Most of us gravitate towards thoughts of gratitude during the month of November, when we are reminded of Thanksgiving and the need to give thanks for all that is good and beautiful in our lives.  I often participate in 30 days of gratitude challenges and offer my family opportunities to join in with gratitude jars and sentimental notes filled with kind words; however, today I am thinking about what my life would be without the tests and trials that I’ve faced.  What if my life hadn’t taken the unexpected twists and turns that have forced me to climb mountains instead of coast easily down them?  Honestly, I’m quite certain that I’d be a bigger mess than I, myself, could even tolerate!

It’s not often that we find ourselves giving thanks for the bad and ugly things that shape us – but as I reminisce about the challenges that I’ve been forced to face in my life, I am grateful for the growth that accompanied the pain.  I am motivated to tackle new adventures, invite thinking outside of my own scope and accept things that may not have been deemed the most favorable.  I have found that my darkest places have given me the most valuable experiences; and for this I am thankful.

So, as we walk gracefully through 2018, think about this with me; marinate on the idea of taking in all of the pain associated with a stubbed toe as you misstep and kick a rock.  The rock doesn’t even have to be a big one, for you to absorb the throb of each nerve as it communicates to your brain that something is off; not quite right.   Use that pain to remind yourself to watch your step and pay closer attention to the small things that occupied the path prior to your arrival.  Savor the moment in which you learn how to do better, based on that one small incident.  I believe that if you do this, you will find gratitude daily is not just butterflies, sunshine and tulips, but the bee stings, stormy nights and rose bush thorns that are also very important to give thanks for along the way.