Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gratitude List

One of the women in my Living Well class does a Gratitude List every day, listing 10 things or people or ideas or whatever that she's grateful for. Her rules for herself include that she cannot repeat an item on the list within the week, so she must have at least 70 unique things she recognizes that she's grateful for each week.

It's something similar to what I've read on The Happiness Project, which often inspires me but I so rarely take the time to do what she suggests. (Thanks again, Amy D., for telling me about it! I love getting it in my email inbox every day.)

So, here and there, I'm going to try to note the things I'm grateful for in the hopes that it will remind me that things could always be worse.

I'm grateful for:

1. My husband, Scott, who took his vows seriously when he promised to hold me and keep me in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. These days I know we're seeing a lot more of the sickness than the health and the poorer than the richer, but he never complains or says he regrets choosing to marry me.

2. My daughter, Ellianna. When Scott and I got together (back in May 1995!), we weren't planning on having a serious relationship. And then when it was obvious we were having a serious relationship, we both still agreed we preferred our life child-free. We were very firm on that point to the premarital therapist we saw. I hate to be a cliche, but we changed our minds and eventually Ellie brought a whole new depth to our lives. I'm so grateful that she's already here because I fear that if we had to make the decision about having kids now, with my illness as bad as it is and has been for months, that we'd decide we couldn't afford a child and that I couldn't parent one.

3. Family and good friends, who have reached out and been supportive to the best of their abilities. It takes special people to recognize that even though I look or sound perfectly healthy, sometimes I'm barely holding on by my fingernails.

4. The Multnomah County Library, which offers this wonderful service to people who can't get out to the library regularly and they will deliver the books to your home. You can put holds on up to 50 or so books at a time, and they will come every other month to take away the old ones and deliver the new batch. Before signing up for this service, I kept missing my holds because I wouldn't be able to make it to the library branch during the week they were there and sometimes Scott couldn't get there either due to work schedule. This really took care of the problem. (And the coolest part? They don't require a doctor's note or anything other than your saying you need this service. I've told Scott that when I'm better and money is flowing a little better, this is a place I really want to donate because it certainly has made a difference in my quality of life.)

5. My internist, Dr. Lina Takano of The Portland Clinic. She has always been supportive and done her best to try to make me better. She never doubted me or questioned whether I was malingering. She recognized that this was beyond her specialty and has sent me to some of the finest specialists in the city. She does a great job of managing my case despite being incredibly overworked at the clinic.

6. Rheumatologist Dr. Richard Wernick, who spent hours with me on my first consultation and who I believe stands the best odds of figuring out what's wrong with me.

7. My mommy friends who even after all these months make a point of finding time to come visit me and are understanding about the fact that I don't tolerate long visits very well. (I get exhausted after 45-60 minutes.)

8. Our synagogue, Congregation Neveh Shalom, which has really reached out and offered us a great deal of support, from holding Ellie's preschool spot until it became clear I wasn't going to get better soon, to the cantor making a special trip over to our house to sing Kol Nidre to me because I wouldn't be able to attend Yom Kippur services. They've also found people willing to visit me, from congregants to the rabbis.

9. My online support group -- mostly individuals who have reached out to me and offered sympathy and advice and welcomed me to their midst. I've also discovered places like Cafe Chronique and Chronic Babe and the blog that inspired me to start blogging myself, A Chronic Dose.

10. I guess an appropriate place to end is that I'm grateful for this blog, a place where I can (for the most part) lower my shields and talk about the topics that concern me, even if most of my posts are a whole bunch o' whining. :)

Anyway, I challenge the rest of you to spend some time thinking about what you're grateful for. If you want to post it here under comments, I'd be honored. If you post it someone else, please come leave me a link to it. And if you just do it in your head or on a piece of scratch paper or simply want to keep it private, that's fine too. But it's always good to take a few minutes and think about the people and things we're grateful for.


Laurie said...

Great post, Aviva! I followed suit on my blog, if you get a chance to check it out...

Sherril said...

Hey, I just found this site, Ellie's Gratitude Group (EGG), http://www.geocities.com/cfsnova/egg.html#gj, and I was thinking of you.

You're really dealing with a lot of "stuff." The infections sure do remind me of ME/CFS symptoms...

I am still working on getting my 30 Day Gratitude Project site up (http://zenamoon.typepad.com/weblog/2007/08/my-sacred-life-.html). You have inspired me to go at it harder!