• Susan Conrad

An Attitude of Gratitude

“The best kind of giving is thanksgiving.” ~Chesterton

When I was a child, my mother often said "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." But, of course, children view themselves as ageless and invincible, so her words went unheeded—until recently. These days I'm feeling grateful about a lot of things, in particular my health. This time last year I was living in constant pain, made seemingly perpetual trips to every imaginable health care provider, and experienced a 109-day hiatus from kayaking, which just about killed me. It was a cumulative effect of arthritis inching its way into various joints, several rotator cuff tears, a pesky sacroiliac joint that left me feeling extremely unstable, and an extra fifteen pounds that had somehow crept onto my body. As much as I wanted a fast-forward button through all of this, I knew it was time to start working through these things in a conscious fashion. Plus my mom's words wouldn't stop circulating through my head!


Of the many lessons I've learned from paddling to Alaska is that it's ok to ask for help. Like most of you, I pride myself on my self-sufficiency and pulling my own weight in the world, so it was a bit challenging to find myself in a situation where I had to rely on others. But, that's exactly what I did. It was time for a reset! Thanks to friend's recommendations, doctor referrals, and a whole lot of web searching, I enlisted a team of professionals to get me back on track.


I'm beyond grateful for the host of doctors, therapists, and healers who got me moving forward again with my old vim and vigor. And I'm grateful to my friends and loved ones who supported me through my down time—you know who you are! I smile and give thanks each time I pick up a ten-pound weight or lace up my running shoes to hit the trail. And I take a deep breath of gratitude each time I slither into my long, skinny sea kayak and feel that sublime connection to kayak, self, and everything surrounding me. Talk about an attitude adjustment!

Feeling strong and capable these days -- especially when the sun shines!


Realizing I needed others and allowing them to help me reminded me that we are not on our own in this world. Sure, I felt extremely vulnerable at times, but that was eventually replaced by a deep feeling of gratitude. It also instilled in me a desire to be of service to others if they are in need of help.


It takes logic and courage to surrender to our own helplessness and to accept that we, just like every other human being, have limitations. As 2021 edges into our rearview mirrors, what have you surrendered to this year and what are you feeling grateful for?


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