Bettina and Steve at Whitby, throwing pebbles
Bettina and Steve at Whitby, throwing pebbles

It’s 7am as I descend from the golf course lane on to the promenade and I am met by waves crashing against the sea wall.  I turn right along the path and ahead of me are the Banjo Piers.  To the left are small fishing boats and on my right is an array of multi coloured beach huts.  As I start to run hard against the wind and the sea mist, once again I have an overwhelming feeling inside that gives me a high.

Now it is the afternoon and I sit on a park bench with Bettina on the West Cliffs of Whitby.  I look down at the fishing harbour as boats manoeuvre their way through the twin piers and then I look up to at the ‘199 steps’ watching people make their way to the ruins of the Abbey and then experience the same feeling I had in the early hours of this morning.

It is the feeling of being thankful – ‘Gratitude’

As a family we have been coming to Whitby for the last 14 years, my life slows down for a week and I get lots of time to spend with Bettina, and we walk and we think (Bettina is a great thinker!).  Spending this amount of time with Bettina enables me to learn something about her and how she sees her world.

An emotion she clearly expresses to those around her is how ‘grateful’ she is for the things that come her way. So what have I learned from Bettina about Gratitude?

  • Bettina is always thankful for what she has already, not worrying or feeling entitled for what she doesn’t have
  • Bettina is always excited about her life and the opportunities that come her way
  • Bettina starts everyday expressing her happiness and what lies ahead of her
  • That gratitude should be shared with those around you – it is contagious
  • That happiness can come from the simplest things in your life.

What are Bettina’s ‘5’ rules for showing gratitude?

  1. “Thank you so much” is a term that you cannot demand from Bettina, but she says it often when someone does something for her. No one can tell Bettina what to say or how she should feel but when she says this to you, you feel good inside – you want to do more and go further for her.
  2. Being sincere about what you are grateful for and the gratitude you show – Bettina gives you eye contact (something not easy for a person who copes with Autism) when she is expressing her emotion to you.
  3. That ‘gratitude’ is an attitude that you can choose to have – Bettina has always been consistent with this attitude
  4. Bettina cherishes every moment of her life – she is a source of inspiration to me and others
  5. By being joyful and appreciative

Gratitude gives you the ability to overcome worry, confusion, frustration, resentment and dark moments in your life.  Life is short so, like Bettina, I will show some gratitude today and again tomorrow.

We had an amazing week together in Whitby and it is one that I will be grateful for the rest of year – until, of course, I am back there again with Bettina.