Sunshine & Thunderstorms
I read an article recently that reiterated something that has been on my mind a lot lately. If life was only easy, good, happy... would we really be able to enjoy it? Like, really acknowledge all of the good and be grateful for it? Would we be able to soak it all in as the pure bliss it is? Would we ride the wave of happiness and not really think of what the alternative could be? I'm sure for some, life has been pretty easy and uneventful. Some may think this is ideal. That's great, but I guess what the article was stressing and what I truly believe is that the moments where you are tested, where it is hard, where everything seems like it's falling apart...these moments are actually necessary for personal growth and in a sense, magic. I'm sure some of you are completely rolling your eyes at me right now. I mean, who wants it hard? Not most of us, but what I've learned is these hard moments do a few things.
1) Our darkest moments truly help us find our greatest strengths. I remember sitting in the MRI waiting room days after my cancer diagnosis and I was scared. to. death. The idea of being in that "tomb" for however long with the outcome of the test unclear seemed like pure torture. To make it worse, every doctor, nurse or tech who I encountered would ask if I was claustrophobic and if I would need some medicine to "help" me get through the test. I mean, maybe? The mere fact that they were asking me meant that it must be pretty damn scary, but the idea of medicating myself through this process was also a bit risky in my eyes because how would I tolerate the medicine? Ugh, decisions. I decided to forego any assistance and warrior through it. It was tough. A breast MRI means at least 30 minutes in the "tomb" face down with your arms over your head without so much as a fidget because you are instructed to hold as still as possible. So much noise and just complete discomfort. Hell. This is without a doubt, the test I completely despise the most. In those moments waiting for my first one (yes, I've had it done more than once....bleh), I was busying my mind by reading a magazine. I honestly don't even know which one it was, but there was a quote that I read and it stuck with me. I kind of believe I was supposed to see it at that moment. (I"m a sucker for a sign after all.). It was by Kesha and it read "In our darkest moments we find our greatest strength". I repeated that mantra out loud even, about 50 times as I lay in that tomb. I also coached myself through the moments where I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I pretended I was running a race and at mile 9..the worst. "Keep going, you're almost there" , "Hard things take a lot of grit and grace". This was my internal dialogue. In those dark moments, I was truly using my strength of endurance, perseverance and resilience to get me through it. These dark moments of my life have taught me a lot about who I am as a person. Grateful.
2)The thunderstorms of our lives make the sunshine that much brighter. I notice the small stuff now. How the sun rises on my morning runs and shines through the clouds with the most beautiful rays. I notice what I believe to be signs here and there that are planted to propel me forward. I listen more intently to the lyrics in a song and the reactions of my children's faces when they don't think anyone is paying attention. I value connecting with people in a way that makes me enjoy and appreciate the dullest of days. Engaging and conversing with people on a level that lets me expose my vulnerabilities and learn from their strengths fuels my spirit. I appreciate feeling at peace because I know what it feels like to be in the center of extreme chaos. I realize this all sounds a bit goofy, but I also know it's my honest truth. The good times are so much bolder and don't go unnoticed by me anymore. Today I walked my son to his first day of 3rd grade. He walked with such determination and confidence, not really needing me along for the ride. Last year when I dropped him off for 2nd grade, he cried. I was stunned because he never had problems separating from me and always loved school! Between sobs he had said "I don't want you to go, Mama. Stay with me". My heart broke into a million pieces. I tore myself away from him because I knew I needed to leave him in that moment even though it was torture. The reality of it, was that he had become quite attached and protective of me throughout my cancer treatment, but especially after I ended up in the ICU unexpectedly for a week. I thought I had protected my children from that whole experience and I did to a great degree, but he's smart. He knew something was wrong with Mommy. Once I returned home from the hospital he would ask me daily if the cancer was all gone. I didn't know the answer to that question for some time, but after that first scan and every scan since, I joyfully report to my son that the cancer is still gone. Not what I thought I would be reporting to my now 8 year old, but this is our reality. Today, separating from him at school was no big deal! He actually ran off to play basketball with the "big kids" before the first bell rang. I had forgotten all about last year until this moment. My eyes welled with tears and I had to choke back completely losing it right then and there. The tears were because I realized in that moment, that we are all healing. It's not just me who is picking up the pieces, but my little loves are too....Grateful.
3)The dark times change us. I believe for the better. When forced to deal with the thunderstorms we evolve. We become wiser, more compassionate and gratitude just comes with so much more authenticity and ease. It's the ebbs and flow of life that make it...well...life! It means you are living and what a gift that is! Each storm will yield a gift. You will be left with the knowledge and new skill set to work your way through the next storm. That is pretty profound. No one ever said learning is easy and there is something to be said for really going through the hard stuff and turning it into the kind of magic that makes you the greatest version of yourself period. I have learned so much from the trenches. I'm proud of the work I've done and I think the person I'm becoming is pretty great. It's definitely not because things worked out. Not in the slightest. Grateful.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I look at every single morning. It brings me peace, perspective and a sense of gratitude for my journey thus far. I hope you enjoy it and as always...keep on killing it. -M
"The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."-Elizabeth Kubler-Ross