Gratitude – 21 reasons
Three weeks ago I was sitting in the lobby of my physician’s office way too early in the morning. I was really tired. Not only had I gone without my immortal beloved (coffee) for a few days, but we had just closed our fall productions and I was worn out. Every inch of me hurt, but this had become my new normal. I had a tough year physically – debilitating migraines, rounds of medicine that resulted in a concussion and a trip to the ER, stomach issue, and some of the most terrible flare ups I have seen in a decade. I sat in that office, feeling discouraged and thinking “how am I going to make it across the Camino if I can’t even drag myself to my desk today?” My doubt that morning was larger than my pain.
And then I read my email.
A GoFundMe notification stated there was an exceptionally generous gift from an unexpected source with whom I had not even shared the fundraising web address. I had to stare at the email for a while to be sure I was reading it correctly. I know this man professionally and we only spoke of my Camino project for a few minutes – he heard through the grapevine I was taking the pilgrimage and wanted to chat with me about it. My shock that morning quickly gave way to tears.
I told a friend later that day it felt like at my lowest moment so far, the universe was whispering “keep going”. That morning was a turning point.
Last year I made the decision to walk the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, all 800 kilometers of it. Yes, that’s 500 miles. I remember announcing to The Good Doc I was going to walk the whole Camino and he said “Great! When are you going?”
It was that simple. At least the decision was.
When I think it through, sometimes it feels overwhelming. Most people finish the pilgrimage in 32 days, covering up to 40 km some days. I barely even walk a mile to and from work, and only when it’s not hot outside. 500 miles sounds crazy. But I was excited. Really excited. In a way that happens when I learn an important truth in life. In these times my exuberance burns hot and never quick enough. I wondered if my ideas were more advanced than my abilities, but I had no doubt I was going to see this through.
I decided the walk had to be for a larger cause, and thus came the idea to raise money for the National MS Society. At the urging of a co-worker I created a GoFundMe account to underwrite the trip, and to my huge surprise my friends and family responded quickly and generously. It caught me off guard. I’d barely hatched this crazy plan, and people from all of my circles were stepping up, showing faith in me.
When the first gift came through the website I shed a tear. I was so profoundly grateful and that feeling only compounded with each subsequent gift. In just 10 days, with 20 donations, I raised over 1/3 of my campaign goal from people I loved, and some I have never met. I have always felt the words I can find to express my gratitude never conveyed my sincere feelings.
The real planning soon began. I consumed every book and website I could get my hands on. I talked it over with friends and co-workers for days and weeks (annoyingly I am sure.) I was fully consumed with this crazy plan. But the following year was tough. Really tough. The set backs and distractions were mounting. Health issue, family struggles, and timing issues with work all felt like hurdles placed in front of what I was trying to achieve.
The turning point that morning in the doctors office was not only within my perspective and state of mind, but also physically. It was one of the best sessions I have had with a physician all year. The migraine treatments are began to work, and my other adjusted meds are making a huge difference. She referred me to a new specialist and it feels like real progress. It was perfect timing. I have made big steps with the project the last three weeks (tickets purchased, pack fitted, shoes are purchased, etc.) and it finally feels like more than an idea.
I have walked/jogged over 45 miles in the last three weeks and I keep thinking about the 21 people who have lent their support. Especially on days like today when I want to just crawl into bed and sleep at 6:30pm. I doubt I will ever be able to fully express how grateful I feel. But I can say the 21 drive me to put on my shoes and get moving. When I want to quit before reaching my goal for the day I see their faces and I keep going.
So… while I hit the treadmill, this long update is to say thank you again and I dedicate my absolute favorite song to you all:
Joe Cocker, A Little Help from My Friends