Gratitude Within The Storm

Storm

Thanksgiving is a time that we look at life and contemplate what we’re thankful for. When life is going well, this is a fun and an easy task; however when life brings us challenges, acknowledging what we are thankful for can be difficult.

The second half of 2018 was particularly difficult for me. Hiking is one of my favorite pass times and for years, I have enjoyed hiking at least a couple of times each week. On the week-end I challenged myself to long, strenuous hikes and loved every minute of it! In May 2018, I began feeling tired. I thought that I was fighting some sort of flu bug. This feeling increasingly became worse and worse to the point that it was difficult for me to even walk up my stairs. My Fitbit recorded my heart rate and I noticed that my resting heart increased from an average of 65 beats per minutes to 125 beats per minute, while lying in bed. To my dismay, I quickly watched my muscles disappear.

After running a series of tests, the doctor informed me that I had an autoimmune disorder and that there is no cure… She said that I can expect to continue to lose muscle, I may lose all of my hair, and I may not be able to work…ever.

It took a little time for me to process this information. At first, I was in shock. I kept replaying the doctor’s quotes over and over in my mind. “There is no cure.” I thought, Is this my new normal? Will I ever hike again? Will I be able to work? What will my life look like? Do I need to shift my hopes and dreams to match the “new normal”?

After the shock wore off, I found that I was a little angry. I have always been an active person and I had so many things that I wanted to do in life, but my physical body yelled back, “NO”! The anger turned to sadness and I went through a time of mourning the loss of the future that I saw for myself. This was a dark time when I focused what I CAN’T do.

Through self-reflection, I realized that I wasn’t being very kind to myself. I thought of what I might say to someone else who was going through this. After some time, I realized that I needed to accept myself exactly where I was. This wasn’t my new normal, but this is where I was on that particular day. I vowed to stop comparing myself to others and to stop comparing myself to myself 2 months ago. Instead of looking at what I could NOT do, I started looking at and celebrating what I COULD do. I stopped saying things like, “I only did….” Or “I just did….” Because the words only and just really took away from the accomplishments. I started to get excited and to be thankful for the little acts that I could do. I accepted myself 100% and honored myself exactly where I was each day. As I celebrated and acknowledged the small stuff, I noticed that I started getting better…getting stronger. I began swimming because swimming is a gentle exercise that strengthens all of your body. Initially, I could do 2 laps. I fought my mind that wanted to say, “I ONLY could go 2 laps. I used to climb mountains and now I JUST did 2 laps. Instead I celebrated, “Yesterday, I did nothing. Today is the beginning. I swam 2 laps!” 2 laps increased to 4, then 6, then 8, then 10. Today I swam 40 laps. There were ups and downs and I had days that I was tired and felt that it would be best if I didn’t exercise. I have taken on the mindset to except myself each day, no matter what; to never say statements that would make me feel bad that I didn’t do something. I will be a loving cheerleader for myself.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8)

Re-building my strength has been challenging. This experience has highlighted to me that in order for us to overcome any challenge, we must become the master of our minds. What we think matters. We can’t be overcome with negativity. We can’t wallow in the doctor’s words and give up. (i.e., “There is no cure.”) We can’t judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others or compare our abilities to what we used to do.

I noticed that as I began to acknowledge my small accomplishments and feel gratitude for where I was in the moment, I started to see new possibilities. I felt empowered and this is where the healing began!

I found myself stumbling upon many natural healing solutions. I changed the way I ate and cut out gluten, soy, and dairy. I increased my fruit and vegetable intake and bought organic, non-GMO, everything. I begin each morning with 16 ounces of celery juice. I replaced my home products with natural products to eliminate as many chemicals as possible.

I’m pleased to announce that to my doctor’s surprise that I am healing. I have been quickly weaning myself off of medication. The doctor said that I may be off of all medicine in December! If I am not off of the last of the medicine in December, I will continue to celebrate the milestones and focus on what I CAN do and how far I have come. I accept myself unconditionally throughout this journey!

Looking back, I do not think healing would have been possible without first finding gratitude within the storm. Without feeling gratitude, it would have been impossible to celebrate the small steps (which were actually huge) and then to build on that to become stronger and stronger.

I’m grateful for my healthy body and for where I am today.

What are you grateful for?

Katherine

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***For those of you who may not have heard yet, Through The Fire is now available on Amazon. I wanted to give a special thanks to so many of you who have already purchased the book and I really appreciate all of the thoughtful messages. I’m so pleased that the book has had such a positive response. If you know someone who may be struggling and may benefit from this story or someone who may enjoy the book, please share. Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

When the Going get Tough, the Tough get Going…

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…
These are the words that my dad told to me whenever times were a little hard. I never really liked hearing those words and when I appeared to not like what he was saying, he would follow up with a smile and a wink and say, “ya gotta be tough, right kid?” Life had taught him what I hadn’t yet learned. If you don’t choose to press on, the alternative is worse. The minute you give up, the minute you stop trying, at that moment, you lose your dream. You lose a bit of purpose for your life. That decision becomes a fork in the road of your life. So, you’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to keep trying. There’s no shame in failing. Just keep trying. Don’t give up. It’s hard to keep going sometimes, but it’s better than the alternative.
At the end of my kidnapping experience, I was dropped off in the hills to die. I had been beaten so badly that when my brother saw me, he said he wouldn’t have recognized me. My throat was slashed and blood was soaked into my clothes all the way down to my waist. To say I was exhausted was an understatement. The last thing I felt like doing was hiking through the hills. I wanted to lay down and rest. I found a large rock that was at the perfect angle to lean back and rest my head comfortably so I decided to sit down. My plan was to take a little nap before hiking to find help. Just as I closed my eyes, my mind became very loud. “Wake up! Get up and walk! Wake up! Wake up!” I tried to silence my mind, but it was useless. Perhaps this is how God helps us in our trials. What appears to be a random thought, may actually be help from above. We really are never alone. Since I was unable to rest, I got up and started walking. “You gotta be tough, right kid.”
Growing up, I was never what anyone would have called a “tough” person, but sometimes, being tough is the only choice we have. The doctors told me that if I had fallen asleep, that I wouldn’t have woken up.
In everyday life, we have hard times – very hard times. Even so, we can’t stop trying. We must press on to get to the other side of the storm in our life; to get through the fire. “Tough” is not a quality that’s only available to body builder, or CEO, type A people. Being tough is available to everyone. We have a Heavenly Father who has promised to take our burdens, if we ask. Asking for help is not always easy to do. Sometimes we don’t want to surrender and ask for help, but help is available. That choice is up to us. Our thoughts can get in the way of asking for help so remember… your thoughts determine the amount of suffering that you will endure.
“but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“Ya gotta be tough, right kid?”