It’s November, which means we Americans are gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving. Mostly this means we are making travel arrangements and planning menus, but a few will take this month as an opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful things in their lives. I love seeing peoples’ “30 Days of Gratitude” posts on Facebook because I believe in the power of giving thanks.
A few years ago, I went through one of the most trying times of my life. Something was wrong with me, but none of the many specialist could figure it out or agree on a course of treatment. Additionally, the project manager I was assigned to at the time did not suffer fools, weakness, or absences, and, at that point, I was all those things to her. Getting tested for rare forms of cancer and feeling completely incompetent really starts to wear on a lady. During those months I went to the darkest place I have ever know. It still scares me to remember that time and the thoughts I was having about my worth.
At that point I had been on my road to healing for just under six months. Because of this process, I had something to lean in to. This healing journey became my priority because the alternative wasn’t an option. But just focusing on what I should and shouldn’t eat and how I should move wasn’t helping me tackle the crippling depression that kept me in bed when I wasn’t working or had me faking my way through mommyhood. I didn’t start to overcome that until one day while walking my dog I just took off my headphones and started to name the things I was grateful for. Let me be clear, this one walk did not sort out all my problems, but it gave me a tool that allowed me to switch my perspective. I didn’t lie to myself and say “everything is cool” because I knew it wasn’t and I wasn’t sure it ever would be. But I did know that at that moment I had things like food, a roof over my head, and sturdy walking shoes, and that was something to focus on.
I used my gratitude practice to drive off the demons of insecurity, fear, and doubt. When that voice popped up saying “you aren’t…” I would list all the wonderful things I was thankful for that I am, most importantly alive and loved. This was the beginning of my understanding that in order to achieve healing I can’t just muscle my way through a “diet,” I have to nourish my mind and spirit as well as my body.