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Posts Tagged ‘gary chapman’

Last weekend I was listening to a podcast called Dot Matrix by Junior High School friends Sean and Justin (Facebook and website), and they recited a wonderful poem by Nikki Giovanni called Choices:

CHOICES

if i can’t do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don’t want
to do

it’s not the same thing
but it’s the best i can
do

if i can’t have
what i want . . . then
my job is to want
what i’ve got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want

since i can’t go
where i need
to go . . . then i must . . . go
where the signs point
through always understanding
parallel movement
isn’t lateral

when i can’t express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
i know
but that’s why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry

This poem really spoke to me, at a time when I see the choices of others, or their inability to see the choices that are available. I also find that many people of my age range focus on the “what if’s”. I used to be a culprit of this, and I think it unfortunately and fortunately took cancer to open my eyes. I really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. No one does. So, focusing on the now (thank you Eckhart Tolle), and doing what I feel is necessary helps me to focus on the big picture.

Whenever I think of the big picture I’m always brought back to the Owyhee River during the filming of Wrong Way to Hope. Mikey Lang, the producer, spoke about looking at the small fraction of our lives that we may be in crisis, and to try to focus on the positive. I know, easier said than done, but it really gave me perspective. Whenever I feel like nothing is going right, and I just want it all to crash down on me, I remember that in the big scheme of things, not only does He only give me what I can handle, but that the experience I’m having is so miniscule. I was in treatment for only three months.

An exercise I did through “The Vice-Busting Diet Journal” had me write down how many days I’d already been alive, when I thought I would live till, and how many days I thought I had left. That got me thinking.

  • So far I’ve been alive 409 months, so being treated for cancer only took  0.7% of my life.
  • I’ve been recovering for 4.5 years, which equals 54 months and only 13% of my life thus far.

Now, if I went as far to say that I think I might live until I’m 83, that gives me 588 months left. If I recalculated all of the above based on the fact that I would live a total of 997 months, that 54 months of suffering is nothing. It’s absolute peanuts. It’s 5.4% of my life.

Interesting perspective isn’t it? I talked to some people at work about this, and detailed about how many days I thought I had left – they thought it to be quite morbid. I, on the other hand, am a realist. Amy Spencer says it well in her book  “Meeting Your Half-Orange – An utterly upbeat guide to using dating optimism to find your perfect match.”

The dating world, like life, is made up of optimists and pessimists. Where do you fit in? Are you a glass half-full, who can see the positive side of being stuck with a boring date … fixing a flat tire in the rain? Or are you a glass half-empty, who can meet a handsome, well-adjusted guy who thinks you’re cute … and decide there must be something wrong with him? Maybe, after years of being disappointed in dating, you’ve become a little bit of both – what you’d consider a “realist.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing to have a realistic perspective of my future. In fact, I think it allows me to get out there and experience life instead of sitting around at home feeling sorry for myself (not that I do this all the time…though ruminating can be very eye-opening and should be done at times for reflection).

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. William Arthur Ward

That’s exactly it. I can adjust. I look at how much life I have left and want to live it to the fullest, but sometimes a big black cloud follows us around. For me it was the diagnosis of cancer.

My most recent article on Multimed’s Current Oncology Cancer Knowledge Network, discusses fear and uncertainty, and really about the choices we have. It speaks about my account of hearing the cancer diagnosis, and how those words rocked my world upside down. I didn’t feel like I had a choice. Doctor’s wanted me to begin therapy as soon as possible due to the cancer being so aggressive.

But it’s only in retrospect that I realize I did have a choice. I had a choice on how to react to that news, and I didn’t react well. I became very depressed, as I can imagine many do with this kind of news, and though I smile in these photos, the fear is underlying. Moving away from this has taken years of practice and a community with hearts big enough to handle it all.

As my focus for this year has been love and learning to love realistically, I have to share several books with you that have recently come to my attention and aide. Thanks to a dear friend Jared who introduced me to The Five Love Languages – Singles Edition by Gary Chapman, I have begun to learn about choices to love

The choice to love is the choice to take initiative. It is the choice to do or say something for the other person’s benefit, something that would help make them a better person, something that would enrich their lives or make life more meaningful for them.

If you’re interested in learning more, take this quick test:

Of the five love languages, I think my primary one is words of affirmation. I need to hear that I’m doing great, that I’m loved and cared for. I find it interesting that for some people it’s so difficult. Dr. Chapman states that we need to learn to speak all five languages in order to help make others feel loved.

I actually talked to my dad about this the other day. We’ve had a tense relationship over the years, but we always have really good, deep talks. Unfortunately sometimes they’re focused on him, but, well, if I can share some of my wisdom to help him get through, then I guess I’m doing something worthy. When someone says that they don’t feel loved, then we need to learn how to make them feel that they are. But, when we do all that we can, and learn what it is to make that person feel loved, and they still don’t, what do we do?

Would you change?

I feel that living life openly and genuinely is paramount to living life to the fullest, and that we’ll attract the person who will know how to love us the way we need to be loved. But in many ways, this is not how I’m living my life. Waiting and hoping goes against my values of no regrets and lots of passion. My good friend Marlene writes this perfectly in her blog Changing Times – An Open Letter.

Be vulnerable, don’t settle. Hmm, am I really listening to my own words, or is it all about learning to love realistically? Another book I came across by Lori Gottlieb ponders these questions “Marry Him – The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” I’ve been thankful to have these books to reference and learn, as I don’t feel that I’ve had great examples of healthy relationships around me. Though I’m still torn.

A person doesn’t take care of the past in one fell swoop. Making peace with oneself comes in stages, and very often when we least expect it. But we need to do it – even if it means going back and looking the devil in the eye. We need to know we are no longer under the influence of past experiences, especially negative ones.

Time slowly but surely removes the sharp, annoying stones that have been in our shoes for years. We know we still have miles to go when something still fills us with anger. But when we can look with curiosity and disinterest upon a bad experience from the past, we know we have turned a corner. This is a spiritual turning point. Celebrate it and give thanks to the Spirit who makes it possible.

Joyce Sequichie Hifler is a new favourite author of mine. She writes daily meditations in “A Cherokee Feast of Days – Volume III” for July 24. I saw this a few days ago and they are wise words. I know in many ways that I’ve come very far, but in others, it’s just another layer of the onion being peeled off. Just when you think an issue is dealt with, life throws it at you another way and it’s there to deal with all over again.

Learning all over again can be tiresome, but it’s helpful. And then there’s sometimes we can use the teachings of others. Blogs are great for this. I came across a new one today that lists all the cancer related blogs out there. I asked to be put on his list, and he posted one of my entries! Checkout Being Cancer – thanks Dennis.

Oh, one more thing. I am on the eve of my third year as a peer supporter for Young Adult Cancer Canada’s Retreat Yourself West. As always, I’m anxiously anticipating meeting 24 young adult cancer survivors. It’s always exciting to spend time with people who’ve been through or are going through cancer. I likened the experience to how the Grinch’s heart “grew two-sizes that day.” I’m nowhere near being a Grinch, but I loved the concept of thinking that my heart can’t grow anymore, and then I come away from a weekend like this and I’m forever changed.

Finishing up with the Retreat this coming Monday means that YACC will be in full planning mode for the Survivor Conference being held in Ottawa this year from November 3 – 7. Applications are open, so please feel free to send them in. Last year was the only year I’ve missed and I hope to attend this one as well.

Can’t wait to share my experiences from Retreat in my next post. Love to you all!

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