Friday, February 24, 2012

Gratitude



Happy Friday, Dear Readers.

Let's face it: life can be very hard, and it can be cruel. Sometimes even the day-to-day routine of paying bills, cleaning the house, driving the kids to a gazillion different places, and putting in your time at a day job can wear you down. It's so easy to forget to be grateful.

I'd like to think I've learned a few lessons about gratitude in my time. I was supposed to be in a wheelchair by my early twenties. My best friend died in a tragic accident when I was seventeen, and another young friend committed suicide. So I know life is short. I know that there are no guarantees, so you should be kind while you can and grateful for what you have.

But sometimes, I forget.

Right now, I'm grateful that I was born a storyteller. Since I can tell stories, I am regularly connected with people who have the most amazing stories to share. Sometimes they are simple, like that of the  man who left a Hutterite colony with only the clothes on his back, and now runs one of the most successful catering businesses in the province, if not the country. Sometimes they are more unusual, like the elderly woman who as a young girl carried messages in her shoes to the Allied Forces during World War II, while a Jewish family hid for their lives in her home. I never know at the start what each interview will ultimately teach me, but it's quite often a lesson of gratitude, courage, and resilience.

Human beings are nothing if not resilient.

My most recent lesson in gratitude came from a 28-year-old heart transplant recipient. Kristin found out she had a heart condition at 18--news that was a huge shock to this healthy, active woman, but which never stopped her for a second. When her nasty "stomach flu" in 2009 turned out to be heart failure, she faced each challenge with love, laughter, and such optimism. This young woman--who has already been through much more than most of us will ever face in our lifetime--made me laugh...and cry...several times during our interview. And she generously allowed me to tell more of her story on this blog, which I will do at a later date. I want to take the time to honor her story.

I am grateful that people like Kristin are willing to open up and share their stories with me, so I can share them with you. This is a gift I never take for granted. And I'm grateful that my own heart--though bruised and somewhat jaded--is still open to being moved and changed by the people I meet through my writing.

What are you grateful for? Have you ever met an extraordinary "ordinary" person?

4 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post Holli...and inspiring too! So many people have done ordinary things with such great love and great passion that they become extraordinary!

    I'm grateful each night, in my prayers, and during each day, for my family, friends, and the blessings in my life. Even the ones that don't look like blessings right away :-) You know, the hard ones that seem impossible to get through...yeah you know.

    The most extraordinary person I've ever met would be a tie between Ron Southern (ATCO trailers and Spruce Meadows) and the wonderful Temple Grandin (brilliant, passionate and autistic)...they inspire me in very different ways but neither quit when quitting was the easy way. They didn't stop when people told them they should, they just went around the detour and made a new way.

    Love your posts Holli...

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  2. Thanks so much, MM. When I wrote for Community Review, I was always so intrigued by how hundreds of people would walk by an ugly empty lot filled with garbage in their neighborhood without giving it a thought, but one person would decide it should be a community garden and made it happen. What made that one person different from the rest? How can we make sure we're the one and not the majority? I think that would be make a great thesis for someone.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration with me. I always appreciate your optimistic view on life.

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  3. I like to think I'm grateful for every single day above ground, but the sad reality is that, most days, I forget to acknowledge my gratitude. It's so easy to take this life and all we have in it for granted. That's why I cherish any reminder of the preciousness of life and the good inherent in people.

    I'm grateful for people who make a difference, but I'm also grateful for the people who tell their stories, who educate and inspire the rest of us to know that such heights are possible, and give us the ladders to reach them.

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  4. Thanks for your comment, Chris. Are you saying you're actually grateful for the journalists? I haven't heard that before! :)

    You are one of those people who are happy with whatever you have and who are truly appreciative. I've personally never witnessed you taking anything for granted...you're an example to us all.

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