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The Greatest Gift I EVER Received

The photo may look like just an Amazon gift card, but it is so, so, so much more.

It represents an “ah-ha” moment that I want to share with you. The true secret to staying motivated enough to overcome and do something really hard in your life

It's to have something to look forward to. Yes, it's really that simple. I just gave away my best kept secret right there.

If you have something in your life to look forward to, no matter how tiny, silly or insignificant to anyone else it may be, it can be what propels you through your toughest hour. Trust me, I have been there too many times to count now.

If you are curious to know how an Amazon gift card can be truly life changing, then I must go back to the beginning and share with you how I came to this realization. It all began with a rash of unknown origin when I was eleven years old, back in the early to mid 1980’s. We much later found out that it was a rash from a tick bite that gave me Lyme disease and several co-infections, which began a long journey to wellness. That journey, which is a tale of horrors and defying death several times, is best left for another day when I feel compelled to re-live it all on paper, but I digress….back to my point.

During that long rollercoaster journey to wellness, I learned how to live on a very tight budget, very tight. It was this terrible experience that forced me to learn what was a ”need’ and what was a “want”. Spending was not something anyone in our household could just do freely, because my illness and the same illness I passed on to my two children and the same illness my husband suffered

from is not covered by our health insurance. We have paid out of pocket for over nine years now to treat and heal from these chronic infections.

Spending money for us means that it has to be for a necessity or for a special occasion. Limits like these make you very creative and force you to stop and evaluate what it is that truly makes someone happy and satisfied with the life they are living. The little things, that many take for granted, become priceless, like a pain-free day, a gorgeous sunset that touches your soul with its vivid colors, or spotting a rainbow when the sun pierces through the darkness as a stormy day passes. These are naturally occurring gifts that you find yourself lucky to be in awe of and never know when they will pop up.

The point is, that when you go through a storm yourself, you come out different from the experience and it can really end up making you a better person if you choose to accept the gifts and see the beauty of the day to day. So how does that Amazon card fit into this story? Let me tell you……

Last Christmas my husband gave me an Amazon gift card and probably didn’t even realize how special this gift became to me. You see, I have developed a habit of sticking to our budget no matter what and don’t allow myself to ever spend without having to think it over. And while I do cherish this ability to have such great restraint, I also long to shop without guilt. Spending money is not fun or therapeutic for me; its work to decide if it's a “need” or a “want”. It’s currently November and he gave me the $100 gift card LAST December. It’s been nearly a

full year and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend it on a full priced item. So I’ve been saving it and it occurred to me, just the other day, why I’ve been saving it for so long - I’ve been saving it so that I have something to look forward to.

You see, I’ve always wanted to be able to take advantage of the Black Friday sales and buy myself something that I’ve really wanted and to do it without feeling an ounce of guilt. I now have that ability to do this. This card was a gift and I can buy whatever I want with it, but I chose to make it into an experience that I am so very much looking forward to.

All through the year I have been looking at the card and wondering what I want to spend it on that will make me truly happy without having to justify it to myself or anyone else. I could save my gift cards up over time and buy something bigger, but I really don’t need to. One hundred dollars is more than enough to allow me to purchase something that I have been wanting that I keep putting off. Its enough to purchase several smaller indulgences or defray the cost of something a bit more extravagant if I so choose. The point is, I am excited and motivated. I have something that I get to experience without any of the self-appointed rules that we use to make ends meet.

That card has become a reminder to me that I am worth a treat and that I am still abiding by my own values by saving it to shop during what is usually the best sales of the year. I cannot bring myself to pay full price for something if I don’t have to and now, my husband took all that stress away from me and gave me a gift that is bigger and better than I ever imagined.

If he were to continue to give me an annual Amazon gift card, I would probably continue to do the same thing. I like to always have something to look forward to. It saved me from so much disappointment over the years and is how I pull myself out of despair when things get hard. It's the trick I use to keep me feeling positive. Having something to look forward to doesn’t have to cost a thing. It could be knowing you get a phone call or text from someone special on a certain day and at a certain time. It could be knowing you are going to have something fresh for

dinner from your garden or the local farmer’s market. Like I said earlier, this is going to look different for everyone depending your circumstances and where you are in life. It can be as simple as knowing that your circumstances don’t define you and that you make up things to look forward to like waking up the next day and being grateful for another chance to move beyond those circumstances.

It’s all in how you choose to look at your life. So, yes, what could be perceived as a very impersonal gift, like an Amazon gift card, it actually so very much more because I have chosen it to be. Thank you to my dear husband for the gift that has taken me all year to reflect on and for the “ah-ha” moment that made me realize what I was actually doing with this gift and the card to make it happen.

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