I have a little angel card that I keep on my nightstand with one word on it- GRACE. I have had it there for 3 years and I look at it every day. I remember commenting to Sarita, my wise coach, guide and teacher, how elusive Grace was for me. She in her wisdom said nothing.
This week I visited the Princeton studio for the first time since the beginning of April. I felt strong enough to take a lesson with Anthony Rabara who has been my weekly teacher for many years. I have missed him so! By the way, when I walk into his studio I am suddenly transformed from “Susan “ to “Rosie”. From the first time he taught me many years ago, he has called me “Rosie”. As a matter of fact, no one in the studio, clients or teachers, knows me as Susan. And I am now conditioned to respond to the call of my new name, Rosie.
The lesson with Anthony was not without tears - Tears of relief, tears of love and tears of gratitude. If you had asked me before my surgery what emotions I would be experiencing most if I was devastated by a spinal cord injury I am sure gratitude would not have been my first answer. I wonder if it would have been included in the answer at all. Anger, sadness, fear, frustration…yes…gratitude…? I don’t think so.
Thankfully I am here to tell you that although those emotions were certainly present, gratitude was as well- maybe even more than the other feelings. As I write this I question myself- am I being honest with you? Yes, I do believe I am.
What I have come to learn is that practicing gratitude does not ignore the harsh realities of life; in fact, it accepts them and encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life as well. As I looked deeper into where this goodness originated I realized that all of my answers came from outside sources- my family, friends, doctors and nurses; my therapists, pets, clients and fellow patients. It included my time at home to appreciate my beautiful yard- the flowers, trees, baby birds and delicious tomatoes that were planted for me while I was still in the rehab hospital; the opportunity to be a passenger in the car instead of the driver which allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the sky, the stars, the sunsets and the clouds; and my pilates preparation and recovery work with June, Wendy and Anthony. Yes, I was dealt a raw deal and I was given a gift. Gratitude has humbled me and helped me to acknowledge that other people and my higher power have given me many gifts, big and small, to bring goodness into my life- even in the face of this devastation.
To this end I share with you a few links. The first is to a TEDx talk given by Louie Schwartsberg, acclaimed filmmaker, on Gratitude. It is only 9 minutes long and I encourage you not to miss it.
The second is a link to The Greater Good Science Center’s recent publication of Gratitude Revealed. It is a … “journey into the science, mystery and pursuit of the building blocks of gratitude. It is a series of 15 film shorts released in 2015, exploring what gratitude is, why it’s important and what we can all do to live more gracious lives.“ Please do take the time to watch and listen. I imagine that many of you, like me, will bookmark this site as a wonderful reminder of the preciousness of human life.
I never want to re-live the suffering of the last 6 months and as I have told you before I know that I am more connected to myself, others and our planet because of it . I do believe I am beginning to sense and understand grace. Thank you for remaining silent, Sarita.
I trust you will take the time to enjoy and unfold. Your comments bring me great joy. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Sending loving wishes your way, Susan