Back when I was 14 years old, a fascinating being entered my life, one who would change it for ever. That being was Miss Oprah Winfrey.
Every week for months I saved my pocket money, until one day I had enough money to go down to the local Co-op store and buy myself my very own TV. It had a 14 inch black and white screen (all I could afford) but to me it was a momentous day that I will never forget. For months I had gone into that store with Mum and peered up at the little TV on the top shelf that I hoped one day would be mine.
Why this mission? Why this dedicated pocket money saving?
Because I wanted to be able to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show without interruption.
That amazing woman and that purchase changed (and possible saved) my life and set my course…
I come from a home of much love but also of abuse, violence, fear and poverty. People in my world didn’t talk about their feelings and didn’t know how to talk about their pain. And here was a woman who had been through just as much as me by that age, talking openly about her struggles and interviewing other real people and experts who gave me a language to express how I was feeling.
Watching Oprah gave me an ’emotional literacy’ that didn’t exist in my family or in my culture in working class England. Oprah herself gave me the courage to speak out, her guests taught me tools to start healing myself from the effects of a violent Father and best of all she came into my life the same year my Mum was diagnosed with cancer. I couldn’t have got through it without Miss Winfrey.
Of all the things she taught me, of all the ways she saved me, it was one tool that turned things around and kept me from checking out emotionally and ending my life many times. The tool? GRATITUDE. But not just any gratitude….gratitude during hard times.
But how could I even begin to say thank you for a violent bully of a father? How could I say thank you for my Mum’s illness? For our poverty? I was afraid. I was angry. I wasn’t feeling grateful at all.
But there she was, open-hearted, determined and vulnerable on my little black and white screen, finding something, anything to be grateful for in the middle of every tragedy. If she could do it, so could I.
I didn’t want to be fake. I had to find an authentic crack of hope, a way to look at what was unfolding in my life that could flip it around. How could I say “thank you” even when life was at its worst?
I learned that if I kept a ‘gratitude journal’ and found 3 things to say THANK YOU for at the end of each day, my experience of my life would start to change. My Mum might not get well, we might not be able to pay our bills that month, the situation might stay the same but I would not. My response to it all might change and along with it my feelings.
I started to say THANK YOU for the nurses and doctors trying to help Mum. THANK YOU for the kind word and smile of a neighbour who understood I didn’t need to be asked at the age of 14 for the one hundredth time that month “How’s your Mum?” and instead asked me “How are you doing sweetheart?”. And toughest of all was to say THANK YOU to God, to Life for this challenge that would grow me and prepare me in ways I could not see yet.
“It’s easy to be thankful when times are good.
The challenge is to be thankful when times are tough.”
– Kimberley Jones
The vibration of those two words, “THANK YOU” is so powerful and can transform you from a victim to a leader in a moment and give you enough of a shift in feeling and perspective to build upon through action. It brings you present. It clears the fog.
“True forgiveness is when you can say
thank you for that experience”
– Oprah Winfrey
At times I have even said it over and over when I didn’t believe it. Just to bring me present, just to shift me out of blaming and complaining mode. When I do that, something happens, my energy inside me and around me starts to shift, my body tingles, my heart opens and I start to align with the vibration of gratitude and suddenly I am speaking the truth, I am genuinely thankful, I am embodying the grace of gratitude. When that happens new positive experiences are attracted into my world.
So my friend, whatever is happening in your life, however hard, finding something, anything, to say THANK YOU for can be the first spark of light in the deepest hole of blackness. It can start to turn things around.
Even now after decades of study, training, spiritual devotion, transformation, personal growth and a mighty ancestral lineage of seers and healers, it is simple GRATITUDE (and remembering to BREATHE deeply) that are my ‘go-to’ tools when I get overwhelmed and forget everything else.
And so my big THANK YOUs today go out to Oprah Winfrey for saving my life and to YOU my friends for joining me on this journey, for your endless love and support of me and my work, for trusting me to help you and for your own immense courage.
I LOVE YOU.
I GIVE THANKS FOR YOU.
Can you relate to what I have shared my friend? Please leave your comments below. I love to hear from you.