I’ve mentioned turning a corner in my blog and starting my I Love Life Project. Let me reassure you that the rants will still come on an as-needed basis and that no matter what I post, it will always be based in honesty, as has been one of the hallmarks of my blog. I also solemnly promise I will never induce you to vomiting from artificially sweetened language, nor will I slap gauze and tape over pus and blood and call that healing.
My focus is not just about cancer, but encompasses the broader categories of pain and struggle, and my own journey toward healing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be my pre-cancer self physically. I just know I’ve been fed up with how many days I don’t feel well enough to enjoy life, even if I appear to be participating. I don’t know if a day will ever go by that I don’t consciously think about the shit storm that hit my life in the last few years. To be fair, there’s a lot I don’t think about anymore, but something rose up in me recently that made me ready to turn the page and begin an entire new chapter.
It started with a phrase that frequently spewed from my mouth while frustrated or upset: “I hate life!” In truth, I often enjoy life. Really! So when I became conscious of how much I utter that awful phrase, I did some soul searching and came to several conclusions:
We all have a relationship with Life.
As in any relationship, if I verbally abuse it by repeatedly saying, “I hate you,” it might get fed up and walk away.
Like any relationship, I have to work at it.
I get back what I put into it. If I want change, I’ve got to take action to make it happen. (If you lack the ability to change something, and there’s always something, keep reading.)
Identify specifically what I really mean
before I commit a “hate crime.” When I stop to reflect, I realize I don’t actually hate life. I know that because I’m committed to living and kind of like the idea. So when I hear myself start to say “I hate…,” I stop and take a look at why I said that. What is happening at that moment? I often say that when I’m not feeling well and feel like my physical self prevents me from doing what I wish or at least being fully present to enjoy myself. I also utter hate talk when the bullshit mounts too high at my workplace and I feel overwhelmed. But it’s not like it’s Life’s fault. So I’ve learned to identify what it is I actually hate and place blame directly. Instead of the all-encompassing “I hate life,” I direct my frustration at the situation that provoked my displeasure. By doing so, I identify the areas that need work instead of blameshifting at Life’s expense.
Grow, because life is growth.
Sometimes a thing can’t be changed, even if for now. It just is. At least let it work for you. Let it grow you. Otherwise, you’ve wasted a perfectly good bad thing and it wins. If shit hits the fan, shovel it up and make compost.
Enjoy the challenge of being in between.
You know the phrase, “Caught between a rock and a hard place”? Personally, I find that an incredibly frustrating spot. One door is closed, but you can’t see another opened. This is the place of No Good Answers. Enter Misery in all its glory. No Way Out. Just complete and utter Stuck-ness. I’ve decided to give that place a makeover. I now view it as a jigsaw puzzle. I like jigsaw puzzles. I enjoy the challenge of figuring it out, of piecing things together: no, that doesn’t fit, but hey, that does! I like the adventure of watching the complete unknown turn into something familiar, of taking a mess and applying it to a big blank until it turns into something pretty, piece by piece by painstaking piece. Yes, it requires patience, but I’m okay with that. I’m a masochist that way, and you can be too!
If you’re feeling down, remember: it’s only a feeling, and feelings change. Sadness, grief, and anger are emotions, not your entire life. It’s a moment in time, even if it feels like an eternity. Like all temporary things, ride it out and the feelings will pass, even if your circumstances don’t.
Happiness is overrated; joy is far more accessible.
Happiness is overrated because it depends on the external. It demands the cooperation of people, places and things that are out of your control, which ultimately makes happiness fleeting. Joy is something you cultivate within. It’s about your relationship with yourself. Learn what makes you feel good, and apply liberally. For me, it often involves music, dance, or hiking and spending time in nature. Certainly reading, writing, and my spiritual practice. All these things are under my control and immediately accessible. I’ll never forget when Scorchy wrote on her blog, “I can make all kinds of trouble right from my couch!” Now that’s joy.
I can’t reiterate enough that one’s circumstances do not dictate the environment within. As an example, I think of someone who has good health, a good husband, good kids, and good money. For reasons I can’t understand, she walks around with a scowl. The opposite example is Mickey Hirsch, who I’ve written about. It appears he’s nearing the end of Stage 4 cancer. He’s made arrangements for a legal guardian for his 17-year-old daughter, whose mother passed away at 44 years of age. His 26-year-old son died a few years ago. He has little by way of material things, but this man beams love and light that absolutely defy his circumstances. He’s an inspiration and loved by all.
So I’m working on the list I created above. So far, so good. I’m no longer wishy-washy about my relationship. Let it be known I’m dating Life. I’m in it for the long haul whether that means next year or another few decades. I’m giving it my heart with no strings attached. In fact, I’m making the big commitment and, yes, I’m ready to say the L-word: Life, I love you! I’ll even update my Facebook relationship status if that matters to you. I want to make the most of our time together. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. ‘Til Death do us part.