One thing I’ve learned in life is that anything can happen at any moment. That “thing” happened for me a year ago today, when my mother was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Anyone in a similar predicament can relate to the feeling of the floor being yanked from under you. You want life to reverse, but that’s not how this works. By getting up every day, determined to life live to it’s fullest, I’ve learned so much. Below is my own personal hit list.
1. I pick my people wisely.
When my mom doesn’t want to see someone, she doesn’t see them. Such a thrilling release of obligation, no? Her reason is more pressing, she simply doesn’t have the time to spend with someone who she doesn’t want to hang with. I’m not saying I dropped any and all responsibilities, but we all know those personalities who drag us down. In the past year, I’ve gotten so much better at walking away from people I just can’t help. Instead, I choose to draw closer to the people I love. Such a simple, effective hack for surrounding yourself with good vibes.
2. I realize it’s not about me.
When someone you love is going through physical trauma, it takes you out of the “me, me, me” mindset. And thank GOD for that, truly. Mom’s illness offers a potent reminder every time I open my mouth to complain, snipe, or be otherwise ungrateful. In the time we have left, it’s simply not worth it to self-indulge in unhealthy ways. What kind of behaviors does that include? How much time have you got… A few of the favorites: hypochondriac tendencies, obsessions about weight gain/losses, what should I buy next, what people think about me at work, etc. Take your pick, all of those impulses have little to no benefits, and they all must go.
3. I focus more on what’s happening NOW.
I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with what happens after we die. Now that interest has evolved. Not in the sense that I need answers, because honestly there aren’t any. What I do know is this: I’ll be with God. I don’t need to know what that looks like, but I have a sense THIS life has something to do with it. This gives me a mission, a sense, a purpose. God wastes nothing. His plan is perfect, and that includes my mother’s illness. My job is to follow his lead, faith bridges the gap.
4. I make time to be with God.
It’s the most important relationship in my life, and this year I’ve drawn so much closer to God. In my situation, some people have a “why God?” reaction. My impulse was more of a “I NEED YOU NOW.” I’ve played around with different ways to connect with God, and have settled on a routine. In the morning, while everyone else is in bed, I slip from the house and go for a walk in my neighborhood. I start by stating the following:
“Who are you, Lord? And what am I to do?”
Then I walk. I try and observe, to watch my thoughts and the world around me. Sometimes, I just marvel how beautiful everything is. But mostly, I feel close to him. That beats sleeping in if you ask me. But a little walk in the morning isn’t where it stops. The goal is to seek those moments for the rest of the day. Is that hard? Hell yeah, it is! But I’d so much rather contemplation than sleepwalking through life.
There have been so many times when I could use a situation to lash out. To let my emotions get the better of me, and make a bad situation worse by my own crappy attitude. But I chose not to, and that is the best companion I’ve had in this past year. Because nothing that happens in my life is a surprise to God. I refuse to believe in “good” or “bad” things anymore. It’s all part of this grand adventure that I’m fortunate to take part in.
What have you learned in the past year? Tell me in the comments.