My Silver Linings Playbook
By Tracey Trousdell
The clouds are grey and menacing and the wind aggressively threatens nearby tree branches and power lines. Despite being the middle of the day, it appears as if it’s nighttime. The rain pummels you sideways before hitting the ground then bouncing back up, soaking you in all directions. I cringe at the thought of having to venture outside, and the moment I do, I’m completely drenched. When I come back in and dry off, I’m left with a perpetual chill that I can’t shake. The rain often lasts for days before there is a short reprieve and a glimmer of clear skies. Just when I get my hopes up and think it’s safe to go out again, the blue sky is gone and the clouds roll back in.
A literal depiction of life on the west coast of Canada in the winter, it also portrays my psyche in the time following my twin boys’ very premature birth. Everything in my mind was dark. I was angry, exhausted, and devastated by the challenges our family had been through. I grew more bitter after each of the boys’ subsequent diagnoses with Cerebral Palsy and the realization of the lifelong obstacles they were sure to face. Although I put on a brave front and tried to remain positive, it was often impossible. Inside I was constantly wondering “Why me?” in tandem with looking at everyone else and asking “Why not them?”
But then I decided I could not sustain this way of thinking. I had my entire life and that of my three children ahead of me, and they deserved so much more than a mother who was in a perpetual state of feeling sorry for herself. It wasn’t that I had a moment of enlightenment, so much as I made a conscious choice: I needed to change my perspective. The easiest way to do that was to focus not on the dark grey clouds that were hanging over my head but on the shimmering silver that was lining them.
So my focus became gratitude and cherishing the abundance in my life. I started with the most obvious: my family. My husband and I have a strong marriage and three children who exude bravery, strength and wisdom well beyond their years. Despite my twins’ physical challenges, they are happy, healthy, and thriving. They have defied a million odds since arriving in the world frail and nearly lifeless. They are an inspiration to everyone who knows them and their enthusiasm and hard work are infectious.
If I step back and look for even more to be thankful for, we have a roof over our heads, clean water to drink, nourishing food in our fridge, and change in our pockets. We live in a welcoming, caring community full of friends and family who support us. We know what it feels like to be safe and secure. We may sometimes have things to cry about, but we also laugh every day. We love, deeply, and are loved in return. What more could I possibly ask for from life when I think of all that?
When I began focusing on giving thanks, I realized how much I had taken my life for granted before. It wasn’t until my world as I knew it started crumbling beneath my feet that I began to see who and what were of the most importance to me. I am mindful to be thankful for those things every day. On the really hard days, gratitude plays the biggest role in helping me put one foot in front of the other. If I stop and think of everything I have to be thankful for, nothing else seems quite as overwhelming.
Admittedly, I still have moments where the clouds are looming. Sometimes I even get caught in that torrential downpour and crawl into bed where I am safe and dry, unwilling to venture out until the storm has passed. But I am now able take a quiet moment of gratitude and know how much more difficult things really could be. I can look up at the clouds and be sure that somewhere behind them, no matter how hidden, the sun is shining brightly.
About the Author
Tracey Trousdell lives on the west coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, and identical twin boys. The twins, born more than three months early, have Cerebral Palsy. A former Project Manager turned stay at home mom, Tracey uses her organizational and time management skills to enthusiastically boss her family around.
Her blog, http://www.traceytrousdell.com, is a sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, all-the-time authentic look at her family living life to the fullest through adversity.