In praise of Thanksgiving

I am the only person I know who has had swine flu.

I knew it was out there, marauding and claming victims left and right, but one tends to have a sort of personal mythology about one’s own immune system. Nonetheless, I found myself grimly slumped over in the doctor’s office not long after my son’s first birthday with a horrific Q-tip on a filament stuck deep into my left nostril to get a sample of snot. I squirmed, and  yes, cried a little, as a too-happy medical cowboy of a Texan doctor proceeded to blithely ask me questions about my weight, height, and family history of high blood pressure. With a chortle, Tex unceremoniously yanked said instrument of hell out, sent it to the lab, and declared me at one with the oinks.

To make a long story short, two months-worth of antibiotics and steroids later, I ended up in the hospital with what the admitting ER physician believed to be a mini stroke or TIA. Fortunately, the cardiologists who later examined me decided that my “TIA” was really a terrifying reaction to the long courses of powerful medications. But, that didn’t happen until after I had spent 24 long hours believing that I was going to have, as the ER doc coined it, “the big one” that might cut short my life as a wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter and therapist. It was the most deeply terrifying, horrific night of my life. There are no further words I can add to editorialize the bleak possibility that you might never see your son graduate from preschool, much less highschool.

The point of my sharing this bit of personal trivia with you is to bring up a discussion about gratitude. It seems almost cinematically appropriate that all this should happen in the few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. In fact, I wonder sometimes about the cosmic timing of stuff like this, and I am assuming that there is not only a reason for it, but something to be gained by the experince. Existential pontificating aside, I am darn lucky to be here. And, I am very grateful to be alive.

Studies (yep, scientific ones) have demonstrated that those who practice daily gratitude, even in the form of keeping a simple journal of stuff that you are thankful for, are healthier. Think about that. I’ll wait. Not just happier, but healthier. Think about that some more.

So, poor schmuckos like you and I can not only give ourselves a case of the smiles by practicing gratitude, we can spend fewer nights with the good people over at ORMC. I, for one think that is a big deal. Clients often tell me that I have a “glass half-full sort of mentality.” And, they’re not wrong about that. I deeply believe that the individuals who do best are those who decide to focus on what is working in their lives and do more of that. That is not to say that it is not helpful or appropriate to do some life archaeology to see how we got off track. But, ultimately, it is the things that we have, do, and notice that are empowering that will get our behinds out of the sling and in a forward-thinking place.

So, as you devor the last of those turkey drumsticks, hoist high a big cheer of thanks. Better yet, not it down for yourself in your blog, notebook, journal, or fancy cellphone. Your health will thank you for it.

Your Partner in Healing,


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