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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: So what's the deal with gratitude anyway?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

So what's the deal with gratitude anyway?

This past week Dr. Maya Angelou passed away.  I was introduced to her in college with her poem "I know why the caged bird sings," and many times on the Oprah Winfrey show.

I have learned so much from so many teachers and inspirational women, but perhaps my greatest revelation in my life thus far is to be grateful.  With gratitude comes the fortitude to push forward despite any struggles I have been facing.  If I can look a difficult situation in the eye and decide to learn from it, rather than to be reduced by it, not only do I gain hope, but  I come out stronger, happier, and wiser because I have found something in which to be grateful.

Albert Einstein once said, "In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity."

That speaks to me.  If I can find opportunity in something difficult, I can also find gratitude in that positive.  A great metaphor for this is from Alphonse Karr when he said, "Some people grumble that roses have thorns, but I am grateful that thorns have roses."

Through life I have chosen to be inspired by people who not only refuse to be defeated by their difficulties, but who use them to their advantage. As Maya Angelou, a woman who was raped when she was seven and went on to be a mute for 5 years afterward said, "We may experience many defeats, but we must not be defeated by them."

I think so many people struggle with this.  There are numerous life coaches and self help books because people are craving happiness.
I too struggled with this and I didn't even realize.  My husband asked me one day, "Why is it that if there are multiple explanations for a given situation, or multiple outcomes for a given situation, that you always choose to believe the worst possible outcome will happen?"
My response was I'd rather not get my hopes up that way I would never have to be disappointed.  As those words crossed my lips and I heard myself say them, I started to realize there might just be a better way to live.

"Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say our nightly prayer."  Maya Angelou

I do nightly prayers with my daughter Ashlynn, but last night I decided to add a quick section on gratitude.  When she asked me what gratitude means, I asked her, "what made you happy today?"  She had so many things!  She was grateful for paying (playing).  She was grateful for Baby Jace (her brother).  She was grateful for her gapes (grapes).  As she was sitting there telling me all of this, I really felt like I was onto something big.  If we can do this simple exercise when she's young, perhaps it will be habit as she grows older.  To be honest, she already does it.  Despite her apraxia that brings so many defeats, she has never once been defeated.  Despite struggles that might frustrate others, she never loses hope.  She always seems happy and grateful for each new day and each new experience.  Oh, and a surprise twist I didn't expect.  At the end she asked me, What you gafo fowa mama (What are you grateful for mama?).  Oh yeah, I guess I forgot kids will remember your example more than your words.

"I'm grateful for you and Jace and daddy."
"I'm grateful for the walk we took today in the warm sun."
"I'm grateful for being grateful."




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