Appreciate your life

How one family learned to value what they have by nearly losing everything.
Nearly three years ago, Maribeth Morrissey’s luck changed — drastically. Her husband had a ministroke and left his high-paying but stressful job in finance. She fought depression and physical pain that hobbled her, but couldn’t be diagnosed. The couple had barely finished building their dream home in Solon when they made the decision to sell it.
How to Appreciate Life

 > Give back by donating your time to others. We have been going to an elderly residential home, and my kids come home appreciating our health and their grandparents.

 > Do something nice for someone. My daughter invited a girl over that needed a friendship, and her new friend ended up teaching her a song on the piano. They had so much fun together.

 > Take care of what you have. My kids appreciate what they have because they are earning things with their own money.

 > Appreciate the gift of family and friends by being kind and loving to them. What you give always comes back. Treat others as you want to be treated. Law of attraction.

 > Take care of your health by doing acts of self-love: Drink plenty of water, eat healthy food, get enough rest, exercise, and own your power.

 > Give the gift of time by paying attention to your children. Read stories, retell stories of their childhood, play board games, watch a family movie together.

 > Take care of nature. Plant a garden. Go for a walk in the park.

 > Have a belief in a higher power. God helps us to appreciate all living and nonliving things, as well as the challenges and miracles in our everyday lives.

 > Have a gratitude journal. When I feel down, I can pick it up and remember what I’m grateful for.

 > Think of other people and families that are less fortunate, especially in Third World countries that have far less than we do. It always helps me to be appreciative of what we have.

It was a change of luck, indeed. For the better.

“I’m so grateful that this has all happened to me,” 44-year-old Maribeth says, sitting in her living room with Christian music playing quietly in the background. “I’m so grateful for the pain, fear and challenges.”

The Morrisseys used to live in Tampa, Fla., “a big life,” Maribeth says. “Like a merry-go-round that never stopped.” Her husband worked long hours. They were either giving or attending constant parties, with guests such as Suzanne Somers or one of the New York Yankee players who lived in the neighborhood.

Women were obsessed with their looks. Maribeth put in her share of time at the gym between the births of her children. “It was about the way I looked. I was a size 6, and I felt fat.”

They decided to move to Solon (Maribeth is originally from Bedford Heights) and began construction on their 8,600-square-foot home. But Maribeth had never been more miserable. She woke up every day with a feeling of doom.

Then her husband had a ministroke. “It was a gift in strange wrapping paper,” Maribeth says. It triggered a domino collapse of their old life, but left room for new goals to grow. The couple had to make a decision: Should he return to his stressful job, risking his health and happiness? Or would they find a whole new way of living? They ultimately decided to sell their dream house so they could build their dream life.

At the same time, Maribeth, having struggled for years with allergies that doctors labeled idiopathic anaphylaxis, finally found relief through holistic medicine and became a practitioner herself. As her physical problems were cured, her feelings of misery also vanished. On her wrist she wears a kelly green band with her new mantra on it: “Infinite Love and Gratitude.”

Maribeth’s husband got fit and now works as a spinning instructor. “All of his passion and creativity is just flowing,” Maribeth says. Her goal is to open a wellness/fitness center, which would draw on both their passions.

The children — ages 7 through 14 — have made changes as well. Before, they were all involved in multiple activities. Now it’s one per child at a time. Dinner consists of healthful, organic meals that Maribeth and her husband cook. They eat together almost every night. When their 12-year-old daughter wanted a cell phone, she had to earn the money for it.

Still, Maribeth admits it will be hard to leave their house — currently on the market for $2.7 million. More graceful than grand, it has a cozy, old-house feeling that belies its size. The backyard is filled with trees and has a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen where the family has hosted many happy parties.

Maribeth says the family will stay in Solon, either buying a home or maybe even renting for a while until they get their feet on the ground.

“It doesn’t matter where you live,” Maribeth says. “It’s about being happy first. When I die, I want people to say, ‘These are the things that she did,’ not ‘these are the things that she had.’ ”
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