So this post is rather late. Better late than never? As Thanksgiving just finished up, I figured I would write about the oh so obvious theme of the holiday, thanks and gratitude. Thanksgiving was not completly “ideal” for me this year but I felt a stronger sense of gratitude and joy for the holiday than I probably have my whole life. Persepetives can change. And quickly. Sink or Swim as they say.
On Monday of Thanksgiving week I woke up with an upset stomach. I have so many digestive issues with this whole game of body malfunction, that it is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for me. So I decided I would take it easy on my system for the next couple of days and stick to a lot of press made juices. (Yes, I have become a juicer, courtesy of my brother who put his Crohn’s and health issues into remission with juicing and major diet changes). Well long story short, Thursday arrived and I am in more pain and still unable to eat. We weren’t eating together until Friday but I knew it looked grim, I was barely able to handle applesauce.
I had planned on this meal for so long. I had been working on the cooking all week, doing it in small batches of time since too much time on my feet and doing something labor intensive can knock me out for days. I had worked so hard on the dishes and was so excited to enjoy this meal with everyone. And to be honest, part of the fun of cooking is being able to eat the meal with everyone after.
So what did I do with this sitaution? I cried to my Mom. I felt sorry for myself. I let it out for a couple of minutes. I needed to. I sort of have forgotten what it is like to cry and that’s not healthy either! I knew it wasn’t a big deal and I have made so many adjustments over the past two years but sometimes I just get fed up with having to do so over and over again, sometimes it would be nice if I could just have a break for a short period of time. I really never ever ask, “why me?” or “can’t I just have a break?” because I know, one, it’s a pretty pointless question and two, it just creates more resistance.
But sometimes you need a minute of self-pity.
Food is my passion. I am ridiculously obsessed with it. When I started to having to make drastic diet changes due to new food intolerances, growing digestive problems and the lovely Interstitial Cystitis, I made it a positive. I complained for a minute and moved forward. I did what I had to do. I learned how to come up with cool new recipes, I learned how to make alternatives taste good, I figured out how to make it taste good for other people to try. And as I continued to have new digestive issues arise, I rolled with the punches and made the adjustments necessary. My passion for food has become one of my only staples throughout all this. I can no longer run or let alone exercise, I can’t ride a horse, go for walks, travel, go out at night, the list goes on. Food has been the one thing I have hung onto and this was Thanksgiving, THE HOLIDAY OF FOOD. All I wanted to do was to be able to prepare and enjoy a meal with everyone.
My Mom was great (THANKS MOM!). She let me have the pity party for a minute or two and then told me clearly this year it wasn’t meant to be about food for me. It was just something else I had to rise above. I muttered that I was sick of having to always “rise above” but I knew she was right. And besides, she pointed out, Thanksgiving is about time with family, with or without a meal. I knew she was right. I brushed myself off and went downstairs to finish the cooking.
The next day I was not any better. In fact, I begged the staff at the gastroenterologist’s office to let me be seen because of the pain I was in. After all that, I was told it was probably just viral gastritis on top of my typical digestive malfunctions. AKA we can’t do anything about it. I helped my sister finish cooking that day and took a rest before dinner. I wasn’t able to eat a meal but I had one small bite of almost everything. I happily made myself a Thanksgiving plate that is still in the freezer waiting for me. But regardless of that, I was so incredibly grateful for the experience. I was grateful to even be able to enjoy the couple of bites here and there. I made it through the entire dinner (which for those close to me is big deal, there have been many gatherings and events I have missed due to a crash). I was able to socialize and function. I laughed. I caught up. The meal had great reviews and people got to try out new things. I even made it through half of dessert before I had to retire to my room.
My family was so amazingly supportive. I got to see my sister, her husband and kids. I got to see my Aunt and Uncle who I don’t see much. My 88 year old grandfather celebrated another Thanksgiving with us, still going strong. And of course I got to spend another Thanksgiving with my amazing parents who I have become closer to this year than I have over my entire 21 years prior.
They say gratitude is a being of existence not a temporary passing feeling. This adds to the list of difficult things to figure out and practice. This Thanksgiving, I felt so truly connected to this concept. Sure things have been rough this year and at times gratitude is the last thing I can possibly feel or think or “be.” But Turkey day helped me realize what it means to be living in gratitude. Simply being able to enjoy company with my family left me with a state of calm, happiness and joy regardless of physically feeling terrible.
Fourteen days later I have graduated to eating rice but not much more (I have probably consumed more rice in the past couple of days than half the continent of Asia) and drinking small amounts of a “medical food powder” (Sort of like protein powder but instead has vitamins and specific things to help bring down inflammation-Ultra Inflamx by Metagenics for those of you with health issues) Having my digestive system quit for awhile has made me continue to find out what gratitude really is. Although at first I was so frustrated that food the way i love is not an option right now, I realized there are plenty of other ways to be happy and much to still be grateful for. Nothing defines us even if it is something we feel strongly about. I am much more aware of how much I cherish all my relationships, how I love to hang out with my dogs or spend time with my family. I have some of the most amazing friends in the world, amazing family and I am surrounded by love. I am grateful for my body for doing its best to deal with this and heal. My digestive system is happy to have a break and I am even grateful that I am able to identify and give my body what it needs even if it frustrates the whiny child in me that says “but why!”
There are always things to be grateful for. They are just not always to see especially when our “egos” try to convince us of everything that is wrong. And that happens way too often. I started a journal activity in the summer (which I have even gotten lazy about) of writing 3 things that I was grateful for that day, no matter how small, trivial, or awful the day was. Try it. Reread them when you’re done. Do it day, after day, after day. It will soon no longer be forced but become natural. Before you know it, you will be “living gratitude” every day you are able to wake up.
Try it for the month of December. It takes all of thirty seconds. An extra 2.5 minutes a week. See what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.