Nothing Ruins a Trip to the Therapist like Gratitude.

I was so happy to be strolling in the sunshine, down the wide concrete sidewalk to the therapist’s office yesterday. (My family back east will be gasping over this, as if I’ve just admitted to being criminally insane.)

But in Los Angeles, we love our therapists. Mine is more like a girlfriend than anything else. OK, a girlfriend I’m paying to listen to me, non-stop for an hour, but a girlfriend nevertheless.

t's not always easy to look this happy. Sometimes it takes more than pizza.

It’s not always easy to look this happy. Sometimes it takes more than pizza.

She’s kind, patient, wise, smells good, and has helped me through some hideously bad years, so I was looking forward to seeing her because I’ve been very up and down lately. I couldn’t wait to vent about how stressful my life has been.

As I was happily strolling toward the tan, five story medical building, formulating my long list of grievances, and poor-me moments, a van was waiting in front. A wheelchair rolled out through the sliding glass doors of the building. The man in the wheelchair had graying hair and was probably my age, but looked older because of what looked like a serious illness.  He just stared at the ground. A woman, wearing a fitted dress with a yellow jacket and a worried look on her face, walked behind his wheelchair. They were followed by a younger man who looked like he might have some mental illness.

My great, first-world moment of perfectly formulated self-pity was blown apart before I even got through the front door. Clearly, God plans these things to see if you’re paying attention. As the doors to the elevator slowly closed, I couldn’t get their image out of my head.

When I got upstairs to my favorite position on the comfy, dark brown, leather couch, I told my therapist I felt pathetic complaining about  my lack of work and dwindling finances.  At least I can get up in the mornings and look for work without having to worry about my health (not yet anyway). And everything I wanted to whine about, I just couldn’t anymore. Oh I mustered up a little, but not with my usual gusto.

A snippet of resume.

A snippet of resume.

Trust me, life is not easy right now. Have I been rejected for every good paying, full time job with benefits I’ve applied for in the past seven years? Yes. Do I have several friends in the same boat? Yes. Are we all pretty smart, dare I say, even accomplished, college grads? Yes.

So, what the hell? Everyone tells me it’s the times we live in. If you’re our age, you’re either freelance or part-time. Period. I’ve even contemplated climbing up on one of those high rise billboards on Sunset Blvd. and not coming down until someone agrees to give me a full-time writing job with benefits.  (I’m not kidding, I really did — and I hate heights.)

But at least I have options.

And none of us is without hope, and that’s what I saw on the faces of those people yesterday.

My tools.

My tools.

Yes, it’s hard right now, but it’s not hopeless. My mom always said, “God helps the one who helps himself.” And I can do that.

So, I left with a plan, and a mantra that my therapist helped me formulate. (I can hear my brothers going: “Oh dear God, now she has a mantra too?”).

I’ll end every night, in my comfy bed with my mom’s crochet bedspread, and list all the things and people I’m grateful for. And I’ll start every day with my my new mantra which is about feeling lucky to have talents that I can work hard  (no, make that – work really hard )to hone, and achieve the success that I want.

Mom's handiwork right next to me every night.

Mom’s handiwork right next to me every night.

Today I feel lucky to be able to do that, because there are so many people who would like to, but can’t.

15 thoughts on “Nothing Ruins a Trip to the Therapist like Gratitude.

  1. Pingback: Saint “Tude” Knocks Me on my Butt…Again. | At Fran's Table

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  3. Grateful can make things feel better.
    I’m grateful I get to learn from your wonderful writing.
    I promise that, when I emerge from my stuff and taste success, I’ll hire you to do whatever you want — and be my boss.

  4. I have learned that a little gratitude can cure a whole host of ills. And hearing a bit of gratitude can lift our spirits: I appreciate you and your friendship more than you know. I am always available to listen (and encourage) between visits. : )

  5. ….Buddhism is the Answer. America needs Buddhism. Americans have become much too Materialistic, Vain and Self Indulgent and this is playing havoc on their being. This Nation is messed up because of to much commercialism. Buddhism is all I need. No Therapists, No Toys, No Mate, No Medications, Nothing else, as Buddhism has proven to be the answer to Life. Thank You Isabel for posting this. :+)))

  6. Fran, you might want to listen to this English Buddhist Monk, Ajahn Brahm. He can lift up your spirits and he is just too cool. He has many YouTube videos on a host of topics. You can start with this one on Happiness & Self Healing through Mindfulness. He’s help me and a few of the friends. Just try it.

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