GRATITUDE

IN OCT. 2010, THE LDS PROPHET, PRES. MONSON SAID, “My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

I RECENTLY TOLD THE TEENAGE GIRLS AT CHURCH THAT SHORTLY AFTER REGAINING THE ABILITY TO JOURNAL ON MY COMPUTER, MY FIRST FEW ENTRIES WERE MOSTLY NEGATIVE AND FOCUSED ON WHAT I COULD NOT DO AND ALL THE THINGS THAT MADE MY LIFE SO TERRIBLE. NEEDLESS TO SAY, THOSE ENTRIES WERE NOT EXAMPLES OF OPTIMISM AND GRATITUDE. AFTER LETTING MY HUSBAND READ THESE JOURNAL ENTRIES, HE SUGGESTED SOMETHING I HAVE MENTIONED B4: THAT I COMPILE A LIST OF THE THINGS I WAS GRATEFUL FOR. WHEN ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT I HAD WAS TAKEN AWAY, IT WAS HARD TO THINK THAT THERE WAS ANYTHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR.
IT WAS A VERY DIFFICULT CHALLENGE FOR ME. IT WAS SO HARD TO THINK OF THE GOOD, AND NOT ABOUT THE BAD. I HAD TO START SMALL. VERY SMALL. AT FIRST IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO THINK ONLY ABOUT THE GOOD, AND DIS-REGARD THE NEGATIVE. HOWEVER, I RECOGNIZED THE BLESSINGS OF THE LDS PRIESTHOOD AND A LOVING FAMILY. ONE OF THE ONLY THINGS THAT WAS NOT AFFECTED WAS MY HEARING, SO I WAS BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO STILL ENJOY LISTENING TO MUSIC AND HEARING MY CHILDREN SING. I WAS WRITING THIS LIST ON MY OWN, SO I RECOGNIZED THAT I HAD REGAINED INDEPENDENCE THAT I WAS TOLD THAT I WOULD NEVER REGAIN. I GET GREAT PARKING NOW. I FEEL LIKE A QUEEN SINCE PEOPLE DO ALL THE MUNDANE TASKS FOR ME- LIKE FEEDING ME. IF I GET RUNS IN THE BACK OF MY NYLONS, PEOPLE CANNOT TELL SINCE THE WHEELCHAIR HIDES IT. I WAS GRATEFUL THAT I COULD USE SIGN LANGUAGE AND NOT HAVE TO BLINK TO COMMUNICATE ANYMORE (BUT I WAS THANKFUL FOR THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE BY BLINKING WHEN THAT WAS MY ONLY OPTION). I COULD STILL HELP MY KIDS WITH HOMEWORK. I GIVE THE BEST HUGS WHEN SOPHIA GETS HURT. PEOPLE TELL ME COOL SECRETS BECAUSE THEY THINK I WILL NOT AND CANNOT TELL ANYONE. I WAS GRATEFUL TO BE ALIVE.
MY LIST GREW AS I BECAME MORE AWARE OF THE MANY, MANY BLESSINGS THAT EVEN A PERSON IN MY SITUATION HAD, AND I WAS SURPRISED TO FIND THAT I EASILY WROTE ABOUT 20 BLESSINGS THE FIRST ATTEMPT. IN TIME, IF THERE WAS SOMETHING I HATED, I SEARCHED FOR WHY THAT WAS A BLESSING, AND ADDED THAT 2 MY LIST. IT HAS BEEN 4 YEARS SINCE I FIRST BEGAN THIS LIST, AND I ADD TO IT ON A REGULAR BASIS. IN MAKING MY LIST, I HAVE LEARNED TO LOOK A DIFFERENT WAY ON MANY THINGS THAT MAKE MY SITUATION DIFFICULT. THINKING THIS WAY HELPS ME COPE BETTER WITH MY SITUATION, AND TO HELP ME SEE GOD’S HAND IN EVERYTHING I DO. JUST LIKE MY LIST, IT IS IMPORTANT TO DO THE SAME WITH YOUR FAMILIES, AND CLING TO THE THINGS YOU APPRECIATE AND LOVE ABOUT EACH FAMILY MEMBER.

SPEAKING OF GRATITUDE, & IN THE SPIRIT OF THANKSGIVING, I’M CURRENTLY THANKFUL 4 MY POWER WHEELCHAIR & MY VOICE. LAST WEEK MY WHEELCHAIR BROKE AGAIN (IT’S OLD), & THOUGH I’M EXTREMELY GRATEFUL 4 THIS EXTRA POWERCHAIR, I MISS MY “REGULAR” POWERCHAIR, & WILL BE GLAD 2 GET IT BACK 2DAY, AFTER BEING W/O IT FOR 6 DAYS!!

I ALSO LOST MY VOICE. (SOUNDS FUNNY COMING FROM ME, BUT I LOST WHAT LITTLE I’D REGAINED, & COULDN’T EVEN SAY MY KIDS NAMES.) IT WAS LIKE THE BEGINNING, IN 2004…I 4GOT HOW NICE IT IS 2 HAVE RE-GAINED EVEN A TINY BIT OF VOICE.

MOST RECENTLY, I AM THANKFUL BECAUSE I CAN MOVE MY BELLY VOLUNTARILY. IT IS ONLY A LITTLE, BUT IT IS SOMETHING. IF IT GETS STRONGER, I MAY BE ABLE TO BREATHE VOLUNTARILY. THEN I COULD FORCE AIR THROUGH MY VOCAL CORDS AND I COULD REGAIN THE ABILITY TO TALK. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS SMALL MOVEMENT AND ALL OTHERS THAT WILL COME MY WAY.

I PREVIOUSLY JOURNALLED THESE:

• 11/7 WAS A “TALKING DAY” (I HAVE DAYS WHERE IT’S EASIER 2 TALK), & WITH WORDS, & NO SIGNING, I ASKED MY GIRLS,“WHAT R U DOING?” 1 OF THE GIRLS REPEATED MY QUESTION, 2 BE SURE I WAS UNDERSTOOD, & AFTER NODDING YES, SHE ANSWERED. I THEN POINTED & ASKED, “WHAT IS THAT?,” & THE OTHER GIRL REPEATED MY QUESTION, 2 BE SURE I WAS UNDERSTOOD AGAIN, & AFTER NODDING YES, SHE ANSWERED.

• ABOUT 2 WEEKS PREVIOUS 2 THAT, I TOLD MY MUSIC THERAPIST, “NO PIANO,” AS I POINTED AT MY PIANO, & SHOOK MY HEAD. SHE TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD ME! I WAS THRILLED! IT’S 1 THING 4 MY FAMILY 2 UNDERSTAND ME, OR A SPEECH THERAPIST, BUT IT’S ANOTHER 2 HAVE “USEFUL” CONVERSATION.

• 11/9 WAS ALSO EXCITING. THE GIRLS CAME HOME FROM SCHOOL, BUT I ONLY SAW SOPH. NORMALLY, I HAVE 2 DROP WHAT I’M DOING, SO I CAN SIGN, “WHERE IS JESSICA?”, OR I KEEP WORKING & WONDERING! I CAN’T RECALL THE LAST TIME I KEPT WORKING, & SIMULTANEOUSLY ASKED A QUESTION, BUT EVERY NOW & THEN I TRY IT, JUST 4 FUN! ONLY THIS TIME, SOPH UNDERSTOOD ME, & ANSWERED! GRANTED, IT’S VERY POSSIBLE THAT SHE ONLY FIGURED OUT MY WORDS, DUE 2 THE CONTEXT, BUT IT FELT GOOD!

WHEN I 1ST LOST THE ABILITY TO SPEAK, I BEGAN BY BLINKING IN ORDER TO SPELL WORDS, THEN “GRADUATED” TO FINGER-SPELLING WORDS, & I CAN NOW SIGN SOME WORDS. THE FIRST SIGN WORD I LEARNED, WAS FOR THE WORD “THANK YOU.” I WAS THRILLED! IT FELT SO GOOD TO BE ABLE TO SAY “THANK YOU,” WHENEVER SOMEONE HELPED ME! I BELIEVE THAT IN ORDER TO LEARN GRATITUDE, WE NEED TO SAY, “THANK YOU.” LUCKILY, WHEN I LOST MY VOICE THIS TIME, I COULD STILL MOVE & SIGN “THANK YOU.”

HOWEVER, I FINALLY GOT MY VOICE BACK A LITTLE YESTERDAY, & CAN SAY MORE AGAIN. I WAS DELIGHTED THAT WHEN ZACH ASKED ME AFTER DINNER WHERE DAD WENT, I WAS ABLE 2 SAY “MAILBOX” CLEARLY, & BE UNDERSTOOD! EVEN ZACH WAS IMPRESSED!

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I KNOW I WILL!

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