I was born on a Thursday. The calendar read December 16th, and the clock 7:20 a.m. I’ve been told my mother had very minimal birth pains and about a 20 minute labor. I was born on the hospital hallway, because, apparently, I was too eager to come to Earth.
I’ve always loved my birthday. Being born in the second half of December was a treat, because, in my country, many people get paid double or receive a bonus around that time. My brother and sister were born in March and April, so I was privileged, in a sense, to be born at a “prosperous” time even when we lived in extreme poverty.
My dad always made sure my birthday was special, even after he moved out, he would come to my window at 7:20 and sing Feliz Cumpleaños, Las Mañanitas, or some Julio Iglesias song that was meaningful to the both of us. And he always had a small present for me.
I always looked forward to my birthday and to spending time with my dad, because it was rare when I felt like I was special. One time he even showed up one month earlier, because it was that important to him.
I suppose that’s partly why I love my birthday. On the other hand, I know that having been through many near death experiences, including an 8-day coma, I see getting older as a bonus. I am excited to celebrate my life, because I am alive!
I am definitely grateful to God for all the blessings in my life, and I recognize that it is through seemingly ordinary people that He performs some of His best miracles.
“Thank You” is definitely a magic phrase, comprised of two magic words. As I read the thousands of greetings I received publicly and privately through social media, messaging, and phone calls, I was overwhelmed with the expressions of love, the kind words, and the beautiful wishes from the wonderful people in my life. There were no events, no gifts, no cake… but an incredible showering of appreciation. In other words, my birthday was as PERFECT as it could have been.
I committed to the huge undertaking of thanking each and every one of them for the gestures that touched my heart and brought so much joy to my soul; however, I can say that expressing my gratitude has been one of the holiest experiences one can ever experience.
All of your words of encouragement, hope, and support, truly fill my heart with love. I have so much to give thanks about and so many people to give thanks to.
I give thanks for each day I have been blessed to be alive… for the gift of all my senses, and my working limbs.
I give thanks for my FAMILY and for the miracle of MOTHERHOOD.
I give thanks for my FRIENDS, for YOU, for those who challenge me, and those who praise me… for those who once were and those who faithfully remain.
I give thanks for BLISS, for OPPOSITION, for the sweet and for the sour.. for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I give thanks for animals, oceans, trees, and the whole Earth.
I give thanks for talents, skills, abilities, and the continued desire to learn how to be of contribution to my CLIENTS and PARTNERS.
I give thanks for memories, and I don’t take them for granted as many have lost them.
I give thanks for PERSPECTIVE…the kind that keeps me grounded and lets me find beauty where it may seem absent.
As I reflected on this rampage of gratitude, I felt a deep sense of joy. Then this thought came as a Still Small Voice:
GRATITUDE is the BIRTHPLACE of JOY.
When we are grateful for something, we find joy in it.
When we are grateful for someone, we find joy through them.
When we are grateful for a place, we find joy there.
When we are grateful for a situation, we find joy in it.
When we are grateful for who we are, we find join within.
In the New Testament, Paul shares what I believe to be the key to finding joy in our lives:
“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” [Philippians 4:11]
As I celebrate another birthday, I could choose to complain about my three gray hairs, the increasing wrinkle on my forehead, or just the fact that I will be promoted to a higher age bracket.
I could beat myself up about mistakes of the past, or focus on the goals I “should have” achieved, the place I “could be” at, or the things I “could have” owned or experienced… by now.
I could even complain about how I have less time to live so the uncertainty of whether I will have “enough” time to “get there” or not.
And don’t get me started about all the tragedies, betrayal, and brokenness I could list. Yeah, we all have our share of those, don’t we?
But, gratitude is an attitude, which means, we get to choose it. And I do. And even when I don’t at first, then I do again. I choose to be content, not BECAUSE of what is going on, but THEREWITH – in the middle of the trial, in the eye of the storm, amidst the pain.
As Paul taught, the key to joy is to accept, embrace, and feel gratitude in whatsoever state you find yourself in.
You may think it’s easy for me to say. It really has been the BEST birthday week EVER. I have a wonderful family, enjoy great health, and love what I do. I was even surprised with a feature as one of the TOP 10 December women at Pandora Magazine, along with Taylor Swift, Cate Blanchet, and other superstars. And now my story is featured in The Huffington Post!
But those are the things I choose to focus on – it doesn’t mean that my life is perfect or that there is no pain.
But… like in the Cinderella story, there is always a “once upon a time…” and even “happily ever after.”
And “happily” doesn’t mean “perfectly,” it simply means “gratefully!”
I am excited for a new year, for new possibilities, for new challenges that will allow me to learn, expand, and grow, and for new people in my life to share the journey.
Everyone I encounter is my teacher. Everyone I connect with enriches my life.
And like I always tell my daughters whenever we get news that seem disappointing in the moment: rejection is redirection. When we pray, wish, and even work for something that doesn’t materialize, we can choose to believe we are being redirected to something better. It’s my experience that we often are.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to interact with YOU through this miracle called modern technology – isn’t that quite a miracle?
I am grateful for the INSPIRATION you give me EACH day… and for the wishes, prayers, blessings, and positive thoughts you shared in honor of the day of my birth.
I love YOU. You’re beautiful.Thank YOU.
What or who are you grateful for? Share with us in the comments section below!
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM
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