Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. –
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott
Hope – with it we are able to take that first step forward. It is so very important but it is not something that is always easy to obtain. Rising up from the deepest place within us, hope requires work and determination.
Recently I have been aware of how much energy is required to be hope-full. I am now a breast cancer survivor(x3). I have been a survivor since the day I learned of my first diagnosis 19 years ago. This was four days before I celebrated my 40th birthday and having breast cancer was the farthest thing from my mind.
That is how it happens. While moving through life with plans and ambitions, the path changes, abruptly and with little warning. In a single moment on a normal afternoon, I was told I had breast cancer – a diagnosis that would change my life forever. Enveloped in the bright light of a doctor’s office, all plans dropped away – priorities shifted – I started living as a survivor.
So I have found myself once again inthat single moment. In December I sat under the bright lights of a new doctor’s office to hear I had breast cancer again. Being a survivor feels empowering and overwhelming. In my experience it does not matter how often you face a new diagnosis the resolve to continue life as a survivor has to be made anew.
I am inspired by the survivors I have known and know today. These women and dear friends have shared their living stories with honesty and extraordinary courage. During my new ‘single moment’ I honor and remember these amazing women. They have taught me much about living life to the fullest from day one.
Hope does find a way. From learning of the first test results I learned how hope would reinforce the ground underneath my nervous stance. I know this “stubborn hope” that Anne Lamott describes. It is what stirs the courage to take my next step in life. When the news seems unbearable and the options for healing sound impossible hope has been there.
Like a seed planted deep into the ground, hope has taken root within, creating a strong foundation to support my steps toward the gentle light of Dawn.
(This video is one of my favorites. It has been my inspiration on more than one occasion.)
A week ago today I wrote to say that I was entering the steel and sterile doors of an operating room. A week ago tonight I was gradually climbing above the fog of anesthesia.
In seven short days I have experienced strength and weakness. I have felt brave and fearful. The recovery required more hospital time than I had anticipated. The second day I had to pray my fighting prayers to stay hopeful while new and VERY unpleasant tests were required. In the end all was well and I returned to my home where family and friends surrounded me with comfort and care.
Getting well takes work and attitude. Healing is never simple. Always details that require attention. Details that would normally make my skin crawl! But these were and are my details. Important to oversee with the bravest heart I can manage.
I am in the midst of positively healing. With surgery behind me I came home to wait for labs that would reveal the next road to be taken. In three short days (I was told it would be a week), the phone rang and my surgeon shared the best news- the cancer was contained, all lymph nodes were clear.
I felt my breath enter as if anew – as if this were my very first day.
And now I hear – ‘pay attention’. Healing is never simple. The mind and spirit join the body’s work to heal. I have been here before and each time the call to ‘pay attention’ grows in intensity.
The chance is before me once again- to discover secrets, cover uncharted lands and most especially – to open doorways.
With gratitude spilling over, I wonder – what could be waiting…
True friends are small in number. For good reason — to nurture these relationships we have to build on life-stories shared and experienced together. Small in number, maybe, but these friends shine with the brightest light. By their side, we celebrate joyful moments of our lives. Times filled with promise, hope and celebration. With the strength of their support, we move through difficult of times of our lives. Times blanketed with the darkness of trust broken and the sadness of letting go of the most precious dreams. Whether the times are filled with joy or sadness, we are shield and comforted with a true friend by our side. No need for words just presence – when moments are shared and saved like notes in a diary.
Interesting – this Nigerian proverb does not say how to hold these friends. No description of a tight grip or straightened elbows – just to hold with both hands. Yet certainly, true friends are to be held with intent. Fully aware of the treasure before you, cradling it with the strength of gratitude.
At Christmas, all roads lead home. ~Marjorie Holmes
This is the first Christmas in my new home. As written in an earlier entry, I prepared for this season with mixed emotions. There have been moments when I have faced the objects of Christmas past and felt a great sense of loss. This year has been strained to draw tradition near in a home so new and empty of history.
Hopeful to be surrounded by a sense of Christmas “familiar”, I have come into my home during these past days grateful to feel the comfort of my Christmas past. Sitting in front of my tree I am delighted to see ornaments that could tell stories of my life. There are nativity scenes, candles and other decorations filling space in my home and in each place I am gifted with memories.
Nothing is impossible! As I welcomed my parents to share in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we spent our time eating good foods from restaurants recently discovered and journeying into the warmth and light of beautiful places filled with others to celebrate Christmas Eve. I woke on Christmas Day, blessed with a sense of gratitude ~~ gratitude for memories already made in this new place I call home. We have had a true celebration. With the excitement of exchanging gifts with family, the delight in seeing nature’s beauty, the search for the most impressive Christmas lights, the inspiration to sit in a church where people knew my name and the comfort surrounding a table with new friends as we shared Christmas dinner, there was little lacking.
“At Christmas, all roads lead home.” While reading this quote I have a fresh perspective on its meaning. Even in a time when so much feels awkward and unfamiliar, I have found new roads that can lead to home. Nothing is impossible!
We have often talked about that one special thing we will get ‘around to’. This is a wonderful reflection on the importance of ‘now’. For those who haven’t met I introduce you to Millie. She has a beautiful way to inspire and encourage – enjoy!!
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