In honor of Thanksgiving I want to discuss thankfulness today.  We all have something to be thankful for, even in hard times.  When you are in the midst of a trial, or if your entire life has been a trial, you may not clearly see your blessings.  In one of my previous post, titled “Glass half empty… overflowing,” I talk about perspective, and the glass half empty vs. half full analogy.  I shared how I used to be a negative person, then God took me not only to glass half full, but to overflowing.  Now I see the positive in almost every situation, even the ones that appear to be negative.  When I look back over my life, almost every situation that was supposed to cause me harm, has added some benefit to my life.  Sometimes it was wisdom, sometimes experience, or warning and how to recognize danger in people and situations, and many of my challenging times built my faith and strength.  It took years to get to this point, but now I can truly say I am grateful for the hard times.

God had to get me to this point in my life before it was time for me to work in my purpose, which is with women in need.  I work in a homeless shelter in Detroit, and the environment can be difficult.  Every single person who resides in the shelter is in crisis.  Break downs and emotional crisis are a regular occurrence, so is conflict between residents.  It is common knowledge that Social Workers experience burn out.  That is because your entire job is dealing with people’s problems.  As soon as you help a client with one problem, they have another.  When a person is in crisis, they do not just have one problem, they have a host of problems, all compounded on top of each other.  In addition, they are usually in a bad place mentally and emotionally, so you have to be strong for them.  You literally have to think for them, because when you are in a bad place mentally, you cannot figure out your own problems.  Now multiply that by an entire case load, and string that on for years, and you can see why Social Workers burn out.  So, I had to be in a good place in my own life and emotionally whole before I could help anyone else.

oprah-quoteThankfulness is a tool to overcome challenges and get to a good place in your life.  You have to acknowledge what is already good in your life before you receive more.  Whatever you focus and concentrate on, you will continue to draw more of.  If you are always complaining and focusing on the negative, you will continue to draw the negative.  I know people like this.  They see the bad in every person, and the negative in every situation.  Being around people like that is so draining, it is like they suck the very life out of you.  I cannot stand to be around people like that.  I have to deal with it sometimes in my professional life, but I refuse to in my personal life.  I have family members and friends that I purposely avoid because of their negativity.  Do you have people like this in your life?

Thankfulness is about more than just being positive.  Thankfulness is about gratefulness and appreciation.  Are you grateful for your blessings?  Do you even know that you are blessed?  Life itself is a blessing.  Having your health is a blessing.  Having your limbs is a blessing.  Having your eye sight, hearing, and the ability to speak is a blessing.  It always amazes me when I hear stories of people in a wheelchair, or who have lost limbs, or have a debilitating disease, and they are more positive than the average person.  Honestly, I feel like people who had the most challenges are actually the most special.  Think about it.  Some of the world’s most successful and profound people oftentimes have the most impactful stories.  People like Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, or even our beloved President Barack Obama – they were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths, and they all had challenges in their early years.  However, they all overcame their challenges and if you listen to their many interviews, bios, etc. you will find a common thread…..thankfulness.  Oprah Winfrey very often talks about gratitude, and has even started gratefulness challenges throughout the years.  If you learn to tap into this, you can change the entire scope of your life.

The most difficult challenge that I have ever faced was the loss of my first daughter, LaDae’jha.  It has been 21 years since her death.  People have asked me over the years how I dealt with it, and how did I get to such a positive place in my life.  First of all, let me give all praise and glory to God, that is the only way I survived.  With that said, one of the practical coping skills that I learned was thankfulness.  I found a way to still be thankful.  For example, I am thankful that I know where my baby is, and that is with God.  There are people whose child was abducted; not knowing where your child is in this world is even worse than them dying.  So, when I hear stories of someone’s child missing and they never found them, I was able to find thankfulness that I know where my child is.  Another way I used thankfulness to heal was appreciating the time I had with her.  She was 4 ½ years old when she died.  I had 4 years with a beautiful, happy, smart, and loving little girl.  Contrary to what you would expect for a 14-year-old mother, I loved my baby and she brought so much joy into my life.  She was a perfect baby.  She almost never cried, she was very close to me, and she was so cute that she took my breath away.  She was my living doll.  I got to experience a pure love that many people never will.

For my ladies in the fire, even in your most trying times, remember that you still have a lot to be thankful for.  The more you acknowledge the good, the more good you will draw into your life.  Unfortunately, it also works the other way, the more you focus on the bad, the more bad you will draw.  Which one will you choose?  Will you focus on the good, or will you focus on the bad?  The choice is yours.  We all have something to be thankful for.  I am thankful for my daughter Imani, and the healing that God gave me with her life after losing my first.  I am thankful for my family and the good example they set.  I am thankful for my friends, and the beautiful bonds and relationships that God has given me with them.  I am thankful for every woman that God has chosen for me to touch through my work.  And I am thankful for each and every one of you reading this blog.  God loves you and I do too.

Here are some pictures of my first born I would like to share with you all.  Her name was LaDae’jha Walker 2/21/1991 – 11/9/1995



Love, Tonia

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