EVERY DAY IS A GIFT!
Yesterday I found out that a dear friend of mine had been in a terrible car accident Monday night as she was returning home from work. She was broadsided and had to be removed from the car with the jaws of life. Today she had surgery for a broken hip. How her life changed in a few moments!
This morning I got a message that a dear family friend of many years had died suddenly in his chair in California. He had had no serious health issues, and we had just visited with him and his wife in July, going to water aerobics with him, a tennis match, and several dinners out, and he was his usual visionary self.
I was shocked to learn last weekend that another speaker friend from Canada had died, and I know several dear friends who are struggling with persistent and ongoing health issues that have recently attacked them.
All these things have reminded me again of how tenuous this life is. When at age 56, I had lost my father, my son, and my husband, it became clear to me that nothing is guaranteed – this was NOT how I had planned my life to be—yet life did go on, and as a result, I have learned to treasure every moment, even when things are not what I would like them to be.
And yet, perhaps like you, I constantly need reminders that every day IS a gift!
Here are some of the ways I have discovered to keep in touch with my gratitude for life:
Do something every day for someone else. I try each day to write at least one note of appreciation, either in a card or by email, to thank someone for the gift they have been in my life or to just let them know I am thinking of them. This helps me to focus on others and not just on my own needs. There is always someone in my life who needs encouragement and love, and doing something for someone else helps me rise above my own concerns.
Be fully in the present. When our baby died and was buried on Christmas Eve, I did not think I could ever be whole again, and many days I did not think I could even make it through the next hour, let alone a whole day. However, during that time a friend gave me a book that talked about “living five minutes at a time.” Not only did that practice help me get through each day and heal, but it also became a way of life for me. When I am with someone, I am FULLY with them and that is true of each experience in my life. I never want to be thinking about tomorrow when I have this precious moment today!
Rely on my faith for sustenance. If I did not believe there was something better beyond this earthly life, I could not have survived the pain of loss I have experienced. Pain is not only the price of love, but it is also the catalyst for learning and growth. However, without a foundation of faith in God, I think I might have become stuck in self-pity and bitterness. As strange as it may seem sometimes, I have learned that ultimately “all things DO work together for good for those who love the Lord!”
Have a theme for my year. A wonderful speaker friend shared this idea with me, and it has become a treasured practice in my life. Each year on January 1, I choose a one or two word theme for that year to keep me focused on what is TRULY important in my life. In past years I have chosen the themes of “Surrender,” “Finding Peace,” and one of my favorites, “Surprise Me Again, Lord!” My theme this year is “Rebuilding Relationships.” Because I have been so involved in a great deal of travel in my work, particularly internationally, I have struggled with keeping up with my friends all over the world, so this year I have chosen to focus on finding ways to keep in better touch with the people I care about. After all, relationships are really the only lasting thing in this life.
Keeping a blessings journal. For many years I have kept a blessings journal – often just a spiral notebook, but whatever the form, it has helped me to work through my feelings, celebrate my joys, and record my learnings, successes, and failures. I often write letters to God, and somehow, through this process, answers to my concerns and prayers often happen as a result. As I go back through past writings, I also see how God has worked even the most difficult circumstances for good.
As much as my heart is heavy today, feeling the pain of those I love, I also find myself steeped in gratitude once again for the possibility of love and joy each and every day of our lives. We just must keep reminding ourselves and those we love that we are ALIVE TODAY—and that is the most precious gift of all!
To learn more about Barbara’s life and work, go to www.barbaraglanz.com.