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Speakers with Spark: Being grateful for all things

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One of my favorite holidays is near, Thanksgiving, the time when family and friends get together without obligation and share gratitude. It’s a time to reflect on the year and tally up the bounty of blessings.

Last month I was giving a talk in Delaware and a lady came up afterward to tell me it sounded good but she had nothing to be thankful for. As she rattled off her woes and all the things that had happened to her, I just had the urge to hug her. And I did.

A total stranger, she said, “why did you do that?”

“To give you a little love,” I responded.

I proceeded to ask her questions. Basic ones such do you have a roof over your head at night? Did you eat today? Have a job? Can you see and hear me? Can you walk? After about 10 questions, she responded with, “OK. I get it. I’m not as bad off as I thought and I do have some reasons to be grateful.”

We then sat down to talk about her perceived problems one by one. By just asking questions, she came up with some possible solutions. It just took a sounding board for her to realize solutions are possible. As the time neared for my flight, I said goodbye and to myself a quiet prayer for angels to watch over her.

Whenever something bad happens, it’s easy to get immersed in that event or tragedy. The sadness overwhelms us and many times it is really, really hard to dig ourselves out of the sorrow. No one is immune to these events and bad things happen in all our lives. Everyone is different, some people bounce back rather quickly and others carry grief and sadness for a very long time. The difference is what makes us all special and unique. Just start where you are and don’t compare yourself to others.

A dear friend told me the staff at her office reads this monthly column, and one lady asked her, “Is she for real? No one can be that happy all the time.”

Yes, thank goodness, another thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Finding the positive in every situation is not something you are born with. It’s a choice.

Being grateful gets hard when things go awry. I’m here to tell you 2013 has been a tough year, losing two of my favorite people, bright lights who were wonderful examples of living. 

Also, getting bit by two seemingly harmless little insects no bigger than a pencil lead — the Kentucky Tick — sent me on a whirlwind of health problems. Just like the lady in Delaware, I took for granted something very precious — good health. Many times the healthy take for granted the energy a healthy body has, the stamina, the absence of aches and pains, the ability to take care of everyone else.

That is until one day your body says enough. We are so focused on others, life, work and home we forget to focus on ourselves. This is still a challenge for me. I tend to put myself on the bottom of the list but recently I was forced to put me on top. Being grateful for good health and putting to practice a discipline of taking care of yourself is a wonderful Thanksgiving initiative.

Another new item to my grateful list is healthcare providers. It is so very refreshing to find a healthcare provider who treats you like a human being and not a number. Quite honestly and fortunately for me I had no concept of the trials sick people go through. When you are not feeling well a rude receptionist can send you on a downward spiral, just as a caring compassionate one can give you hope. 

I am grateful for the individuals who look at the health care profession as a calling and truly understand the need for compassion and urgency. They blend the need for efficient business procedures with good people skills and caring.

Susan Rider is a life coach and member of Speakers with Spark who lives in LaRue County and can be reached with reader comments at susanrider@msn.com.