This past week, I went to Nebraska to visit my husband’s gravesite, and I want to share the experience because I did a lot of things right that helped me feel an extremely high level of gratitude—one root of happiness.
The days involved were quite ordinary—easy visiting, nothing big planned, no effort put into every detail to ensure it went well. My dear sister-in-law, who is one week older than I, joined me for the trip, and cousins canceled obligations to spend time with us.
It was one of the most pleasant few days I had had in a very long time. My gratitude was heightened consistently for five straight days. What made the difference? What did I do right to enhance the magical days? The answer; nothing!
First, I had NO expectations. Once I picked up my sister-in-law at DIA and found my way home, all pressure was gone—like poking a small hole in a balloon. We had NO plan. The next day, on the eight-hour trip, we stopped when we wanted and ate when we were hungry. We found the BigIron office in Omaha (a company my husband worked for) and visited the conference room named in his honor. We then went to see an Estes friend who had moved to Omaha and giggled as we enjoyed a tour of her new home.
We only got lost once and didn’t have a collision getting out of Omaha at 5:00 p.m. We admired the lush green terrain on our way to Nebraska City. The day was beautiful, easy, and fun. When the day was over, I felt a weird, strong sense of gratefulness. I sensed some guilt because I was having a great time, and my husband, who would have loved it all, was gone.
The following morning, cousins came to visit, and we told stories, laughed, and shared the loss of a very good man.
The following day, seven cousins met for breakfast, and they too must have arrived with no expectations. I say that because expectations can squelch gratitude, and we all bubbled over with appreciation of being together. Our breakfast conversation was not superficial, and it was like watching a flower bloom—it went from closed to open to stunning. The love and compassion around the table were spiritual.
We visited the cemetery, and being together under the sun, counting our blessings was like something out of a poem. We laughed, told stores, toasted Cal with champagne, and left M&Ms on the gravestone.
I have traveled the world, and those five days will be in my memory as one of the greatest.
What did I do right? I had NO expectations. I practiced what I preach, “Expect nothing, enjoy everything.” I did just that. I could physically feel my body relax and my mind open up to the love and connections. It was all a gift.
I want the same for you. How do YOU feed gratitude?
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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