Reaping life’s rewards

This week’s prompt at The Seeker’s Dungeon is:   Gratitude  (running from February 27 – March 5)

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

This week’s Prompt is hosted by Karuna Poole:  “I was present once when Jean Wiger, a psychotherapist from the Midwest, was asked what she considered to be the best predictor of success in therapy.  Her response was, “The client’s capacity to experience gratitude.”  Later, I was taught depression and gratitude cannot co-exist.  That isn’t to say that we should feel grateful for the many ways human beings abuse each other, but rather once we have had a chance to work through our anger, sadness and fear, we can choose to put our focus on the skills and positive qualities we’ve developed as a result of having survived whatever trauma we’ve experienced.”

wpid-20130102_175917.jpgThat really struck me when I read  if depression is still present, it cannot co-exist with feelings of gratitude. I often wondered about that.  I can see how it would cloud my view on the world if I am stuck with past fears, anger and sadness.  But what about melancholy…moments my muse seems to appear as well?  I tend to dip into bouts of melancholy from time to time and I embrace them more lately so I can do some introspection and write, my new-found love, my muse. 

I have stopped trying to figure out the why or what over the years when moods dip into darker states.  Chronic pain?  hormones?  Fatigue?  Life?  Family?  Work?  {I have certainly been in and out of therapy as well in the past to help me through these journeys.}

And, if anything, my work is my salvation. I love what I do no matter how painful it is to hear some stories at times,  from my callers…I feel grateful and privileged to be in a position to sometimes, make a small difference even if it is for just a moment.

As for other reasons to feel down…well, take your pick…life situations or just plain getting the blues for a while.  Sometimes it is a blessing and the universe`s way to say, “Slow down!”   I do believe that I may have suffered for years with SAD and that half of the province where I live…with our long winters probably do to some degree. 

And when life throws a curved ball now and then, I am learning to embrace it, hold on for dear life at times; surprisingly, I am thankful for this as well. The enlightenment that follows any amount of suffering is priceless.

I often tell myself, “Thank goodness I work!”  It forces me to get out of the house in the dead of winter.  Perhaps it is also the feeling of having a purpose. We all want to feel this. Look at those who are not quite ready for their retirement.  It is a huge and sometimes painful life transition if not carefully planned. I am not talking about financially…emotionally prepared.

In the early 80`s my step-father died and it crushed my spirit. He had been given 3 months to live after his diagnosis and he actually died 3 months later. Having a second baby made my visits only twice weekly , less frequently than I had wished;  I felt I missed connecting with him; there was so much I wish I had said to him or heard from him.  

A few years later,  I began a certificate in Gerontology offered to volunteers. Most of the students were over 65 years old. Lovely women learning how to help elderly persons more and most of them sharing, “My husband just retired and I have to get out of the house…he has taken over my kitchen” or “He`s driving me bonkers!” 

At that time I had also started doing friendship visits to isolated, lonely older persons and by the end of my certificate I was hired as a personal support worker in home care. I remember visiting this man who was in his 60’s, dying of cancer.  I loved sitting with him, hearing his stories.  He was an advocate for our small English community and taught me to be a bit of a shit disturber if I wanted to make some changes. He counselled me in my role on school and parent committees. I followed his advice and started a school daycare learning the school board policies and educational laws providing this right for hard-working parents seeking a good place to have their children go after school. This man just warmed my heart and filled me with so many ideas.  He had fought to get English Catholic services available in our town twice weekly including Sunday school for the children.  He was a devout Irish Catholic and I grew so fond of this man.  I was able to listen to him when he wanted to talk about dying since he didn`t want to worry or hurt his loved ones. I was blessed having this privilege to be by his side during these times I had missed with my step-father. 

The universe provides so many opportunities to fulfill our needs!

One day I was at Sunday mass and had not been for weeks and weeks; the priest was at the door welcoming parishioners and made a sarcastic remark, “Well, it is nice to see you pay us a visit today.”  I knew this priest had been summoned for almost a year by the man I had visited. This man waited and waited, needing to share his thoughts, pray with him and lighten his soul. But never did that priest go…in fact a priest from another French parish made visits to sooth this dying man. I was privy to all of this. I have been blessed with this man`s trust as he shared his fears, prayed as I listened and held his hand many times.

And so my tongue was a bit sharp as I smiled, tilted my head to the side and said, “Ah, yes, I have missed many Sunday obligations, haven`t I now, Father. But you see, I have replaced them with visits of compassion these past few months visiting a parishioner you well know, Mr. ***.” To this response, he blushed, forced a weak smile, and I sauntered to the front near the altar to sit with my two children.  

I am so grateful to have met this lovely man who inspired me just at a time in my life I was searching for my purpose . I am thankful to have met him and that he accepted my presence on his last passage. That was the start of my journey on my path in learning, exploring, discovering and getting my degree eventually to work with people full-time.  I am grateful to have started a second rich and rewarding career, blessed having the opportunity to reap life’s rewards.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/02

11 thoughts on “Reaping life’s rewards

  1. Grateful for the chance to help others, that’s the best possible attitude, to give others something to be grateful for. Very hard to live with out some sort of purpose, that is for sure.

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    1. And to “know” you where you need to be is something to be very thankful. Thank you for this prompt that truly had me thinking for several days…clearing the clutter of me, me, me, poor me’s…glad I did. As I say, you save me therapy sessions:)

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  2. I have no doubt that the men and women you sit by are so happy to have you there. Such a great example of joint gratitude each of you blessing the other..

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    1. It IS a privilege, isn’t it and it is the youths who have shared with me over the years that have helped me, taught me. Thank you for reading and your generous comments, Karuna.

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    2. I read your post this morning on your son’s blog. It was beautiful and I look forward to reading your books/blog. You have such a gift. ARE a gift. Thank you.

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  3. Cheryl-Lynn, thank you so much for this post today. I feel like such a whiner when I post about my “stuff” when i know so many have things so much worse–and then they are able to feel gratitude. That’s what I desire to move toward. And blogs like yours help a lot. I loved Karuna’s post. wow. 🙂

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    1. Thank you!! don’t feel bad about whining, Mandy…you are exactly where you are supposed to be and writing about it is part of the process…it’s a slow process but anything good has to take time, right? Blessings 🙂

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  4. Hmmmmm. Depression and gratitude can’t co-exist. Maybe that’s how my depression morphed into “atypical depression”. I enjoy being in depressions now. They give me time to read and write and center and ground. My only trouble with them is when I get impatient and wish to be “normal”. This past several months, I have learned a lot about accepting depression as a gift. I don’t have to feel depressed about feeling depressed.

    Like you, I also see that the universe provides us with opportunities to fulfill our needs. I find myself increasingly noticing that when I don’t feel up to accepting an opportunity, I can trust that it will come around again. I have found that there’s no such thing as “only one chance”.

    Hooray for your career! I am glad you feel so blessed by it, and so capable of blessing others with it.

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    1. How generous and kind of you to comment and share with me. Thank you. Since I have fallen in love with writing and I do write more poetry and prose on another blog, I find dark moments or times in pain, are when my muse pays me a visit and am inspired to write more. So even with the tough times there are rewards.

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