This morning I went for a walk around my neighborhood. In my younger and pre-lupus days, I was a runner. Post-lupus diagnosis, I became a walker. One of the things in life that makes me happy is a morning walk. I enjoy being outdoors, seeing the beauty that nature has to offer and also getting in a bit of exercise.
But this morning’s walk was different. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t far, but it felt like I had won the lottery. Why? Because for the past four weeks I’ve either been in the hospital or recovering indoors. First I had back surgery, then I experienced complications and spent five days in the hospital followed by another surgery. I have missed my walks.
During my hospital stay, I would stand by the window and watch the sunrise (because we all know you get no sleep in the hospital!) and wander down the hallway to another window that had a view of Tampa Bay. I simply wanted to be outside and resume my normal daily activities. I wanted to wake up and eat the granola that I like, I wanted to feel the sunshine on my face, and I wanted the freedom to come and go as I wished.
Over the years, I’ve read all of the books on simplicity and happiness and the importance of appreciating the little things in life. I’ve talked about this in speeches I’ve given and I’ve truly worked to appreciate the small things in my own life. Yet, this morning on my short walk, I was struck by how deeply happy and appreciative I felt as my body propelled me forward along the sidewalk and the sun shone on my face. This was no regular walk; my feelings went beyond enjoyment to joyful gratitude.
Throughout this healing journey, the kindness and generosity of spirit others have shown me has brought literal tears of happiness to my eyes. This entire experience has deepened my belief in the ability of the small things in life to make me extraordinarily happy. Small gestures and kind words from loved ones buoyed my spirit and got me through this rough patch.
As much as I hate to admit this, I also believe that growing older has deepened my appreciation for the little things in life. For so many people, the energy of our younger years is spent striving. Yet, when I look around at older people, so many of them are content, glad to be alive and living a simple life that brings them happiness. Once life slows you down a bit, it seems there is more time and space to fully appreciate the little things and put everything else in perspective.
I certainly would never want to repeat the last four weeks of my life. It has been incredibly stressful, not only for me, but also for those who love me. But I can tell you that going through challenging and stressful times certainly makes for a deeper appreciation of the little things that make me smile…and today that smile is wide!
Here’s to good health and all the little things that make you smile in 2018.