Feeling Grateful in 2017

By: Ashley Whisonant

The beginning of a new year is exciting. I love the fresh start and new beginnings. Instead of the usual New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, saving money, eating better, etc.….I decided to do something different than I have ever done. I want to focus on being grateful for the blessings in my life. This certainly does not mean everything is wonderful and picture perfect 24/7. We are all dealt tough hands and have not-so-great-things happen. My goal for this year is to change how I view the negatives in my life.

While getting ready for work this morning, I noticed my few gray hairs. They were shining so proud in my mirror under the bright fluorescent lights. Old Ashley would have freaked out and made the fastest hair appointment. With my new outlook, I tried to focus on the positive. Having gray hairs means I am getting older. Look at all the amazing things getting The Gratitude Diariesolder has given me: financial security, a strong, healthy body, a loving husband and two great little boys. Getting older is not too shabby.

I recently finished reading The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. Her year of grateful living has been an inspiration for me. She has seen improvements in her marriage, work life, and health. This book is certainly a must read for the New Year.

Will everyday be perfect? No, impossible. But in 2017, I am going to focus on making my outlook more grateful.

Post Aneurysm Victories: Things Are Getting Better Every Day

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

At Shepherd Center in Atlanta, they told me that my brain could be healing for up to two years. My recovery was so quick once we really got started with therapy, especially outpatient, that two years seemed like a long time frame. Fortunately, I licked all of the biggies before leaving Atlanta, like walking and driving, but every day it seems like things are getting better and more fine-tuned.

  • HalloweenI went to the Night Ranger/Foreigner/Def Leppard concert. We had great seats on the floor, and I stood up nearly the whole time. I sang a lot, too. And managed the arena stairs without stumbling or falling.
  • The sensation of dullness that was once in my fingertips is getting better. I still drop things, but not nearly as much as I used to.
  • I dressed up and went out for Halloween, which I hadn’t done in years. I did get a little claustrophobic when we were onstage for the costume contest, but that didn’t last long.
  • I did a road trip to the beach by myself, on a rainy day even. Of course, my sister and mother were anxious until I got there, but I made it fine.
  • I recently spoke in front of about 200 people at the APWA-SC Conference, and later at the same event, to about 75. I feel a little less certain thinking on my feet these days, so I made extensive notes and used them, whereas I used to talk off of the cuff more. But at least I’m learning how to adapt.
  • At the conference, I carried a cup of coffee and my breakfast waitress-style to the table and didn’t spill anything. (I was happy to finally get to the meeting room to set them down, but no accidents!)
  • When I got to the beach, I was able to walk along the shore without getting vertigo. When I went in August, standing at the shore caused terrible vertigo. I worried that the aneurysm had taken away my ability to beachcomb, which is one of my favorite things to do. But two days in a row I walked along the shore with no vertigo, and I was ecstatic.
  • I walked to Trader Joe’s one Saturday morning. Pre-aneurysm, I did it every weekend. I took the direct route vs. the neighborhood loop, and I had to rest halfway, but again, I did it!
  • My overall balance is a lot better.
  • I had my first post-aneurysm first date. I was worried about not being able to drink wine on a first date, you know, to settle the nerves, but I did fine.
  • I went through a period of not sleeping well, but that seems to have passed. I sleep really well these days, and I don’t even need a sleeping pill to help me get there. I hated the pills because I always either woke up groggy or overslept, so no pills is a good thing.
  • I don’t really know how to explain this, but I can say “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty” now. I couldn’t when I first returned home and I’m not sure why. I’m sure it was related to the nerve damage in my right vocal fold. I can’t wait to find out from the ENT next time I go.
  • I lost a bit of hair while in Atlanta, but it’s now growing back in.
  • I’m walking the dog again, and I’m remembering to administer her daily meds.
  • After six weeks off, for work schedule issues and a flooded gym, I returned to strength training. And I went after working all day. Getting back to it feels so wonderful.
  • I’m trying to stop and think before I react to something. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to overthink things. I’m trying to work on that. And I have been able to make a little progress.
  • I lost my credit union debit card. I knew it was at the house – probably in my bedroom – and it was driving me crazy. I decided to quit worrying and get a new one. It saved me immeasurable stress and was relatively easy to do. Have I quit misplacing things? No, but I’m learning to adapt. Same with my last LTD check, which I misplaced. I called for a replacement, and it actually worked out well since the amount was off. I had already spent way too much energy trying to find it, and it was such a relief to have that off of my back.
  • Today, I needed some information from a colleague, and instead of emailing, I got up and walked to his office. Extra steps + voice practice = winning.

I’m trying to stay positive and focus on what I can do vs. what I think I cannot do. I’m keeping a running list of achievements. Even the small ones count because practically everything is a first after an aneurysm rupture.

Is everything perfect? No. There are still some issues. I am more subdued now than I was before, almost a little introverted. I am easily overwhelmed by sounds and activity, a sensory overload if you will. I often misplace things, important things like checks, debit cards, prescriptions and such. And a crying child or barking dog can drive me crazy. (I would say that is nothing particularly new, though!) But every day presents new challenges and tests, and every day, I do something I wasn’t able to do before.

Time to Get Grateful!

By: Shannon Boatwright

Ah...the grateful life!

Ah…the grateful life!

I’ve blogged in the past about being a “Grateful Groupie”  and the importance of having a focus of gratitude in our lives. In addition to that blog entry, I’d like to provide a little more information and inspiration to this beautiful concept of being grateful. I recently came across an article called “4 Reasons to Get Grateful” in the September 2015 issue of All You magazine. The article really helped to open my eyes even more to the benefits of being a grateful human being. Upon reading the article, I immediately thought of things in my own life that totally validate their reasons for being grateful.

Reason 1 – “Being grateful can spark new friendships.”

I experience this on a daily basis with my amazing co-workers at the school where I teach. If it weren’t for the friendship and support of my fellow teachers, I think I would seriously lose my mind in this stressful, middle school environment! We have all bonded on so many levels thanks to sharing our gratefulness for each other’s company and assistance. I truly believe that when you are vocal about your gratefulness for others, it will not only spark an appreciation from those you tell, but can prompt lovely friendships too.

Reason 2 – “Being grateful might lead to fewer aches and pains.”

The article states that, “researchers suspect that those who feel grateful take better care of their bodies.” When we have a grateful outlook, I believe we engage in more positive activities and habits. When the mind and heart are in a positive, thankful state, I really think the body will respond!

Reason 3 – “Being grateful helps you heal.”

I’ve always been a believer that positive thinking leads to positive things! If I’m focused on all the negative things in my life, then YES, chances are I’m going to start physically feeling bad. It never fails with me. But if I hold my focus on the positive things in my life and the things that I am grateful for, I truly believe that positive focus leads to feeling good and even to a state of healing.

Reason 4 – “Being grateful helps you sleep better.”

In my Grateful Groupie entry I mentioned keeping a Gratitude Journal. I need to do better with this! Goodness knows, I need all the help I can get with sleeping better. Shutting off my brain seems to be an impossible task, especially now that I’m deep into the school year again. My mind and subconscious are plagued with to-do lists and worries. Even my dreams are exhausting! The article says,

“A study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that writing about what you’re thankful for in a journal for 15 minutes each night might help you worry less at bedtime, as well as sleep longer.”

I really believe this to be true! I know for me, I absolutely cannot watch anything stressful on television before I go to bed. No intense dramas, no stressful news shows, NO horror stuff (EVER no matter what time of day!) – no shows remotely negative for me before bedtime! I have too vivid of an imagination. I have to watch something light and fluffy. Only happy stuff for me before bedtime because my mind and subconscious will latch onto what I see before bed and affect me to the core. I even try not to make my “To-Do” list right before I hit the sack because then my mind tends to feel overwhelmed with all that I have to get done. I’ve definitely discovered that if I allow for happy and positive things to enter my crowded mind before I go to sleep, I tend to sleep better. When I allow and remind myself to think of all the things I’m grateful for before I pass out, I go to sleep with a positive vibe instead of a heavy heart.

Let’s face it, folks….it’s time to get grateful! And let’s do it more often. There are just too many benefits to recognizing all the things we have to be thankful for.

Right now, in this moment, think of just three things you are grateful for today – no matter how big or small, deep or trivial. Repeat those three things and allow a smile to brighten your face. I bet you could name more than three things, huh? 😉 That’s the joy in life…despite all the bad nonsense that seems to surround us, there really is a whole lot of good that we should be focusing on!

I challenge you all, myself included, to dedicate more time to being grateful. It will only benefit us on some level! Let’s do it and lead happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives.


By: Sherree Thompson

I went to the grocery yesterday to grab a few to get us through the week. I had both kids in tow, so I knew I had to be quick. A meltdown was inevitable; we were in the grocery, after all. I scooted through the produce section and then made my way down to the meat department. I skimmed the prices, hmm’d and haa’d and bocked at the prices, and  then finally made a small selection. Whoohoo! We made it out with no major issues.

Later in the evening I mentioned the prices to my hubs in disbelief. I complained about the value – or lack of – compared to few years ago and simply just grumbled at the wgeneralcost of food. Shortly after that conversation I got the most paralyzing headache and had to go lay down. And that is where I stayed until early this morning.

I was recapping my evening, thinking about those prices, when I suddenly remembered my walk one morning. It was the first walk I’d taken around the neighborhood. Pushing the double jogging stroller, I had entered a street just two down from my own. What I saw made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Not because of ethnicity, age or even gender, but because it was all too familiar; it was poor. Real poor. Not the “I don’t want to pay $200 for an electric bill,” but the “I have to make this one meal become two” kind of poor. Now let me just say that I don’t know this family I’m writing about. I don’t know if they are having trouble putting food on the table or paying their electric bill. I am simply saying that seeing them made me recall situations from my own childhood and some of the struggles my mom had.

Grocery shoppingI stood there washing dishes thinking about this family and my grumbles about the cost of food. I was humbled and then grateful. I have said too many times lately “There’s just not enough,” “How are people making it?” and “What are we doing wrong?”  You see, there is enough. It’s all in the way I was looking at it. I was replacing needs for wants. What I “need” is to shut my trap and be very, very grateful for the blessings I’ve been given. So what that I can’t go buy or spend whatever I want? Neither can most of the world.

So I present this challenge: Buy an extra bag of groceries, drive down a road you wouldn’t normally and drop it at a house you think might need it. Being grateful for what you do have isn’t always easy in a world that is reminding you of what you don’t have.