Gratitude

Right now I imagine I would be getting ready for bed in a cozy bedroom in Bangkok, Thailand after having had a sensory-filled day of eating authentic Phad Thai, swimming in the pool with my five-year old nephew, taking photographs of golden Buddhas, sweating from 95-degree heat, and talking about music and culture with my brother and sister-in-law.

Instead I am in Seattle, recovering from the stomach flu. These things happen, I tell myself to feel better, and yet I did not imagine I would board my plane last Monday morning, throw-up multiple times before take-off, be asked to exit the plane (I think I made quite the impression), and return to my bed to convalesce. For five days.

What has come out of this experience is a sense of gratitude. I will admit it has taken me days to come to this feeling — and I am still partially traumatized by the whole event — but I am going to do my best to be thankful. And here is what I am thankful for…

My body telling me (albeit violently) to metaphorically (and not so metaphorically) stop, drop and roll. Imagine if the plane had taken off with sick-ridden, anxiety-filled me hurling for seventeen hours. Thank you, body, for your impecable, though embarrassing timing. I hope to never experience that again, though I am grateful for having the experience of barfing in public. It was a fear of mine (and I know it is for many), and I am grateful that I now have that under my belt. I didn’t die from it.

My family’s love and concern for me, even though I know they were feeling such disappointment and loss that I was going to have to cancel my trip. I am grateful that Thailand will wait for me when I am ready, for I hear she is a wise and patient country and would understand. I hear my brother and his family are, too.

My cat Selkie’s three-day nap with me, including escorting me to the toilet without disgust or judgment. His purring was especially settling to my stomach.

My partner’s trips to the store for electrolyte-infused drinks, soda crackers, and more. What is a partner to do during these times? Get provisions, check on me every few hours, kiss my forehead, give me time. Thank you, Walaka.

My mother’s Mama Bear instincts in full force as she came to unpack me because I just couldn’t do it on my own. My suitcases had remained like beached whales in my bedroom, fat ghosts of what-would-have-been. I cried a little as I unpacked my 50 SPF swimsuit, my sun hats, my bug spray, sunscreen, and all the things I bought to take with me on the adventure. There will be other adventures. Rest assured, I am now thoroughly prepared.

My friends, who emailed, called, or Facebooked to express their sympathy. I am grateful for you.

Art journaling. Words have been difficult to access until now, so once the fever broke and I could focus even slightly I went right to my art journal to create pieces that either made me feel vibrant or reckoned with my sense of loss.

I am thankful for having created this piece to honor my would-have-been trip and to help heal my disappointment:

Mixed media art journal by Courtney Putnam.

There are many ways to turn disappointment into gratitude, including the ritual I describe here in a previous post, but art saved me this week. Thank you, Creative Force, for keeping me grounded in color, texture, image, intuition, and emotion.

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About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
This entry was posted in creativity, grief and loss, healing, inspiration, life lessons, personal growth. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Gratitude

  1. jillsalahub says:

    You are brilliant and amazing, and I’m so glad you are feeling better. Your healing process, from grief and illness, offers so much wisdom–thank you for being so willing to share it.

  2. Charles Trafford says:

    This is a beautiful piece Courtney and powerful insight. Your wisdom is a lesson to all of us.

    • Thank you, Charles. Writing about this has helped me gain perspective. My goodness, so many experience so much worse on a day-to-day basis. It’s nice to be thankful for what I do have.

  3. That is a beautiful journal page – the colors are so vibrant and so are you. 🙂

  4. you are such an incredible woman – i am, once again, inspired by your spirit!!

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