The Risks of the Reality Check

Playing it Safe May Not Always be the Best Option

Ten years ago I asked myself this question: What would I most regret not having done if I only had two years left to live? The answer flashed across my mind immediately.

I would most regret not getting to know my two youngest Grandchildren who lived 3500 km away from me.

The context for this question is that I had finished 18 months of treatment for cancer and I had returned to the work I loved. For the record, Wellspring Calgary was my dream job, and where I had planned to remain until my 80’s if they would have me.

Cancer changed that dream. As a consequence, I would need to make modifications – maybe 80 instead of 85. ha ha.  And yet, when I asked that question, what rose to the top were my Grandchildren. I recognized that this life changing moment would require a total transformation of how I lived.

Realistically, it was a bad idea from many perspectives including financial, medical, personal and professional relationships. I wasn’t in a position to move my life across the country. I could only move myself. It was a decision filled with risk and letting go of proximity to family, older grandchildren, other people I loved and things I loved. Some people called it courageous. Some people thought I was crazy. Others said nothing. As for me, I knew in the depths of my being it was the thing I was meant to do. And I did it.

Best decision

How I did it is a story in itself, and filled with generosity from others. However, let me say this. For any losses, lack of security, and the pain of missing loved ones there has not been one moment of regret. On the contrary, if I were to die tomorrow, those who know me would tell you that the wild and unrealistic decision I made ten years ago was the finest of my life.

Since that time I have made other unrealistic decisions (for me) such as cycling the Cabot Trail at 65 and taking on the building and launching of my website and course development (see note) in my 70’s, for people living with illness. I did my first camping and hiking adventure in the Rockies this summer. And now I have a plan for 75, two years from now, to spend one month walking a pilgrim trail in Japan.

I now do more unrealistic things than I used to. I have more hope that things will work out. I say yes whenever possible, including to myself. Realistically, if my life was audited by the world, from the beginning to this present moment,  I should have more worries, fears and insecurity. But I don’t.

Gratitude

Instead, I am filled to overflowing with gratitude. In all the things that count my life is rich. Family, friends, resilience, wholeheartedness and beauty.

For instance, before I walked my Grandson to school this morning the sun was streaming into the living room window and the two of us stretched out on the couch and let the warmth and brightness of that sun fall on our faces.We were there for five minutes and decided that it was a mini vacation.

Walking to school, the trees on Fourth Avenue were blazing with colour and sunshine. Blue sky and leaves in hues of reds, oranges and golds. Warmth. Beauty. A curious and delightful child by my side. Aware of my good fortune and knowing that I get to come home and write this blog, something I love doing.  How lucky is that.

Also, anticipating the arrival later today of my son-in-law’s parents. The co-grandparents from the westcoast, whom also live large in the lives of our shared grandkids. We are all thrilled to welcome them.

Ordinary moments filled with meaning.

Sticking Our Necks Out

The way I see it, is that life is not about burying our heads in denial. No. No.No. We see what we need to do. But still, every now and then let’s stick our necks out, and say “I ‘m going for more.” More time.  More love. More  adventures. Different treatment.

There are those given a life sentence of six months who are still here ten years later. There are those who everyone thought was crazy and that crazy idea saved lives. There are those who against all odds achieved, succeeded, lived, created and made their world and the world of others better.

One size doesn’t fit all. There is no prefect formula for living and dying. Consider living with outstretched arms, against the odds and the naysayers. Pay attention. Listen and look. Stay curious. Lend a hand. Trust yourself and live bold with this “one wild and precious life.”

As we arrive this weekend at my favourite holiday – Canadian Thanksgiving -I can only bow to life and to all the people whom I am lucky enough to have crossed paths with during my lifetime. I feel like the luckiest person on earth, and especially to have my beloved Mother, kids, sister, grandkids, cousins, extended family and my forever friends.

Make time for beauty and doing the things that only you can do.

Notes:

Note 1:) Even though I don’t have my self-directed course complete, I am offering a four week online course, beginning Nov 6th, through the ToDo Institute in Vermont. I am looking forward to finally launching my first fully online program for those impacted by illness. I will post details when they are ready to accept registrations.

Note 2:) I want to acknowledge this thanksgiving weekend all those people whom I don’t know that help make my life easier. Like the people who deliver my packages; pick up the trash; harvest the coffee beans; drivers who stay on their side of the yellow line; aircraft mechanics who keep the planes in good working order; those who made the components of my phone;  the folks who stock the shelves at the grocery store, and the farmers who plant and harvest so much of my food.

Note 3:) And please, dear reader, accept my great thanks and gratitude for reading these blogs and sending words of encouragement. You provide me with many, many meaningful moments. And a special thank you to Dr. Jinroh Itami, thanks to whom I have something to offer and to live by. Always to Wellspring Calgary. With love and appreciation, Trudy

 

 

 

 

One Hole in the Net and You Slipped Through

Last evening I had a close call. It could happen to anyone.

As an example, while making a left hand turn, a driver doesn’t notice you and travels too fast. This happened to me. There is also the possibility that I was a little bit off my timing. Left hand turns can be tricky. Nevertheless, we came close to a crash, less than a half km from home – not more than 6 inches apart by the time we ground to a halt. We looked at each other through our windows and for a moment time stopped. She backed up so I could carry on through the intersection. We all knew how close we had come.

But the “hole in the net” was there and we slipped through. Nothing happened.

How often does nothing happen to you? Everyday there are people getting the dreaded phone calls, the accidents, the firings, the rejections.  But maybe, not you, at this moment.

Remember during 9/11 when we heard all the stories of people who were saved because: their bus was late; an appointment got cancelled; the car broke down or someone got the flu. It is not unusual in our day to day lives, to experience near misses that save our lives or get the early diagnosis that improves our health outcomes or perhaps the chance encounters that change things for the better.

When I attended an International Morita Therapy Conference at UBC, in Vancouver, I was struck by the advice one of the Morita Psychiatrists gave in his presentation. He suggested that we take a few minutes everyday to take stock of “what didn’t happen.” I wasn’t in an accident; I caught the pot before it boiled dry; I remembered my passport while I was still in the driveway. How fortunate are those near misses – the ones when nothing happens.

A Poem

Could Have (an excerpt)

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.

It happened, but not to you.
You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.

Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.
You were in luck — there was a forest.
You were in luck — there were no trees.
You were in luck — a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . .

So you are here? Still dizzy from
another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn’t be more shocked or
speechless.

 Written by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Symborska, trans. Stanislaw
Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1996)

Notes:

Note 1:) October has arrived and I hope to make the most of it. By that, I mean, notice the changing colour of the leaves. It seems simple to say but it is much harder to do. I don’t want to “miss” a single day this autumn. Taking time to notice.

Note 2:) Please don’t hesitate to be in touch, if you have questions or suggestions.

Note 3:) Thank you for coming by every Wednesday. With appreciation, Trudy

Photo by michael podger on Unsplash Thank you.