I enjoy pressure. Pressure of a deadline. Pressure of coming up with a concept. Pressure to always do my best. Pressure to get the perfect gift. While I don’t have a long list of gifts to by, the few that I do buy, I want to be thoughtful and show that I am paying attention and care. I adore actions and words but not even those fulfill my feelings and gratefulness, so for sure materialistic items will not cut it.

I read an article in Oprah Magazine prior to my severe RA onset. Statistics range depending on the source, but the number that has stuck with me is that 75% of marriages who are afflicted with chronic illness end in divorce. I remember telling my husband about the article and discussing that high number.

All of a sudden we were in a small room being informed that we were another couple afflicted by chronic illness. Shortly after, we also sat in our summer wardrobe in the same hallway, in different rooms from one another, hearing each other be terminated from our jobs by the most terrible humans we have ever faced. In a time of sheer turmoil, disbelief, and fear we ran to each other instead of away. My husband has been understanding and taken on the weight of our world with courage and determination. He has accompanied me to each of my appointments, pill popping, and shot. He makes me laugh when I feel it is not possible and remains a positive force proving we will not be a statistic.

Though hard days have happened and are bound to occur I’m incredibly grateful I have a husband and family that I know operates as a supportive unit rather than individuals with separate purposes. We are in this life together and will take on the challenges together. I am very fortunate.

I have found myself in a bind to show my gratitude, for those who are closest, with a Christmas gift. I know perfection is not real and materialistic things definitely cannot express my feelings but, I still have found myself under pressure to somehow make my message clear. It’s a struggle because it’s not possible. I can only hope that love and words provide some insight.

In light of the horrific recent tragedies, in Colorado, New Jersey/New York, Oregon, and as of today Connecticut (along with numerous others) I am reminded of the importance and preciousness of family and life. As President Obama tearfully shared, I too will hold my family closer. 2012 has truly shown me that you never know what’s ahead and the importance for being thankful for each day you have with loved ones and your health. It’s just too bad it often takes bad news to awaken awareness to be able to experience complete gratitude.

I’m going to let go of the pressure as it is something I trained myself to enjoy. I realize what I am actually saying is I enjoy stress. No, no, no more! When I feel the urge I will redirect my attention to being present and being filled with gratitude for all that I have. I am filled with gratitude and it feels rad! I’ll call it gRADitude!


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