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Shaping our Days

Our thoughts determine our attitude, and our attitude shapes our day.

I realized during some of the toughest days at the hospital with Abraham, I felt the strongest. I credit that to hope.

On the other hand, some of the quieter “easy” days during his recovery, I found myself snappy and sad. I credit that to fear.

That proved to me that my moods, positive or negative, are due to more than the happenings of my day.

The things we brood about limit our approach to life: we remain bound and shadowed in traps held from yesterday’s pain.

Instead, if we cast aside dark thoughts, we can then bring in the light of hope. And when we have hope, it’s always a good day.

Peace, hope and light…

Trauma and Transition

The trauma said, ‘Don’t write these poems. Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones.’

Andrea Gibson, The Madness Vase

When a deeply distressing or disturbing experience occurs, it takes time to heal. For some, the healing takes a very long time; for others, recovery is never realized at all.

For most, sharing the experience is difficult. Perhaps, it is because we can never fully understand another person’s grief. Maybe, we are afraid to relive the nightmare.

For me, I share to put distance between myself and my circumstance. I hold on to the memories like the string on a kite, but I allow the winds of change to carry it far above me.

During Abraham’s cancer treatment, it became my job to go from appointment to appointment, managing medications, side effects and emergencies.

Now, he is no longer under the constant supervision of a team of exceptional medical professionals, and the psychological and emotional processing of all we’ve been through has begun.

When cancer treatment ends, patients and caregivers must find a “new normal” during the adjustment period. The appointments, medications and emergencies are fewer, but not ended. Only now, we are on our own to determine which aches and pains might be “normal” sick, and which ones require further evaluation for “The Big Sick.”

Just as this transition hits, friends might begin to figure the dangers have passed and we should be celebrating. We are indeed celebrating, but it is a cautious enthusiasm. The security of the hospital is hours away, and the active fighting is over. The scary part becomes the realization that our weapons are down and we are hoping the enemy- the tumor- stays away. But there is never a way to know for sure, and a lifetime of vigilant defense against a silent killer has actually just begun.

So what of it then? Do we sulk and cower? Do we live in fear of the unknown?

No, we adjust. We accept the change and grow in faith that what lies ahead is ours, and what is ours is to be lived most fully.


Kindness Costs

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” -Muhammad Ali

Pay it forward.

Be the change.

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing.

So, which is it? What does it really cost to be kind?

This week, repeated situations seemed to be a test in sufferance for me. I focus on leading a compassionate life, and because of that, when others are insensitive around me or to me, I am defenseless. Their unkind acts feel like an intentional punch to my gut. I loose my breath, and my focus scatters into doubt.

As a result, some days drain my “emotional bank account.” Those few callous souls left me low, but it’s worth it. Kindness currency never truly depletes, even when empty people try to rob your stash.

There may be less to go around somedays, but it doesn’t take much to matter. The smallest act of kindness can make a life’s worth immeasurable. If I have to take a few bumps along the way to change the course of even one life, I’ll take the tactless turbulence that comes along with it.

After all, when we engage in a life of kindness – despite the doubters and the haters- we are expending time and energy on the welfare of compassion and tolerance.

And that’s a life well spent.

Sunflower Shadows

Writing about wellness and kindness does not mean I can’t be ill-tempered or ill-humored, or even just-plain-sick. Oh, I be illin’ sometimes;)

But I prefer to feel good.

So, I choose to assess my situation, and make a mental list of the reasons I’m lucky to be alive. I start with what I love most and end with the basics like clean water (denied to many) and shelter.

Finding sunshine in the shadows begins with a desire to seek it, and being honest about our preference can take a lot of the pressure off. Sometimes the stillness and solitude of the dark is where we want to be.

After all, the real world can’t promise endless happy days. Sadness comes. What life can promise us is that when we are ready to feel the sun again, we can always find it by looking to the bright side. It’s as basic and cliché as that.

Helen Keller beautifully brought it back to nature.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.”

I realize being a grateful human is trickier than being a healthy flower. But if we think like a sunflower, our choice is easy; we go sunshine.

Peace and light…

At a Loss

Words cannot touch grief.

I have lost people I love dearly, but experiencing loss does not give me any special insight. All I can bring today is what I know. I know my own story. I know several families with critically ill kids, and I see them. I am them.

But then, there is loss.

What can we do when yet another family transitions from fighting to mourning? Condolences can ring hollow – especially when directed at a newly grieving family. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak. There is already enough silence in death, and we shouldn’t add to that chasm just because we can’t find the words.

We must get over the fact that we might not say the right thing; there simply is no blanket statement or correct sentiment to ease unimaginable grief. But we can do something. Send a card. Make eye contact. Make a casserole. Make a comforting noise. Make an effort to share our light and our self and our time.

Even more importantly, we must continue extending that light in the years to come. Life goes on for the observer, but for the observed, a dynamic part of the world is forever stopped.

Being afraid of death or confused by the “why’s” should not take away our ability to offer something of ourselves to those in mourning. From my perspective, I see three kind approaches: be there, be patient, and be genuine.  If we reach out with thoughtful concern, most of what we do or say will have merit.

We can’t expect to fill the void, but we can put a part of ourselves near the memory that lives on. Where there is nothing we can put something.

Our attempt may seem insignificant, but any thoughtful act can find a place inside the hollow of grief. That is the only way I know of to keep surviving loved ones from trying to exist on empty.