good life with debra tuffner
Part of cultivating a good life is being grateful for all that has come your way as well as all that you have put in your own path.
I was meeting with a new doctor last week and we were discussing the next steps in my treatment and the possible side effects. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five months ago and there have been many appointments and discussions. Along the way I have tried to be super positive and full of gratitude. I told the doctor this and added that I felt very lucky to have had the benefit of modern technology for early detection along with advanced treatment options. So many women before me cannot claim this.
She took my hands and told me that my attitude would see me through and that while luck and destiny are well and good, I needed to make sure that I gave myself credit, too. She reminded me that I was the one who made the appointments each year, got myself to the medical facilities for the exams and then followed up with the results and took action when necessary. Not all women can claim this she told me.
I had never quite thought of it in this way. She encouraged me to be grateful to myself. Hmm, I had to think about this one.
Throughout this chapter of my life, I have found myself making the conscientious decision to choose joy every day. Even when the news was bad and I was feeling lousy, I tried my best to find some sort of joy that I could look upon to keep my outlook positive. Whether it was a funny get well card, a bouquet of beautiful flowers, or even a bag of oranges I was given, I smiled and was grateful for every bit of it, and it made all the difference in the world to me.
When there weren’t cards and flowers and I had to look inward for the joy, I tried my hardest to just be thankful for anything or everything I had, knowing that things can always be worse. And when I couldn’t look inward for another second, I let inspiration and faith guide me. I continued to focus on joy and that led me to gratitude. It was a choice I made and somewhere along the way, it became my go-to, my ace in the hole.
Many times in life, in the past, I’ve often thought of gratitude in terms of the big stuff and then often overlooked the small things, forgetting about joy altogether. Honestly, the big things, the life changing and momentous things, are usually few and far between, but the little things are all around us, everywhere and everyday. The trick is to stop and take notice of them as well as taking the time to attend to them if need be.
I have found so many bits and pieces of joy scattered everywhere over these last months. Little things like hearts in the snow, flower petals forming a peace sign, or the shining bright-eyed smiles of my kiddos when they run through the door from school.
Of course these are just a few of the things from which I’ve found joy recently and I am so grateful for them, but most of all I am filled with gratitude that my eyes are now open. Granted, my eyes have been open for a very long time, but the awareness to really see is there now too. It was almost as if the lightbulb shined so brightly sitting there in the doctor’s office last week when I got the message that we are responsible for our own joy and gratitude. Yes, it happens on its own and can be sitting right there next to us when we really look sometimes too, but we also put ourselves on the path of good things, such as gratitude and joy.
Speaking of good things, this photo of our one year-old baby cherry tree that’s included here brings me tremendous joy and I am so grateful to look out at it each day in our back yard. Mother Nature is the maker of this beauty, but as my doctor reminded me, my family and I will give ourselves a little credit too. We had the vision for a tree and found one and made it ours. We planted and tended to it. We set it in our path and followed through to make it happen. And here I am one year later photographing its beautiful baby blooms.
My wish for any of you who might be reading this is that you find yourself living a life of joy and gratitude, and if you’re not quite there yet, may you set yourself directly on the path toward it.
Debra Tuffner is a member of our 2016 Creative Team using the physical product. Debra resides in a small town outside of Chicago with her husband Paul, their daughter Ella, son Will, and two fur babies named Cali and Lola.