365 days of appreciation…
Feeling: Well… How to put into words? I am… incredibly, tremendously Grateful.
I have had a lot of time to think about this day. I just can’t believe it’s finally here. Every day, for the last 365 – that’s Three hundred and sixty-five – I have counted down to this day. I have counted down to this day because that was the time limit I set myself. 365 days of appreciation. 365 ways to heal a broken heart.
When I started this blog 1 year ago, I was in a very dark and scary place. The 24th of July was a heavy day for me. It was the day I said goodbye to my grandfather. And it was also the day I lost the most important person in my life. You could say it was a double whammy. And the closest thing I can relate it to is perhaps that sickening, heart-dropping, head-piercing feeling you get when you trip up and fall over. Except imagine that once you get back on your feet and are just dusting yourself off… just as you start to take a full deep breath, it gets stuck in your throat as you, panic-stricken, realize you have not watched where you are going and now you have stepped into a manhole… And now you are falling. Longer this time. Deeper. Absolutely paralyzed with fear. And that feeling of falling? Imagine it doesn’t go away.
It’s like that.
So how on earth you start purchasing domains, setting up an account and start blogging in the midst of all that… I still have no idea. And I do not take credit for it. Because it wasn’t me. I look back on those first few days, those first couple of weeks and it’s all a blur. But what I can remember is the feeling of wings that were not my own, and the sudden presence of someone – something – that was above and beyond me. There were suddenly two heartbeats – one nervous, one strong. Two voices inside my head. And in the midst of what was a deafening, clamoring noise, I remember one crystal clear and liquid thought that seeped into my brain: “There has GOT to be something worth living for. There’s gotta be more to life than this heartache.” Because it was heartache. Everywhere I looked there was heartache, and not just my own. My grandfather, The Don of our family, was dying. My family – my mom, my dad, my sister, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins… – was experiencing one mammoth, collective heartbreak. My closest friends – also, experiencing their own versions of heartbreak. At work, heartbreak. At home, heartbreak. Everywhere, everywhere heartbreak. The feeling was inescapable, from the centre of my chest to every support circle I would normally turn to. It seemed a game of Pass the Parcel was in play, where only broken hearts were invited. And it was devastating.
But there it was – that voice inside my head saying, “There is more to life… I promise you, there is more to life.”
And so I blogged. I blogged and I blogged and I blogged. Every hour, every day, waiting for that moment. That one, precious moment that would prove to me that “Yes, there is more to life.” And as soon as it arrived, boy did I cry. I cried inside because I felt defeated. And I laughed and cried out loud because I was triumphant. The broken heart hated the precious moments, because every time I was grateful, it made the feeling in my chest seem petty and no longer necessary, like a small child throwing a tantrum, forgetting why he / she was crying in the first place.
But this isn’t a blog about heartache. This is a blog about Love… and Gratitude. But I felt I couldn’t really explain both without first giving it some context.
You see, believe it or not, Love has been the underlying thread behind every single one of these blog posts. I may not have mentioned it, or always tagged it, but it was always there. Silent. Patient. Present. It exists in every single one of these pages, representing every single day of the last year. It is in every letter, every page, every word. It fills all the blank spaces in between and has been the glue tying this whole thing together all this time.
I have never entered the blog title for a post – “Day XXX: …” – without acknowledging its significance. 100 days of appreciation… 200 days of appreciation… 300 days of appreciation… Also meant 100 days of healing… 200 days of healing… 300 days of healing…
This has been both liberating and scary at the same time. But slowly and surely, more liberating than scary.
For me, Love has always inspired. Even in its absence. It’s like cutting a circle out of a blank sheet of paper. First you call it a “circle”. Then there is a “hole”. But the shape never changes. It’s just in a different form.
A few years ago I started writing a book about soulmates – what they were, where they come from, how we recognize them. You know what kind of person writes about soulmates? The kind of person who believes they’ve met their own. So what happens when, in real life, things don’t turn out the way you think? This is a question I’ve been asked on a few occasions over the last few months. And my answer has never changed: Things might not have panned out the way I thought they would. But that doesn’t mean it was never meant to be. The only thing that’s changed, is the length of time I thought it would last.
They say Love is supposed to bring you closer to God – whatever it is you call God. It’s supposed to show you the deepest recesses of your soul, so you recognize who and what you really are. And inspire you to be the very best you can be.
When I say I am grateful for Love, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Because I was lucky enough to have it. Because I was lucky enough to feel it. Because it really was an amazing time in my life. And because I believe I’m a better person because of it. Love inspired me enough to investigate its root cause. And that led me on a path of spirituality. And for that, I am eternally grateful. How could I not be?
Do I wish things were different? Sometimes. Or at least I used to. But I realize now that doesn’t matter and is beside the point. Falling in and out of love is a test. And it will keep on happening until you’ve learned your lesson. What lesson is that? I believe it’s a question of where you put your faith.
Place your faith outside, in people and in things, and chances are you will get disappointed. Because these are inconsistent, imperfect and transient when we expect them to be consistent, perfect and still.
Search inside yourself and trust, first and foremost, That which exists in the innermost chambers of your heart – and you will always find peace. Why? Because once you realize Home really is where the heart is, there is an overwhelming relief that washes over you. Because you realize that will always be a part of you – inside of you. And nothing can ever take that away.
This doesn’t mean you will never experience a sad moment in your life again. It doesn’t mean you will never feel anger or upset or frustration. But what it does mean is that no matter what happens, you know you will always be okay. Because Home is a place you now recognize. And all you have to do is close your eyes.
On Day 300, my colleague asked me if I was serious. Could I honestly say I’ve been happy and grateful every single day for the last year? I said, on the whole? Yes, I really can. Am I saying every day was perfect and rosy and that I was happy every single second of every single day? No, of course not. That’s unnatural and insane to think people live – or should live – that way. Because unless you are in a constant state of meditation, there’s a thousand thoughts and feelings we experience at any given second on any given day. Happiness is but one of many feelings on the emotional spectrum. It is one type of feeling, and there are many different kinds of feelings. The beauty of gratitude, however, is that it is a feeling of contentment that underlies all other emotions, and exist regardless of the shallower, temperamental feelings up top. It is the soft and softly ruffled sand bed that allows you to stay calm and composed underneath a tumultuous wave. And the rock that stays polished, heavy and still while rivers rage over it. This feeling can make you feel happy. But it is not happiness per se. Gratitude is finding peace in what you already have, whatever the outcome, whatever comes your way. Happiness is the result of a particular outcome, and so can be lost if something doesn’t meet your expectations. Gratitude lasts. It is retrospective and present contentment. Happiness comes and goes. It is concerned with the present and what we expect to happen in the future (continued happiness). If we lose the thing that makes us happy, we can feel sad (negative reaction). OR we can feel sad but be grateful for everything that’s happened so far anyway (positive reaction). That’s why I believe there is a distinction between feeling grateful and feeling happy. You can be sad and grateful at the same time. But you can’t be happy and sad at the same time…
Gratitude is the positive bolt-on to every other emotion. It gives feelings with a more ‘negative’ reaction (sadness, anger, hurt, frustration) a positive spin. And it magnifies ‘positive’ feelings (happiness, joy, excitement) and makes them 10x better.
So be grateful. And always pursue the path that enables you to practice grace, humility, strength, hope… and trust. When you start to feel reckless, self-righteous, weak, ugly and worthless inside… you know it’s time to let things go. Because these are the devils that would love to see you reach anything but your full potential.
I cannot begin to express how this blog has changed my life and helped me through a very very difficult time in my life. Honestly, if you want to learn more about yourself and what it is that truly makes you happy, find out what it is that makes you feel grateful, on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis. This is soul food, and the combination of these things form a recipe uniquely and especially made to nourish YOU. And you grow because of it.
For me, apparently Dharma Mittra + Family + Food + Friends + Futureplanning + Health + Home + Inspiration + London + Music + Travelling + Work + Yoga are the major contributors towards my Bliss. These are the major things that have healed me. And these are the major things that make me happy.
It’s interesting, huh? “Family, Food, Friends, Health, Home…” Looks like all the sages and guidebooks weren’t lying after all. Now I know for a fact, after a year of constant practice and recording of my own experiences, that these really are sources of joy, contentment and happiness.
And how wonderful it is to know.
This has been an incredible journey. And I guess I just wanted to say thank you for listening and to anyone that might have stopped by here at some point over the last year. Thank you for putting up with my constant updates on Facebook. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for your never ending support and words of encouragement. Thank you for just being there, adding to the rich tapestry of my life.
I am forever grateful.
With love and light,
– Kristina Isabel Yniguez Curran, aka “Krissa”. x