Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Little Things

Many persons with cancer have written that their diagnosis caused them to focus on life as it happens; to "live in the now", to find great joy and wonderment in things that they normally wouldn't have even noticed before. I can attest that this is true.

I have always believed that life is all about "the little things", which in our busy, fast-paced, stressful schedules, frequently go unnoticed. If you become aware of life on this level, you will find that every day brings many sights, sounds, and experiences which make you aware of how wonderful it is to be you, and to be alive. You don't have to be a person with cancer or a life-threatening condition to see being alive in this way. Living in the present, and being open to these "little things" puts your life in perspective. If you're always in a hurry, overwhelmed by your schedule, your job, and whatever other responsibilities you have, try to view life at a much smaller level of detail for a change. This will truly change your life, if you let it happen.

For example: I love to go outside very early in the morning, when all that I can hear are the birds in my yard greeting the new day. To me, this is an almost magical time; everything is awakening, the light is beautiful, and the mood is truly peaceful. Several times throughout the day, I'm privileged to hear the mockingbird as he serenades the neighborhood, and my favorite is when he sings as the day is ending. His song is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever heard, and I'm always saddened when he leaves for the winter.

I also love to see my plants coming up again, such as the hostas that my Father and I planted years ago around the base of the dogwood tree. After the harshness of Winter, I admire their ability to endure, persevere, and present us with such great beauty. It is truly cheering and comforting when my plants emerge again. Their return signifies that life does go on, even if my Father has been gone for almost eight years now...

Nothing makes me as happy as being near my husband. Just to quietly be in the same room with him brings me so much happiness. I love to hear him laugh, see his beautiful smile, wake him up each morning, greet him when he comes home. He makes me laugh every day, is my "rock" when everything else seems overwhelming, and he is the reason that I wanted to go on living. I truly hate to be away from him, because we enjoy being with each other so much. We have been fortunate enough to have some "milestone" experiences that people dream of, but I would trade them all for having him look into my eyes with the love that I see there each day.

There are so many overlooked opportunities for wonderful moments with other people on a daily basis: I get hugs everywhere I go, and believe me, they are great "medicine"! Take the time to say a kind word, give someone your smile, help others, and you will be contributing to their experience of "living in the now" as well. Life really is all about "the little things". Don't lose sight of this on your journey.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Another Disease That Changed My Life

I saw this morning that HBO is going to be broadcasting a series of documentaries called "The Alzheimer's Project":

My childhood was profoundly affected by this terrible disease, and more recently, my wonderful Mother-in-law succumbed to Alzheimer's after suffering from it for several years.

Anyone who has watched a loved one be stolen from them by this insidious, progressive, cruel disease knows how vitally important it is to prevent as many people as possible from ever being touched by it.

I'm planning to watch "The Alzheimer's Project", and I recommend that everyone do the same. As we "baby boomers" age, something must be done to ensure that as many of us as possible, and those of future generations, escape this fate.

I wrote a tribute today on The Alzheimer's Project site in memory of my beloved Grandfather, who died from Alzheimer's when I was ten years old. I have added it as part of this website.

"Poppa" was my Father until I was 10, and gave me so much love and adoration. To this day I realize how lucky I am to have had the love of such a wonderful, kind, and caring man like him. It made all the difference to a little girl who would have been damaged without a male role model's love and encouragement. Alzheimer's began taking him from me, little by little, when I was 5 years old. When he died, I was absolutely devastated.
Today, I may have cancer, but I am still fully and wholly myself. Alzheimer's steals your mind and your personality from yourself and from those who love you, which I believe is even more fundamentally tragic. We must eradicate it from our future, in the same way that we have been working to eliminate cancer.