We were out for dinner tonight, and eventually a beautiful young woman in her 20's walked in and sat down at the table across from us with some friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a semi-colon tattoo down her side, and all I could do was just smile, happy that she didn't do it, happy that she was able to overcome her demons and that she was still here, and what a waste it would have been.
Do I even really need to post this one? It's a lesson that's been drilled home not just once, but a few times with me. I always had my entire life in front of me and plenty of time to do everything I wanted, until I was diagnosed with cancer. Ever since then, there's never been a such things as next year, or 5 or 10 years from now, or "when I retire". I don't have a life plan like that anymore. It's a foreign concept to me now, and it's not just because I had cancer as a young adult.
Although I write mainly about my life experiences as a young adult cancer survivor on my website, having cancer as a young adult is not the only major life challenge that I and my family have faced. There have been other challenges in our lives that have been just as painful as my cancer fight and years long recovery, if not even moreso. Cancer is just what I'm comfortable being open about. There's so much more.
I’ve been saying for a while now that our attitudes and beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe in yourself with all of your heart and soul, and try to be the best person that you can be every day to overcome your challenges, that eventually you’ll find the paths forward that you need. An open mind and an open heart will find what a closed one will not.
This, right here, is beautiful. This is Rachel Farnsworth of The Stay at Home Chef, responding to some mean-spirited comments about her gray hair and "looking old". Give it a watch.
I had to borrow one of my favorite Emerson quotes and adapt it to move on from last year. "Finish 2016 and be done with it. you have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. 2017 is a New Year. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense from 2016."
I don't expect other people to be able to understand my life, my values, nor what I believe in. They've not had these experiences for themselves, and even I struggle to wrap my head around all that life has put my family and I through. It's okay. I no longer worry about being the only one, or that other people don't understand. What's important is love and not judgement, and dialog and not assumption.
Disconnect and let yourself to recharge, but let this also be a time of reckoning. Remember that we all want so many of the same things, but merely disagree on how to get there. We all have a story that brings us to where we are in life. If people can't respect that story, your story, then perhaps they're not worthy of your time and energy.
It's October 27th, 2016. I'm 39 years old today, and I've never seen anything that's described what my life has been like as a cancer survivor over the past few years in such few words, and with such a simple illustration as this. When I was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 33, I thought my life was over, and that I wasn't going to survive. But I survived.
A follower made a post, and asked an intriguing question. She asked, if you could go back and change just one thing in your life, would you? If you did, would that change make your life better? Or, was the one thing that was tearing you apart so intensely, the catalyst for the most intense breakthrough, change, and growth in your life that you could ever have imagined?"
It’s a wonderful feeling when you know that you’ve made a difference for others, and little do these friends of mine know just how much they’ve been helping me, as well. My family has once again been challenged in our lives this past summer, and as we’ve struggled to make sense of things all over again, all I’ve ever needed to do for inspiration and guidance is to look at these friends of mine, almost like a mirror image of my own family, as a reminder of what we’ve needed to KEEP doing.
You can put your heart and soul into something for years, towards healing, evolving, learning, growing, forgiving and forgetting, or doing whatever you feel that you need to do to overcome the challenges that life throws at us. It can hurt to have invested so much time and effort towards something, only to have not achieved the end result that you wanted, but this doesn't mean that you've failed.
Writing has always been a huge outlet for me from the earliest and darkest days, and if you can understand something well enough to write about it, you can find ways to overcome it and heal from it as well. It's just in our human nature to hold our pain within, and in essence we create our own mental prisons.
We're creatures of habit. We stick with what we know, even when it might be hurting us, and even when we're broken inside. It's easy to just do nothing and keep suffering, but is that what's right? It's hard to change your ways, to change your lifestyle, to change your friends, your social circles, your routines, your beliefs, your views, and your attitudes, but sometimes that's what we have to do in order to get ourselves out of the holes that we're in, and to ultimately thrive again.