This is an excerpt taken from my upcoming nonfiction book. Enjoy!
A year ago to this day, New Year's Eve 2015, I sat down and uncontrollably sobbed. Not for any immediate loss or worry, but for what was to come. What would that be? I did not know.
As I sat alone with my thoughts my intuition was telling me that 2016 was going to be a very sad year. As the tears streamed down my face the feelings grew stronger. The only thought I had was that I didn’t want 2016 to happen. With my brother having terminal lung cancer, I figured it was going to be a sad year because maybe we would be saying goodbye to him. I remember rationalizing in my head that maybe that was why I was so emotional.
Fast forward to today, one year later, and I have tears once again. Not because I don’t want 2017 to happen because damn, it can’t come fast enough. It is from what has transpired over this year. Little did I know just how sad this year would be. My brother is still here and I am thankful for that. But I had no idea that my mom would be gone and that my daughter would be diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.
With much soul searching this year I know all of this has happened for a reason. There are many, many lessons to be learned here. We are to do good things with these lessons. And as I have always said, you need to look for the silver lining in everything. If something is not going your way in life you need to remember that there is a reason for what is happening.
This year isn’t entirely lost. There were many good things that happened. My oldest daughter, Katie, graduated with honors in April from U of M Ann Arbor. We are so very proud of her and all that she has accomplished! My daughter, Emily, finished out her semester on the Dean’s list for 7 consecutive semesters in a roll at MSU. That would be since day one as a Freshman! She would have had a 4.0 this semester but missed it by one point. Considering all she’s been through, I can proudly say she is truly amazing! My husband and I traveled and attended a handful of concerts and hung out with our wonderful friends.
To bring this year to a close it could not have ended better than to see my daughter’s pet scan clear and to hear the doctor say that she is doing better than expected and that her results were more than he had anticipated. She is in remission!!!!
We are ending this year with a beautiful gift from God. Thanks be to God.
I want to thank my daughter for currently bringing to my attention that I am sensitive. It’s not a bad thing. It has actually helped me to understand myself better. So thank you Emily for bringing this up to me in a fun way.
Pretty much all my life I’ve been told I am too sensitive or too emotional. I have often wondered why I have been labeled this way. I mean all I do is wake up and go about my day. I have never thought to myself that a certain action meant that I am sensitive. I am comfortable in my skin yet this negative feeling I get when labeled "sensitive" somewhat bothered me.
So I set out to research what qualities sensitive people have and I found out the following: Sensitive people are both introverts and extroverts. They are more considerate and polite. They feel more deeply and process things on a deeper level. Sensitive people are very intuitive and go deep within to figure things out. They don’t like scary movies because they can feel the depth of what’s on the screen even though it’s not real. They have tremendous empathy. They tend to want to work out alone or at the gym when it’s not crowded. They need mental breaks and feel completely comfortable being alone. They are perfectionists. They have a hard time making decisions. Add that to the stimuli with the sights and sounds that they take in of their surroundings, good and bad, sensitive people get overwhelmed very quickly. After reviewing these qualities I realized I have many of them.
I have found over the last couple months just how sensitive I am. Maybe it’s because I’ve been able to step aside from some of my responsibilities to take care of my daughter, which has helped me to slow down and take notice. I have found that I’m very observant and that I embrace situations and scenes and pull them in where I can feel them. When I meet people I can sense their happiness or sadness, even when no words are spoken. Lately I have found myself smiling at complete strangers while I observe their actions or a good deed they may be doing. They don’t see me smile, it’s just an automatic response for me.
Spending time in a hospital, especially on a floor where you see so many people fighting for their lives, has given me more reason to embrace my sensitivity. The people here are just like you and I with the exception that their lives have been put on hold. Interestingly I find it so difficult to open up to the family members here. That has bothered me because my desire to talk to them is shadowed by my overthinking on what to say and I consider the fact that maybe they don’t want to talk. Overthinking and worrying about saying the right thing is one of the not so good qualities of being sensitive. But I really don’t have to speak any words, I can send a caregiver a passing smile because I understand their journey. And sometimes that could be all they need.
Being sensitive is not a bad thing. Being sensitive is where I feel comfortable. I am glad to finally understand why I do the things I do. Embrace who you are. We are all individuals with our very own qualities and traits. If there is something you don’t like, you can change it. But understand it first before deciding.
I always knew what day it was when I woke up in the morning. The minute I opened my eyes I would run through my head what I had planned for the day. Then I would go make something warm to sip on while I read a chapter or two or pounded out a couple pages for my book.
It’s been a long couple months of sleepless nights, groggy mornings and days that melded into one another. I have to confess though when I wake up now, I have to think about what day it is. Usually I do that by recalling what I did the day before and only then will I figure out what day it is. At least I can still remember things.
When thinking about taking things for granted, we may look at our friendships, our health, and maybe even the roof over our head. I know there are more than that, and that each person is different so I kept the list to just a few. I never knew the intensity of taking things for granted until my daughter’s life was turned upside down. I wanted to be there for her, to help her the best I could. This meant being by her side for the most part, and forgetting about my responsibilities. I would like to slip in here something I am grateful for and that is my husband for understanding that I needed to step aside and he let me do just that.
Things I would not have thought of when taking things for granted:
Planning anything. I’m talking about planning the next hour, or day.
That I would always care what I looked like heading out the door.
My desire to want to cook.
My speech and loss for words.
Losing things we take for granted doesn’t have to be the end. Wanting something bad enough gives you the motivation you need to get there. For me the first thing that I wanted back was how I looked when I walked out the front door. I took taking care of myself for granted. I never thought in a million years I would lose that mindset but I did. I would like to add, I didn’t realize I wasn’t taking care of myself. It was the constant reminders from my sister and my friends that it finally kicked in.
I am starting to plan my days and even weeks out. It feels good. In February this year I had started to plan out the entire year. Buying up tickets and making plans to go places in and around town. I am grateful for being able to do so many things and to enjoy it all. I wonder once the new year comes if I will make it another year of YES. I’m pretty confident that YES I will.
As sucky as this year has been, I have learned a lot and I embrace the many great memories I have had with family and friends.
Looking forward to kissing this year goodbye and welcoming 2017 with open arms.
When life unexpectedly throws you a curve ball, you begin to experience it in a whole new light. You slow down and become more aware of your surroundings and the people in it. You see the good and the bad and you try to make sense of it all. Over the last several years I have had a few 180’s in my life and each time I’ve learned a little more about myself and about everything that surrounds me.
I remember the first time I experienced this, some 8 years ago when my dad passed away. As I entered the grocery store around the corner I started to notice the people I passed. I saw an older gentleman by himself. It made me think of my dad. But then something changed in my mind and I started to wonder if he too had just lost a loved one or maybe his wife. He looked so lonely. I noticed an older women by herself struggling to get items off the shelf. Where are her children, or another adult that could be there to help her? Did she just lose her husband of 50 years? Possibly she didn’t have any children. How long ago did they lose their parents? With tears streaming down my face, I picked up what I needed and quickly left. Seeing these elderly people alone made me wonder how I could live that long without my dad. That day I realized that not only do I have a story but everyone that I pass on a daily basis does also. That day changed my life. I look at things and people in a much different light now. And for the most part it’s been a good change.
As I mentioned, slowing down allows you to see the good and bad. I want to share with you my most recent list of things that I am sensitive to or that I have become more aware of. This is my most current short list.
How blue the sky is on a sunny day.
How many prescription drug commercials there are on tv.
How slow the snow falls.
People complaining about small insignificant things.
Women complaining about how they hate their hair.
While driving this fall, I noticed how the fall leaves would tumble and swirl across the road in front of my car.
A mom or dad with their two young daughters out shopping. This is something I notice a lot.
Taking pause in your life does not have to happen when your world comes crashing down. You can make changes in your every day life to slow down, open your eyes, breathe and be in the moment. Try it. It really is such an amazing feeling.
Have an awesome weekend!
“...Freely you have received, freely give.”
(Matthew 10:8 NKJV)
I have been so blessed with so many kind and gentle people in my life that I can say that my cup is definitely overflowing.
At an early age, before my teens, I realized how great a feeling it was to give freely of myself. I would do things for people because I loved to see them smile and in return it fulfilled me. I continued this practice throughout my life and became creative in my gifts along the way. I would also have to add that I believe I got this trait from my parents as they were both giving in their own way.
And that's just it. There is no right or wrong way to give. It can be something as small as smiling at a stranger. Letting someone go ahead of you at the checkout line. Holding the door open for someone. You must do things with a kind heart and not expect anything in return. If you need to be rewarded, then you have it all wrong.
Having your life turned upside down, unfortunately and fortunately, shows you who in your life gives freely. And by that I mean, gives freely of their time. And that my friends is one of the gifts that you should definitely be giving freely. It doesn't have to be in person. It can be a quick text to say you are thinking of them. A card in the mail with encouraging words. A funny video, that you know will brighten their day. And if they don't return your call or text, don't stop checking in with them. Know that they are receiving what you are sending and it is making a difference in their life.
How much effort or time does it take to be kind? Not much at all. I truly believe that in being kind, your life will be blessed in so many ways and the kindness comes back to you 10 fold. This has been proven to me over and over again.
So I ask you, how can you spread kindness today? Have you done something special in the past to make someone's life a little better? I would love to hear in the comments below of your stories of kindess.