Sue and the Demonstrated Power of Gratitude (and Why I Run Grace In Small Things)
As you may know, I run a small gratitude community called Grace in Small Things. I created it back in 2008 when I needed all the support I could find to get back on my feet. I had no idea if anyone would show up, because I had no faith in the power of gratitude myself. I was grasping. What I found over that first year of daily gratitude lists astounded me, though, and it continues to work in my life in ways that I have yet failed to express.
This is why I am bringing you this post from my fellow Grace in Small Things member, Sue Camarados. Her story about GiST and what it has brought to her life expresses so many of my own feelings. As an added bonus, she is one heck of a lovely human being, and I'm glad to introduce her.
When I first came upon a caring, loving internet site called Grace in Small Things four years ago, I never imagined I was starting something that would improve my CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome]. The simple act of writing down and sharing five things I was grateful for every day seemed innocent enough, yet it soon brought untold joy and meaning into my life.
At that time I was 63 and had had CFS for four years. My life had changed from very active to relatively sedentary. I needed to bring meaning into the hours spent sitting in a chair or lying in bed.
I chose to give huge attention to the tiniest moments of grace that occurred during my day. This challenge of searching for graces and sharing them with others opened my eyes to the simple beauty it is possible to experience from a chair and a relatively static life.
I began to wake up thinking 'What is going to be beautiful in my life today?' or 'What can I create that will be beautiful today?' or 'What can I experience today that will give meaning?'
I started a system of doing pleasurable things for five minutes — or one minute, or two. I would play the piano for two minutes, listen to music for two minutes, dance (even in bed, even with just my fingers) for two minutes.
Later, I decided that I could organise my limited energy envelope in such a way that I would have the perception that I was living without boundaries.
I used to get someone to drive me up the mountain so that I could just stand and breathe in the mountain air, or I would walk for one minute there, or just sit in the car and enjoy the beauty of the fir forest.
On good days I would go to the pool and swim for one minute. On bad days I would sit on the verandah just living in the present and noting my 'graces'. Or lay in bed imagining beautiful moments from my rich life-experiences.
Life really is limitless, even with CFS or any other chronic illness. Our imaginations can take us anywhere — good or bad — and it's up to us to put in the uplifting thoughts and images.
I may not be able to dance as I did, but I can watch others dancing on YouTube and share in their joy. After I was able to listen to music again — because I wasn't for two years — I could be inspired by just turning on the radio.
Each beautiful moment I experienced was a grace that I shared with my community. I was like a bird bringing shiny things back to the nest. Only my nest was the Grace in Small Things site and the loving community there.
It's difficult to say how much my gratitude practice has affected my health — after several years of improvement I'm now on a plateau — but it has definitely affected my well-being, and that in itself is energising. I think I'll be leaving that plateau behind very soon now.
Do think about joining us and sharing your graces, even if it's just occasionally.
Wage a battle against embitterment and take part in Grace in Small Things.