Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#ChronicallyHappyPathologicallyPositive :)

A good ATTITUDE is believing that anything is POSSIBLE if you believe.   I like living life at the end of my comfort zone. I was doing that years before it became a catch phrase.   I am not a daredevil, but I like to grow.  I like to grow physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  And you can’t do that by sitting around doing nothing.   I am determined that my health challenges are the one thing that will keep me positive.  It is the ability within the word disability that I prefer to focus on.  I am not my medical history. I am not the accident that happened.  I am not “Ooops it happened again_________”.  It is by living through my challenges that I have met some of the most positive, most loving, most giving people on the planet.  I am not what happened to me.  I am me period.  What you see is what you get.  Through illness I have already looked death in the face a few times and said, no.  Not now. I’m not ready.  I still have more living and giving to do.  I am NOT DONE!  I have miraculously survived against all odds, and I have every intention of making it count.     

This blog was supposed to be something I would do on a regular basis, almost like a journal that I can look back on to see just how far I’ve come.  Well the last time I wrote was in May.    Somewhere along the summer I was supposed to write a thank you to all the people who donated in my TEAMNANNY benefitting LIVESTRONG grassroots cancer walk.  I am grateful that this year those donations that came in know that their thank you will reach them, as the weather changes.  Thank you for the opportunity to keep doing what I love the best.  LIVING strong.  My dream of being a leader was at the top of my bucket list so far.  SO much work to still do, that I am grateful to be on the team.  

I am thankful for my life.  I have seen so much suffering in our world.  War, disease, people who are just never happy no matter what they have, and children with no worldly possessions drinking dirty water, smiling, living in the moment.  I truly hope the planet becomes a kinder place for my grandchildren.  I want them to have the blessed childhood and life that I have had.  I want them to enjoy God’s beautiful planet earth.  Praying that we can pull off world peace and bring our ecosystems back to life before they are all gone.  I know it is a long shot.  I’m hopeful.  

My life has been full of both physical and psychological challenges, often going hand in hand.  But my parents gave me the greatest gift when I was very young, to young to appreciate it for sure.  I was given the gift to understand that I had a choice to be happy.  What a gift that was. 

My mom had already had a lifetime of pain and suffering before ever adopting me.  She is a war bride.  My dad was a WWII veteran.  They married in England, and settled back here in Canada after the war.  My mom never really had a family of her own, until she had my dad and us.  But you NEVER heard her complain.  Mom never had security.  She despite all the horrible things that happened to her during her childhood, chose to live a life of gratitude and kindness.  She could have been bitter and angry.  She had every right to.  But she showed me when I was very little that living a life of happiness, gratitude, and faith was a happy life.  That it was a  CHOICE.  I never knew the hardships she & my dad had as children.  They had very difficult childhoods.  They had every right to be bitter and angry.  But they never were. 

I was sick almost all my life.  Never knowing what was going to happen next.  Orthopaedic surgeries, illnesses.  My parents through their example showed me how to live a happy life no matter what happened to me. I learned to deal with pain and suffering at a very young age, and it has served me well though out my life. 

I learned the rewards of volunteering at a very young age.  I learned that we gain more happiness by helping others.  It was the way we lived.  It was taught by example.  Not in books. You cannot teach kindness, compassion, and empathy from books.  You teach by example and my parents were a shining example.  I am proud of the way I was raised.  Those moments when I was a hard headed rebellious teen are pail in comparison to all I have done as an adult.

No matter what the struggle was, I was reminded I was not alone.  I was never alone.  I had family and friends that loved me and accepted me just the way I was.  Mom always said that worry and complaining changes nothing.  She was right.  She was almost alway right.  
Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter. Actions speak louder than words.  Use whatever challenge that comes my way to make me stronger.   I touch the past but embrace the future.  Life is not a dress rehearsal.  If I don’t do what I am passionate about now, I may never get the chance.  So I will take every opportunity to be humble, and kind.  We are how we treat each other and nothing more.  I never live a life less than I am capable of.

True happiness for me lies in my gratitude list.  Even at my worst state of health, I usually was able to cope with being grateful for who I have in my life, because let’s face it.  I am more blessed than most.   Somehow this year after the accident because of the pain I had forgot that it was my gratitude list that had kept me grounded all these years.  It was my happiness meter.  It was running on low.  That was not me.  So I went asking for help.  My hope dangling by a string, I need to cope with the suffering to make me well.   I needed someone to help put me on my feet.  Someone who did not know me.  Who did not know my “whole” story.  I needed to be grounded.  Harry did that for me.  He gave me “homework” to do.  And filled my toolbox with meditations, hope and coping skills.  My homework was…. yup…. my gratitude list.  It was right in front of me the whole time!  I was blinded by the pain.  I was angry that my summer was ruined.  Or was it?  Harry’s early intervention of catching me before I fall was enough for me to kickstart my ass back into gear.  

Then there is Dr. Joe.  He was my angel in a white coat.  He was the brains behind getting me physically back into shape.  He does this every day.  It is his job.  He by profession is a PM &R doc.  He did not however have to coach and encourage me to get back up, brush myself off, and thrive within new limits.  He did not have to “work” in his leisure time.  But he did.  He is one of the most compassionate humans I have ever had the honour of meeting.  He kept me safe from myself.  (Well someone had to ;) )  He was part of the survivor summit group that climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro benefiting the LIVESTRONG Foundation last winter.  He found me through mutual LIVESTRONG friends.  We bonded over hockey, & sports, me wanting to run, and LIVESTRONG. We chatted through hockey games, and during dog walks.   And then I got hit by the car.  Nothing prepared me for what it would do to my body.  I was thrown a curve ball, but I was not wearing a mitt.  I thought I would be well in a few days, week tops.   I had questions, but as our medical system works here, no one to answer them.  I still have not been seen here by a specialist and it is more than five months since the accident.  I just wanted to live.  Doc Joe taught me how to stay safe.  I just wanted to help myself but had nobody with the expertise to tell me if what I was doing was right or wrong.  Doc Joe gifted that to me.  He is a humble man with an adorable dog.  He simply gave me guidelines.  All he could go with were my symptoms, (or my whine list lol).  I listened.  I learned.  I executed.  And when I would accomplish a goal, it was videotaped, passed by him for his blessing, and then I kept doing it over and over.   I had not healed the injury.  I had mastered how to live with the injury.  Treating the injury is up to the doctors here.  That may be months.  Years.  For the pain I am taking narcotics.  Nothing else touches the pain.  I needed help in the here and now to cope, or my summer was going to be gone.  I am forever grateful of the gift to take my life back, in the pool, on my skateboard, in the gym.  I am learning to be a pretty cool lefty.  I am doing the best with what I have.  #KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  He empowered me to be the best me I could be with the injury to my arm and shoulder.  Thanks Joe.  You are topping the grattitude list, with Harry. :) This one's for you--- I'm a one arm bandit! :) 

My scars are symbols of my strength.  A tattoo of triumph. Tattoos I did not ask for.  I like good *ink*, but tattoos for radiation were not the ink I had wanted.  I am determined to be an example of strength and courage for my children and my grandchildren.  So many times, I had made dreams, only to have them shattered by illness or circumstance.  My life has always been about the journey.  So when plans are changed, because of finances, or illness, or whatever road block gets in the way, I gladly take the detour and find a different way to fill that time with joy and happiness.  There are a thousand things on my bucket list.  No a MILLION things I want to do while I am still living.  Some are very cool, some are very interesting, and some are very silly.  But it is that list that reminds me I still have one hell of a lot of living to do. So even if I am not accomplishing goals within the imaginary time frame I had set for myself, I am still accomplishing being happy.  Each and every day I can tell myself, I may be in pain, I may be a spoonie, and I may have a mountain of challenges in front of me, but by the grace of God I am still moving forward, and climing those mountains. Some of the mountains even look like skate park ramps! ;) 

I am living life the best way I know how.  In my story I am chronically happy and pathologically positive.  We all know that the children on TEAMNANNY and their friends has a lot to do with my happiness.  But even when they are not available because of school, or activities, I am finding ways to to enjoy those empty hours.  And if I really miss them, well that is what all those videos all summer were for! So I can watch them like a good movie all winter!  This summer I saw Cassidy dive for the first time, and learn to skateboard like a star.  Isaac has grown so much he towers over me, swam, learned to flip on the tramp, but still knows "I love you more"..... and Josh, my all round athlete, soccer, hockey, swimming.  I was there for his first flip off the diving board.  I was there, captured it all for their parents on video.  I was PRESENT.  #grateful #blessed 

I am human.  There are moments of frustration at times.  For sure.  There are times I butt heads with those I love the most.  I have a hard head.  But as the sun sets, I can close my eyes, thank God for another day of life, and promise myself that the only person I have to be tomorrow is better than the person I was today.  During my hardest times in my life I was taught my most important lessons. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.   I never quit because I know whatever situation I am in it is not permanent.  Change is the only constant.  Especially living with Lupus.  No two days are the same.  We learn to live with the symptoms, but they are always changing.  So learn to like change. 

My mom taught me yes, life has tough moments, but I am tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage be okay by being different.   Find it in my heart to make others smile too.  God gave me two hands, one to help myself, and the other to help others.  I stress of stupid stuff that should not even be in my “story”.  Stuff that I cannot change.  And I always have André to keep me grounded.  To reassure me on the darkest nights, the sun will come up tomorrow.

And then finally there was that “moment” that “bleep” in the pool.  I was unexpectedly taken down, and under the water.  What was moments seemed like a lifetime.  I was out of air, but I knew enough to fight the urge to breath in.  I knew it was my only chance.  Within seconds Michala, a lifeguard at our pool, was there, saving me.  I did not have time to process the fear, or the pain of having my shoulder wrenched by the grab of a man twice my size.  Before I could, it was all over and I witnessed our awesome staff at their best.  Their training kicked right in, and everyone was safe.  There is always some thing to learn from accidents.  My life was saved to be grateful for and not to be wasted.  So I will not waste it.  I have never ever said, “why me”.  I have said, “Why not me”?  Life is not what happens to you.  Life is what you do with your story.  

I love music.  All the time.  Music is a must have in my life.  I am grateful for the lyric writers who keep giving me a new theme song to get through the next battle.  My song, my story, is still being written.   I decided recently while sharing hope and friendship and music with a loved one who has been battling lymphoma for the past year or more, that I was going to create a new hashtag.  Something greater than the #LiveLovePlay one I had used all summer.  I told her that I was chronically happy, and she added one she had heard from a friend, “pathologically positive”! So we decided that #ChronicallyHappyPatholigicallyPositive was just perfect.  And every time I use it, I wonder…  
and came out of it with an