At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

–Albert Scweitzer

After being a widow for a few years, I made an error in judgment and accepted a marriage proposal that didn’t work out.  Before I recognized that the demise of my engagement was a blessing in disguise, my self-confidence hit an all time low and I  thought that my heart had been broken.  Luckily, I only suffered a badly bruised, my heart was intact.  Nonetheless, the event caused my world to shift on its axis and my zest for living to reach an all time low.  For a little while, I didn’t participate in life, I simply existed.

Eventually I recognized that while I have little or no control over many life events, I darned well do have control over how I react to these events and how I accept the new reality they create.  My engagement was one such event. When it ended I was faced with a number of options:

  • I could hide my head in the sand and pretend that the entire thing never happened.
  • I could become a hermit. Thus avoiding the folks who wanted to know “What happened?” or looked at me with pity in their eyes.
  • I could continue thinking that my heart had been broken and to allow its jagged pieces to continue cutting until I became a bitter person.
  • I could pick up the pieces and use them to make my self-esteem and my life whole again.

I chose to pick up the pieces. In the process of putting the pieces back together, I discovered that some of them didn’t fit together as snugly as they previously had.  Then, I discovered that the little gaps between the pieces let light shine into my heart and allowed me to view my new reality with loving eyes and a grateful heart.

I’m now able to enjoy what I refer to as my bonus life and I treat it as the gift that it is.  Instead of being bitter, I focus on polishing up my attitude of gratitude.  I savor the folks with whom I share this bonus life.  Whether I encounter them briefly at Wal-Mart or develop a lasting friendship with them, I respect the fact that each of them contributes to making my life richer.  When my spark of hope dims and my zest for life fails, they are the ones who help re-kindle the flame.

This Thanksgiving I’ll be remembering that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than I’ve done before.  I’ll also take the opportunity to thank each person who helped re-ignite the spark and re-kindle the flame within me. To each of them I’m deeply grateful.

Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV.  Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from