Recently, I had a very…bad…week. I thought I’d share a very personal story with you, in the hope that it helps you enjoy Thanksgiving with more gratitude.
(Gratitude is the highest vibration emotion ever recorded by ECG and EEG!)
My 17-year old son texted me, while I was in San Diego at a conference, that something was wrong with our much-loved cat, Charlemagne.
Charlie wasn’t yet 2 years old, and he was fine when I left. He’s never been sick. When I got home the next day, I found that his back legs were paralyzed.
The next day I took him to the vet, and she said she would run some tests, that it looked like heart disease and blood clots.
Thirty minutes later, the vet called me to tell me Charlie had suddenly just taken one deep breath and…died.
The next day, I went to court against my children’s father.
While we’d never been to court before, we’ve been to many legal mediations over 9 years, and I’ve incurred many thousands of dollars in legal bills.
To save money, I had released my attorney, and represented myself in court.
And the judge awarded me everything. Including my attorneys’ fees, since my ex-spouse’s violation of court orders caused the legal fees in the first place.
But then, the judge, scrolling through the online court system, told me he couldn’t find the bill from my attorney, filed as an affidavit with the court.
Turns out, she forgot. So, my children’s father got to walk away from that large bill, and I was left holding the bag. All due to a technicality.
I wish those were the worst things, in my very bad week.
The next day, we found out that my new book, Vibe, had pre-sold well over 15,000 copies, prior to the week it published. The book project itself represented 18 months of hard work: landing the deal with Simon & Schuster, writing, and editing several times, and marketing it for months leading up to the excitement of publication date.
And that day, I learned that even though I outsold 9 of the 10 authors who made the New York Times bestseller list that week–even Oprah–my book somehow didn’t make the New York Times list.
If I’m telling the truth, I may have thrown a little pity party. I felt like I shouldn’t have so many sad things happen to me, rapid-fire. I went to bed early.
The next morning, after the bad news of the NYT list ignoring my book, I was at tennis practice, and my teammate, Susan, said,
“Hey, congrats on your book. I was at a care facility last week, and I met a lady who is a big fan of yours. She was showing me your book and was all excited about it.”
I asked Susan where the care facility was, and what the lady’s name is. It turned out she was just two miles from my home. The next day, I stopped by, hoping to sign the lady’s book, and chat with her.
Merry, it turned out, is 63 years old, though her skin looks 35, as if she’s never been out in the sun–and she has a long, blonde braid.
She was in a twin bed with two other ladies sharing the room. She sits in an old, broken wheelchair, because she has no income, no pension, no husband, siblings, parents, or children—and the broken wheelchair she sat in was recently gifted to her.
Her eyes got wide, as I walked into the room, and she whispered:
“Is it you??”
It turns out, she didn’t have my new book, Vibe, at all, as I’d assumed. She wouldn’t likely know about it, since she has no access to social media, and has never sent or received a text in her life, doesn’t own a smart phone.
Her entire life is lived in a corner of a shared room, in a rundown care facility.
She picked up the 2007 first-edition, self-published version of my 12 Steps to Whole Foods course, next to her bed, and handed it to me.
She pointed at my photo, in the Intro, and said, “That’s you!”
“Yes it is,” I told her, “a long time ago!” She told me about the public lecture I had given, many years before. Her neighbor had offered to drive her to it.
Half the pages were torn out of the 12 Steps course manual.
She picked up a large, 3-ring binder, to show me where the rest of the pages were. She had been tearing out the pages, one at a time, cutting off the ragged edges with scissors, and putting each page in plastic sleeves, in the binder.
The 12 Steps to Whole Foods manual was extensively marked up with highlighting, careful notes in the margin in ballpoint pen, recipes circled that she wanted to try.
The 10-year old manual looked like it had been well loved, well used, dog-eared.
Only it wasn’t. Because Merry cannot cook. Merry can’t walk anymore, 26 years after her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis when she was just 37 years old.
She told me about her life. How she tries to get to the exercise room every day, to stand (or sit, when her legs won’t hold her) holding onto the rails of the vibration plate.
She told me that doing so wears her out, and after one of these “exercise” sessions, she sometimes sleeps for 36 hours.
She told me how she would love to eat a healthy diet, as she’d read in my 12 Steps to Whole Foods manual—but she would somehow have to get the ingredients to make a green smoothie. And a blender.
Reading that manual, and looking at the photos, for her, is like reading a travel book for someone who dreams, someday, of seeing the world beyond her back yard.
Merry told me that the only vegetables served at the budget-conscious care facility are severely overcooked–alongside ham, pie with cool whip, and the usual cafeteria fare, to cater to the mostly elderly population in the care facility.
I asked her how I could help her. I left with a resolve to use my own resources to get Merry a large, daily green smoothie.
She told me, with determination in her voice, several times: “In just a few weeks, I plan to be leaving here.”
But, Merry came in, walking, 10 months ago—when she fell, and her landlady broke her own rib, picking Merry up off the floor–causing Merry to realize that now, finally, she needed a higher level of care.
But 10 months after walking through the front door, Merry’s health has declined to the point where she can no longer walk at all.
“I’m going to get out of here, though,” she told me, several times, resolve in her eyes.
When I left that day, I walked out into the parking lot of the care center. It is mid-November here in Utah, but we’ve had an amazing indian summer, and the sun was shining.
I could smell the decaying leaves all around me, a smell I’ve always loved. I stopped, by my car, struck with this thought:
I am walking across this parking lot. I just walked out of that facility. No one in there can walk out here.
I am standing out here in the sunshine. Where I could run, across this parking lot, if I want to.
And I’m going to get in that car, which is available to me all the time, and I’m going to drive it.
To enjoy Saturday night out with my girlfriends.
And because I have a job and access to cash and credit, I can buy myself dinner, and enjoy the evening doing whatever I want.
As I got lost in total awe and gratitude at my incredibly blessed circumstances, I noticed that, in the middle of the parking lot where I was standing, tears were rolling down my cheeks.
I threw my head back, and felt the sun on my skin. I took a few deep breaths, amazed and awed by my healthy body and mind.
Any vestiges of my pity party from earlier in the week melted away. I felt like the luckiest, most blessed, happiest person alive. I was flooded with compassion for another living being whose suffering was real and yet, she wasn’t complaining, and her vibration actually uplifted me.
I realized that my “problems” weren’t worth losing even a moment of happiness over.
I hope you take a moment to focus on the good, to show more love, to find someone to serve, and to remember what you have to be grateful for.
P.S. Of course you will want to know if I’ve adopted Merry and am helping serve her needs, and I am, don’t worry!