Growing up 20 miles south of the Grand Canyon was different, to say the least, but it taught me a lot about being grateful. Take for instance that it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with more than 7 million people visiting annually. The beauty of this natural wonder is astonishing, but what of the people who actually make that community run? The people that travel here know very little of the life of those actually residing in this rural locale.
Many people still live fairly off the grid doing things a lot of people take for granted:
- "Oops, I left the light on" - numerous residents here still use gas generators, solar power, and in some cases still candles and kerosene lamps to light their homes when it gets dark. It's a habit to turn a light out as you leave a room.
- Clean/running water - this isn't just a hot topic because of Flint or Puerto Rico. In this neck of the woods, it isn't uncommon for people to pay for either water to be delivered to their home or to purchase water at the well and haul it, labouriously to their own home with their truck.
- Cell phone service - if any of you have ever been to the Grand Canyon, you have experienced this first hand, without a doubt, service is spotty at best.
When people come to visit they are so caught up in their social media world and posting their amazing sunset photos, that a number of them get upset about the lack of 4G. They forget they are in one of the most natural and rural places in the country. I have in a few instances seen people in a complete outrage as if their trip was ruined by the fact that almost no one in town, at the time, offered free wifi.
However, though damped as the vacation may be, these people often forget the people who LIVE here, endure that frustration daily without second thought. This is the same thing when it comes to a lot of things in life.
We forget that, while we may look over the fence of our neighbor and admire the nicely watered grass, someone is looking over your fence wishing they had your lawn.
Don't forget to water and admire your own grass!
When we get too caught up in recovery, sometimes we believe what we are going through is as worse than anyone can possibly get.
When I was hospitalized last April with end-stage liver failure as a direct result of my alcohol addiction, the doctor was giving my parents the numbers for palliative care; to make my final arrangements. I laid in a hospital bed being told that even if I survived 90 days, my chance of living after that was almost 50-50.
Along with my coping mechanism, which was alcohol, so much of my old life had begun to feel stripped away. My diet changed, my body was different, my relationships evolved and shook, and nothing in my life felt the same.
There were many times where I felt like no one could understand, and even if they did, they wouldn't want to know or assimilate with the likes of me.
My mom, however, happy to not have buried her only child at the age of 27, knew just how to comfort me, and humble me all at once; I'm going to share the story she always circled back to.
One day, standing in the kitchen with one of her dearest friends, my mother had made a small comment about doing a load of dishes. Through the years, the exact comment has become of less importance to the story, but I'm sure it was something to what we have all done;
- "Doing dishes is the worst"
- "I'll wait until I have a full sink-load, it's only a few dishes"
- "Hmm...i'm really tired today, maybe I'll just do them tomorrow"
The usual, innocuous comment about the pain that everyone faces that is doing dishes.
My mother's friend simply replied, "it must be so cool to just turn on your faucet and have hot water, I think I would never have dirty dishes if I could wash mine whenever I wanted."
You see, it wasn't until this point when my mother remembered that this friend, though owned her own land outright, had no water storage on said land. They didn't even have a place to put water if they could haul it to the house. Instead, she would buy gallons of water, and boil it in a pot on the stove to heat it in order to wash all her dishes.
Since water was purchased this way, it was easier and more cost efficient to wait until every single dish was dirty, do all the dishes at once, and then be done.
If you think about this and really soak it in, it's almost entirely impossible to not feel some sort of gratitude for what you actually do have.
In this light, I hit the internet and with a quick google search, found most assuredly I was NOT alone. People understood me and were in recovery as well and suddenly it wasn't about how worse or better MY story was in comparison.
It became less about looking around at everyone else's lawn and wondering how mine stacked up.
It became more about recognizing that EVERYONE has their OWN lawn, and it has nothing to do with mine. Therefore all I can do is water my own grass, trim my own rough edges, sweep the sidewalk and roll out the welcome matt.
When we are children we are taught to say please and thank you, and while I'm sure a lot of that is more based in manners than in any hope of actual gratitude, this is the time to go back to basics, if there ever was one. Start being grateful for everything you have
You are already starting off with a great list of things to be thankful for
- Be grateful for recovery - it is possible and it will be the best thing in your life since sliced bread.
- Be grateful for the support of those around you - even people (like me) who have never met you, want to help you, that in itself is remarkable when you feel like the world has forgotten you in your recovery
- Be grateful for your life - because, with that gratitude, support, and recovery WILL give you your life back if you put in the effort.
A few years back I completed the #100daysofhappy challenge where you celebrate a new reason to be happy every day for 100 consecutive days.
I strongly suggest it to anyone who feels like they want to start finding more positive things in their everyday life.
It does take time, and some actual conscious effort to look for reasons to be grateful; especially on the days you feel particularly misunderstood and abandoned.
After a while, you will find yourself looking at things more positively, and less critical of the things that don't work exactly how you wanted them.
Sometimes, life doesn't work out the way YOU planned it, but that doesn't mean it's not working in your favor.
Stay strong readers!
-catch ya on the #soberside