Being Appreciative

January 16, 2017
Some of my lowest moments in life were hit this year due to challenges I've been facing with my health. Recently, I've been doing a bit better. I'm about 7.5 months into my very long recovery from my back surgery and am finally feeling a bit triumphant seeing how I was able to travel for the first time since before my operation. I started thinking about how grateful I was that I could go somewhere again, and then I thought in an effort to stay positive that it might be nice to compile a whole list of what I'm grateful for. So what am I thankful for lately?

* The ability to travel- After this was taken away from me, travel is something that I will never take for granted ever again. I was very leery to get on a plane and go somewhere new because of what happened to me the last time I traveled. I had an intense (but not unfounded) fear that maybe I couldn't handle the trip I had planned, but I just spent three and a half days wonderful days in Sanya, China for the Christmas holiday! The way I travel now must be done differently to accommodate my needs, and I had friends helping me the whole time. Just to be able to leave Shanghai again was a major accomplishment in itself. Travel means a great deal to me and is a major reason why I decided to live and work in Shanghai, so to have that back was the best Christmas present I could've asked for.


* That my surgery was successful- I joined a spinal fusion support group on Facebook, and it was eye-opening for me. I haven't been able to talk to others who have gotten my surgery, so being a part of this group is a helpful reminder that I am not alone. Even though I went through my own personal hell for some time, I recognize that I am one of the lucky ones!  I feel so awful for some of the people in that group because many of them are still in a lot of pain and some of them had surgeries that failed. I couldn't even imagine going through all the trauma and expense of a major surgery only to be in worse pain. One woman is paralyzed and says she will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. 

* Friends and acquaintances who help me- People have still been so kind to me. Even the small things have added up to make a huge difference, like a co-worker offering her chair to me so I could sit down at a meeting. The girl who lives across from me offered to lift my water because she knows I can't. My friends who went to Sanya with me had to help me carry my backpack and suitcase. I really don't like asking for help, so when people offer it's a big relief!

* Getting asked back- Not all the teachers at my school will get asked to stay for another year. I was worried that maybe because of my bad health that the school wouldn't want me, but they do. My boss even mentioned to me how she really hoped I could stay at the school for a third year.

* Receiving very warm Christmas wishes from my students' parents- Some of my students' parents personally messaged me on We Chat or students gave me a card or gift. I care a lot about my class, so it's nice to know that the feeling is mutual.

* Still getting invited to events- Gosh, if I were some of my friends, I would have probably given up with the invites. I have turned down SO many invitations this year that I'm genuinely surprised people still ask me to anything at all. I'm so glad that I'm still getting asked to stuff because on the rare occasion, I do go! I want to go to a lot more events than I capable of attending. I'm getting there, though. Hopefully next semester will be better than this one!

* For time off- I have about three and a half weeks off of work coming up here soon. There aren't many jobs out there that offer a paid vacation for that amount of time, so I will be making the most of it!

* Getting better- Even though sometimes it is hard to notice my day-to-day progress, I do have to be cognizant of how far I've come. As my friend Lauren said, "Remember when you first tried to walk? You were really unstable, and look at you now. You have to keep in mind that you're still healing." I'll readily admit that I'm impatient, so when I'm having some frustrating moments, I need to remember that I'm still on the road to recovery. Recently, I started walking to the cafeteria again with my students, so that was a big milestone for me.

* Being able to pay off debt- I still owe my dad quite a bit of money for my surgery, but in the past few months I paid off $6,000 worth of debt! That's pretty impressive for someone who couldn't even walk in May. Thank God I can work full time again. Trust me, I am fully aware that there are those who cannot work at all, so I know I'm fortunate.

* Having people that still read my blog- I haven't been posting regularly, but it's nice to know that a few of you keep checking back. Thanks! <3

* Good books- I just read And the Mountains Echoed, and it was nothing short of amazing. I love all of Khaled Hosseini's work. He is such a brilliant storyteller, and every time I open one of his books I get sucked in for a few days. He knows how to make his audience care about the characters, that's for sure. Also, reading is a hobby that doesn't hurt my back, so there's that too!

* Funny and gifted students- My students are so adorable and being around them just puts me in a good mood! (Most of the time, ha ha.) They're always telling me jokes, stories, or just being silly in general. I got their MAP results back, and it confirmed what I've always thought. I'm working with some of the best and the brightest kids out there. I consider myself lucky to be their teacher.

* Coziness- Fuzzy socks, fleeces, duvets, hot soup, and warm drinks are pretty much the best on these cold winter days.

* The food scene in Shanghai- I love the mix of restaurants and types of foods that are available here!  There are lots of big cities in China, but not all of them have such a wide range of restaurants. I can have Mexican one day, Chinese food the next, then some French food, or maybe Spanish, Italian, Thai, or Japanese food. It's all possible here!

What are some positive things going on in your life right now?

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