Learning to Appreciate the Small Things

Learning to appreciate the small things

Thursday marked six months since the car accident that shook up my world.  (For those that don’t know, the resulting injury was a broken pelvis.)  Life has pretty much returned to normal with the exception of a little back pain that I’ve become used to but serves as a reminder whenever I notice it.  Although I don’t like the pain I do appreciate the reminder, because I learned some important lessons while healing from the accident and don’t want to let myself fall back into old patterns.  I feel that accident was a wake-up call from the Universe, alerting me that life is too short to not do what I love, showing me that I have a huge support group of friends and family, and highlighting all the small things in my life that I didn’t realize I was grateful for.

It’s odd, sometimes it feels like so much time has passed because those first few months went by so slowly… moving from bed-ridden to walker to cane to cautious unassisted walking… once I got the “your bones are healed, don’t let a little muscle pain keep you from living your life” encouragement from my doctor, time seems to have returned to its normal (life passing me by) pace.  In the grand scheme of things, six months isn’t very long at all.  In fact, just this weekend I caught up with a few friends who haven’t seen me since late October when I attended a Stage 11 show with a walker so they were happily surprised to see me up and about.  Every time I run into someone who hasn’t seen me in a few months, it reminds me of how short a time it really has been.  Otherwise, I’m just back in my normal routine, same old same old.  So I like to be reminded, to once again reflect on how much I have to be grateful for.

The last time I reflected publicly on these lessons of gratitude was Thanksgiving, when I shared this post on Facebook:

“Today is 8 weeks since the accident that broke my pelvis and I realize I have so much to be thankful for! I’m even thankful for the accident itself, which taught me to appreciate so many things in my life that I have taken for granted. A few of the many little things I now appreciate because they were lacking in my life for a few days or weeks: the ability to sit up in bed, or to get in and out of bed unassisted; the ability to bend low enough to spit into the sink when brushing my teeth, or to dry my legs after a shower; the ability to shower standing up and to shave my legs! The ability to walk, to walk quickly, to run, to dance, to move around in the kitchen to make a meal, to carry something in both hands, to bend and lift… so many day to day activities that I have increased appreciation for… some I can’t even do yet (like running and dancing) but know that I will again in the not too far future. I am thankful for the words “full recovery” and the relief that they brought. I am thankful for all the friends and family that sent love and prayers for my healing, I know all that good energy helped. I am thankful to be alive! If you read all of this, thank you for caring. I hope you are enjoying a wonderful day of giving thanks, celebrating with good food and people who bring you joy. Happy Thanksgiving!!!”

That was only four months ago and I was still using a cane at that time.  Now I can run and dance and do yoga again! (Oh what a glorious day it was when I returned to the yoga studio!)  Re-reading those words brings me back to that place of extreme gratitude, where I am thankful for so many things that I take for granted because they are seemingly mundane tasks.  Even just being able to get out of bed without waking up Dusty to help me is something I am grateful for, because there were a few weeks of my life (not too long ago) when it wasn’t possible for me to just swing my legs over the edge of the bed.  (I remember being so excited when I discovered I was able to scoot myself to the foot of the bed and reach the walker, because I don’t like to “inconvenience” others by asking for help… I think that will be a topic for another blog!)

So today I invite you to look at your daily routine from a different perspective: Remember that at some point in your life (and this may be going all the way back to your days as an infant or toddler) you were not able to do the things you do every day.  You were not able to get out of bed without help, you couldn’t bathe yourself or brush your hair or teeth unassisted… you couldn’t dress yourself or tie your shoes… you couldn’t walk, use the stove, make coffee or read the morning paper…… you couldn’t drive… Sure, you’ve now been doing all of these things for decades, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be grateful for these abilities, one day you will no longer be able to do them.  One day (and hopefully this will not be until you are very very old) you will once again need assistance doing the daily tasks you took for granted.  So don’t take them for granted.  Relish in your abilities no matter how seemingly insignificant.  It brings your attention to the present moment and life seems to slow down, time expands.  It’s a very zen way of living. 🙂  Once you get in the habit of appreciating the small things it increases your happiness exponentially, because you’ll find more and more small things to appreciate and eventually you’ll realize that you’re enjoying every moment!  And who doesn’t want that?


Jilienne Rose

P.S. – What have you previously taken for granted that you now appreciate?  I invite you to share your own stories in the comments below.

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