My new word too, Karen. Each day, we are faced with change and choice. While we may have no choice about the circumstances that come our way, we always have the option to determine via our free will, what we do with it. Often we spend so much time bemoaning our fate that we aren’t left with enough energy to change it. Today while at work, some of my clients were discussing this very subject. We were playing what I think of as the “Thank God, I…..” game in which we are able to take a look at circumstances that were painful, challenging and unthinkable and sort them and come up with the treasure in the muck, the pony in manure, the….well, you get the picture. There is actually a book by that name in which the authors of the chapters including my friend Susan Burger (her Chapter was called Thank God My Best Friend Died) wrote about loss of life, job, health, safety, freedom. Titles include :Thank God I Was Raped, Thank God I Lost My Mind, Thank God I Had Cancer, Thank God I Lost My Dream Job and Found My Dream. I know it’s difficult to imagine in any way being grateful for those experiences, but consider times in your life in which the worst of things became the best of things.
I was speaking with someone today about being able to sort through what most would consider tough situations in my life that these days are simply an integrated part of all that I am…an ectopic pregnancy, an ill (for 6 years) spouse, losing a home and a business to a hurricane, all in one year. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory measures stress related life events and assigns point values to them. In 1992, the year I just described, I accumulated 332 points (and it didn’t take into account Hurricane Andrew!) which was way over the top. In 1998, the year Michael died, I racked up 334 points. According to this scale, it’s amazing that I remained sane and vertical. I attribute much of that to learned resilience, a deep and abiding faith and steadfast and loving family and friends that are with me to this day.
What I now recognize is the ‘blesson’ in the mess. If not for those experiences, I would not have become an interfaith minister, free lance journalist and bereavement counselor. I would likely be operating by theory, rather than direct experience. I wouldn’t have as many stories to tell and I wouldn’t be writing this words. And for all of that, I am grateful.