Guestpost: An Exercise in Gratitude

Some people say that Facebook friends (who one doesn’t know in real life) are no real friends. I beg to differ. Admittedly, of the several hundred friends I have on Facebook, only a very small number are real friends, and most of those I know in real life. But there are also a few that I have never met, but that I count as friends, real friends. Friends that I have shared my life with for several years now, and whose lives I have shared for several years now.

Catherine Elizabeth Bayliss is such a friend.

We had been Facebook friends for a number of years when, nearly a year ago now, tragedy struck. Cathey fell off her horse and was very badly injured. Very badly. In the months after the accident, I followed her progress, holding on to my heart, hoping and praying for a positive outcome. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because she was unfailingly brave throughout it all. Because despite pain and uncertainty, she never gave up. And because she set an example so real of what it is to live filled with gratitude despite what happened to her, that one could not help but feel inspired.

Cathey Bayliss

Here is her story in her own words :

An Exercise in Gratitude

December 14 2014, I take my horse off to a riding clinic. This was a regular occurrence. I have owned the horse for 2 years and we had been training every month with a dressage trainer. My horse is sensitive and I have been riding horses since I was a child. I have reached my half century. I was thrown by my horse during our lesson. I landed on my head and upon landing was paralysed. Scary stuff! Lying there not feeling a thing, but your head, unable to move, you would think you panic but I didn’t I felt calm and probably a little bit shocked. An ambulance called and I was rushed to A&E and then to a specialist spinal unit. Luckily for me all my feeling and most of my movement returned over the next week.

I had to have an operation when some of my spinal cord syndrome had abated, to remove some discs from my spinal cord, new discs were fitted and a plate to fuse the bones, these were in the front (anterior) of my neck so my throat stuff had to be moved in theatre, the fractures on the back (posterior) of my neck are just left as they are not endangering the spinal cord.

All through this last year I decided to post a piece on Facebook each day, stating something I was grateful for the previous day, and if possible add a photo of a sunrise sunset or something I found beautiful, funny or inspiring, including quotes.

This has been very therapeutic for me, it has helped me see the positive in everything that happens.

In this example Facebook post I had had to have our old family pony put to sleep the day before, still feeling very raw and hurt from the loss. A brief explanation of my abbreviation at the start of my daily post. Day 337 out of 365 (days in the year) GFN – Gratefulness.

Morning Shire Day 337 / 365 GFN  I awoke to a beautiful sunrise, sent by my pony who now is galloping like the wind through fields, young, pain free and carefree once again. Very grateful we shared your life and you were part of ours for 20 years.


Everyone can find something positive from their day and spend time focussing on the positives. I am a glass half full person but it could be easy to slip into negativity when everything you love to do and your activity is taken from you, but by focussing a day at a time on each positive thing I found it easier to get through. Now I think I have trained my brain to think positive. Even today nearly a year on from my accident I still have lots of pain, my range of movement and strength is much limited, but on a positive note I have experienced the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets and felt the warmth of the sun and the cold of the wind, the ability to feel, for that I am truly grateful.

It has been nearly a year now that I have looked out for, sometimes commented on and always “liked” Cathey’s daily sunrise/sunset post. I have written loads about being grateful, this is after all partly what this blog is about, but this is about living gratitude. An example worth following.

Cathey’s Facebook page is here: Catherine Elizabeth Bayliss

“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 Schweitzer
Thank you, Cathey.

Photos © Catherine Elizabeth Bayliss
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