Pause to List the Good
On Sunday, I broke down in tears not once, but twice. I was six days post-op from an achilles lengthening procedure.
Everything about the procedure ran smoothly and recovery was moving along as expected. So what was with the tears?
This seemingly random onset of sadness was no stranger to me. Loneliness and restlessness had slowly crept in. While undergoing chemo, these feelings occasionally crept up too. Always unexpected. Generally unwelcome.
Every few months while undergoing chemo, I would once again become familiar with these emotions. The struggle would begin after breaking my normal routine several days in a row. The desire for normalcy would increase until it reached a breaking point and tears were shed.
When the tears started flowing on Sunday, they took me by surprise. My mom had been in town all week, so the week had felt more like a really odd vacation. We had had a great week. On Sunday, my parents headed home and everything was going back to normal on Monday – except that it wasn’t. Not really. I had a new normal to contend with and now I had to face it alone. The next few days felt daunting.
I knew in my head and my heart that I would be fine. I had been managing quite well, but the emotions poured in nonetheless.
Time and time again, I have learned the best medicine anytime I’m feeling low is to focus on the good. This past month, Emily P. Freeman shared a list of good things in her monthly letter, which enticed me to write my own as I worked through my Sunday slump.
While I believe gratitude should be something we practice all year, it seems fitting to kick off the month of gratitude with a good list.
The Good List
No. 1: Extra time spent with the ones I love
This month was jam packed with birthdays, weddings, and health procedures which brought my extended family together more than usual.
It was a month full of a little extra celebration and a little more togetherness – a welcome change.
No. 2: Two very special birthday cakes
One of my favorite hobbies is baking and this month I had the opportunity to make cakes for two boys very close to my heart, my nephews. We celebrated the “meatball” Luke turning one with an Italian themed party. Turning three, Eli got to pick the theme for his party and I was informed that he wanted a “big, huge firetruck.” Seeing him interact with the cake, I think his wish was granted.
No. 3: My best friend’s wedding
My best friend married her best friend. We popped balloons filled with paint like in The Princess Diaries. It was a perfect day for a perfect pair. You can’t ask for anything more.
No. 4: A perspective shift while deep cleaning
Prior to surgery, we planned to hire someone to come give the house a good deep clean. It might seem trivial, but having a clean house during recovery is a gift to both Caleb and me. It lessens the already increased responsibility placed on Caleb’s shoulders. It frees me from feeling frustrated when I see that something needs to be done and can’t help.
We intended to hire someone to get the job done, but then discovered our hard-working air conditioning unit of 23 years had finally given out. Suddenly, the house cleaning felt like an unnecessary expense. I decided I’d spend the week before surgery doing the deep clean. As I was cleaning, I realized what a gift it was to be able to do the work myself. In recent years, that hasn’t always been true. And it dawned on me that sometimes, all we have to do is replace “I have to..” with “I get to…” and our perspective can change in a snap.
No. 5: Continued tumor shrinkage
Three months post-chemo and the MRI revealed continued tumor shrinkage. The news was without a doubt the best possible outcome and the answer to many prayers. Although I’ve learned to be thankful in all circumstances – it’s what we’re called to do according to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – this happy news brought joyful tears to my eyes. It has been a long journey and we are grateful for God’s provision through every single step.
No. 6: Leaving a conference grateful for the path I’m on
I recently attended the annual EDGE|X Conference. This years theme was “one life.” Incredible speakers including Bob Goff, Sage Steele, and Ian Morgan Cron addressed the theme. Last year, I left the conference feeling like I had significant work to do. I wanted more of what those speakers were sharing about. This year was different. I left knowing I was living my one life well – following the path meant for me. There is still plenty of work to be done, but I’m grateful for the path I’m on.
No. 7: My first floral arranging shift
At Random Acts of Flowers, a place I volunteer at on a regular basis, there are many different volunteer positions. Many positions build on one another. Once you’ve been trained in one area, you can train in a new area. I’ve mainly been helping with floral pickups (picking up flowers from grocery stores) and floral prep (getting the flowers prepped and ready), but this month, I was able to complete floral arranging training as well as my first shift.
During floral prep, I’d heard mixed reviews about floral arranging. Some people loved it, some people said they’d never do it again. When the time came for my first shift, I was nervous about working alongside the pros. But the volunteer leader paired me up with a few fantastic arrangers and we had an absolute blast making beautiful arrangements for patients. These are some of my very first creations. I hope the patients on the receiving end loved them as much as I loved putting them together!
No. 8: A successful surgery
Although “success” can be defined in many ways, the achilles lengthening surgery went well. What the future holds is still uncertain. The photo shows where I was pre-surgery. Today, although I am walking in a boot, my heel hits the ground. Post-surgery, the surgeon expressed to my family that recovery will be full of hard work. I don’t plan to waste the opportunity I’ve been given and no matter what the ultimate outcome is, I’m grateful to have taken the first step.
Take time to pause this week and reflect on your list of good things. Share in the comments one thing that came to mind as you read this post.
If you are interested in cultivating more gratitude in your life, take the 10-Day Gratitude Challenge: Seek and Find the Good.