Friday, March 9, 2012

What are you grateful for today?

People that are the closest to me know that Dec 28/10 changed my life forever.  That was the day that a fire started in the condo above me that caused the destruction of my home. As one can imagine, I was hit pretty hard by this.  It wasn't so much the 'stuff' that I lost, as I knew that insurance would replace that, it was the loss of what my home represented to me.  It was my safety, my security, my serenity.  It was my symbol of moving on after my divorce, doing it on my own, not having to depend on anyone......and now that was all gone.  Needless to say, I went to a dark place, consumed with grief, feeling like I was all alone just drifting in the wind.  Looking back on that time, I did a pretty damn good job of playing a victim! Spending hours upon hours of crying and asking God, "why me?", "what did I do to deserve this?".  I cannot say when or for what reason last year my thinking began to shift. Instead of asking why, I started asking "what lesson was I suppose to learn from this?". It all started to become VERY clear that this event was meant to give me a slap upside my head to start taking a long hard look at how I was living my life.  Now, I wasn't living a 'bad' life, the point was that I actually wasn't LIVING.  Little by little, I had allowed people and events to affect me to the point that I had just tuned out, I was just getting through the day, trying to survive life.  I was wanting more out of life, but wasn't willing to do anything about it. I was just numb.

Life isn't meant to be SURVIVED, it is meant to be LIVED!!  I realized that as much as I wanted more in my  life, I wasn't grateful for what I already had. I had been taken for granted all that I have done and achieved in my life. I was spending so much time thinking about what I wanted in the future, that I had forgotten to live in the moment. Once I realized that, I realized how much I have missed out on.  In the process of getting ready to move back home, I took the opportunity to REALLY look at the items that were lost.  The things that were the most precious to me (my cats and my photo albums) were unharmed, the things that were lost were mostly pieces of furniture that I had while I was married.  When I realized this, I started to laugh. I never really liked those items, and every time I looked at them, they reminded me of something that I had lost.  So, this was an opportunity to re-invent myself.  I completely changed the style of my home.  Even though the blueprint of my home is the same, the walls have been repainted the same colour that they were before, it looks completely different.  As I sit here writing this, I can barely even remember how it looked before, even though it looked that way for YEARS!  Now, every day when I wake up and wander out into the living room, I feel SO much gratitude for my home and every single thing that is in it.

But this is a two part story.  What about the safety, security and serenity that I had lost?  I am back living in the same place, the man whose negligence that started the fire still lives above me. I have been asked many times, how can I move back there? Will I ever feel safe again living there? It wasn't until I was having a conversation about a week ago with a lady that I have sort of known for a while, but just recently we have been spending time really getting to know each other, that it all became clear. I am SO grateful for her. In telling her my story, she said that going through all this I had learned that my safety, security and serenity was actually contained within myself.  I didn't need to look for it in stuff around me. The light bulb went off! We as a society are always looking to other people or to 'stuff' to fill a void or need that is missing in our lives.  What we need to realize is that every thing that we need is already contained within us, but is mostly likely buried under our life's events or emotional baggage.  We look to the outward world for ways to soothe our hurts, rather than spending time looking inwards to figure out what the root of those hurts are. We do that because it's easier, we just want the hurt to end, but by avoiding dealing with it and meeting it head on, we do nothing but stuff it deeper, where it quietly festers and controls our actions and feelings, whether we realize it or not. So, my friend was going through all this, I have learned how strong I really am, that life could throw just about anything at me now, and I could deal with it. I KNOW that I can depend on myself for my own safety and security and now have a sense of inner serenity that I have never had before.  So to answer the questions above, yes, I DO feel safe and secure living here, but I also know that I could go any where and feel the same, because all those things reside within me now and go with me every where I go!

Look around you. How would you feel if everything that surrounds you was suddenly all taken away?  How would you respond? What fears or anxieties would surface? What is the root of those fears and anxieties? What is it that you have felt is missing in your life, that you have been looking to the outward world to soothe or fill?  Find it within yourself to spend some time looking inwardly.  It is there that you will see that  you already have everything, you just need to cultivate it and allow it to grow! Everyday think about what you have in your life that you are grateful for, and actually say thank you for it.  If we started every day with gratitude, how could we not be happy!!

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