The Definition of Gratitude


Words Related to Gratitude  

thanksgiving, gratification, indebtednesssatisfaction, acknowledgment,  recognitiontribute



As I begin to swim consistently once again, three times per week, in my aerobics swim classes, I am reminded of the pain I receive down my left leg from my sciatic nerve, up my spine, into my neck and head to enter into a great displeasure of a horrific optic or regular migraine. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sciatic nerve, here are a few tid-bits of information about its roots and the pain it causes when injuries to the lower spine manifest pinched nerves and excruciating pain.

Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness produced by an irritation of the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. It goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot.


The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine pressing against the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. But sciatica also can be a symptom of other conditions that affect the spine, such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis)bone spurs (small, bony growths that form along joints) caused by arthritis, or nerve root compression (pinched nerve) caused by injury.


Symptoms of sciatica include pain that begins in your back or buttock and moves down your leg and may move into your foot. Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg may also occur.

  • Sitting, standing for a long time, and movements that cause the spine to flex (such as knee-to-chest exercises) may make symptoms worse.
  • Walking, lying down, and movements that extend the spine (such as press-ups) may relieve symptoms. WebMD


Regardless of the hardship battles with my legs that used to run miles every morning before work, I choose to continue my exercising despite the pain. In hindsight, I realize I will no longer be the athlete I used to marvel at in waking up each morning at 5am to run 4 miles before work with my golden retriever, attend spinning class immediately after work, then either sport climb and/or go boldering on the climbing wall and/or weight lift with my circle of friends. I remember how I lived and breathed the gym, the combined competition of pushing myself to the limits in knowing I was able to conquer my fear of heights, overcome my work frustrations, and delight in the knowledge that I was invincible! It was such a “high” for me to climb a V11 on the wall and then make it a reality in Ogden, Utah on their breathtaking views high above on a rock formation I had literally climbed while other climbers struggled to follow. I was so happy! My spirit was in a place of glow and I was so Grateful for the moments I had in savoring those small, but amazing captions of my world. And now, I see myself so small in where I had fallen down from a mountain so high above the clouds. Such a contrast to the world I used to know and lived in. My legs are “broken” now, in a manner of speaking, from that fall, my spirit became dark along the way, and the sense of who I was in putting the pieces to my puzzle back again have been somewhat misplaced, mixed up, lost, or remain a mystery to me. I am still trying to find me, the person I was meant to be.

The PTSD that came with my assaults, brain injuries, and abuse have caused me so many plights I struggle with even now do to the various transitions that have been forced upon me. I have, however, in good faith, tried to receive these fresh roadblocks in my life with a spirit of resiliency, a heart of a lion, and the strength of a warrior. Inasmuch, I continue to fight to be less invisible, to have a voice for those without one, and to carry on the mission that greeted me after my first brain injury in 2004. My goal back then and now is to become an advocate for people who are victims of the system, like I was. Those individuals who need arms stretched out to them, who have no family, employers, a comprehensive medical team, attorneys, or financial status to greet them when the odds are against them. I know their plight, if anything like mine was, especially the second time around, then they too, need the light, compassion, empathy, and advocacy to continue their journey as I did. Yet, I want them to be successful without falling through the cracks, without feeling so inadequate, invisible, confused, and dismissed, as if their light had been blown out because no one bothered to stand up for them when they really needed a Hercules by their side. I am forever humbled that God carried me when I needed someone on my team.

As it stands, I am grateful, thankful, and so blessed to have my legs working to some degree, after nine long arduous years of MY THERAPY! Regular physical therapy did nothing for me. No one world listen to what my legs needed in terms of medical skill sets to retrain the muscle memory in them so they wouldn’t think they were in constant trauma after working out on them. No, I still can’t run or jog on them, unless I want to remain off my feet for a week in intense pain, but I have transformed my nurturing of them to other forms of exercise that keeps them strong, healthy, and hopefully, somewhat shapely. They are still in agony, yet that lets me know I’m still alive, and I CHOOSE to walk, swim, do yoga, and the elliptical, because I push myself to become better than what I was yesterday. I can always enhance mine and others’ life by being a radical exercise role model. It’s tough love. Thriving is NOT easy, but it’s worth it! Besides, I know the outcome of exercising is so much more beneficial for my brain, heart, and overall body than what the nerves can do to my spirit. I believe the 1,000 gifts of joy coming will overshadow the painful 1,000 griefs in the end. What doesn’t kill me will make me more resilient to be stronger and equip me to be the warrior I am meant to be in order to thrive…?

My will and belief is, in truth, manifesting a positive energy to be better and stronger than who I am now. This brain wave of energy does not come easy. Having experienced the tribulations of PTSD throughout my traumatic brain injuries cost me dearly. I still reel from lack of energy, the feeling of being invisible, unheard, and out of reach. I tremble at the mere thought of being hit again by a car whose driver is texting, eating, putting on make up, or talking on the phone instead of focusing on the road in front of them. I dread waking up each morning when my brain won’t let me and challenges me to start the day even when pain is shooting from each temple down into my neck. And, then my puppy growls at me, not understanding what I feel, yet he needs to go out and do his business! For this I am so grateful for, because I can no longer focus on me. In taking care of another, I am selfless and give my heart away, because I know it will be returned ten fold…? Love, you see, is mysterious, if not magical.? Regardless of my woes, I am alive and breathing, and that makes me feel things, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. My heart is beating and is energized while trying to keep up with my sweet Magic. You see, when you give your heart away unconditionally, you take great risks in losing it. Yet, darling, if you don’t risk your heart, you will never know what it feels like to be “in love” with great love.❤️ Photo by Women with PTSD

Positivity is not without doubts, tribulations, nor is it of the Faint of Heart. It takes an extreme amount of energy, will power, perseverance, and a deep resiliency of the human spirit to get up and move myself from looking inward to outward. In addition, I am an Empth by nature. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, the emotional stress of those bystanders who are plagued by their own misfortunes, who lack in self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-control. I used to take pride

in pleasing people, which was MY downfall. I don’t condone that behavior anymore towards anyone. I teach people in learning how to say, “NO”. Setting healthy boundaries is critical if one is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and learn self-awareness, generate a positive outlook, and attract people who will gravitate towards you with like-minded values, traits, and characteristics. I am not perfect by any means. I have had my share of disappointments, traumas, assaults, users, abusers, and whatnots. Yet, I choose NOT to give my power away to those wo/men who envision me as their gophers, doormats, deadbeats, morons, and/or losers. I am none of these, nor will ever be! Nor will YOU! I have risen up against all odds, and am quite happy where I have arrived. So, now that November is upon the horizon, it is time to take a glance in the rearview mirror and share some gratitude to those whom have brought me thus far on this extraordinary journey and whom I am forever grateful to, regardless of circumstances.

Forgiveness, as spoken before on my website, is in the union between grace and humility. I speak of this now, because those whom have touched my life, may have also brought me to my knees. My heart continues to be in conflict over them, and yet, God, in His powerful oxymoronic way, takes great splendor in seeing beyond my short-sighted wisdom and continues to offer me forgiveness when I fail to forgive others of their weaknesses. I am grateful for that, especially since I yield to His gift as an Empth. What is that, you may ask? The truth is, I just recently learned of this word. Until now, I have been able to sense other people’s feelings at great levels just by how they talk, behave, respond, and/or express themselves to me. My intuitiveness is far greater than most people’s and I can detect someone’s energy field if connected to them in an intimate way, from great distances. Most people have no idea what an empath is or what their gifts are, so I will unveil a few pieces of information regarding their unseen powers.

Empathy is the ability to read and understand people and be in-tune with or resonate with others. Sometimes it is voluntary and at other times it can be involuntary, especially for someone who is a natural empath.

Empaths are hypersensitive people and are often compassionate, considerate, and understanding of others. They have the ability to “feel” what someone else is experiencing and feeling. Many empaths are unaware of how this actually works. They may have simply accepted long ago that they are sensitive to others. Whether they realize it or not, empaths share many common traits with other empaths.


Many people learn to hide their authentic feelings and put on a show for the outside world. An empath can often sense and relate to a person’s true emotions that run deeper than what they project on the surface. Empaths have a big heart and will act compassionately to help that person express herself.

Empaths experience empathy towards family, children, friends, close associates, complete strangers, pets, plants, and even inanimate objects. Some are naturally more empathic towards animals (e.g., The Horse Whisperer), to nature, to the planetary system, to mechanical devices, to buildings, or to any variety of beings or things. Others will have a combination of some or all of these. Empathy is not held by time or space. Thus, an empath can feel the emotions of people and things at a distance. ThoughtCo


A deep sense of knowing accompanies empathy. While compassion and understanding are good virtues, they can also be problematic for an empath.

At times, it may be difficult to distinguish one’s own feelings from those of others. This is especially true when it comes to pain and suffering, which can be emotionally or physically demanding on someone who’s empathic. For this reason, empaths can become reclusive at times simply because the outside world can be a great drain on their personal energy.

There are also varying levels of strength in empaths. It may be related to the individual’s awareness of self or their understanding of the powers of empathy. This could also be impacted by the acceptance or non-acceptance of empathy by those associated with them, including family and peers.

Generally, those who are empathic grow up with these tendencies but do not learn about them until later in life. I, myself, realized I was an empath early on, knowing things about events before they happened to people. I never know when these realizations come to me until a strong force of emotion overcomes me and directs me toward an individual. I sense darkness and light, whereby both forces are at war with each other in a spacial place or in a person. It is an amazing internal dialect to “see” a person who has the face of a serpent compared to one whose face is that of an angel, whose heart is of light and goodness. I have seen both in my journey.

People cannot hide their true intentions from me. I already sense their decisions of light or evil before they act on it. A person’s eyes are the windows to their souls, is not just an expression or metaphor. This is the space where your true identity dwells and allows others to see your light shining dim or bright. People cannot lie and think they have gotten away with chatter.You see, your eyes allow everyone to see your inner-child within that knows your truth of Being! That is why if someone suspects another of being dishonest or fibbing, they will ask them to “look them in the eyes and say” whatever it is that they are questioning as the persons truth or not. Peace Love Wings I “see” them far beyond the naked eye. It is more than I want to carry on my shoulders, yet that is who I am, and that is the gift given to me.

Empathy has both biological and spiritual aspects. Many people believe that empathy is genetic and passed from generation to generation. It is studied both by traditional science and alternative healing practitioners.

? Consequently, I am so Thankful I am unable to see my future, although I can sometimes see what may happen to those who I am closest too, if given that opportunity, which can be indeed a curse and a blessing in disguise. God gives us many different perspectives from which to see the same view. Sometimes we choose and fail to see the one He wishes us to see

from His perspective. We want to justify our messed up life so it fits in with our planned out version of what we want. And, then God turns our life upside down so He can draw us closer to Him without sending us the memo first to prepare for what is to come. We curse Him, despise Him, and then, blame Him for our lives NOT being the way we envisioned it to be. We pray to Him for our life to turn out the way WE wanted it to be instead of the way His will intended it. How selfish we are. I have had by grace the insight of needing to let go of those people whom have hurt me, wronged me, and do not have me in their best interest. Betrayal, I have learned from my father and my ex-husband, is one of the worst ways to violate a person you love, besides sexual assault. They both rob you of your most intimate soul and spiritual realms of trust for another being.They strip you from your sacred tranquility in heart, mind, and spirit. No one should ever extort that sense of trust from you whether you are married, living together, or single. Playing with another person’s heart is sacred. Being entangled in someone’s life should never be taken lightly, as you impact so many other people when you become secret with your actions and behaviors. Do not think other people are not aware of your actions. You are a role model whether you are on or off the clock. Even your children know you better than you think. Selfishness attracts selfishness. What we send out comes back to us. As with all things seen or invisible, I pray we choose to send out our best when we realize other people are watching from a distance… My father was and still is a predator. I feel blessed to have relinquished the bonds of his ways. Photo by Heidi Hanson, New-Synapse


In Ann VosKamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are“, illustrates gently ‘how,’ Ann questions how, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long–and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?’ In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted…a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others.”

When I think of how far I have come from where I began on my journey from the traumas and abuse, I am humbled by the knowledge that I am still alive and breathing, knowing everything surrounding my body’s healing and recovery could be worse than it is today. True, I look back at who I used to be and reflect on “her”, wishing I could pull her out and imagine I was “her” once again to show how different I was back then. In retrospect, I didn’t have these horrific migraines from concentrating on the computer, driving a car for 30 minutes, exercising too long, or being overwhelmed by too much stimuli. I know she’s in there somewhere, but the vision of her is slightly blurred now. She was so awesome, shiny and bright! Her smile was her most precious form of glitter! Awww…It still is, my dear!? I miss her so much! She was stronger, happier, without pain, never had migraines, yet had a memory that was photographic, and was always on time, if not early. But, like the Space Shuttle Challenger, God gave me what was left that I could use, and He said take this and make it work for you, Kimberly. I cried for years, and still do, thinking how God must have left out a few pieces of my cranial pathways when healing me. I lost memories that still can’t be found from the past, and the ones I wish I could forget are still there.

Inasmuch, I am graced with more than most who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, have weathered sexual assaults, and abuse. I, too, have climbed those agonizing mountains to the mighty peaks and am hear to tell you, it CAN be done! 🙂 I believe in the power of faith, hope, and recognize there is a spark of God within each of us.? We CAN, if we CHOOSE to, overcome great odds. God offers us 1,000 Gifts right where we are if we just focus on those positive aspects of our purpose-driven lives, instead of the cracks that befall us. What we send out in energy, we receive back. It is the Law of Attraction. No one is immune to its magnificent and powerful glow!




  1. ALIVE: I am alive and a breathing servant to assist those in need of support whom are victims of trauma and abuse. This is why I live…
  2. FEELINGS: I have pain in my legs, neck, back and head. They remind me I’m alive and can still feel things to keep me humble and human.
  3. ANIMALS: I have a beautiful Morky puppy, a very special gift. He is the love of my life. 🙂
  4. FAMILY: I have my Mother, whom is still alive, and who has become my closest of friends.
  5. BRAIN: My brain still challenges me with PTSD, memory loss, migraines, fatigue, and confusion, yet even so, it allows me to write my blog, a memoir (ever so slowly), and small positive gestures glow to those who need a smile in their life.
  6. SHELTER: I have shelter in an apartment that keeps me warm, comfortable, and at peace.
  7. FOOD: I have food and can make my own meals, like my pasta sauce made with white wine reduction, fresh roma tomatoes, basil, sautéed onions, mushrooms, fresh sun-dried tomatoes, and kalamato and jalapeno olives.
  8. CLOTHING: I am clothed and am able to dress myself in warm and winter weather clothing. I prefer the latter!
  9. A VOICE: I have a voice that is willing to stand up for moral and ethical principles for those who cannot, and I still can sing on tune (I think) lol!
  10. EXERCISE: I have been given the opportunity to swim, weight lift, and run on the elliptical machine regardless of pain. Mind over matter is how I do it! Wear earplugs with iTunes attached!
  11. MEDICAL: I have medical insurance to cover my medications, torn meniscus, surgeries, physical therapy, and regular check ups… Such a blessing in case of emergencies too!
  12. DRIVING: I can still drive my car to and from places, as scary as it is for me to get in the car each time, I still push myself to do it because I don’t want fear to rule my life. I still become very tired from it and need to rest later, yet, I try to manage my fatigue with naps and resting my brain from concentrating too much.
  13. FRIENDS: I have made a few friends in the various places I have lived. I don’t believe in a lot of friends, yet, I do want genuine friends who love me just the way I am, who I can trust, who value time, conversation, and coffee! Also, true friends are blessings and can be angels in disguise.
  14. BELONGING: I have moved 17 times over the past 10 years, which has caused me great turmoil and confusion. Sometimes I’m not sure I belong anywhere anymore. My heart is still fragmented from so much pain, loss, and denial of self. Regardless, I find joy in meeting new people, finding new writing groups, and a place where I belong…such as a church home, my home, or by Lake Michigan, where the waters bring peace and tranquility.
  15. SOCIAL: Although PTSD continues to overwhelm me, fatigue me, confuses me, brings onset of fearful nightmares and tremors from sudden triggers, projects distrust of others, and creates feelings of invisibility, I force myself to join exercise groups where I can be among people who gift me with their joy, friendship, and support. I still love being at the gym to gift myself with heart health and feel good about myself!! However, setting time boundaries are still challenging at best.
  16. EYES: My eyes are almost 20/20, even after all that has happened to me. I am so fortunate to see the world, the colors of the flowers in bloom, the fall’s vibrant leaves as they fall and dance in the sky. And, your expression when I tell you this joy, these gifts, and blessings I receive are also for YOU. 🙂
  17. SMELL: I can put hot sauce on everything I eat to make my foods taste spicy, because my sense of smell has changed since both TBIs. My taste buds are so much less than they used to be and foods have become bland and boring to eat. I go through five jars of salsa and bottles of Chalula in two weeks time, so Costco is my salvation! 🙂
  18. HEARING: I LOVE music and my hearing is such a joy for me! It is the Best part of my life! Music lifts me up and takes me to places of such great “highs”! Music releases endorphins in my brain, channels energy through my body, and causes great energy to channel into my muscles for an amazing work out! What gratitude I have in hearing music to my ears…
  19. HAIR: I have healthy, fine, but now thicker hair on my head! Believe it or not, my hair used to be so thin you could see my scalp through it. While on the drugs of Forte and Prolia for building bone in my spine, I lost half of my hair. No one shared with me the side effects that could happen being on these medications, because only 5% of the people who took them had such a rare reaction. And, many of those who did have it, their hair never returned. I used to have a very thick head of hair which couldn’t be put in a pony tail because it was too heavy. My hair has returned only 50%, yet I am full of gratitude for what I have and try to live a healthy lifestyle in order to keep it that way.
  20. FORGIVENESS: I am forgiven, and because of that I must forgive others who wrong me whether in the past or present. (Being present, is also a gift I savor.) Forgiveness, allows others to no longer live rent free in my head, because I can let them go and move forward with my life. Let go, Let God. Forgiveness, you see, is for us, not for the ones who have hurt us. By His grace, we are saved, yet we still have much work to do in mirroring God’s life for others. Walking the talk is a powerful gesture in trying to give back what joys we have been given.
  21. GRACE: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”… (ESV) Ephesians 2:8 ~ I have grace. This is without a doubt, the most precious gift bestowed upon me, where works alone cannot exalt me high enough to receive such a divine and royal package. God, in His glory, through His Son, graced me with salvation. No words or actions can express such gratitude…?
  22. FAITH: “Faith consists in Believing when it is beyond the realm of reason to believe.” ~Voltaire  Just in knowing I am still alive and writing this note to you, is by faith. I am happy and blessed in doing so. I am so grateful to have a venue to share my thoughts and feelings to those of you who wish to hear from me. I have great faith in knowing that someone, someday out there globally, will find me and assist in my dreams to enhance my website’s platform nationally and state-wide to reach more individuals in the cause of overcoming trauma and abuse.
  23. LIGHT: I live in the light of Christ… God’s light protects me and the spark of God is within me.? As is written in “Wishes Fulfilled,” by Wayne Dyer, we all carry this beautiful light of brilliance around in us to glow into daily. So, no matter what darkness may befall our circumstances, His light is infinity for us to anchor ourselves on to and know He is with us always. Even in the darkest of holes, we are never, ever alone. I know this first hand. This is where I have drawn my greatest strength in finding who I was and my voice. In the Nicene Creed that is said on Sundays, Light from Light is written for us to know that “He was Light (God the Son, Jesus)from Light (God, the Father), begotten not made.” You are also made from His light…So, sweet tribe, Let Your Light Shine On!?
  24. BELIEVE: As in Romans 8:28~”And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his ” ~ Through faith, anything can become a reality, if you only Believe.? I believe that God is bigger than us and we limit Him. He can move mountains, separate the waters, destroy our lands with one hand that crosses over the earth. He is so much greater than anything one can imagine and can make all things new again. He gives us life, breath, and the gift of intelligence. We are miracles made perfect in Him. If you haven’t looked in the mirror lately, you should. YOU are one! 🙂
  25. LOVE: Even though my heart is still in pieces from so much loss and trauma, I am able to gift and receive love. Love is an unconditional gift to have and to share! When we gift our heart to another, we do so genuinely, transparently, and openly without expecting anything in return. It is in the joy of loving another, in making someone else happy, that brings such bountiful blessings back to you.? I hope, in some small way, I have done this for someone I felt love for. Sometimes, other people do not open their hearts in return to you due to reservations from their past they have neglected to deal with. Their lessons, their choices, their losses. Love them anyway.?

It is now November and I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a bountiful Thanksgiving! Living on the edge is part of living with traumatic brain injuries, trauma, PTSD, and/or abuse. Despite the cards we have been dealt, we can CHOOSE to live in the moment and be Extraordinarily happy for brief periods of time. Surviving is not living. Thriving IS! Choose to find 1,000 Gifts in your life, as small as they are, and let them be the glow you choose to thrive in. Be the Light of YOUR Life!

In Love and Light,

Kimberly Lees, Ed.D.







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