I am honoured that *the gratitude project: dare to be grateful* has provided Katjana with a forum to share her deep and spiritually mature perspective. She inspires me with her willingness to view her life - and all the challenges and limitations that come with it - through the lens of gratitude. Thank you Katjana...
Gratitude:I have so much to be grateful for: the plethora of loving people in my life, living in one of the richest countries in the world, sustainable and fulfilling employment, a devoted and loyal spouse. It’s hard to choose just one thing/person I’m grateful for. However, I think the thing I am most grateful for is also the thing that’s killing me.
I have a complex congenital heart/lung disease that is now in its terminal stage. I can’t recall a time in my adult life when I wasn’t grateful for it. Perhaps it was when I was a child and didn’t understand the gifts of illness. Despite creating limits in my life, it also opened me up.
You see, because I wasn’t allowed to run around, play sports or even tag with other children, I was often sent to my room. Some children interpret being in their rooms as a punishment, but not I. That’s where I grew. My creativity flourished. I wanted to be and eventually became an artist. My sense of spirituality and sacred connection also developed. As well, I always wanted to help others so I used my art and creativity in vocation as a counsellor. With creativity I helped others find a voice. This is one of the many gifts that being “sick” gave me. Had I been born healthy, I probably would have been involved in sports, would have become a doctor but would be missing something very special that makes me, me: compassion towards others and a sense of humanity.
I didn’t realize this for a long time until one day someone remarked that had I not had this disease and been able to withstand medical school/staying up days on end, I would have made a good doctor. I instantly knew that had I not had this disease, I wouldn’t be who I am today and though I would have made a technically skilled doctor, I not have actually had the “bedside manner” (care) that is essential. My interest in (alternative) medicine, psychological and spiritual healing is a direct result of my disease. So though it’s now at its end stage, I am grateful for the person I became in learning to live with it. I would not be who I am today without it.
Sometimes the set-backs in life become our greatest gifts. It is because of my illness that I am who I am today, and that is why I am grateful for the one thing that will eventually take my life.