In All Things, Give Thanks

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 12:00pm

Holidays can be a difficult time for some people because seeing what others have is a remind of what they have lost. Last week, I was in Sturbridge, MA at a Lyme conference and one of the speakers is someone that I met a few ago. George Popovici has become a dear friend, who has been through so much, blessed with so much prosperity and loss, who stated that “no matter what you’re going through or facing, if you do it with a smile, with a grateful heart and with an open, positive mind, it helps get you through and you can even overcome it”. He speaks from a place of experience, having dealt with a chronic illness and uncontrollable infection, including having died on the table four times. He has authored a book called Angels Walking With Us and I would encourage you to check it out. It’s a short read but a profound one.

There is a Yiddish proverb that goes, “If you can't be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared” and I see this everyday with everyone that I encounter. When I share my personal story with people, it puts their journey into perspective. Sometimes just validating what someone else is going through (or has been through) is enough to give them strength to continue.

Perspective keeps things real for us. I often feel petty when I complain about things because, even though I don’t have it all together, I have it better than some. The Persian poet, Muslih-ud-Din, wrote, “I never complained of the vicissitudes of fortune, nor suffered my face to be overcast at the revolution of the heavens, except once, when my feet were bare, and I had not the means of obtaining shoes. I came to the chief of Kufah in a state of much dejection and saw there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God and acknowledged his mercies and endured my want of shoes with patience.”

Translated: "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

There it is again ~ perspective. Something as simple as speaking or thinking positive can have a profound impact on the outcome. How we perceive things alters and changes the reality of our situations.

As an advocate, one of the toughest jobs I have is keeping someone positive. Knowing how hard their journey is to find diagnosis and to respond to treatment when all around, there are people that are either getting better or succumbing. When you’re caught in the middle, in the gray, with no idea whether you’re ever going to get better, its those times that I speak about the choices we have and how making positive choices can lead to positive outcomes. It might be more emotional and mental than physical, but science has proven that stinking thinking gets us no way. We gain nothing by focusing on our pain, on our loss, on the longevity of our situations. We can take that time and energy and speak positive power into it, over it and through it every day. We can pick one thing each day that we are thankful for: a cat, a dog, the neighbors, having at the mere fact that we are breathing while reading this column. It doesn’t have be a big thing but each day, pick one thing to be thankful for and every morning, before you get out of bed, take a few deep breaths and speak health and healing into your day: Inhale love, exhale fear, Inhale trust, exhale doubt, Inhale peace, exhale anger, Inhale strength, exhale limitations.

Because you deserve to be healthy and happy no matter what phase you’re in at this exact moment. There are certain times of the year that I struggle harder than others and it’s during those times that I try harder than ever to be mindful of my losses and equally thankful for what I have and have been spared. Even in sadness and pain, we can be thankful. It’s harder but not impossible.

Author Robert Emmons writes, “It is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that gratitude will come easily or naturally in a crisis. But being grateful is a choice, a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives. Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall.”

We all fall but we all get back up and proof of that is this: look around you right now and think about everything you’ve been through. Yes, you’ve been through it, you made it through when at that moment you probably thought you wouldn’t. Whether you made through alone or with help, you did it. And you can continue to do it. Speak positive power into your life, every morning before your feet hit the floor and practice being thankful for one thing each day.

I’m thankful for my restored health and for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you every week. Now, what are you thankful for? I want to hear from you ~

Paula is the president of the MLDSE, the 2018 co-chair of the Access to Care Services and Patient Support subcommittee of the Federal HHS Tick-borne Disease Working Group, the Maine-partner of the national Lyme Disease Association, member of Maine’s CDC Vector-borne Workgroup and active in Maine’s Lyme legislation. You can reach her at or visit