After I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in October 2013, I made a choice to work on becoming more resilient so that I will be better able to cope with whatever challenges life may bring (health or otherwise).
Every article that I’ve read on resilience talks about gratitude. I’d been thinking about starting a gratitude journal for a while but hadn’t pursued it. When one of my best friends bought me a lovely notebook for my birthday, that was the gentle push I needed. And so, I started a gratitude journal at the end of January this year.
Writing is difficult for me – one of my symptoms of Parkinson’s – however I was determined to write down the things I was grateful for each day – on good days and bad. Some days I wrote several things – sometimes big things – sometimes small insignificant frivolous things. Some days I only had one or two things. And I admit that there were a few times, I didn’t write in my journal – mostly because I was exhausted and couldn’t be bothered. But I’ve kept it up most days.
I really feel that keeping this journal has helped me a great deal over the last year. When I experience challenges in every day life, I now find that I automatically try and look for a positive instead of focusing on the negatives. And instead of feeling sorry for myself – I feel grateful for the good things in my life.
Gratitude has been a big step towards making me stronger and more resilient. I am keen to share anything that has helped me in case it might help others so I came up with a few ideas for Start Living Today PD (SLTPD) – the Facebook group for people living with Parkinson’s that I now help to run.
First was the 30 Day Gratitude Journal Challenge – which is exactly as it sounds – I challenged members of SLTPD to keep a gratitude journal for 30 days and share how they were getting on, so we could motivate, encourage and support each other. I was delighted that several members took up the challenge and even began sharing some of their entries. The response is best summed up by poem in the picture below written by my friend Janice Rowan – who I met through the group (though we haven’t met in person as she lives in Australia and I’m in the UK). Thank you very much Janice for allowing me to share this.
As I post this, I am about to launch my latest project for SLTPD – which is an advent calendar with a grateful twist…each day in advent, a member of our group will be sharing with the rest of the group what he/she is grateful for in 2016. I am grateful that I have 24 group members taking part. I’ve had the privilege of seeing all the contributions and I have been moved and inspired reading them. They are all very different – showing the diversity of our group. Each one comes from someone who either has Parkinson’s or cares for a loved one with Parkinson’s. It shows that in spite of living with Parkinson’s and all the challenges it brings, we all have a lot to be grateful for. This is something I am excited to share with all the 600+ members of our group. And I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do so.