Gratitude redefined.

Pretty much everything redefined.

gratitude-redefined

I have learned some life-changing lessons over this time that I’ve been sick — life-threatening sick — and convalescing.

I have experienced some profound changes, and I’m doing everything I can to hold on to them as I slowly return to health.

Three weeks ago I wasn’t strong enough to scramble an egg

And it took me two days to eat the egg my sister scrambled for me.

Overnight, I stopped multi-tasking (I could barely single-task) and I started experiencing mindfulness in an entirely new way. Since my energy was so massively compromised, I had to choose every action with intention. I no longer had the bandwidth to watch TV and play games on my iPad at the same time. I had to plan every trip to the kitchen. When I grabbed some food to eat, I sat down and ate it. No reading, no iPad, no TV.

Priorities had changed. This is a gift. When would I — when would anybody — even think to sit down and review every single habit?

Many of my habits have dropped away or completely changed. I no longer drink strong green tea round the clock. In fact I no longer seem to be dependent upon caffeine. I’m having a cup of green tea today, by choice, not habit. What? One more: I now drive around with my windows open, something I never ever did in the 20 years I’ve lived in California. I have no idea how or why this happened.

I resisted being sick, and going to the hospital, partly because I didn’t want to rock the boat with my clients. (That’s fear, yo.)

My clients and my partners — without exception — have held space for my illness, and my healing. Talk about gratitude redefined.

Remember, I had just come back from a month’s vacation, and I ended up in the hospital four days after I got home. It had been really difficult for me to take the break. This is the second time in my career that I had taken a long vacation. By the time I got home I was eager to get back to work. And then — oops! — to have to tell my clients that I’m out of commission, and to have it last so long!

I couldn’t have made it without the love and loving (and sometimes stern) admonishments my clients and colleagues kept heaping on me. What a gift to be able to surrender to what is.

What gratitude redefined really means

Even that stuff that comes from the No way, Never, Not me, Seriously? Are you frickin’ kidding me? compartments, even that stuff is food for gratitude

I have been gifted with some pretty mortifying moments in this process. For a week or so, during the height of the c diff recurrence, I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Now that’s fun. And I became a woman who doesn’t leave the house without clean panties and a baggie. Mortified.

But now I’m grateful for it. For all of it. It took a while, but I got to gratitude. Those of you who know me know that gratitude is the centerpiece of my spiritual life and of my business. Well, lately I’ve been feeling like all this time I’ve been a gratitude piker. I was conditionally grateful. Yes, it’s true. I was grateful for the good stuff, and I think — if I’m to be honest about this — that I just didn’t really see the places where I was not so much grateful at all. But now…

  • I’m grateful I got sick, and that it wasn’t worse.
  • I’m grateful I’m alive.
  • I’m grateful that my life was saved by competent hospital doctors and nurses.
  • I’m grateful that this ruptured appendix and all that followed may just have a significant impact on the chronic digestive issues I’ve had since 2011.
  • I’m grateful I had clean panties and a baggie to carry around with me (and which I never needed to use while out of the house, phew! — but I was prepared).

My annoyance threshold has been raised — I just don’t get so annoyed any more

Seriously. For the first three weeks of my convalescence at home, someone stood in front of my window and bounced a basketball, every day, for about 30–45 minutes. Bounce. Bounce. Now, listen, there is no basketball hoop out there. There isn’t even one in the community center park across the street. No one plays basketball around here.

At first I got irritated. (Hey, I’ve had a lot of practice.) But then I started to enjoy listening to this mysterious stranger bouncing the ball every day. In my imagination I saw a young African-American male, but who knows?

I started looking forward to the daily visit. And I really started to wonder why, why here? I finally got to the point where I wanted to go down and meet this person, and that was the day the bouncing stopped.

I’m less annoyed everywhere. Driving, dealing with the $200,000 in medical bills (looks like I’m gonna be paying $640 after the glitches get worked out). Even the annual Fourth of July insanity right outside my windows didn’t bug me like it used to.

Okay, enough rambles from me today! If something resonated, if you have a question, or just want to say hi, please join the conversation and leave a comment below. Much love, many many blessings.

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Sue

I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Lively conversation!

  1. Ck says

    You are inspiring Sue. I am so very happy to hear where you are now.
    I’ve missed seeing your smile, but I’m feeling its warmth.
    hugs,
    Ck

  2. Shan says

    Welcome back, gorgeous woman!

    So glad you’re feeling well enough to start writing again.

    It’s amazing what a different quite severe illness makes as far as gratitude is concerned. My mother had life saving cervical spine surgery last year and while she, too, comes from a place of gratitude, it’s reached a whole new level since then. She, like you, amaze me and teach me so much more about gratitude than I already know.

    Thank you so much for sharing xxx

    • Sue says

      Shan, thanks for telling me about your mom. To get to this place — this spiritual awakening — has deepened and broadened my definition of “small stuff” (as in “don’t sweat the…”) and it’s so much easier now to see litle and big things as small stuff, and even to appreciate them.

      Freedom, yo.

      So much love for you.
      Sue

  3. Lynne Tolk says

    I’m so glad you’re OK!
    And that you have gleaned such wisdom from the experience!
    And that you have written about it so powerfully!
    Blessings!

    • Sue says

      Lynne, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. You know what really really helped me get to this place; what helped me let go of the idea of being a victim in all this? It was realizing that every single thing I survive becomes something I can transmute, transform, and accept and then use to support the people I am meant to serve.

      Love and appreciation,
      Sue

  4. Eva Fajardo says

    Welcome back, love . Happy you have more of your strength back and all the gratitude !!! yes yes yes.lest i forget
    thank you for sharing. ..i love hearing about the ball… bounce, bounce, bounce.. and as you were going to meet
    with open curiosity and acceptance it was gone.
    nothing more need be done. speaks to me.
    hugs, love, All the Good.

    • Sue says

      Eva, I love that bit too… How when I got to that open accepting space, the bouncer was gone. Kinda magical, right?

      So much love, sister!
      xoxox
      Sue

  5. Suzie Cheel says

    Sue I am so happy to read you are healing and have enough energy to share your story- Having had that life threatening time 3 years ago, I totally get you gratitude and your life will change as a results, I am amazed at how god, the universe whatever you call it knows 🙂
    Much love to you
    Suzie xx♡♡♡

    • Sue says

      Suzie, thanks so much for the love.

      I’m watching some of the veils redescend as I get farther away from the life/death part of this journey. But I’m left, even as I find myself really wanting that second cup of green tea today, deeply — and hopefully permanently — transformed by this awakening.

      What I really get now is the possibility of this deeper awareness and acceptance for everyone, hopefully without the requirement of a life-threatening illness to get there. My clients are telling me they’re getting a lot from what I’m sharing, and I will continue to share…

      Blessed be,
      Sue

  6. Deanna Heiliger says

    Sue, I am so glad you are feeling better and that you made it to the other side of your health journey. It is inspiring to read all the lessons you were able to learn. I believe that when we can truly be grateful for the hardships in life, and learn and grow from them, that is when we have truly arrived! Glad you have arrived!

    • Sue says

      Deanna, I know, and even though it feels a bit weird, I am grateful for all of it. I resisted so much of this process, and I’m crazy grateful that — in retrospect — I was able to land in appreciation for the whole process.

      Thanks so much for the loving comment!

      xoxox
      Sue

    • Sue says

      Thanks, Darla. Your words bring me so much of the love and trust I need, you help me stay connected to what is.

      Blessings,
      Sue

  7. Catharine Clarenbach says

    I am ambivalent about gratitude practices. Not for myself, but in the act of telling someone else that they need to …. be grateful? practice gratitude? change your attitude? Today I told a client, “You know this, but you cannot change the external situation. You can only change yourself and how you’re responding to it.” I wanted to add more, but I was frankly a little afraid. I wanted to say, “Maybe you could work on a practice of just observing your emotions so that anxiety and anger aren’t running the show,” but I didn’t.

    For me, I see so many people using gratitude — as an admonition — as a weapon. Like forgiveness. I don’t think I can ever effectively tell another person when their grief is over and they should forgive someone. Does any of this make sense?

    In peace, gratitude, and joy –

    Catharine

    • Sue says

      Catharine, Hi, welcome!

      Very juicy comment, I could write for days. What has lingered with me since the first time I read this is that there is no circumstance I have encountered that wasn’t improved when I connected to gratitude.

      Gratitude can’t be a weapon, and neither can forgiveness, IMO. Gratitude is a healer, a soother, a leveler, a relief from feeling victimized and deprived. The only way you can find this out is to try it. So try it. Write down 15 things you’re grateful for every day for three months. As they told me in 12-step, “try it for 90 days, and if it doesn’t work, we will cheerfully refund your misery.”

      One more thing that has stuck with me: I don’t think grief is ever over. I see it like a spiral, and have experienced grief coming back over and over again. Even though time has passed. It may lessen in intensity, but feelings of grief can always be triggered and return in a very visceral way. And if this is true, then forgiveness can happen at any time, which I find liberating!

      How does this land, love?

      • Catharine Clarenbach says

        (first, on my screen, my comments come out a very light gray. I can only see them well in a certain light…)

        It’s not gratitude or forgiveness that are weapons. It’s the admonition that someone SHOULD forgive something or be grateful for something *in particular*. I don’t think I was clear about that. Talking about one’s own experience, as you do in the comment above, is never wrong, IMO.

        I am letting your piece, “there is no circumstance I have encountered that wasn’t improved when I connected to gratitude.,” swim around in my mind. I am remembering, when I attended a 12-Step group that was a Gratitude Meeting at 10 am on Saturday mornings, how it was my favorite. How nurturing it was.

        I will restore my gratitude list practice and see what comes of it. Thank you for your beautiful priestess presence!

        blessings
        Catharine

        • Sue says

          The comments are very light when you are typing them. I was thinking of switching to this font for all the text on the site, but I guess the font’s too skinny and too light.

          I’m so glad we’ve connected,and I am excited to see what comes of your gratitude practice.

          xoxox

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