Tag Archives: cancer

3 Ways to Live Your Life Right

25 Sep

1. Realize You Only Have Today

That sounds really depressing but it’s so important to remember.  And so you don’t think I’m preachy or self-righteous- these are all things I (especially) need to remember.  And it’s things I know.  As many of you know, 13 years ago on this day, my dad died.  For those of you who haven’t had someone that you loved with all your heart and all your mind pass away – it is a grief you never get over.  You don’t ever “get through it.”  It’s a soul, a parent, a child, a friend, a person who made a lasting impression on you.  Daily there are reminders.  Some small – like a James Taylor song playing in the background at a restaurant.  Some big – like when even after 13 years there are things I think “I can’t wait to tell my dad!” and that feeling when you remember that you can’t.  These are things I learned from that experience. I’ve always felt like I am invincible and going to live forever.  But the likelihood of that happening isn’t guaranteed.  Things can change in a millisecond.  All those stupid quotes that tell you about the past is gone and the future unknown and we only have the present are kind of not stupid.  People that live in the past are consumed with fear.  Fear of the present and fear of the future.  Being consumed with fear is no way to live fully.  When your day comes, you will (I promise you) regret the way you lived.  Your time is up and you didn’t live to your potential.   My dad had a pain in his stomach and went to the doctor who told him he had 4 months to live.  4 months!  Can you imagine being told that?  Imagine it right now.  What would you do differently?  Would you spend it harboring old pain that you can do nothing about or about controlling what you can control right this very minute?

“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.” – Wayne Dyer

2. Act Now on the Hard Stuff

Going back to my dad finding out he had 4 months to live – he righted every wrong instantly.  He didn’t think about it, didn’t mess around – he made some BIG decisions very fast.  Like sold his house and moved back to Dallas in a couple of days.  Moved from a house on a golf course on Hilton Head Island with beautiful stuff to an apartment walking distance to me in Dallas.  Might make you think – why’d he ever leave? What decisions might you make if you found out you had 4 months to live?  Here is a checklist of potential decisions you might make.  Make a mental note of what you would do:
  • Call someone you need to talk to no matter who was right or who was wrong
  • Have you been putting something off like moving home or moving away from home
  • Go see something you’ve always wanted to see or do something you’ve always wanted to do

DO IT NOW.  Don’t wait.

3. Accept Yourself

“Self-acceptance means accepting and coming to terms with ourselves now, just as we are, with all our faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, errors, as well as our assets and strengths.  Self-acceptance is easier, however, if we realize that these negatives belong to us – they are not us.  Many people shy away from healthy self-acceptance because they insist upon identifying themselves with their mistakes.  You may have made a mistake, but this does not mean that you are a mistake.” – from Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
Time is running out.  You is all you have!  My dad ended up living 11 months, not 4.  It was some of the best 11 months of my life with my dad.  Truth be told, my dad before cancer was a little bit of a “look what I have” type of person.  Not snotty or showboating but liked nice things.  I like nice things.  Nothing wrong with that.  Sometimes it can get out of control.  It sounds awful when I put it like that but you know what I mean, right?  But when you have very little time left in your life all that shit really goes out the window.  You are yourself, you’re honest and you’re real.   Don’t shake your head at me now and tell me that’s how you always are.  Come on.  Unless you’ve lived with someone who is dying you don’t know what I’m talking about and I’m probably doing a poor job of explaining it.  My most treasured time ever was when my dad in his bald head, cane popping glory would hoof it over to my second story apartment in the morning before work and have coffee with me.  He would make me laugh and cry and we were real with each other.  All that other bullshit falls completely away.  I didn’t care if he came over is the same damn gray sweatsuit he wore the previous day or that we didn’t have dinner plans that night or anything. So what to learn about accepting yourself?  Do what you need to do to be your true uninhibited self.  Don’t let past negativity hold you down.

final wednesday story

24 Aug

wednesday will still continue being a part of the week, but this story ends today. 

if you’ve missed any of the previous postings and want to start from the beginning, you can click on the list over to the right  or click here for the beginning.

as you can tell, the story has a little more to it than what people thought.  the experience has taught me so much.

#1.  don’t live off of gossip, hear-say and half stories.  remember everyone’s story has probably way more to it than you can imagine, another viewpoint and a little more depth.  don’t be one of those petty people that just passes on bad news.  i learned this from the hurt i felt from one comment from one pretty insignificant person.  thank you.  i now know how not to act. that goes for your feelings on cancer, old people and divorce.  just because everyone goes through it doesn’t lessen the blow.  it’s still painful.

#2. be open to peace.  i once asked my mom how she could forgive karen.  how unusual of a reaction that was.  she told me “i prayed for peace and God gave it to me”.  i don’t understand – what does that have to do with anything?  “because of what we went through with dad dying, i just wanted peace and i felt like i could go be bitter and angry and making matters worse or forgive.”

#3.  everyone, everyone has a story.  and we liked karen’s.  we all love karen like she was a part of our family.  in fact, my mom and karen are very, very close.  they both built houses in a retirement community (hello, swank, i might add!) and travel together and attend family functions together.  they don’t advertise their background to everyone and consider it funny because they both have the same last name and people always say “are you SURE you’re not related?”  i would love to hear karen and mom’s story together.

#4. ask for forgiveness.  you might just get it and a new best friend after all.

#5.  remember the little stuff every day.  it will stay with you for the rest of your life.  when someone has such a profound impact on your life – it is hard wrapping your mind around not “doing life” with them any more.  i can still remember holding my grandma’s hands and feeling the softness of the tips of her fingers and the ridges around her knuckles.  i can still remember my dad’s hands big and strong and then weak and painful.  i can feel it like they were both right here with me now.  thank god i got 9 months with my dad.  to laugh, to cry, to allow him to say “i’m sorry” .  i feel more blessed because of the situation than to have gone on life hating karen and my dad and feeling sorry for my family.

i end this story with one more very private admission.  well, when i drove to whole foods with my mom and found out dad had died and we were racing back down lemmon avenue  – the same road i was on when i found out dad was sick –  my vision turned technicolor.  it was so bright i could barely see.  the green grass was florescent, the sun bright yellow.  i wasn’t dreaming this, it happened.  it was a feeling of comfort and peace like i’ve never felt before.  i know dad is in good hands.

i finish this story with this picture. 

if i had to pick one picture of my dad and i this wouldn’t be it.  but it is a close second.  this is my dad real proud of me.  is there anything quite like the feeling of your dad being proud of you?  there are certainly substitutions, especially if your dad is an a-hole.  but for me, this was what it was all about.  here, in my ugly 90’s outfit (must have been about 22) and bangs.

thank you for letting me share my story.  And thank you to mom & karen for letting me.  i love you.

“the story” – part 5

10 Aug

before i continue on our wednesday story, there is something i need to say.  since this is my therapy a little bit and i’m bringing you along for the sorted ride (insert evil laugh) i need to share.  there were so many people in our family’s lives who dropped off at this part.  my parents got divorced, lots of gossip…dad got remarried, got cancer and died and that’s all that they know.  i hope they’re reading.   stick with me here, because this story doesn’t go where you think it will go.

so we left off last wednesday at a pretty deep place.

how would you react to being told that you had a life expectancy of 4 months?  no, really, think about it for a minute.  you’re in a doctors office and he tells you that you “have a tumor the size of a football in your abdomen and that you have about 4 months to live.”

4 months.

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