What can you do right now to begin to turn your life around? The very first thing is to start making a list of things to be grateful for. This shifts your energy and starts to shift your thinking. Whereas before this exercise you might be focusing on what you don’t have, your complaints, and your problems, you go in a different direction when you do this exercise. You start to be grateful for all the things that you feel good about. ~Dr. Joe Vitale

Sometimes it might seem that we need a REVOLUTION to turn things around, but sometimes we just need to say “THANK YOU” when our feet hit the ground first thing in the morning. What I’m learning is that the effort and processes needed to make huge, life-changing, earth-shattering shifts in our lives are no harder to make than small, seemingly insignificant tweaks, so to speak. All we have to do – truly – is think just a little bit differently each day and then watch the tidal waves of transformation roll over us. And while your watching, and noticing, and practicing gratitude for each new shift: be giddy, be joyous, be amazed.

I have been so tuned in to practicing this “secret” that each day now brings new discoveries, big and small, to inspire me. I had to share one of the “big ones” with you – a discovery of massive proportion – a discovery that I’m still processing.

Last fall I met with a holistic dentist here in Syracuse to discuss mercury-free dentistry and Multiple Sclerosis. At my first appointment, I was in a great deal of pain from a couple of broken root canals and he suggested that rather than fix them (which is not recommended for patients with MS), I have them removed and implants put in their place. The very next day he arranged for the surgery; unfortunately my recovery from that procedure took much longer than expected. So it wasn’t until just recently that I was able to go back and figure out a comprehensive dental plan with him. We discussed the long-term goal of removing all the mercury, placing the implants, and then undertaking the HUGE task of cosmetic dentistry. Thommy and I knew it was going to be an expensive, slow process – but my teeth have always been an issue: fluoride overdoses, chips & breaks, braces, destroyed enamel (due in equal parts to GI disease/malabsorption and an eating disorder), veneers and then most recently (2 days after my official MS diagnosis) – a chipped front veneer. Obviously, it’s no stretch to add “debilitating self-consciousness” to that list. So we ventured on in faith (as we undertake all of our adventures) and expected the best.

After a few small procedures and a cleaning, the bills started to pile up and we contemplated signing a contract to pay a minimum amount each week. My faith faded a little. Well, a lot, actually. It was heartbreaking, but I knew that our situation since the MS diagnosis (which took place while I was uninsured) didn’t allow us to push forward with this lofty goal and hefty price tag. I just didn’t think it was the right way, or the right time, to do it. Sometimes you can’t make something work with what you currently have; sometimes, you need to expect either a change in circumstance, a new set of skills to develop – or a miracle.

(Notice I didn’t say you need to “hope” for a change. Hope is awesome and has it’s place. It’s always better though, to EXPECT.)

So I typed up a thank you letter, explaining my situation and sent it to my dentist. I let them know how grateful I was for taking me this far, and how excited I was to one day find myself in a better position in which to return to their practice. I meditated about, I prayed about it and I sent the letter on it’s way. A part of me really felt that they might call me back to offer some type of assistance or to refer me to another practice that could take me on for a lower cost. The day after I sent my letter, I did get a call back from the office; they thanked me for the acknowledgement and wished me the best. While I listened to the message, I felt no grief, or regret, or anger for the situation. I only held them in gratitude and love.

Then, two days after I received that message, I broke another tooth. Thommy and I were in Ithaca to watch The Makepeace Brothers perform at a benefit concert for Japan. We had gotten there early and met some great (AMAZING) people. It was about 30 minutes prior to show time, and I heard a click and then could feel a chunk of this tooth just fall out. Still – no panic, no fear. Just a little throbbing that comes from an exposed nerve, and a bummed attitude that we couldn’t stay to see the other bands perform. The vibe of the night was WAY too wonderful to ruin by giving thought and energy to my dental situation.

Five days later, while in Elizabeth’s meditation class, I saw the most beautiful image of myself – smiling in front of a large group of people. The people in front of me were literally bathed in light, and I couldn’t tell if it was coming from stage lights, some radiant being behind me, or MY SMILE. Seriously, it was an amazing image and I held it for a really long time (well, as long as I am currently able to hold an image during meditation). Afterward, while Thommy waited to speak with Elizabeth, I went to the restroom and turned my cell phone back on. I had one missed call from my dentist’s office, but no message. On our way home, I asked Thommy what he thought it meant. I don’t think either of us really wanted to speculate too much, but it had a really heavy feel.

I kinda-bounded, sorta-jumped, mostly-glided up the stairs to see if they had called the house phone. They had. They wanted to help. They asked me to call them back the next day to hear the plan they had come up with. (The plan is basically a “special needs” arrangement; totally doable, completely miraculous.) I just stared at Thommy while we listened to the message – I couldn’t take my eyes off him. “Are we really doing this!?”

Or are we just so tuned in to all the AWESOME things that happen to us (the things that might not have gotten our full, appropriate attention before this shift) that each one of these incidences just BLOW OUR MINDS WIDE OPEN! I don’t exactly know yet – maybe it’s a combination of a million things, but what it is not is this: COINCIDENCE. It is not random. I really am having a hard timing wrapping my head and heart around it. Because if our attitude really does affect our circumstance, and if actions really spring from the origins of thought, then how powerful are we really?

Boundlessly, limitlessly powerful.

Thommy and I are not special. Not in a way that is different from YOUR brand of special. I hope nobody reads this and thinks, “Well, that’s them … those things never happen to me.” If you doubt it, try it. Remember that energy flows where attention goes; the more you can focus your energy on all that is abundant and amazing and graceful in your life, the more abundance you will find, the more amazed you will become and the more grace you will witness.

This is my truth. And how do I think this transformation came about for me? I have a few theories and one is the premium I now place on gratitude. FOR EVERYTHING! For finding the best parking spot, for getting a surprise rebate or refund (whereas before I would have thought: “that’s all?”), for the feeling I have each morning when I wake up free from dis-ease, from YouTube videos of babies laughing and animals playing, for the smallest of compliments, for all the beautiful smiles I see every day, and for the beautiful smile I will one day have. I am grateful for being raised in such a supportive and LOVING home environment and for finding the best friends ever. I am so grateful that Thommy and I were meant to met and meant to share this story. I am so very grateful for you and I worry that you might not know it.

So in the spirit of Easter week, and transformation, and in the spirit of wanting to give praise for all that is awesome in my life, I am going to really focus my energies on gratitude… for YOU. For readers and friends and strangers. I’ll go ahead and say “THANK YOU” right now… but I’m just getting started…

…and once you figure out what I’m up to – I highly encourage you to try it for yourself and see if you can’t enhance your love for life tenfold. Let me know how it goes!

One word of caution: don’t be scared. Some people might not know how to accept your thanks and praise. Some people might question your motives. HAVE NO FEAR. There is nothing wrong with telling everyone you know just how much you love them. It’s the very thing some people will spend lifetimes trying to recover from: the fact that they didn’t speak their truth about love to the person who needed to hear it most.

Are you ready? Get set. GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In gratitude,

PS. One last thing about gratitude. It is ALWAYS an option because you ALWAYS have a choice. Jason Mraz says he loves rainy days because he chooses rain. Just choose it, thank it, love it anyway- or let it go. XO

3 thoughts on “Attitude of Gratitude

  1. Ah, but you are special, my beautiful, lovely, friend Rhea…you are an angel here on earth. Good luck and bless you, my sweet. I feel honored just having spoken to you briefly online. It’s people like you who give Mom’s like me, the strength to forge ahead in the face of adversity, hardship, and pain for our children. You inspire me to live better and love more. Please feel my arms hugging you.

    BJ (Jessi’s mom)

  2. Thank you, Rhea. I am in gratitude to you, Thommy, our seemingly chance meeting and our friendship. Thank you for choosing gratitude as your subject this evening, for interweaving Jason’s recent comments about rain. I am so grateful for my decision to start practicing gratitude a little over a year ago and for words such as his and yours to remind me to keep practicing and having faith in its power for change. Thank you for inspiring me to keep writing. Your story really made me realize how much my shifting into gratitude brought such positive energy into my life, the most important being my love, my light, my everything. My Joshua. Maybe you’ll be seeing a blog post of my own on this subject soon. Namaste, friend.

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