Gratitude. Gratitude is an appreciation for what one has. It’s easy to forget to express gratitude in the midst of busy days. But most of us do in fact have much for which to be grateful.
Yesterday I read an article about a woman named Jeanette Walls in The New York Times Magazine. The article, Mommy Nearest: How Jeanette Walls Spins Good Stories Out of Bad Memories, describes Walls’ experience growing up with itinerant, bipolar parents. Her growing up years were spent constantly moving from place to place, often without indoor plumbing or electricity, never knowing when or what they might eat, and having her father take the money from her piggy bank to buy booze.
Yet, Walls proved to be a survivor. As an adult making her own way in the world, she was constantly afraid of being exposed; that the dark secrets of her parents and childhood would become known. But then she grew tired of hiding her past and wrote a book about her experiences, The Glass Castle.
In the article, Walls says, “…when people take advantage of you, is it smart to fight back? One of the blessings of my childhood was being a fighter and a scrapper, but being a fighter and a scrapper is a curse too. I’m just learning that you don’t always have to fight. That’s been the revelation with The Glass Castle, the kindness of people. It’s completely defanged and disarmed me. It’s one of the reasons I quit doing gossip (Walls had been a gossip columnist). It’s so ironic. I was campaigning, crusading and exposing other people while I was hiding my own secret. Shame on me. I was convinced that if other people knew the truth about me, I would lose my job. The revelation is if you’re willing to discuss what you’ve been through, people become unashamed of their own secrets.”
While her bipolar father dreamed of the “castle” he would one day build, Ms. Walls has done it.
“He’d be so proud. That’s why I can’t be bitter or angry, because I got the damn castle, didn’t I? And he and my mother gave me the tools to do it. I’ve got four flush toilets in this house, O.K.? Push the little lever, life is good. I got heat, push the little buttons, life is really good. I will never take anything for granted. It is a miracle to me that I can go to the grocery store and don’t have to stop counting at $3. I can also live without too much fear because I know I could survive without these things.”
Ms. Walls’ story is an amazing example of turning lemons into lemonade, of not allowing bitterness and anger color her vision of the possibilities in life. Hers is a primo example of character as described in yesterday’s post. Hers is a story that reminds us that even the things we take for granted…flush toilets, heat, electricity…are things we should be grateful for. Hers is also a story of hope and possibilities. I encourage you to read the article and her book. I believe it will be time well spent and that you will then find much in your own life for which to be grateful.
Wishing you grace, peace and simple abundance…the strength to overcome adversity…and gratitude.