Gratitude. Appreciation. Thankfulness. It’s an easy practice to pack along during the times in your life when the sailing is smooth and the baggage is light, but how does it travel along with you during the detours and the storms? Just how can you be grateful for the times in your life when the winds become so strong you fear you’re being blown off course or your luggage gets so heavy it becomes difficult to maneuver on your own?
Many of you know, from my first blog post here, that I have a great passion for Key West. What initially drew me to this island paradise? A broken heart. Thank you. What did having to travel on my own to return back to the island bring me? New friends, new opportunities, and a stronger version of myself. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Were any of the situations that preceded my gratitude what I wanted for me at that time in my life? Absolutely not. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to be thankful for the obvious good in your life, but we’re not always so eager to stop and give thanks amidst the challenges that arise. Challenges that are bringing about opportunities we may have never been able to orchestrate, even through our own intricately detailed planning, and those that are carving out our highest potential. Being thankful for the apparent setbacks in life can reduce the struggle and help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding for your own journey. It’s all just working itself out, if you can trust the process.
It took a great deal of courage for me to begin my SOULo journeys to the Keys. Courage I don’t usually give myself nearly enough credit for. Connections with people have always been, and always will be, incredibly important to me. I believe love and relationship are precisely why we are here (in whatever form that may take for you) and that the joy of life itself, is only accelerated by the good company of others. Making the journey independent of a travel partner was a big step for a girl of this mindset. Prior to taking the trips South, I used to wonder how my experiences would be just as fulfilling without having someone there to share them with. The answer is GRATITUDE. Gratitude for every and all experiences along the way–whether they felt comfortable or not–with the underlying knowledge that they were all lessons in preparation for some future class I was yet to know I had signed myself up for.
All of the experiences and feelings that arise when you’re on your life’s journey are there to teach you and help you to grow as a person. You can never know when you’ll be unpacking a skill set you acquired in a previous life challenge that is going to help you sail smoothly on through to your next destination—be it a job, relationship, location, etc. You’ve got to be thankful for it all—in advance.
The following quote by author S.C Lourie (Butterflies and Pebbles) sums up my most recent month long stay in the Conch Republic:
“You have those days when you feel so entirely on your own and then you have those days when you realise you have the perfect amount of beautiful people in your life. I’m grateful for the second lot of days. And I suppose it’s the first lot of days that make you appreciate the second.”
What a perfect reflection of my time away–for those days that simply felt long or lonely on my own, and those that were filled with new friends and new adventures.
Never underestimate the power in the dichotomies that will present themselves in your life. But don’t limit yourself by expressing your gratitude when “all is well” either. You can never know what the universe is brewing up on your behalf—sometimes it just arrives in a different package. So always, always be sure to wrap those experiences in gratitude. The gift will reveal itself, in time, when you do.