Gratitude For the Gifts (Cheryl Renée Herbsman)

Like Stephanie, who posted yesterday, I've been going through some tough times personally and professionally. And like April, I try to take time to remind myself of all the blessings in my life for which I am truly grateful. But here's what I've been trying to accept: I may need to find gratitude for the hard times too. In the western world we tend to judge and label everything immediately: This is good. This is bad. And there are some elements of life for which it's hard to see any upside at all. I continue to struggle with that. But sometimes, when hard things are happening, I try my best to identify the gifts that come with the pain, and I take time out to appreciate those.

Since the summer, one of my children has been ill. This is one of the most brutal pains in existence: watching your child suffer and being able to do nothing about it. And as horrifyingly bad as this whole thing feels, I know that there are gifts there too: It has brought us all closer to one another. It is making her strong in ways she's never had to be strong before. It is reminding us of what matters and what doesn't. I would never wish this on anyone ever. But given that we have no choice, I'm trying to view the illness as a guidepost. What is it showing us? To where is it directing us? About what is it reminding us?

There are so many things I'm grateful for every day, like my immediate family and my extended family, new friends and old, our home, our community, our ability to afford medical care, our health insurance. The list goes on and on. But the really tricky part is to feel grateful not only for the parts of life that are easy to love, but to try to find gifts of gratitude in the difficult/ugly/"bad" parts of life as well.

They say that which you attend to grows. So by being grateful, we nourish the parts of life for which we are grateful. When life is difficult, it can be hard to focus on the positive. It's so easy to focus entirely on what's going wrong. But if we can find the gifts of gratitude in the mess, and spend a little focus on those, maybe they'll outgrow the hard parts and we'll end up with a wild overgrown garden where there may be some thorns, but there will be a whole lot of beauty, too.

Happy Thanks Giving <3


  1. Beautiful post. May your daughter find full healing soon.

  2. Love this line: "That which you attend to grows." SO true...And best wishes for your daughter's full recovery, Cheryl.

  3. This is so true, Cheryl. You do find gifts in the "bad" as well as the good. The difficult (emotional rather than physical) times I went through as a teen brought my mother and I closer as well and it's a bond that is so essential to me now. I'm glad you have that with your daughte rand I too wish for her full recovery! xoxoxo

  4. In the past few years, I think of gratitude as a spiritual practice. Your post really resonated with me. Finding strength and even happiness in your bad situation is a beautiful thing. I think of you often.


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