Today's post is one that I felt inspired to consider including, and without hesitation I asked these special people to share their story. I have had the privilege of knowing some wonderful people in my life that have shared their optimism with me, someone who tends to be more of a "realist" which oftentimes can quickly turn to pessimism if left unchecked. These 4 people have made a huge impact in how and what I want to share with you! I hope you will gain the courage and determination to be optimistic through their vulnerable sharing.
Throughout my life optimism has carried me through some of the most difficult times. When I was the only one at home, after my five siblings have moved away, I viewed it as an opportunity to get to know my parents better. When my Dad was in the hospital over Christmas, and we did not have a Christmas tree, I took my two nieces to a Christmas tree farm to cut down a tree. Joy still needed to be in my life and my family's life. Optimism kept me moving forward. When my health began to decline and no doctor could explain why optimism was there to get me up each day and be excited about the struggle. While my first health complications I struggled to know who to marry, but my optimism looked past rejection and noticed the opportunity to meet my beautiful wife, _______. When my bleakest moment of addiction surfaced, and I surrendered my pride, optimism led me to hope for recovery. Hope led to action, and action lead to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ led to healing. This all began with optimism. When my second, more severe, health complications came, optimism was still there lifting my mind and attitude. A bone marrow biopsy went from uncomfortable and painful to a joke about deep tissue massage. Optimism has kept me upright when every doctor told me I should be too ill to work, play, run, and stand. Optimism is my friend. Optimism always leads me to the Gracie of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ always leads me to optimism.
From the time I was a little girl and could understand the emotions I was feeling, I knew I had been blessed with a gift of being positive. I am still human and experienced all of the emotions that come with this mortal life of being angry, disappointed, sad, lonely, frustrated, bitter, let down and so many more. However, I knew that I had a choice to either stay in these negative emotions and become consumed by them or to recognize them for what they are, allow myself to feel them, learn from them, and then move on.
My optimistic attitude was challenged to the max when I discovered the betrayal of my husband. I was infuriated, felt violated and abandoned, disrespected, and hurt. Some of these feelings I had never felt before in my life, and I didn’t like them one bit. I had learned from Brene Brown that if I numbed these emotions, I was also numbing my joy, happiness, and confidence. We cannot selectively numb emotions (dang you, Brene!) So, with Brene in my ear, I allowed myself to experience all of the emotions. Not gonna lie…this was painful! This was the moment of truth. I knew that I had a choice to either stay in these negative emotions and take up residence in the land of negative or to recognize them for what they are, allow myself to feel them, learn from them, and then move on…regardless of whether we stayed married or not. Spoiler alert: we are still married! I can honestly say that my optimistic attitude had a huge role in the repair of the damage that was done and allowed us start the healing process, glimpse a bright future, and not dwell in the past. My optimism still gets me through the rough days, but experiencing the opposite reminds me what a gift being positive is. A gift I try to share with others daily.
*When talking about the choice to be positive, it is important to note a couple of things. First, being positive is NOT about wearing rose-colored glasses or numbing out the negative feelings. It is about being strong enough to face all emotions. It is about being self-aware and accountable for your own emotional state. Second, I am NOT referring to clinical depression and/or anxiety for which one would seek professional medical care.*
As a young girl, I remember my dad saying "just let it roll off your back like a duck". If you've ever been to a park on a rainy day and if you've ever seen the ducks in and around the pond. You can see how the rain falls upon them and those water droplets just roll right off their feathers as if they never affected the duck at all. Later in life, I had a friend who's constant response to most everything that was said or done was, "it could be worse". I think about these two phrases and have seen how they truly have become a part of me. I can't say that I have gracefully gone through life letting the water droplets, of real life, roll off me like a duck or that I haven't felt like my share of trials, aren't the worst, but these phrases and my life's experiences, have shaped me into who I have become.
Recently as I read in the Book of Mormon, I came across the scripture in Alma 9:26
"And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers."
This is amazing to me that with all of Christ's glory being the Son of God, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ take the time to hear our prayers and answer them. The scripture, Moses 1:39 "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man", comes to mind as our prayers are answered, not only do They have time to hear and answer our prayers but this is part of Their work, and I imagine a full-time job at that, out of Their love for us They would hear and answer our prayers.
My prayer was simple and probably insincere, stating "something's gotta give" when thinking of our financial situation here in our home. My husband was working and I stay at home with our children. Our tax return was quickly spent on a fun family vacation, paying off our car and getting out of the little bit of debt that we had gotten ourselves into over the last couple of months. Money was tight because I had forgotten about the doctor bills when the tax return quickly appeared and then was gone. Because we have chosen to be a one income family, we have always lived paycheck to paycheck and we do without some of the finer things in life. The benefits of raising our children and being there for them in their youth, totally out way any second income that could possibly be there to compensate for "a better life of luxury". I love it that my husband chooses to be the breadwinner in our family and that he believes in me and helps me be the Mother and nurturer of our family that I ought to be. We are a team-our roles are different but our purpose is the same. Sometimes I feel guilty that the money is tight and that I'm not pulling my weight by having a job that would bring in an income to contribute to our financial situation, but then ______ gently reminds me that no one could afford to pay what I am worth. He has always believed in me and makes me feel like I am the most important person in the world and has always helped me be my best self. Being his wife and being a mother is definitely my greatest joy. Living the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and being a daughter of God is also my greatest joy.
I knew that I could help contribute to our finances by making extra loaves of bread-on bread making day and with the encouragement of my friend _____, I could sell the loaves to help our family. This also helps change our focus from spending money to bringing in money. I knew that _____ is a handyman and can fix most everything including garage doors. So I made bread and posted on Facebook that if anyone's garage door needed some TLC to call _____, and through his reasonable rates, he could help them with their garage door needs. The timing of this post was very significant. It was on a Monday, and on Tuesday, "something did give", _____ was unexpectedly layed off of his job. With an hour commute home, he had time to contemplate what had just happened. With the help of my caring brother who was in need of some work done around his house, and who has been in our situation before, _____ went to work helping those who needed his assistance. His phone started ringing with garage door side jobs-they were lining up. People who know ______ expertise contacted him. He got the courage to start his own business called Cedar Valley Garage Door, and every hour since, he has been able to "work" or be with our family, bringing in more income then he would have if he had not been layed off.
"Something did give", our prayer had been answered and that bill that was due on the 28th was paid in full before the due date! _____ had come home from his last day with a check in hand that paid him what they owed him plus all the vacation (paid time off) that he had occurred. We had the money to pay our mortgage payment-come the first of the month and now our debt was paid as well. With courage and excitement it is time to look to the future, phone calls will be answered and service calls taken care of and with our faith in knowing that Heavenly Father, through our Savior Jesus Christ, have always taken care of us in the past. We do not doubt that our needs will be met and that we will be taken care of. _____ will soon start a new job in his career with benefits and as his new garage door business grows it will be our next greatest adventure.
Just like those ducks who don't let the water droplets affect them, have courage and excitement for life to see how trials help you grow.
Optimism is defined as hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. For me optimism equals faith and I’ve learned, is choice that we can make.
In February as I waited for biopsy results I was hopeful it would still “look benign”. Unfortunately when the call came that wasn’t the diagnosis. I had cancer. Cancer is a scary word. My initial thoughts turned to the worst possible scenario, followed with “Why me?” That was quickly followed by thoughts of family and friends and their current challenges. Life is not without challenges, we all have them. I realized this was not going to be easy but would be made easier on me and my family if I looked for the blessings that came amid the challenge.
With stages and treatments and prognoses, cancer is as unique as the person receiving the diagnosis. I was blessed that I discovered the lump early. We caught it before it spread. I couldn’t have been more relieved but I still had a battle to fight. Fighting meant surgery, chemo, radiation and years of medications.
I take it one day at a time. Some days are better than others but when I choose to smile, laugh and look for the good I can find things seem easier. Growing up a dancer, one of my favorite quotes has always been, “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain.” For now I’ll just keep dancing.