Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Blessings and Gratitude and other Stuff

So, for any Catholics or Protestants of the Apostolic brand - you all know we are in the middle of Lent.  Some number (2,3,5?) of years ago, I decided to do something proactive for Lent rather than giving up some vice or whatnot.  I made a commitment to a practice of gratitude. Although I've learned recently I'm actually more like Thomas Jefferson and the Deists of his age*, I still honor the Easter season. Because you don't really need to invoke the magic of a reincarnation of a man born of a virgin who is the son of God incarnate (it's the magical stuff I get stuck on), to appreciate the real live magic of renewal and rebirth that happens in the springtime. Look around you - aren't you amazed?!

Over the years. this time of year has become a "fully loaded" emotional time for me, and for our family in general.   Two times during Lent I've had a pregnancy I didn't think would make it through to a real live baby. The first time I was wrong, and after weeks on bed rest with threatened demise of the pregnancy (and  host of other problems!), Teen Wonder emerged - the survivor. The understated Tiger she will always be. Fighting because she knew what she wanted even though she didn't yet know what it was. So her. And I'm so grateful for that miracle. Three years later Teen Wonder's father and I divorced (well initiated the divorce) during Lent.  The second time I went through a difficult pregnancy during Lent, I was right, unfortunately, and I'm still struggling with that bad ending. Though a little less each year that goes by.  Then in 2005, our adoption of Wild Thing was finalized during this same season - amazing ride that was!  And that year Easter fell in between the court date in Kazakhstan and our "Family Day" of April 8th. That was the day we went to the Baby House as a family (Mr. Wonderful, Teen Wonder who was at that time just pre-teen Wonder, and I), and Wild Thing came away with us - leaving the only home he'd known in his 8 1/2 months to come and make a bigger family with us.  Teen Wonder and I thought we were so clever on the first anniversary of this Family Day when we coined it the "Roman Holiday". I'm not sure she even has ever seen the movie, but I explained it to her and we laughed and ever since that is what we celebrate. Roman Holiday to us - Family Day to everyone external to us. This year our Roman Holiday is on Easter Sunday, and Wild Thing is more curious about the whole then than ever before.

I suppose it is understandable, but my emotions are typically all over the map this time of year, and a practice of gratitude can keep things pointed in the right direction. The other direction isn't so great and I've gone there enough times now, I no longer need to visit that place. Recently I've expressed gratitude for my improving health here on this blog - for new drugs, believers in the power of healing, plastic surgeons who don't want to scar up my hands, technology that makes it harder for me to be a bad diabetic, friends and family who support me and really (really) care about me. I hope that comes through in my writing. All of this is really amazing to me - I feel incredibly lucky. I know that there are so many people out there with similar or worse health issues who don't have the resources or the support that I have and that is not fair or just. Still, I am so grateful I do have what I have.

Tonight I was reminded that in my very immediate community of friends and colleagues, there is another type 1 diabetic, 2 friends with Dupuytren's contracture in their hands, and another chronic sarcoid patient.  I believe this reminder helps me fulfill my New Year's resolution to not be so f@#*ing special - I am in fact surrounded by loving and sincere people who suffer the same as me, laugh at life the same as me, shrug away irritating symptoms and required lifestyle changes the same as me.

Yay! And I hope that every person suffering a chronic and/or debilitating disease can find the support they need in their community of friends and family. None of us will live forever - but we all deserve to live happily or at least surrounded by understanding, love and support.

I have that. And for that I am grateful. Personally, I belive that Jesus would be pretty happy with this much - no miracles required.

Today I am grateful that I am not all that special. And I'm grateful to live in such a terrific community (both home and professionally).  So, thanks!

*So I listened to a podcast on Thomas Jefferson's version of the bible (New testament) where he basically cut out anything that required magic and miracles and kept the messages of Christ's teachings. Thomas Jefferson believed in a "God", but that this God didn't play a hand in our every day lives in a direct way.  He didn't believe all the magical stuff, but he did believe Jesus was a real person and that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. Jefferson's version of the bible was incredibly short - I don't remember at the moment, but something like 46 pager, or 64 pages...anyway it was much less than 100 pages and so quite short really. I keep meaning to look it up - you must be able to read the whole thing on the internet somewhere, right? One of these days...

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