Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Feeling Satisfied

*****2013 has been a remarkable year. It started off with uncertainty and became more difficult as the year progressed. A pivotal moment came when my Dad decided to forego his cancer treatment and opted to go under the care of hospice. Knowing there would be difficult days ahead, I girded myself to deal with what was to come. Fortunately, not everything was gloom and doom. I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in some great hikes on the Appalachian Trail. Those trips allowed me to forget reality for a little while and be completely enamored and recharged by the beauty of nature. It felt good to forget even for a short time. The summer was tough and I was homebound along with my Dad. It was during that time I realized hospice nurses are angels in disguise. They were often times my only visitor. The only constant I could depend on. As the days progressed, I felt the prayers of family and friends give me strength. In those final moments of my Dad’s life, I held his hand as he passed from this life to the next and I could rejoice not in what I had lost, but in the gift I was given. He was not perfect by any definition, but so much more than others had been given. When I spoke of him as a father during the services, it was easy to start from my earliest memory of him and trace his presence in my life all along the way. I am a better person for having been his daughter. He was the source of my quiet dedication, my resilience and my grace.

    I sit here the day after Christmas as shoppers make their mad dash for holiday deals and I am comforted by feelings of satisfaction. For so long, I was always trying to “get, get, get.” Whether it be some new experience on some material thing, I never felt satisfied. There was always wanting, always some desire to propel me forward, but not anymore. I looked in the face of death and came out on the other side. All the things that use to bother me don’t anymore. The pressure cooker of life burned away the impurities of my character. I saw my faults and my weakness for the first time and I was honest with myself. This year has taught me what is important and given me moments of true clarity and moments of breakthrough that I could build upon and take into the New Year. I reject judgment. I reject pettiness. I accept my faults. I accept the faults of others. I am peace. I am light. I am alive.

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Live Like You Are Dying

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          In recent years, I have had old friends lose a parent to a terminal illness like cancer or heart disease.  One friend in particular lost her mother only after losing her father a few years earlier.  The loss of one parent can be devastating, but the loss of two can be unimaginable especially when you are relatively young.  Plotting a course forward without their love and guidance can be difficult to say the least.  I know from my own personal experience with my father that a terminal diagnosis sneaks up on you when you are unprepared and leaves you spinning in circles and asking why?  The journey can be exhausting emotionally, mentally and physically.  I consider myself fortunate in that my father’s battle with cancer continues, but eventually it will win.  Being past the initial shock, surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, I can reflect more on what his cancer journey means to me.  As I care for my father and encourage him onward, I began to take a look at my own life.  I noticed that death and dying is not relegated to the old, but that young and old leave this world at the same rate.  The death of a young adult or even a child is particularly hard to bear because we think they had their whole lives ahead of them, but in reality no one is promised a long life.  With that I mind, I began to examine the habits of my own life and asked myself some tough questions.  If I were to die today would I feel like I had made the most of my life?  Am I wasting time and energy by harboring old grudges and hurts?  Is there a fence I need to mend?  Could I have been kinder to people or volunteered more?  What dreams have I long ago abandoned? I knew the answers and I knew what I had to do.  It started with forgiveness.  Forgiving others for what happened in the past and forgiving myself for not making the most of my time. For me forgiveness cleaned the slate.  It provided a new start that allowed me to shake away the past and move forward with my eye on the future.

When I looked back over my life I could see how I could have made better use of my time both personally and professionally and I committed myself to make a change.  I am a person of lists and of making plans and without them I am soon adrift with nothing to propel me forward.  Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to set goals and post in them in frequently visited places in my home like my office and bathroom. With setting goals, there needs to be an action plan for reaching those goals.  For the first time in my life, I made a daily plan where every hour of the day is assigned an activity.  Even beyond making a daily plan, it allowed me to identify what was important to me and the things I am passionate about and to make a concerted effort to incorporate those priorities and passions into my daily life.  In a year from now or five years from now I want to look back with no regrets having used my time wisely.  I want my investment of time to reflect what matters to me the most.  I will live each day like I am dying.

When Waiting Seems Like Forever

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             I hate waiting!!  I have always been impatient.  It’s one of my many flaws that for years I projected on others.  “These people need to get their act together.”  “How long does it take to do such and such?” “I have another appointment.” You know the routine.  My foot tapping, loud voice and rolling my eyes never advanced my cause.  Honestly, it probably hurt it.  Over the years, I have grossly abused the concept of multi-tasking in order to get things done quicker.  Take for instance cooking.  Ever filled a pot while popping chicken in the microwave to defrost and cutting vegetables and talking on the phone while watching television at the same time.  Guilty as charged and the result is an off-tasting meal because in my haste to get things done I’ve skipped a few steps like adding certain ingredients or not cooking according to the recipe. I watch in utter amazement people who are patient and wonder what’s their secret.  The frantic pace in which I move to get things done often leaves me exhausted and quality is sacrificed.  I sometimes justified my actions by telling myself, “At least I finished first,” but deep down inside I was disappointed in myself because I knew I could have done a better job.  Now that I am officially over the hill and have taken stock in my life I decided to make a conscious effort to be more patient.  Not just with cooking and other mundane tasks, but patient with people and certainly with myself. 

            What I’ve come to realize is that my impatience is an imaginary race with myself and my fears.  I’ve rushed through moments in life when I should have paused and appreciated the moment for what it was.  Those lost moments add up to a significant amount of time where I’ve deprived myself of the full experience of life. When I am patient I am amazed at what unfolds before my eyes in the form of resolutions to problems or a better understanding of what is happening.  By being patient I am able to respond appropriately and in a manner that relieves stress and anxiety from the equation. I am most amazed at what people will do on your behalf if you are just patient enough to give them a chance.  Patience is truly a virtue and something we should all strive for in our personal and professional lives.  As I approach the second half of my life, I feel better prepared to handle the ups and downs because I know the importance of patience and what it brings to my life.  Make a commitment today to be more patient.  You won’t be disappointed.  I promise.