Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gratitude Determines Attitude

I have been, and remain, a Correctional Officer for the Texas State Department of Criminal Justice. On January 15th of 2010 my shoulder had finally seen the last of its action after years of wear and tear and I knew that something had to be done in order for me to continue having effective use of this arm. This is also my dominant arm.

I called in sick and promptly scheduled a doctors appointment with my primary care physician and was soon sitting in his office in Huntsville, Texas. As is standard he did some usual strength and mobility tests and immediately referred me to an orthropedic surgeon for further evaluation.

As time went on, the State of Texas continued to subtract my earned "time" from the books and on February 23, 2010 I ran out of State time and as they say "slid off the books" and onto leave without pay status. After seeing the first surgeon I was referred to his partner, a specialist in sports injuries and the eventual surgeon that would do the actual surgery.

Surgery was the least of my concerns at that time. I was living in the bachelor officers quarters at the prison unit and on March 15th I called about my final check from the State and they informed me that they had been holding my check for 2 weeks waiting for me to turn in my state ID and uniforms. I drove to the unit and turned in everything.

The inmates have "chain bags" that are used to carry their belongings whenever in transit and this is what I was handed when i turned in my uniforms and was instructed to put them in. I surrendered my state identification and complied, feeling like an inmate the entire time. The next day I received my check and paid the bills that had piled up for the previous 2 weeks.

On March 22nd I received the surgery. This was the beginning of what has proven to be an "adventure" to say the least. I immediately applied for short term disability way back in February prior to falling "off the books". Needless to say, the fight with the insurance company has been trying, simply to get the benefits that I have paid for every month throughout my employment.

We are now at April 11th and I still have not received my first short term disability check. The bills have piled up, the truck has been repossessed, and we are almost out of food and everything else that we all think our very existence relies upon.

So Nathan, what is your point? How have I kept from going stark raving mad? I took a walk a short while ago and while I walked it came to me. I stay positive, not because I have too, but because I am grateful for all that I HAVE and all that cannot be taken away from me.

I awoke with a heartbeat and breathing. I awoke with 2 children that are alive and healthy. I awoke with many friends and family that love me. And I have many other things in my life to be grateful for. Everything else is material "stuff" and when you have lost those things you haven't really lost the most important things in your life. I have a great deal to be grateful for. One of which is the friend that has allowed me to stay with he and his wife and has taken care of me post surgery.

This is what I meant by our gratitude determines our attitude. I could have been brought down to the depths of despair. Could have thrown my hands up in the air and given up on life, and in turn I would have let my sons down, all of my loving friends and family down, and myself down in the process. That would be too easy and would be the path of least resistance to be sure. Selfishness is always easy......for some people.

My friends, keep in mind that negativity begets negativity and positivitity begets positivity. I choose to stay positive, not because it is always the easiest road to take, but because it is the only road that does not send me off the broken bridge and down into the deep ravene below and crashing into a heap of flesh. My brightest blessings to you all and may you all remember, regardless of your religious faith, be grateful for what you HAVE as even when I have been at my lowest point in my life..........I have still been alive and that is indeed something to be grateful for!

Nathan Jeffery has been Wiccan for 19 years and remains outspoken about bringing this faith into the public's awareness. Not for ridicule or degradation, but for the proud people who also just happen to practice this faith as he does, without secrecy or shame.

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