or tragedy understand that better than anyone.
But what if you lost everything?
What if tomorrow it was all gone?
What if you were left with only your physical pain and all of your loss?
How then would you have gratitude?
When I set out to write about gratitude this year, it was only through the eyes of my faith that I could write it.
The Bible asks me not only to be thankful for my blessings, but to be thankful INSIDE of my struggles, in my weakness, in my illness, in my loss, to be thankful in my…mess.
Sometimes all our eyes can see are the broken pieces. Sometimes all our bodies can feel is the pain. At times struggle and burden is all that our hearts will allow us to hold.
Let’s be serious, I’m not thankful for my illness or my loss! But the thought of being thankful INSIDE of it is a concept I can lean into. Maybe I can embrace these challenges because I am being changed, transformed. Maybe I can be thankful through it because I know there will be good to come of it.
What if tomorrow the broken pieces of your life as they are now can be used for something better than the pain you feel today?
What has come out of a dark time in your life that you can now be thankful for?
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Thank you to the wonderful writer, lifeinslowmotionblog.com and admin of Changing the World when you are Chronically Ill, Disabled, or Homebound for encouraging me to dig deep and write this.
When we are children, time goes by soooo slowly- sometimes we have more vivid memories from youth than just last week. In High school, I remember dating someone, feeling as though we were together for years when in reality the time may have only been months, but the value of it was just as great as many years. Was it the focus perhaps? The undivided attention? Was it the emotional impact? The relationship blew out a canyon of feelings and memories… like nothing you had ever felt or experienced before.
“Time is an illusion.” -Albert Einstein
“Time is what you make of it.” -unknown
I think about things like this from my bed now. I feel time slipping through my grasp at an alarming speed when I think about how long I’ve been chronically ill. [Especially] When I think of all of the missed celebrations gone by. The weddings. The births. All of my best friend’s son’s birthdays missed. My baby brother’s sporting events.
Only one life
Once in a lifetime
Don’t look back
Crane your neck
Only one life
Sand in a bottle
Sand so quick
Sand like diamonds
Every single moment
So damn precious
Only one life
Slow down time
Ticking on by
Once in a lifetime
Time like diamonds
Around your neck
But there’s another side to experiencing time. Now this is a secret that people with chronic pain know that I’ll be letting you in on:
Time slows down when you are suffering. The more pain you are in, the slower time goes.
Slow time in pain is definitely NOT like the gift it sounds like, however. Mostly, we are wishing for the minutes to speed up. But time going by faster will not diminish the pain, unfortunately. I used to push myself to get through each minute. Watching the clock, I would be relieved I got through another minute gone by- another day passed. Congratulations to me- I got through the day! The problem with that is wishing away time. Before I knew it, so much time had gone by and my condition was only worsening, treatments weren’t helping, and ticking away my life’s minutes was only getting me closer to worse problems in my future.
I cannot control so many of my circumstances, and I cannot go out and DO all that the world once called from me. However, I see a new opportunity presented. Precious moments with loved ones can be truly cherished instead of rushed through. I’m not implying everyone in pain has a surplus of time on their hands. No. In fact, what this means is the pain is so outrageous that I’m fighting not falling asleep, passing out, or screaming out loud. This very physical fight between my will and body is where the precious moments lie between. Where my best friend holds my hand at my bedside whispering to me about her son’s new toys at Christmas with a twinkle in her eyes. This is where time slows down and the moment seems to go on and on.
Life is a gift. We only have so much time. And we each only have one trip. If your current time feels it has slowed down, maybe it can be an opportunity to focus on the moments that matter. Looking back, time will always feel like it went by too quickly. No matter your present circumstances, you always have a choice in how you spend your moments.
The featured poster is original: You may share it as you wish.
Since my blogging experiment began this past August, I have met some fascinating individuals who have injected so much color and warmth into my little world…even without needles. I just want to take a quick sec to say, Hey beautiful (or Hello there, handsome sir, if you are a gentleman)! Thank you for taking the time out to read my mind splatter. Thank you for leaving your own bits and pieces of brain in the comments section. You’ll never know how much your thoughtful words propel more ideas, more writing, and how you breathe rays of excitement into my life. In such a short time, we have started building friendships or we are getting to know one another through our mutual blogs. When I haven’t seen you around for a while, I get concerned you might not be doing well, or have become lost, wandering around a very, very large shopping mall somewhere (it can happen). You have left a mark my heart (in a good way) and I just want to make sure you know I think you are the bees knees, gorgeous (or good show, jolly old chap)!
Three bloggers who are not only a few of my favorites for their wonderfully honest and insightful writing, but I’m also extremely thankful for their support: Finding out Fibro, Life in Slow Motion, and Escharae inspired this post. As we do here every month, I’d like to give a shout out to few fantastical, fabulicious blogs that I’ve fallen for more recently, and I hope you will as well.
Creating Through the Pain: Kathleen is working on finishing up her first book while she blogs about her family, her faith, and her personal experiences managing CRPS/RSD. Kathleen has a creative whimsical touch to her writing which I always find heartwarming.
The Sick Diva: is a brand new blogger who brings a splash of sass and a big dose of wisdom right out of the blogging gate! She mixes original poetry with posts about her life adapting to Chronic Pain and all of its new challenges.
In the Blink of an Eye: Author, Mary Jane Gonzales is well known in the chronic pain community for her intimate and inspirational books, but she also has a very informative blog to help those with RSD/CRPS, along with their caretakers. She is active in the Facebook community where she shares her freshly-written pieces almost every day. She is a gem!
Mum C. Writes: Is a fantastic poetry page brimming with powerful verse daily. Mum C. writes about love, humanity, pain, hope and everything in between. She is full of passion for African issues and is so generous with her talent.
Sublime Mercies: Shares her witty perspectives on walking aids and being disabled while raising awareness for disability issues, PTSD and child abuse. She always shares bright colorful images and celebrates vintage fashion and femininity.
Thank you to all of the readers who have followed and whose comments encourage, and thank you to the amazing guest writers and fantastic featured artists whose work has appeared here thus far. I’m so uplifted by the creativity and hope messages I’ve seen surrounding this page. This has been a lovely fall of creativity, new discoveries and making new friends in you lovely peeps. I look forward to a fabulous new year of writing along with you!
If you would like to stalk me or share your story, you can find me on Twitter @aBodyofHope or email me at email@example.com.
Have you ever thought that you are the best friend you know? Are you the most responsible, caring, compassionate, shoulder-to-cry-on kind of friend who drops everything to be there for the people you love? Have you ever wished for a friend like yourself?
I used to think that. Although I so adored the people in my life, there were times when I felt some of the things I did for them went under-appreciated. When I had problems in my own life, when I needed someone to make me feel better, I felt empty handed. Sound relatable?
I was a doer, a giver, I needed to be needed. I set my life up so that I was the go-to person for all of my people. I was the Olivia Pope of my world. Even when I moved to a different state, within months I was the one person anyone who knew me could count on. I constructed a safety net for everyone else, but when my own life turned upside down in the form of chronic illness, I felt there was no one to lean on.
Even after illness set in, things did not change. In fact, I felt that no one had a grasp of anything I was going through. For the first time in my life, I was desperate for some care from others and it seemed that no one knew what to say or do for me. Looking back now, some people were generous, and a few did reach out to me. I think it’s because I never learned how to ask for help before, I couldn’t recognize a gift of compassion and I was too prideful at the time to see when people were trying to be there for me.
I was so programmed to say, “No thanks” and “I’m fine” when people tried to help me out. I think I probably pushed them away without meaning to. I didn’t fully learn the gift of receiving until later on.
Sometimes tragedy is like this. The harder things get, the more clarity we can find.
You get so accustomed to being self-reliant and needed by others for so long that when it is time to accept help from another person, it’s like a foreign object that you naturally repel.
People who cared about me wanted to be there for me, but I usually shut them down. There were those who never knew what exactly to do or say, but they tried to just be in my life. I know now that the people who stick around in uncomfortable times are keepers.
Letting loved ones know how exactly they can help makes the people around us feel less powerless. If you give your loved ones specifics, they can learn how to better help with your complex needs. Hints and mind-reading definitely doesn’t count.
I know from personal experience that receiving help and asking for what you need can be a humbling experience. It’s lovely to help others but it can be humiliating when you’re the one who needs the help. That is the first thing I had to try to accept. You will have anger about it…try not to take it out on those giving to you. Don’t say things like, “I’m sorry you have to do this for me,” or “you will get tired of helping me,” or “I can tell you don’t want to be doing that for me.” Don’t critique their attitude, or predict future resentments. Instead, lead with gratitude. Say “thank you.” Your appreciation makes others feel positive.
Gratitude isn’t only an emotion, it’s also a state of mind, and a form of personal expression. The great thing is you can choose to be grateful even at times you don’t necessarily feel that way.
You already know how good it feels to do for others. Learn to be a gracious receiver.
Remember, you are worthy enough to accept the very thing you do all the time for other people. If the situation were reversed, would you be there for your loved one in the same way?
It has taken me a while to learn that lesson. I am still learning… Those who give of themselves are always teaching me to be humble.
I had to consider why my life had always revolved around being helpful, yet I could not receive the help offered to me. To top it off, I was too prideful to ask for help.
When I was finally able to say “thank you” and mean it from the bottom of my heart without resentment, anger, shame or fear: gratitude swept over me and lit up everyone in my life like Christmas lights.
Before, giving and being needed was how I defined myself. Learning to receive showed me the love everyone around me had to offer.
This lesson has been such a challenge; I am still learning to receive and to appreciate the blessings in my life, but the gift of gratitude has been a life-changing lesson. I believe learning to receive with a grateful heart makes a person a more understanding, more compassionate giver.
People love you and are there for you, too. Maybe not in the way you want them to be, but they might be exactly what you need. You are worthy of their love and their help. Please don’t miss out on receiving the blessings that God is trying to bring into your life.
~Green Tree / Fall~
Thank you, Green Tree.
For stretching out to meet each day unafraid.
Your leaves reached out to touch the morning rays.
Courageous branches held the birds and squirrels as they played.
You appreciated the spring rain, Green Tree.
Soaking up only what you needed.
Surrounding plants shaded by your un-impeding canopy.
Now, as you break and change, don’t be afraid, Green Tree.
Don’t hold back your leaves from color.
No one will question your strength, Green Tree.
Your beauty will remain.
Your life was not in vein.
As your last brown leaf exhales to the ground,
The forest will remember how you stood so proud.
Don’t fear the change, Green Tree.
–A Body of Hope