Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From Blahs to Blessings

My life is messy, imperfect, and there can be days where I just go "why?!" but you know what? I'm happy, really and truly. Yes I've struggled with body image issues and in particular the last couple years but I'm slowly healing from that. I try to wake up every day now with a grateful heart that I'm alive, and to see the beauty and gifts of the little things. I have been blessed beyond anything I could ever have imagined, and I try to make more of an effort to see that now.

Changing my perspective in this way has really opened my eyes to see the good in a wonderfully imperfect life. I believe life isn't meant to be perfect and I love the saying "the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude". There are less-than-perfect days where I might be rushing
to get through it all because I'm simply in a bad mood or things aren't going the way I planned. But when I look back it seems like a waste of a day by mulling over the negatives. I was so focused on getting the day over with that I didn't stop and take the time to try to see the little things, to actually appreciate that each day is such a gift.

We are given precious little time here on earth, and I honestly want to try to stop taking my time here for granted. I need to stop complaining about things that are going wrong and start focusing on turning my blahs to blessings. It's hard but it's not impossible, and I'll give you the number one way: attitude.

I can pinpoint this change in my attitude down to the day. May 8, 2013. You could probably say that was the biggest hurdle I ever faced in my life. My mom had suffered from a brain aneurysm and stroke, and was slowly deteriorating. Nothing the doctors did was helping her and she seemed to be getting worse by the day. I was watching my mom slowly die and there was absolutely nothing in the world I could do. We were told by numerous doctors and nurses that it would be a miracle if she survived. And yet, in the middle of it all, blessings were pouring in from all sides.

For starters, my mom was truly fortunate because her aneurysm leaked and not burst, which bursting pretty much results in instant death in a majority of the cases. My mom's was gradual which gave the doctors enough time to act. Secondly, the area in which her aneurysm ruptured and caused the stroke was in the least necessary part of her brain (if that makes sense at all). Her neurosurgeon actually told us that if he could pick the ideal spot for a stroke to occur with the least amount of damage, it would be where it happened in her brain. Thirdly, her neurosurgeon himself is truly one of the best people I've ever met. I had full faith in him. He was compassionate, gentle, respectful, optimistic, supportive, trustworthy, and everything you could ever want in your doctor. In fact I had little choice but to follow him blindly throughout the whole process but I did it without hesitation or doubt. I couldn't have asked for a better doctor or nurses.

There were also blessings outside the hospital in the form of family, friends, and coworkers. The minute I told my aunt and grandma that my mom was going for emergency brain surgery, they met me at the hospital. They sat with me (Amanda was on her way home from Tennessee) for 13 hours in the hospital from 11am to 12am, and came back the next day with my sister and I from 12pm to 11pm. Every single day they took us to the hospital for close to two months. They stayed by our side and supported us. My mom's coworkers donated their sick leave so that my mom had enough hours to get full paychecks for three months so that my sister and I didn't have to worry about covering bills at home. Her coworkers also set up a fund at work and raised a couple thousand dollars to donate to our family for groceries, bills, or anything my mom might need. We got so many calls, texts, prayers, and cards a day that it was hard to keep track of who we had talked to and who we still had to update. I couldn't have asked for more support during a time like this.

But the biggest blessing of all? My mom survived.

The only logical explanation was truly a miracle. In fact, my sister and I  had to make the decision to take my mom off the ventilator because she couldn't breathe on her own, she wasn't responding to any of the treatments for weeks, and her prognosis was bleak. I remember vividly that it was a Tuesday evening when we sat down with her neurosurgeon and told him our decision. He agreed that it was for the best but he told us to wait two days to finally take her off the machine. By the grace of God my mom started breathing on her own the very next day. No one knew how or why but she did.

During this entire process things changed because I got a huge reality check. I was fresh out of college, literally days when all this happened, and I didn't have a job. This whole thing came as a sudden shock because my mom was only 48 and perfectly healthy. How could she have a traumatic brain injury and stroke? My sister and I were suddenly forced to take on roles that we had never had to do before. Being in charge of bills, making financial decisions, figuring out insurance stuff. We had never dealt with anything like that before but luckily we were not alone. Again, my aunt and grandma came with us everywhere to talk to HR people, the bank, or whatever else needed dealing with.

So, long story short, I learned that day on May 8th what truly mattered in life. I was suddenly faced with the reality that I might never be able to talk to my mom, that she would be lost to me and the thought terrified me. I honestly have never prayed as hard as I did the first night coming home from the hospital. I don't know if I'd even call it praying as it was more like begging God, pleading that He would save her. I was desperate and tears were streaming down my face. I couldn't sleep that night but lay awake, crying uncontrollably and terrified of getting that call from the doctors.

Throughout my whole experience, I found out who my true friends were and witnessed the extent of how far my family would go to help me. I have never experienced such love and support. I hate to admit but now that it's been over a year, it's easier to forget the vivid details, to overlook those blessings. I feel as though recently that I've been forgetting more and taking more for granted but I need to stop. My attitude is slipping but I want to change that. So from now on, I'm going to challenge myself again to turn each blah into a blessing.

It's something that I did last year whenever I felt as though there was something to complain about. I would just remember how good God has been to me and then try to find the silver lining, the positive in each situation. It helped tremendously for me to see the good, and it changed my attitude for the better. If I feel like complaining about my job, I remember that I at least have a job when others do not. Taxes or bills? I'm fortunate to be able to pay them. Student loans? It means I was able to go to college and get my degree. Stuck in traffic? I get an audio book I enjoy to pass the time. It's small adjustments like that which can add up to a bigger change.

So what are you thankful for today? What blessings are there in your life that you tend to overlook? I'm not trying to chastise anyone because I just said, I do it too. But I want to make a positive change and remember that there once was a time in my life when things could have been much, much worse. So today, I'm thankful they weren't. Today, I'm thankful that my mom is alive and still recovering. I'm thankful that I'm alive and healthy too as is my sister, my family, my friends. I'm thankful that we all get to see another day together. To love, laugh, and experience life.

I don't want to think about tomorrow because it's never guaranteed. So for today I'm just going to look for the good in every situation, and appreciate what a wonderful gift it is to be alive.


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