One way to become enthusiastic is to look for the plus sign. To make progress in any difficult situation, you have to start with what’s right about it and build on that.
— Norman Vincent Peale
We all have times where events happen, health issues worsen, tragedies happen that affect our lives. I love this quote above for it is a great guide on how to live happy and still have enthusiasm for life no matter how bad things are. How we handle things is a choice. We can choose to be positive or we can choose to be negative.
What I loved most on this quote by Norman Vincent Peale is the part about looking for the plus sign, looking for what is good and then going from there. There is another quote that a friend uses that says when tragedy hits, look for the helpers for there you will find those that are choosing to be positive and find a way to make it through.
Look for the plus signs is another way of saying what I have preached for so long. Look for what is good in your life instead of focusing on what is bad. Look for what you still can do instead of moaning over what you have lost the ability to do or have. I surround myself with positive people. Why? If I do not, then the negative can take us over like a fog encompassing us before we know it.
Use the plus sign things as a foundation when things are tough and use that foundation to grow from there forward. To me, trying to build on negativity is like building your home on shifting sand. It is not stable and can change before you realize it. Taking those things that are positive, those plus sign things that you still have no matter what the tragedy or touch event in your life will build you a stable foundation that helps carry you through the trouble.
Keep your focus on the plus sign so that you keep moving forward not spinning your wheels in the sand. Life is tough but we do have choices we can make no matter what the situation that can make it easier to cope and easier to hold on to happiness in your life. We just have to choose. Falling back into negative ways is the easiest especially for those that have always been negative all their lives. Choosing the plus signs is an personal choice and no matter what those around you do, choose the positive for yourself. Rebuild your life on solid ground.
“Leveling”…..we all do it. Leveling is what people do to make themselves feel better. We either try to level people UP to where we are or we try to level them “DOWN” to where we are if we are feeling negative and unhappy. The choice is ours. I always want to inspire people to be positive and keep fighting. In other words, I try to level
up. And this is why I choose to have around me all kinds of people because if I only had sick people around me…we would all be leveling each other down because there would not be someone there to level up and we need the hand to snatch us up and say..come on..life is still out here…get with it.
I like having around me those that are not sick along with the sick so that it keeps me balanced and makes me keep reaching up and fighting to stay up. There is more to life than sickness and if all I have around me are others who are sick…it makes it hard to see the sunshine. I quit doing chronic illness groups because I found that a lot…not all..but a lot of it was people trying to outdo each other on how sick they were. That is leveling down. One person will tell how bad they feel and twenty will chime in with how bad they are or worse and it is like being in a swirl of negative emotions.
Balance is important in life. If a person..and we all go through this…resents those that are positive or that can do more than them…then they have not accepted where they are in life whether it is the job they have, how their family is, their financial status or their health. For example: I as a parent wanted my children to do better than me and have more than I did. I see some parents whose children go on to become successful and wealthy and the parent resents it and feels like the child owes them. They let this make them bitter and they start leveling the child down by trying to pull the ones doing well down to their level.
If you choose to be sunny and happy and smile even through sickness and pain, job loss, financial woes…then those that have gotten lost in the things wrong in their lives and are bitter about it will get angry. No matter how much you may try to reach back and pull them up to where you are because you want them to have joy in their lives, you can not do it because it is a choice for them and they have to choose to come up.
There comes a point you quit trying to lift certain people up for the negative will bring you down if you are not careful. That does not mean you quit caring but that you must have a line drawn for leveling down can happen to even the most positive person no matter the circumstances. Whether it be financial, marriage or relationship, health, job, children…no matter the situation..there will always be those that tell you how bad things are and are miserable in their lives and will try to level you DOWN to their level. That is when you have to set a boundary.
I went to the rheumy doc this past week. I sat and just watched in the waiting room and listened. You could instantly pick out those that were fighters and had that positive attitude. You could see the pain on their faces but they did not tell you about it. And then you had the others who were telling everyone that would listen all their symptoms, pains and woes. One woman started talking to son and I and she whispered “sounds like a morgue in here doesn’t it” and I almost choked on my water. We talked about sunglasses, sales going on, children and all sorts of things and she was one I could see was a “level up” person. And she made my trip so much nicer as going out and being in the power chair for hours throws me into a pain crisis.
I went into my doctor and he talked to me for a few minutes, told me he could see I was in a lot of pain even though I was smiling at him, asked me did I need different pain meds. I told him no and said that my pain doctor was handling my pain well. I also told him.that I knew being totally pain-free was not an option and that this pain today was from the trip up. He just gave a hint of a smile and kept writing and after examining me, he said…”I see some serious things going on now on top of all the things you have wrong and I want to test them and x-ray you and see you in one week and then in another week. He listened and I truly believe it is because I was not being dramatic. I was not putting on dramatic faces. I was being the me I always am. And the most important thing was he LISTENED and he BELIEVED me and he was taking action immediately. That is something all patients want.
What many people fail to realize is that our own “leveling” affects how our bosses, doctors, co-workers, friends, family treat us. If we are a level down person, we turn people off. People who level down and try to pull people down instead of pulling them up are looking for company in their misery or attention. You know the old saying “misery loves company”. This causes people to not really hear us if we have a complaint. It is sort of like the boy who cried wolf. If every day is filled with nothing but white noise complaints about how bad the job is, how bad we feel, how bad our life is, our kids are, etc…then it becomes like that noise sound you get in a mall where everyone is talking but no one can understand anything anyone is saying. This does not mean that leveling up people never say anything is bad or that we do not feel bad. It means we choose to not make the bad our whole life.
And choosing to not support someone that is a leveling down person is not pushing them down. If you attempt to level up and be positive with someone and they get angry and reject it over and over and then start trying to “level” you DOWN to their level by their comments, it is time to step back. I believe in reaching out to others to pull them up and help them find that joy that can be found even when the world is not going right for you in your job, family, health, finances, etc but we have to protect ourselves too and not get sucked down and lose our footing.
If you are normally a positive person and find you have fallen into a “leveling down” cycle, first look around you and see who you have been talking to or have been with. They may be the leveling down person and you are just getting sucked into the abyss of leveling down. If that is the case, take a break from them and work on getting yourself back to leveling up and that means not just leveling others up but leveling yourself up. It is important for us to keep leveling ourselves and others up for it helps us survive anything that is thrown at us.
Life is a series of accomplishments from the day we are born to the day we die. We go through all the firsts…our first smile, our first laugh, our first crawl, our first walk, our first day of school or first job, our first date, our first child, our first failure, our first loss and how we dealt with it…all accomplishments and yet sometimes we can become so stuck in our comfort zone that we never venture outside of what is comfortable. We never try anything new or change because even the bad is comfortable and we are afraid to try something new for fear it may be worse.
As I watched this video below about a woman who was living the perfect life…as many think of perfect…with a good job, marriage, all the possessions so many seek such as a car, home, etc and saw her realize that she was not happy but did not know what she wanted. She set off to row across the ocean and worked to ready herself. She trained physically, took courses on first aid, navigation and things she might need for this solo adventure and thought she was ready. And as you will see in the video, everything that could go wrong did and yet, she learned that even when you do not like something…that sense of accomplishment is just as wonderful as if you did something you loved. And in fact…maybe it is a bit more because you took adversity and worked your way through it.
video by HayHousePresents
Some how, some way…we have been led to believe that the only thing that makes life worthwhile and happy is things that make us feel good..that touches all our senses. And so people partake of all the pleasures of life from possessions, to people, to money, to sex….whatever makes them feel good. And yet, they are not feeling that contentment and peace that happiness brings and so they search even harder and keep looking for happiness, never realizing it is what we have on the inside that makes us happy. It is not all the things, people, places, money that does it. Those things bring joy but can disappear in a flash and then where are we?
I truly believe that some important things can bring us satisfaction and fulfillment and contentment, which helps us create that happiness inside. One is having goals that we strive to meet and even when we do not like what we are doing…if we accomplish them, it brings us great joy and creates that sense of who we are inside and makes us happy. If we have no goals, we are just drifting along in life and life can become very stale.
We are also taught that the only way we are of value is if we are whole, healthy and well. I do not think anyone wants to be chronically ill and disabled but I live it daily and do it with the choice of making the best of it. Are there times that things are bad? Sure there are and it is those times I choose to fight the hardest and that brings me fulfillment and pride in my strength and creates contentment inside me which fuels happiness. Do I want to have to keep climbing? No, but I find that the sense of accomplishment keeps me going. And through it all, I have discovered that I am a person of value. My health is only part of what makes me the person I am.
Just because I am chronically ill or disabled does not mean that I can not set goals. I can lay here and drift around in the bed of self-pity or I can make a choice to step out and do things I do not want to do or do not normally do. Do I want to get knocked down and have to climb the same mountain over and over? Of course not and so when I succeed at that…when I reach that goal, it fills me up. If I lay there and just moan and groan about how bad I am, then I am miserable. And I believe I feel miserable because I am just drifting in life. I have sealed myself into a negative bubble and nothing penetrates and gets to us and so we drift along on the boat of unhappiness.
Another thing I personally believe that affects our happiness is our attitude and what we choose to focus on. If I focus on and make my life about all that is wrong, I am miserable and do not even like to be around myself. If I focus on what I do have good instead of what I have wrong, then I am more content and when we are content then we are happier. I also have learned to not focus on self so much. I change my view to others and what they are doing and how they are coping and try to see if I can help.
Ironically, I find that those that do not want to step out of that comfort zone of focusing on all the negative get mad at positive people and look for ways to say it is not possible to stop carrying your baggage or to be happy when you are sick or in pain. And it is possible. And that is part of stepping outside your comfort zone to try new things and try to look for the good things in life. Even negative can become a comfort zone that we can not want to let go of. It is like staying with someone who treats you badly. Some people will stay because it is easier to stay with the bad cause they know what to expect than to put themselves out there to meet someone else. Even hardships can be rewarding.
Life is choices and if we spent as much time on seeing the good, looking for the positive, doing the work even when we do not like it, and fulfilling ourselves by the goals we work on then we are happier people. If we spent as much or more time on those things as we do on moaning about all that is wrong, criticizing, complaining and seeing only the negative, then we would find that happy spot inside of us for that is where it lies. Focusing on the good in life is not diminishing any pain and suffering we have. It is just not letting the pain and suffering define who we are and how our life will be. We honestly DO control our attitude and how we view life and if the view is bad, change your focus.
I have always read that when your surroundings are cluttered, it makes it harder to relax and thus makes your pain worse. This had a lot to do with son and I getting rid of so much stuff and going for simplicity in our home. When something does not have a place and I do not mean on top of the pile in the corner, but an actual place for it, then it is time to get rid of something. We make a policy if we find something at a yard sale or in a store, then we will get rid of something to get it. It truly does make it easier to have serenity in your life when your home is not cluttered. Guess that is why we do the spring cleaning each year…..to clean out the clutter. Chaos, which clutter is, only creates more chaos in our lives.
What about the clutter in our minds? Have you ever thought about all the things we carry around that we need to let go of? All the grievances we feel, all the anger and the hurts and the things we can do nothing about? Those things can create chaos in our lives and keep us from healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Those things can affect our health and our relationships if we do not do anything about them. Do you ever spring clean those things?
I read this true story about two sisters that had not spoken in fifty years because of a fight they had way back when they were young and they were about 75 in the present. The sad thing was that neither one could tell you what the fight was about. They just carried the anger all those years and lost precious time they could have spent together. And when I was reading the story, one of the sisters was very ill and so they had decided to meet. Sadly, they still could not put aside pride, anger, hurts and come together so they could have this last time together. People tried to help mediate for them but that anger that they had fueled over the years and kept alive kept them from forgiving and coming together.
I say all the time that I do not carry anger or hatred because they take too much energy. Even when I feel righteous indignation, I try to put it to use to try to fix whatever it is that I feel that about. But, I also learned that I can not fix everything and sitting and worrying and fretting about it are wasted energies too. For me personally as I am a person of faith, I learned to hand it over to the Lord. Now, yes, that sounds easier said than done. I had to learn and train myself how to do it. But, what is the use of going over and over something and worrying or being angry over something you can not fix? I have heard people say they never forgive but they want others to forgive them. The fruits of the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Forgiveness comes when you have that inside you.
I trained myself to hand things to God and quit taking them by back using a jar and slips of paper. When something came along that I knew I had no control over and should not have any control over like in my children’s lives, I asked God to take care of it. Every time I tried to take that back and tried to take care of it myself instead of letting God and those whose problem it was take care of it, I made myself stop and write it down on one of the slips of papers and then put it in the jar and ask God once again to take it. It is amazing how many times we can do that in a day. I remember having about fifty slips of paper with the same problem on it in the jar one time for one day. After a while, it became a habit to just give it to God and leave it there.
I forgive easily now. I learned a long time ago that forgiveness is mostly for me, so that I can move on in life and not carry anger or hurt around. I do not need to tell the person I forgave them. I am not forgiving them because they did nothing wrong or because they were right. I am forgiving them because it is the right thing to do instead of letting myself wallow in the anger and hurt that comes when someone hurts us. If a person asks me to forgive them, then I do. But, if they never ask, I found that feeling like we had to go tell someone we forgave them was not really part of forgiving. It was our way of putting one more jab on them for hurting us by bringing it up again to them. If they want forgiveness, they will come to us. And letting go after forgiving, I went back to the jar because it is amazing how many times we will bring it to our minds again and not let it go even though we “forgave” them. So, on that slip of paper it goes and in the jar until I can go through days without bringing it to mind and weighing me down.
It all goes back to choice and sometimes we have to train ourselves to live up to that choice. When something coming up medically that keeps me up at night, I make myself get up and do something nice for someone else. It takes my mind off of the upcoming medical or whatever and helps me to relax and go to sleep. And it comes down to trust. For me personally, I think that when we ask God to take care of something and then we keep taking it back and worrying and fretting about it and trying to fix it ourselves, we are insulting God and telling Him that we do not trust Him.
So, when we clean the clutter out of our homes, maybe we need to take the time to clean the clutter out of our heads and let go of that hurt, that hatred, that grief, that sorrow, and that anger and replace them with forgiveness and love. If we can not let God have them easily and keep taking them back, then it is time to get the jar out because after a while you will find it works because you get tired of writing down the same thing over and over and putting it in the jar. I have people who have hurt me dreadfully and I forgave them. Now, I try to focus on the good qualities they have instead of on what they did to hurt me. It is all a choice.
I had someone comment to me that they found if they just gave in to whatever it was going wrong with their health they did better. My response was that we all had to do what worked for us but that I found for myself that if I just gave in, it signaled my body to quit trying and I would be totally bedridden and never get out of this bed. I have to keep fighting and having the attitude that I will not give up or give in and that my illness does not define me.
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” Jesse Owens
I loved the determination quote above and determined I am. If I were not, I would be totally bed bound now. And I do not want that. This is why even with the new critical back issues I am having, I make the effort to sit up in my chair for a few minutes each day. I have met people who could get in their bed and remain there and be happy having others wait on them or do for them. I can not do that. I know that making myself get up in my chair and sit a few minutes every day gives me that freedom that is so important to me. That is how strong my determination is to not be in this hospital bed all the time. It is all a matter of what is most important to us.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
I am just as determined to find joy in my day ever day. That is my choice just as it is another person’s choice to let themselves be consumed with misery and hate every moment of their lives. We can not choose for another but can only encourage them to live and find that joy that is there. Being chronically ill or in chronic pain or disabled does not mean we can not do. Never live life where you look back and ask yourself “Oh why did I not try to do more? Why did I not put forth more effort?” If we live that way, we will regret it and life is now. There is no rewind button for us.
My sweet son, when he gets up, will ease in here and sit a glass of juice on my little desk here to help me get started. What a blessing that is. Sometimes he will look at me and then just gently touch my leg and tell me he knows it is a really bad start of the day for me and he is there for me. Simple words but what makes them so important is that they are words of care and words of action and he has taken the time to look into my eyes and see just how bad my pain is and to offer words of comfort. He did not have to give but a few minutes of time to do that and that meant a lot. I am so thankful for both of my sons. They each give me encouragement and give me love in their own ways.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you do not have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah
It does not take much to help another. Words are beautiful tools if given from the heart. We do not need to hear about how your pain is just like ours even though you are heading out the door to go to work or to go shopping and I can not get up from the bed because my pain has totally disabled me at the moment. We do not need to hear about Aunt so and so who has what we have and she did just fine. We just need to hear you say you care and you understand as much as your experience allows it.
My sweet Daisy is good for me because she will demand his few minutes of loving and attention that distracts me from pain. She crawls up on my bed and comes up and snuggles close to me and doggie talks to me to get my attention. When she sees that I am hurting so, she does things to try to soothe me like licking my arm. I gently run my fingers through her fur as I talk to her. If I stop, she nudges me just like she nudges me if I lose my oxygen hose and she can tell I am having trouble breathing. Loving on a pet is a soothing thing and makes me smile. We have quite the conversation and she makes faces that make me lay here giggling in spite of the pain and I thank God for another day to keep fighting and for my sons and Daisy and my home…all blessings. Daisy is one of those joys that I still have in my life.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one that you know you have for sure.” Oprah
We have no guarantees of tomorrow and if we do not live today, we may not be here tomorrow or later today or next week to live our lives to the fullest. This is why we should not be complacent and let the victim mentality overtake us. We should always be striving to be a survivor and a thriver. Does this mean I never have moments where I just want to lay here and not fight? No. It simply means I do not let those moments become my whole life.
Determination, attitude and choices are all important parts of everyone’s life and even more important in a chronically ill and/or disabled person’s life. I find I get mixed reactions when I state that and I think it is because some do not like knowing that they are responsible for their own happiness and for their lives. I have had some get mad at me but what really makes them mad is they know it is the truth and it strips them of the excuses as to why they are complaining or unhappy and they do not like that. It is so much easier to just be miserable and blame everything such as the illness, people not being there for us, etc than it is to fight to make the day happier and meaningful. It is much easier for them to be a victim instead of doing the work it takes to be a survivor.
It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. ~Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit
I had a person tell me that they “acted weak and unable to do things because they liked the attention”. I said “You do know one day people will get tired of always having to take care of things that you are capable of doing yourself and of being made to entertain you when you can do that yourself too”. They actually said they knew that but were going to “milk it for all it was worth” while they could just like they took advantage of people’s generosity of money when they really did not need it and would then spend it on things other than paying those medical bills such as buying jewelry or other luxuries. I do not believe in that. They loved being a victim and used it to gain attention and money. I value my self-respect and prefer to do for myself the things I can do instead of taking advantage of others.
Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts
When I ask for help, it is because I truly need it..I have asked people for help making trips to the doctors in the past and without their generosity, I would have had to cancel those doctor appointments because we did not have the money. I was not out to line my pockets or get ahead off the hard-earned money of others nor take advantage of their generosity when we asked for donations that time. And I stopped the donations as soon as the gas amount was reached because I wanted people to know that I was honest and only needed a little helping hand not thousands of dollars that I could spend on what I want or to get a couple of thousand ahead. My heart says those that give would love to be “ahead” too with their hard-earned money and would not like being scammed. That is why I can not do that.
Life is what we make it with the tools and things we have. We can make it a happy life, a fulfilling life…in spite of our health or we can make it a life of depending on others for things we can do ourselves because we feel we are owed it. Life does not owe us. People do not owe us. We owe ourselves to live our lives to the fullest.
And for me…my life..even when I am knocked to the floor and laying here looking at the stars…contains much beauty that still remains for me to see.
image from quotestoliveby4u.com
Respond Instead of Reacting: Speak Your Truth, Not Your Fears
We have all had those moments where someone said something and our reply came out filled with heated emotion. That is called reacting. People often get triggered by things others say and do and react before even thinking. The key is to breathe, relax and even walk away for a minute if you need to before reacting instead of responding.
I think this happens because of triggers from things that have happened to us in the past, because of things that scare us and because of things we do not know how to deal with or that go against what we believe and we feel the urge to fight back in defense instead of giving a calm response.
There will always be people who disagree with us so I am going to use an example that includes religion or faith. I was in an online discussion with some people and the topic of religion came up. Those against it began making comments that were denigrating, insulting and attacking. Some people were giving replies back that had the same anger only they were angry at what was being said against an important part of their life. Discussions that turn into nothing but angry rhetoric never accomplish much.
So, I took a deep breath, read all the comments before making a reply and posted that religion or faith was a matter of choice and that I was a person of faith. I went on to explain what I personally believed in never putting down anyone’s religion. I had one or two people tell me to shut up, how stupid I was and there was one that told me they hated me and hoped I would die. Quite a lot of ugliness there. I took a few seconds to make sure I responded and did not react back to what was said. I think especially with religion, it becomes a hot button for many people.
I replied to the person telling me that they hated me with the following: “I am sorry you do hate me for I love you as we are told in the Bible to love one another. As far as dying, I do not worry about dying because I know I will be in heaven with Christ when I die and I pray you have that same assurance.” The person did not even know how to reply to me because I did not react like they thought I would. I responded calmly. After about five minutes, one of the others giving me a hard time asked me how I could know and that opened an opportunity to explain what the Bible says. Had I reacted with the same emotions they were using, it could have turned into nothing but more hate. Yes, Christians can show hatred and anger even though it is not what we are taught. And when that happens it makes us just as wrong as the ones hating on us.
One of the things my son and I learned is that we do not always “hear” what another person says and that is because we are reacting to what they said or we are thinking of our response and not hearing all they said.. We have learned to say when someone says something that hits us wrong “Wait, let me tell you what my head heard you say and will you tell me if that is what you meant?” There have been times one or the other of us has said “My brain heard such and such” and the other person look horrified and said “No, no that is not what I was saying.” So making sure we really hear what another says is vital to good communication.
The problem is we all use different definitions for words and so can misinterpret what another person says and we all have experiences from our past that shades what we hear. I will give an example. I was at my computer and my son was cooking. He was telling me how to defrag the computer and as I followed the instructions he was calling out, I stopped and asked him why we were defragging the sound. He looked at me so confused and asked me why I said that. I told him that it said defrag the volume and so I wondered why are we defragging the sound. He smiled and said that the word volume here meant quantity of files not volume as in sound. Can you see how easily it can be to misinterpret what someone says just with this easy examples? And we are in the same household. We all think in different ways including family members and close friends.
My philosophy is to learn how to respond and not react. And I believe we should respond with kindness and compassion even if the other person is not doing that. And I especially believe in being respectful. We do not have to agree to do these things. It does not diminish how we feel. The quote above says to speak your truth not your fears. I believe many people “react” to things people say because they are afraid of hearing a view or opinion that is different from their own for fear they might find out that their view is not valid. If we truly believe something, hearing a different view is not going to change that. And we might actually learn something if we listen to others talking that might change our view. If we want people to listen to us, we must be willing to listen to other people.
Did you know that there are 1440 minutes in a day? Does not sound like much when it is written like that. Neither does twenty years sound like much when you say it is 240 months. For me, it made me realize just how short time really is and how precious it is. I remember being in awe that my great-grandmother lived during the Civil War and was five years old. And yet, she was still alive when I was a very young child. And she had this unique sense of being able to keep fighting throughout life and to keep smiling. For someone who probably did not weigh 80 pounds dripping wet, she was so alive and filled with the wonder of life. She did not believe in wasting one minute on negativity. I think that is where my belief in being positive and not wasting time on the negative things I can not change came from.
When my great-grandmother was five, the Yankee soldiers were marching into her little town in Georgia and she swung on her picket fence whistling “Dixie” at them. Can you imagine at five years old doing that? Fortunately, the men were not the kind to turn around and do anything to a five-year old. They realized she was a child. I was always told I took after my Granny Bellamy. I never could quite grasp what they meant until much later in life for she was five foot tall and I was five eleven. What family members meant was I had the fight and the determination and also the positive attitude I have now and that is how I have survived all that I have been through and that is how Granny Bellamy lived to be ninety something years old still wearing button up boots and high collar black dresses. She made the most of every minute she had in life and that is what I try to do for the minutes are not as long as we think. And this is why I refuse to spend my life focused on my chronic illnesses or disabilities. There is more to life than that.
One of the things Granny Bellamy taught me was to be sure and thank those that have been good to me and to show those I love that I loved them every day. It was her that told me to never let the sun set on my anger for I may not wake in the morning or the one I was angry at may not wake and then the moment would be lost. A minute can seem so short and yet sometimes, like when holding our tongue in anger can seem an eternity. It is all in how we view it. She also taught me that how I lived life was up to me and what I focused on is what my life would be. She lived a hard life, survived a war, loss of her husband, loss of children…and yet she focused on what she still had instead of what she no longer had.
Do you rush through life trying to taste everything you can but in reality only getting a smidgen of life? Or do you take your time and enjoy those you love and realize that the most important thing is the moments we spend with loved ones. My sons like most children have told me often that the one thing they remember about growing up was that I was there for them and the love we had for each other. We did not have lots of money or do lots of fancy things but we sure did have some good times just doing simple things like movie night and popcorn. No matter what you do with your loved ones…are you taking the moments with them that will last long after you are gone?
One of the sweetest things my son said to me was that the most wonderful thing about taking care of me was getting to spend time with me and getting to know me not just as a mother but as an adult. I am thankful he does not make me feel like a burden and when his friends come around he acts proud to say “this is my mom”. Son has done this for several years now and he has asked me questions about family and family history and wanting to learn how to do the things I always did like gardening and baking bread. He taught me that the greatest inheritance I can give my kids is my time with them and teaching them things that will carry on after I am gone.
1440 minutes in a day and yet they can slip by so fast that a week is gone before we know it. And believe me when I say, the older you get the faster they go. When we are young, we think we have forever. And as we get older, we become more aware of time and how fast it is flying. I always said that if you want to see how fast time goes by just have kids for they are grown and twenty years is gone before you can turn around. I look at my sons now and think “my gosh when did they become this age and grow up so quickly?” because I do not feel like I ever got to grow up.
I believe in never wasting time on anger. It is one of the most useless emotions to me because people will waste precious moments ranting and frothing at the mouth and usually over something that will not matter a month from now. I believe in forgiving easily not for the other person but for myself so that I am not carrying extra baggage around. I believe in loving generously and when we love….do so without expectations. Just love because it is such a wonderful thing to do. I believe in being loyal to those I love. I do not mean blind loyalty like you see some people do where they do not see the faults or admit the other person has any flaws. I mean love in spite of the things a person does wrong not because of what they do right. And I believe in treasuring every moment I can with those I love. Live with no regrets and most of all …live like you are dying for then you will treasure every minute of every day as if it were your last.
image from godsrevolutiontoday.wordpress.com
A Cherokee Legend
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I love this story because it is true. We all contain within us the negative and the positive, the love and the hate…all the emotions that are opposites to each other and which ever one we feed is the one that wins and leads our lives.
Sometimes people feed and see only the negative. Nothing good every comes out of their mouths. Complaints are as common as breathing about everything in life because they are feeding that negative side. We have all been around people like this and perhaps at times have allowed this side to win ourselves. It is where someone feels bad or things go badly and no matter what good things happen after that, the person no longer sees it because they just keep feeding that negative, complaining side instead of that positive side that sees good even in the bad. We have to be willing to be part of the change for good in our lives.
And the difference in people who do the negative and those that see the positive is like night and day. People find it hard to be around those that can never see anything positive. It gets to me after a while listening to someone complain over and over and over and never and I mean never has anything good to say. I have learned from years of experience that if I give into my pain and allow it to consume me…my pain increases. If I look for positive ways to pull me away from my pain….the distraction makes me forget some of my pain for a little while. If I feel down, I find that doing something for someone else lifts me up and them.
image from positivelypositive.com
Sometimes we can even feed the good too much. Remember the quote “give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”? Well, sometimes we can jump in and help others too much and they become dependent on it and expect us to do it instead of stepping up and taking the reins and trying to do some for themselves. I remember reading a quote that said “sometimes the best help you can give a person is no help because then they are forced to do for themselves”. I believe that is what that quote is talking about. I think helping someone is important and as long as they are trying to help themselves too, then we continue helping. But when a person starts expecting help but does not want to be part of the solution, we are hindering them more than we are helping them. We are encouraging them to be victims and that is never a good thing.
So, which wolf do you feed? What are you nurturing in your life? Do you see everything as going wrong, or do you see the things that go wrong as a way to do something differently. Are you feeding the right wolf or are you feeding the wolf that only sees the bad and is focused on “anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego”?. The other side is focused on “joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith” and no it is not being a Pollyanna. It is making a choice to be happy in life and to share that happiness with the world around us. It is a daily battle within humans and what we do in that battle determines how we see life. Do we see it as everything going wrong or do we see the right that is happening in a wrong situations? I hope you see the good.
When we think of malignancy, we think of cancer. But, there is another kind of malignancy that goes on especially in the internet world. It is called the Malignant Heart. I do believe that it is a horrible disease and affects many we come into contact with on the internet and real- life. The internet seems to bring about out the malignant heart in others and they follow almost with mob mentality, the malignant hearts near them. There is power in numbers, so in a group, people feel even more forceful. The term malignant means deadly, life threatening, terminal, etc and if one has a malignancy then one is in fear of dying. I believe that when your heart is malignant and you do not do anything to change that, it will eventually kill you and what a horrible way to die.
The malignant heart does not care who it hurts and causes such things as vindictiveness, hatred, bullying, and other demeaning actions. I have written on bullying before and yet I think the malignant heart is not just a person who bullies but is someone who thinks they can say or do whatever they want and do not have to answer to anyone. I have been hurt this way as have friends of mine.
Please do not misunderstand me. I have seen many with a malignant heart in real- life and even in churches. And I have seen men with malignant hearts, though I will have to say those men tend to have a heart that is malignant when it comes to women…using and discarding them and hurting them badly and moving on to the next conquest. But, it seems that women are gaining in that area doing the same to men. I talk about accountability on here a lot. We must be accountable for our actions and our non actions. Many people hide behind alias’s to carry out their hateful litany on others. Many are brazen they do not care who knows who are they. People with malignant hearts do not care who they hurt or take advantage of.
Sometimes I wish we could see inside of the heads of people like this. I heard someone once say that a therapist could become rich off of the abnormal behavior just seen on the internet. Sadly, those with the malignant heart do not think anything is wrong with their behavior. And their behavior is so predictable. Once you have seen a malignant heart at work, you recognize it every time after that.
Reminds me of being in church and the preacher is really wound up on gossiping or some other ugly action, and when the very ones the preacher was hoping to reach are leaving they church and shake the preacher’s hand…they tell him “Boy, you told them preacher”. And they really believe it is everyone else but them the preacher is talking to.
I came across a site one day that was listing who they thought were the ten most evil people in history. And someone commented on the post and said basically…what about those, who in their lonely lives, go on the internet looking for people to take their anger out on and rip to pieces the soul of someone else. I thought that was a very interesting statement. When malignant hearts set out to destroy another verbally….they are ripping to shreds the very heart of the person they are attacking.
Yes, there is a lot of deceit and taking advantage of on the internet. First time it happens is shame on the person doing it. Second and third time..etc…is shame on the person who allows it. Believe me when I say, it is not being taken advantage of if you allow the person to do it. While there is so much on the internet that shows people with malignant hearts, we have to learn to protect our own for no one else will do it for us.
Evil lurks in the heart of man, and anonymity tends to bring it out. Internet flamers would never say the jagged things they do if they had to sign their names.
GARRISON KEILLOR, “Renouncing Evil Powers and Anonymity,”
A Prairie Home Companion, Jan. 12, 2010
How we act in life, on the internet or anywhere else….is a choice. No one forces us to be mean to others or to try to control them. So, if it is a choice…..why do people keep on being mean? A malignant heart of the emotional kind is curable. Perhaps a person must recognize first that their heart is malignant before they can over come it. No matter the reason, we must take care of our corner of the world and make sure to act in a way that we want to be treated. We must be authentic with our actions and words for then we will be setting the standard. And we must strive to make sure our hearts are not filled with bitterness, anger, hate, malice for that will destroy us in the end. One can not fix what they refuse to recognize.
The one thing I have learned on this journey is that attitude is everything. It can either make us or break us. Yes, I am a very positive person and I keep myself going by not giving into the emotional side of chronic illness. I refuse to let that take me down.
Being chronically ill …no matter what stage we are at…we can either have that attitude and see something good in each day or we can waller in it as we call it in the south. And waller in it means you lay back and just roll in the muck of being sick. There is no fight, no drive, nothing looks good and when people want to waller in it..they do not want to see the good or the positive.
I have been through more than most since I have been barely 30 and I think I am still here today fighting with all I have because I do prefer to see the positive. I do prefer looking for the good and trying to not let my pain conquer me. I use the phrase “at least it is not the 60 pound tumor” to remind myself it could always be worse. That is not diminishing what I go through, it is making me keep in perspective what I am going through. I have so many things wrong but it could always be worse and as long as I keep that in mind, then I realize that I am not as bad off as I think. And that makes me thankful…thankful that it is not as bad as it could be.
See, that is the attitude part. I have met people through the years and all a few do is talk about all that is wrong with them. If you try to get them to see something positive, they actually get angry because they do not want to see anything positive. And believe me, no matter how bad you are..there is always something good to see…always…if you allow yourself to look for it. There is always something to be grateful for….always. You may have to look for it but if you look, you will find it.
I remember one year, my sons were in the 3rd grade and the 6th grade. I was a single Mom…one son had 1/3 of his body burned with 3rd degree burns and was in the hospital for over a month, the other one was in a back brace from curvature of the spine and the doctors were talking putting a rod down his spine and I had to have surgery and my health was not good. Now, that is pretty darn overwhelming and yet…through it all..my sons and I found a way to find something positive..something to be thankful for. The mind is a powerful thing and if we allow ourselves to use it and believe that we will get better and believe that we can use tools to make the pain better, then life is better.
I suppose you wonder what we found to be thankful for with that situation. We were thankful we were all still together. We were thankful that when my son got burned, a friend came and took my youngest son and kept him during that time so that I could be at the hospital with my other son. We were thankful when I had to have major surgery, that a friend stayed with both the boys while I was in the hospital. And most of all, we were thankful when we got back home to all pile up in the big bed and just be together. It is all attitude.
When I had lung surgery, I was alone with no one to take care of me and when I had kidney surgery …after 7 days in the hospital, Son brought me home. After missing a week of work, he had to return to work and I was in such bad shape that I could not even dress myself and could barely get up to go to the bathroom. The pain was the most horrific of any I ever had. And yet, it was my sheer determination…my attitude that brought me through it. I was determined to not let this take me down totally. I was alone all day from 10 in the morning until my son got up at 9 to go back to work at 10 PM. And if anyone had a right to get depressed and give into the pain, I did at that time.
But, it was my attitude that kept me going.. I found things to make me smile. I found reasons to be grateful, such as the fact that I had lived through the surgery, or that there was such a thing as Ensure so that I could keep bottles of it by my bed. I lost about 36 pounds in 30 days. I reminded myself of those less fortunate. It kept me in perspective.
No, it did not mean that I was not in pain. It did not mean I was minimizing my pain. I was just keeping myself focused on the truth…that things can always be a lot worse and so being grateful I was not any worse than I was helped me through. My computer was beside me and while I may not have felt like typing..I enjoyed reading and looking at videos. I slept in the recliner because that was the only place I could get up from to go to the bathroom. And after healing a couple of weeks, I started doing things for others to get my mind away from thinking about me and my health. I started sending cards to people shut in with poetry I had written. Amazing how when you do for someone else having problems, you tend to get distracted from your own.
I know some people hate to hear this but it is a choice. We can choose to be happy and to find joy in our lives. I chose to do things to keep me distracted from the pain while I healed. I even called the Library story book number and listened to the stories. I watched videos online. I did cards. I listened to music with my headphone. Attitude affects healing. Negative energies slow down your healing and positive energies help speed them up.
I have amazed Doctors who would tell me they could not believe how well I was doing. And it was attitude and the determination to be happy and to find reasons to be grateful that did it. I have watched different people at the pain clinic come in. Some sit in their seats with a bitter, angry look and tell everyone within hearing how much pain they are in and they get madder and work themselves up emotionally because they are having to wait and of course their pain goes up. And then I watch others..the ones that come in and seem at peace. If you look close, you can tell they are in pain but they are not throwing it out there for the world to see. They do a lot of things I do, like with my mojo cap I wear. They talk, they smile and they make jokes. And if you did not pay close attention, you would not know they were in such bad pain. Attitude is every things. And they are the type that do not like the word “Can’t”. Tell us we can not and we will bust our hineys proving you wrong.
That does not mean we do not ever say we are hurting. It means that we do not let our whole being center around our illness or our pain. If we did, it would consume us. Studies have shown the power of the mind. Soldiers given basically sugar pills because they were out of morphine in WWII were told those pills were the newest and strongest pain pill that worked wonders and they got pain relief. Other studies have shown that attitude affects healing. Those with a better attitude do better.
I believe that we learn our attitude from those around us as we grow up. As I laid here trying to think of the perfect example to show you all what I am trying to say, a scene flashed before my eyes. It was my Sweetpea when she was five. She played soccer and one day a little kid kicked the ball and it hit her hard in the stomach. As I sat with my son and his wife watching, I could see my son tense up but he did not move. And without thinking, because I could see Sweetpea about to start crying and I started yelling out “Go Sweetpea, go. Great job. Go Sweetpea go” and instantly she started running down the field again after that ball. She could have just started crying and stopped playing but she did not. I knew she was not badly injured, just stunned from the ball.
This is how I deal with pain and chronic illness. I think of it as playing the game of my life and I can either crumble and cry or I can keep going, keep pushing to stay on my feet and to survive and keep pushing to find ways to deal with the pain and still live a joyful life. It is a choice and when I have those days where I just can not go, I know that God carries me until I can start the fight once more.