Today I Am Grateful
By: Kelley Kay Bowles
Life’s been good to me so far is one of my favorite songs of all time. It was supposed to be our class song for my high school senior year—class of ’88 is great!—and unfortunately it got voted out. It still represents The Class of ’88 to me, though! Sometimes, though, I’ve been known to tweet ‘I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.’, and that’s the crux of today’s conundrum. Why can’t I just spend ALL MY TIME being grateful? My life is amazing, my family is completely stellar, but still I spent this morning with the usual yelling and kvetching about how slowly everybody was moving with their LACKLUSTER efforts to get ready for school. But then I read this wonderful article from 2017 that just made me feel like a total garbage.
Here’s the topic: The main focus of the article is a triple amputee named BJ Wheeler. As a young man, BJ and some of his buddies were exploring the train system on the coastal line one night, gunning around, and an electric surge grabbed onto his watch, shooting a gazillion bolts of electricity through his body out his hands and his feet. He lost all three appendages. Right now, besides doing many other amazing things, he’s running a specialty hospice house out of San Francisco, and that’s where the second part of the story comes in.
One of BJ’s desires to live life to the fullest arrived in the form of motorcycle riding. A young man who built him a specialized motorcycle that could be ridden using only the one hand he has available, is part of the story. A year or so after this motorcycle was built, the young mechanic (Randy Sloan) developed a very aggressive form of mesothelioma, and spent the last six weeks of his life–which came almost right at the time of the diagnosis–at this hospice BJ was running.
The story made me look at my life with this question: why the hell can’t I be more grateful all the time? Our health is so stellar and our lives so fantastic, I should be crooning songs of contentment and dancing jigs of joy 24/7.
Because it all can change so quickly.
One day BJ is playing with trains and the next day he’s missing legs and arms. One day Randy Sloan is strategizing his next super cool motorcycle, and the next he has tumors invading his entire body. Literally that fast. And don’t even get me started on the family members of the people who were killed at the BAGGAGE CLAIM of that airport in Ft. Lauderdale, for Pete’s Sake. http://www.complex.com/life/2017/01/airport-shooting-fort-lauderdale Or a mall. Or a marketplace or a school.
It’s overwhelming, and since no one is going to stop doing these things, I feel like gratitude is the one thing I have possession of to fight it. https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/stories-of-gratitude-powerful-love/ Plus I’m trying to pay closer attention to the usually later and shorter pieces of the newscast that relate to heroism or helpfulness on the news.
As a writer, there are a couple of things I’m working on. First, I REALLY try to appreciate those chunks of time where the words seem to come of their own accord—from where, I’m still not sure, but I totally appreciate the run, and I’m taking a second to just acknowledge awesome words and amazing phrases wherever I hear or see them, because they make the world brighter! Also, I decided long ago that even if my stories might include some pain or hardship, they will never end that way—happy endings are my deal–another really cool thing I have total control of in a world where I don’t often feel like we have enough.
The gratitude is something we’ve all got, Because otherwise the evil wins. I’m working on it. Trying to complain less, even though, as Joe Walsh would say, sometimes I still do. This holiday season is the perfect time to try and revisit the grateful state of mind, whenever we can grab hold of it.
I’m interested in hearing your views! Until next time: Stay mystified!
About the Author:
Kelley Bowles Gusich writes young adult novels under the pen name Kelley Kay Bowles and cozy mysteries under Kelley Kaye. Her debut novel, cozy mystery Death by Diploma, was released by Red Adept Publishing on February 2016, went #1 on Amazon for cozy mysteries in August that same year, and is first in her Chalkboard Outlines® series. Book # 2, Poison by Punctuation, was released April 2018.
Kelley’s new young adult novel, Down in the Belly of the Whale, was released May 5th, 2018, by Aionios Books, and won their title ‘Victor Indie Book of the Year’. Look for it in Kindle, paperback, and audio book (narrated by Kelley!).
Kelley taught high school English and drama for twenty years in Colorado and California, but a 1994 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has (circuitously and finally) brought her to the life of writer and mother, both occupations she adores and dreamed about way back when she was making up stories revolving around her Barbie and Ken dolls.
Kelley has two wonderful and funny sons and an amazing husband who cooks for her. She lives in Southern California.
She wants to hear from you, so don’t be shy about emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on social media @Kelkay1202. #HarpersPower
Kelley remains ever grateful to her readers for sharing their reviews, comments, and insights. Yay, books!