Saturday, October 8, 2016

Finding HOPE

It was just an ordinary day in my ordinary life.  I will always remember sitting in that small waiting room thumbing through a magazine.  I found myself reading an article about six ladies who had gone through breast cancer.  They all shared how their experience had made them stronger.  They appreciated life more and began to make a difference in their own unique way. They started their own businesses, wrote a book, and created handmade turbans for chemo patients.   I remember thinking how weird it was that such an awful experience could  help someone to "find" themselves and their purpose in life.  "That's all very nice",  I remember saying to myself, "but that's something I will never have to deal with."

They were calling my name.  I laid the magazine on the table and went into the exam room. It was time for that infamous February mammogram.  What I did not know or understand  was that the next few minutes would change me and my life forever.

Weeks later, I found myself returning to that small waiting room.  I was searching for the magazine that I had so leisurely thumbed through. I was searching for HOPE.  HOPE that my life still had meaning, that I would be "okay" as I journeyed through unknown territory.  The magazine was nowhere to be found.  I would have to find my HOPE somewhere else,  somewhere deep inside, somewhere I had never been before.

It's been six years now.  In some ways, it almost seems as if it were a dream.  Or perhaps, it happened to someone else.  In a sense, it did happen to someone else.  There has never been a single incident in my life that so drastically changed me.    It was a nightmare of making decisions and undergoing treatments.  It was a defining time when I realized who my family and friends were.  I was surprised, hurt, and shocked by people who had been a part of my life for a long time.  Many of them had no idea what to say or what to they did nothing.

I tried to be strong.  I only cried a few times because I was afraid it would make me weak.  I didn't want to worry the people closest to me so I kept my innermost fears and pain inside.   Some nights I would wake up shaken with fear and fright.  I learned to talk myself through the anxiety and I learned to make peace with death.   I learned to understand that people could hold my hand, but at the end of the day, this was a journey that I had to walk alone.

I learned more about breast cancer than I ever thought I would know.  I learned about my body and my limitations.  I tested myself more than I should have just because I had to prove to myself that I was stronger than I ever dreamed possible.   I learned that as long as we have HOPE, then we never really lose.  I learned to always believe in myself and that its really alright to cry.   I learned that all those "bad things" don't just happen to other people and there are no absolutes in life.  And, through it all, I learned  I was blessed beyond measure.

Most importantly, I learned about the power of prayer.  I learned  I never walk alone...and that will never change.  I learned that life will always bring trials and tribulations but I must walk in FAITH and not by sight.   So, in the end, I suppose as bad as it was, breast cancer did bless me.   I found my HOPE, my FAITH, and my PEACE.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Rainbows Need Rain

Nature's storms bring some of the most beautiful sights!  We all know how awesome it is to see a rainbow.  It's magical.  And the flower's.  Oh, My.  I'm always amazed how something so lovely can come from such a tiny seed.  One that is dropped in the dark earth, watered from the sky, and warmed by the sun.  In a few weeks a lovely creation is born.

I spotted this beautiful double rainbow in the valley behind our house.  My soul sings every time I see this array of colors in the sky.  There is just something about them that fills my heart with HOPE, that reminds me that no matter what we are going through, there are always blessings to be had.  Period.

Life can be just plain difficult at times.  There is no denying that.  I believe that when we accept this fact, when we understand that there will be good times as well as bad, then we have a greater peace.  We understand that all things pass.  When we are enjoying the good times....then enjoy them!  Because they won't last forever.   When we are in the valley, just keep on walking.  You will find your way to that mountaintop someday.  As my momma would have said, "mark my words".....Life constantly changes.   We constantly change.  Life's events, our trials and tribulations change us daily.
We learn.  We grow.  We gain insight and wisdom.  We become better individuals because of our challenges.

Breast cancer changed me more than any other life event I have experienced.  And I have had several that absolutely shook my world and broke my heart.    I have had great losses of family, tragedies that I have never fully accepted or understood.    But when I went on that dark journey of breast cancer, it changed me from the inside out.  Oh, it didn't happen overnight.  It took months and years after completing treatment to make sense of my emotions,  to finally grasp what had taken place in my body both physically and emotionally.

I believe I am a much better person, a stronger person who needs less and loves more.    I no longer keep people in my circle because that's where they've always been.   I'm willing to let go....even if it hurts.  I accept my mortality....whether it breast cancer or another unknown.  We're not meant to be here forever and I'm at peace with that.   I accept myself in all my faults, my short comings, and mistakes.  No one is perfect.  I have a right to JOY and everything good that life has to offer.  I respect myself and expect others to do the same.  I understand that my journey is mine alone and others may not "get" where I am.  I'm okay with that.  I am more grateful and I'm more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been.   I find joy and peace every single matter what I am worried about or dealing with.  I know that life is short and we don't get a second chance.  At least, not here on earth.   And I'm okay with that too.  In fact,  I'm okay with just about everything.  It's called PEACE.