Gratitude

Things happen fast. Thoughts happen even faster. The thought, that one you’re thinking right now, that’s who you are. In this minute right here, that thought defines you. And here’s where it starts to get real; this minute, the one we’re living right now, it’s the only one with any real power.

What’s with the philosophy all the sudden? Right. Well, I’m going to tell you. It’s been kind of a tough few weeks here in Fairytale Village. I generally try to keep this blog all rainbows and lollypops, but one of the things I hope to accomplish by writing books is to build an online community — of writers and readers, yes — but also of people who crave a space in which to be authentic, to share their triumphs and victories, as well as their sorrows and setbacks. I can’t build a community like that on a shallow foundation. It just won’t support the weight of real lives honestly lived, so it’s time to drill down.

Having your supposedly stable income yanked out from under you sucks. Working hard and playing by the established rules and still losing the game sucks. You know what else really sucks? Brain tumors. Brain tumors really, really suck. Having had eight of them, I can say this with absolute certainty. Brain tumors are why these last few weeks sucked. It was time for my check up with my neurosurgeon. He’s an awesome doctor and a likable guy (a rare combination in a group of people who choose to make a living by cutting open brains), but he’s also extremely scary because he has the power to give me the news I dread more than anything — even more than the zombie apocalypse or a Rand Paul presidency. Another brain surgery.

I spend the days leading up to these appointments in a state of near constant prayer, though not the total immersion kind of prayer that I imagine monastics practice. I have a life and kids and responsibilities after all, and I think God understands that. It’s not the bargaining kind of prayer, wherein I haggle and barter for a good report and in exchange I promise to work for world peace, eat my vegetables, go to church, and clean up my language. God knows about my potty mouth and my suspicion of organized religion, and frankly, I don’t think she’s that bothered by it. My brand of prayer consists of being aware of every moment for the blessing it is and giving thanks for all of it. That might be a paltry prayer indeed by some standards, but it’s how I roll. Taking stock of my life in this way makes me feel both infinitesimally small and infinitely large, and there in the midst of that dichotomy is where I find God. She’s a trickster, that God of mine.

As I tried to keep my mind from spiraling into worry and dread, the practice of gratitude kept me both upright and grounded. I’m grateful that Michael could accompany me on my series of appointments without our usual fretting over vacation days, F.M.L.A. paperwork, and making up time on the weekends. I’m grateful that he’s home in the evenings to read books to the kids before they’re too tired to enjoy the experience. I’m grateful that the prayer I prayed long ago that someday, people would read my stories, has been answered. Most of all, I’m grateful that I left my neurosurgeons office without a surgery date. “Come back in a year” was the doc’s verdict.

I wonder how many books I can write in a year.

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Posted in Life Between the Lines
7 comments on “Gratitude
  1. Yay!! Great news!! I hope you write many books in many, many more years to come! Count me as a fan and a community member!

  2. Hoorah Hooha Betty, thanks! I’m glad you want to be part of a community here, because otherwise I might have to take you hostage.

  3. I’m grateful for your good news as well.

    Do you find that your mindfulness of the goodness in your life fades without the imminent appointment? Because I totally suck at being mindful and I’d like to be better although I have no desire to have things like brain tumors hanging over me like the sword of Damocles.

    Go write some more. I want to know what happens in your world. 😉

    • Karen, I’ve been practicing mindfulness for several years now. The operative word there is “practicing.” I still fail at it a lot. The difference is that now I know when I’m failing. I’m really bad at the Buddhist level of mindfulness, like being completely mindful while you’re washing dishes or something. I write fiction, so there’s crap going on in my head almost all the time. Those mundane moments are the best for letting my mind wander and work on my story. Indeed, the brain tumors have been excellent teachers in terms of remembering what’s important in life. Continued best wishes for you on your own spiritual journey.

  4. Skye says:

    Oh yay for you, darlin’! I’m so glad it’s another year of no tumors!

    When I remember to do mindfulness practice, it is so good at putting me in a focused mindset and a serene feeling. And yes, I can do mindfulness when washing dishes, even though most of the time my mind is full of characters and worlds and all. I’m usually so all over the place I love being able to gather my thoughts in and focus on one thing, even if it’s for only 20 minutes at a time. Now if only I can remember to do it more often!

    • Skye, high five to you for maintaining mindfulness in the face of dirty dishes. I can’t do it. I know that mindfulness during mundane tasks is the real point of the exercise, but I totally retreat inside my head. Some of my best ideas come while I’m folding laundry. You impress me mightily, babe.

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