Wednesday, May 3, 2017

     In conversations with visiting friends, random thoughts and comments give me pause this morning. As my friend approaches a milestone birthday, I listen to things she tells herself, and I am humbled.

      My friend said,”I can’t worry about what I am not able to do; I choose to focus on what I can still do. If I can still do all those things by my birthday, I will be grateful.” 

      What do you want to still be able to do on your next birthday? In our youth, we never think about such things. That’s because we are so busy living our hectic lives, juggling work, children, family responsibilities, and Lord knows what else, it never crosses our minds to think about our health or the aging process. When health issues creep into the “to do” list, we know that it is time to reframe our values and goals. 

     My friend has serious back issues, so her gratitude is based on what she is still able to do to enjoy her life (albeit painfully) each day. I admire her strength, her endurance and her ability to compartmentalize and rise above the pain she experiences every single minute. I know several friends who deal with such issues.  I may find myself there one day soon as well.

      My daughter has a 43-year-old friend who is a single mother of two children. She works full time and daily deals with the challenges of managing her family on her own while trying to find some fun in her life. A month ago, she woke up blind and paralyzed. After a diagnosis with a rare disease, she is very slowly recovering but is sill in the hospital. Her issues aren’t aging, but when she recovers, I will bet that there will have to be some reframing. A brush with near-death can change one’s perspective very quickly regardless of age.

     I get so angry with myself when I fret over stupid things like getting my library books back on time or watering the wilting plants in the yard or wondering if the toilet paper will last until Friday. How do we get caught up in worry about inane things when it’s really all about being healthy and seeing the gifts we enjoy every day. Such sayings as “Smell the roses” seem so banal, but they ring true just when we are poo-pooing them. 

     I have several friends who are cancer survivors, who have lost loved ones prematurely, who deal with daily pain and loss. I pray for them, but I also pray for myself. My prayers used to be selfish like asking to do well on an exam or not be nervous when giving a speech. I now pray first for others and second for strength to endure whatever is coming. I pray for the ability to remain humble and grateful, and I ask for guidance in keeping perspective as I maneuver the bumpy roads of life. 

      To whom will you listen today? It could be a random stranger who makes a comment about something that really resonates. Are you listening?