A Year

So much can happen in a year. A day can be busy. A week can be full. A year can change your life. They are all made up of moments.

One year ago today, my son was diagnosed with stage IIIb cancer. He didn’t live close by. I wasn’t there when the doctor told him. I was 2000 miles away connected by some unseen electronic air wave cell phone line.

He made it. He went through chemo/radiation pre-surgery. Then a 15 hour radical surgery and then follow up chemo. We traveled by air to be there. To touch. To love. To cry. To encourage.To hope. To fear. To despair. To move into another day.

PET scan showed no cancer. Celebration!

Yet…this day brings back haunting emotions. Life is very short. We all live one phone call away from very sad news. Life changing  information.

My philosophy? Live each day without regret. Love. Forgive. Don’t try and be perfect.

Island Illusion

“No man is an island.” John Donne

Islands bring adventure! Beauty! Exotic sights! Or perhaps they can bring danger, hunger and isolation.

By definition an island is surrounded by water. Without a means to leave the island by boat or swimming one could feel trapped there. Emotions can be like islands. We can feel so overwhelmed by an emotion that we believe there is no escape. When the emotions are jubilant, we don’t mind. We would like to live on the jubilant island forever! But when emotions are dark, we wish to seek light and an escape from such despair, sadness or loneliness.

One must start with John Donne’s declaration. ‘No man is an island’. No matter how isolated one feels, there is a way of escape. The first step is an act of the will-a desire to escape. The desire must translate into actions or the presumed desire is not real. It is an illusion which further traps the inactive person in despair.

So how might one bridge the water which seems to obstruct escape?  Remember, we are not islands. We are people with connections to others. Approaching others may not be easy. A bridge may have to be built or repaired. A person may have to learn to swim to escape. Sometimes we can build the bridge alone. Sometimes we can teach ourselves how to swim. Sometimes we need external instruction. This instruction can be obtained via a friend, a counselor, a book, or a sage. When we want to escape, we must take the action required for that desire to become a reality.

“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.” Dalai Lama

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/island/

 

Decisions, Decisions!

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

Clarity is a valued commodity. How many times do I wish I could look up in the sky, or down on the street and see sentences written by my future of exactly what I should be doing. I have never seen it, and it is not from a lack of trying!

Sometimes I am faced with a clear decision which must be made. I weigh the pros and the cons, discuss with friends, and seek ethereal guidance. I realize that the point of absolute certainty may never arrive, so I make the decision based on the facts I have at hand.

Other times, the need for a decision is not so clear. It isn’t that I must make a decision, it is if I WANT to make a decision. Wanting to make a decision changes things by choice. Sometimes other people are affected by that choice. If others would be unhappy with my selected choice, it could seem that I was callous to their feelings.

Yet,I believe that there are natural ‘change point’ times in a person’s life. Somehow your soul lets you know that it is time for a change. You don’t mean anyone ill will. You don’t mean for your decision to have any negative impact on anyone else. But you know that the time is right for you to make a change.

Such has happened in my life over the last few months. I have been at my current job for 13 years. I like who I work with, and I like what I do. Yet, when I read Steve Jobs tip: “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been NO for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” I knew that his sentiment rang true for me.

I studied to be a nurse. I moved into the administrative role for the last many years. I have decided to return to working with patients. I will be directing a research department and working with the physicians and patients who come seeking clinical trials. Our first clinical trial is for patients who have had surgery for melanoma. Melanoma is not the most prevalent skin cancer, but it is one of the most progressive. We are working with a company to develop a vaccine to prevent re-occurance of the melanoma.

I am certain that when I look into the mirror in the mornings, there will be days that I wish I wasn’t going to spend my day at work. But if I have to work, I am pretty certain that when I look into the hopeful eyes of a patient who is seeking medical advances for such devastating diseases, that I will be grateful that my days of working will be in an effort to help those who so  desperately need help.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/decisions-decisions/

 

Perspective and Perseverance

While visiting with my son last night, we were remembering his grandparents-my parents. It is such a wonderful thing to pass on new stories and to re-tell the old ones.

No matter the story, two prevalent themes come through when I think of my parents.

Mother-often said “there is good and bad in everything”. It was a very valuable lesson. Daily I encounter an experience that creates an emotional response. The way that I see the situation, frames the way I feel about it. I have the choice of perspective every morning.

“When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.” Harvey Mackay—although it could have been my mother, or myself for that matter.

Father-he was a little less verbal, so my lesson from him came from observation. I saw him slowly lose mom to dementia, and shortly thereafter be diagnosed with esophageal cancer. From diagnosis to passing was 2 short years. During those years, and while he went through surgery, and then chemo/radiation treatment, he continued to work on the log cabin he had started after mom passed away. I knew that he wanted to finish the cabin so that ‘his girls’ would not have to handle that task. He wanted to clear the land, so he continued to chop and saw wood. Every movement that he made brought him pain, yet he persevered to finish a goal.

“Patience and perspective have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

I miss my parents. My spirit hugs theirs and daily I feel their influential presence.

Soul Hug

I’m feeling pretty worried and sad as I sit in the hospital coffee shop. My father is down for a lung biopsy as the PET scan had indicated that his esophageal cancer had spread to his lung and bones. I know I am about to lose my last living parent. As a nurse I know the loss would involve pain and suffering.

I am unsure if my hands can hold up my head. They are on either side of my face, covering my eyes as the despair has nearly taken my breath away. Our family had just lost our mother , who died after suffering from Pick’s Disease. Now my father. I remembered that there was a small garden court area at the side of the hospital. I decide perhaps if i sat out there a while my head could clear and I would gather some strength and perhaps some insight as to how to go on.

As I get to the garden a beautiful lady is sitting on a tree bench. I wanted to be alone, but I don’t really feel disappointed. I feel somehow drawn to her.  Then she looks at me, and her smile is so soft, and warm. Her eyes are looking at me with so much compassion I feel my throat constrict and tears well in my eyes.

“Hi, my name is Semesia. Will you sit with me a few moments?” Semesia offered as she gently placed her palm on the bench next to her. “Hi, thank you, I will, but I don’t know if I will be very good company.” I say in return as I sit down beside her. As I sat, I felt an odd energy. Not a tingle really, but some ‘awareness’ that I can’t really describe. It was ethereal.

“I know. Your father is upstairs having more tests. I have been allowed to see you and to encourage you. I know that you have never felt so troubled. You are right, your father will pass. But he will be active until his last couple of days and then he  will be in a coma. You are going to be able to help him. He will feel great love and comfort as you do.

However, the toll on your life will be transforming. I am also to tell you that it will all get worse. Your husband will seek friendship elsewhere. A year after your father passes, you will be divorced from your husband.”

Somehow her words do not knock me off my bench. On some level I think I knew this. I was changing. I was challenging who I had been told to be and discovering who I really was. My husband of 30 years did not like that. It was unsettling to him.

“You have wondered if you are on the right path. Your path to question and seek other ‘truths’ and learn of other cultures. You are doing exactly what you should. While you will experience a couple of years that will be the most challenging in your life, great reward is coming. The freedom you will feel will terrify you at first, but then you will experience its marvels. You will find peace.

Then, I am happy to tell you, that you will have a story book wedding in a castle in Washington State.”

I had never been to Washington. As I was growing into myself, my husband made me feel very bad about myself. I knew helping my father was right, and was determined to continue. I feared the loss of my husband. I was fifty. Who would love me. I had grown up with my husband. How would I ever meet anyone. How would anyone love me, I continued to struggle in my soul.

“I know your struggle. That is why I was allowed to come. My time here is short. Remember, your greatest challenge is in front of you. You will manage it and it will build your strength and your resolve to continue in your quest to become who you really are. And you will do so. It will be your greatest reward. Then your marriage to a wonderful caring man will take you on many fun adventures. From the Castle wedding to voyages, to open conversations and laughter throughout your day. You will no longer have to ‘make fun happen’. It will occur naturally all around you. He will hug your soul.”

She placed her hand on top of mine. And she looked at me-right into my soul. I started to cry. Semesia knew me better than I knew myself. I raised my hands to wipe my eyes and when I opened them, she was gone. I was left with a strange mixture of sorrow and hope.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/good-tidings/