Thursday night I received a call from my youngest.
‘Mom, I don’t know if you can do this.’
‘Just ask me.’
‘Well, we did it before.’
‘What do you need?’
‘Mom, can you pick me up after work tomorrow? I can drive home. And you can sleep all day tomorrow.’
So I said, ‘Yes.’ I mean what mom, in their right mind, would refuse a child, of any age but particularly 20, a request to come home, this time for Spring Break. It also helps that I have a few days off next week 😉 As I drove, straight from work Friday, to get my son I started thinking about what drives my strength and not just the muscle kind.
Based on events in 2012, I should be dead or diagnosed mentally unstable. Back then I went through the so called top life stressors…marital separation, divorce, personal illness, change in financial state, selling of home, looking for a new place to live, child leaving home, trouble with boss and work situation, as well as surgery. I call myself not only a survivor of cancer but also a survivor of life. Now that is not to say I did not have moments of crying, screaming, personal doubt, mild depression, and worry about the future. However, looking back I realize the following helped get me through then and continues to get me through today. Here is what drives my strength…
#1-Faith. As a child I was raised Catholic. However, in the last few years, I have probably attended mass no more than 5 times. For a long while I have rejected many of the ‘rules’ the Catholic church has instituted, especially those concerning birth control, priests not being married, sexual preference, women not being allowed to serve as deacons or priests and marriage. I don’t understand how divorce is frowned upon yet annulment is allowed. It seems very contradictory to me. So, I am patiently waiting for a change which I believe is slowly occurring thanks to Pope Francis. However, despite my questionings, throughout life’s throwbacks, my faith has always been front and center. I believe I am never alone, as God and Jesus are beside me always, a thought that is often so overwhelming it sometimes brings me to tears. I have learned not to pray for what I want, instead praying for guidance, God’s will and acceptance. My favorite mantra? If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment. Whatever Your will, whatever Your will, can You help me find it? (From a song by Sidewalk Prophets called ‘Help Me Find It.’) I believe that is a huge reason I love peace and quiet, for I am much more in tune not only with my true self but also with my spiritual self. I am also much closer to the presence of God and hear Him better when the noise of life has ceased. Another favorite mantra is Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And, because I have learned to see with an open heart and wide open eyes, I witness so many ‘signs’ of God’s existence. Due to tribulations, my faith has increased allowing me to push through instead of being hindered by my doubts, leading to…
#2-Inner Coach. You probably have heard of people having a ‘devil’ side and an ‘angel’ side. You know one side that ‘made me do it’ and the other that prevents trouble. I have a Doubting Debbie Downer side and an Inner Coach side. When Debbie pitches, she throws some very big balls of fire consuming with blasts of doubt…I can’t do that; That is just way too hard; I am not smart enough; I will make a mistake; I am not pretty enough; I am too old…fill in whatever you want, I am sure you have heard these and more as well. However, since I am positive 99% of the time, I passionately hate when Debbie is the designated pitcher. As a result, I have learned, through much trial and error, how to hit her flaming thoughts dead center to achieve a home run. This is when my inner coach comes up to bat…Any old dog can learn new tricks; You can go one more mile. Great!!! Now go another one; YOU DID IT!!! YAHOO!!!; You are so smart!; Look, how you made that person laugh out loud!!!…do you recognize any of these? If not, it’s time to get a coach rooting for you, who will counter attack every single doubt with encouragement, cheers and positive thoughts. Granted, sometimes I only hit a single or double, but at least I keep swinging. And even if I miss, because I do, I stay at the plate, grab another bat and never
#3-Refuse to quit. When life knocks, it not only topples over the door, but it also topples over us. Sort of like the wolf blowing in all of the three little pigs’ homes, until they acquired a fortress of strength made of bricks. So we too, need to build a fortress. Not to keep others out just to make it a tad harder for life to storm through us. I believe, for every challenge, I have choices consisting of doing nothing at all, thinking of a solution and following through with it, making excuses or asking for help and guidance. Always, always a choice is available. Sadly, in my observances and interactions, I so often hear people succumbing to excuses of why they can’t accomplish something, no matter how far in left field the desire may be. Then I watch as they sit back down, not even attempting to take some action. What irks me, is despite the route they have chosen, they continue to whine, cajole, and complain about their situation. It seems, to me, they have not acquired
#4-Mental Strength. Back to the top, coming home Friday. I woke up at 5:45 am, went to work, which was relatively a no brainer, left at 4:30 pm, drove on the side roads to get to Wayne County where I knew gas was going to be at least 20 cents cheaper than where I live, which took me an hour. Then, got on the expressway, amidst rush hour traffic and dodging of pot holes to finally get through to a clearing which about 15 minutes later slowed WAY DOWN to a stand still due to an accident, taking me another 30 minutes. Okay, I know Debbie Downer has arrived!!! Anyway, the total trip to get my son took exactly 11 hours round trip. Yet, I did not get tired till 2 a.m. due to the fact that the whole day before, the whole day of and the whole travel time my inner coach was telling me such things as…You can make this; You won’t be tired; You can stay awake for a long time today; You will be fine. It also helped that I said a few prayers for safety and that my son took over the wheel on the drive back. Throughout any challenge, I know my body will inevitably give out, but if I keep throwing positive accolades to my mind, I find I am able to last much longer, not only mentally but spiritually and physically. There is a saying ‘Mind over Matter.’ Yes true but I prefer ‘Spirit over Mind.’ Which leads to
#5-Possessing Sass, Class and Optimism. Okay, I know sometimes things occur so devastating it is extremely hard to breathe, let alone move, let alone having the desire to live. Yet I am reminded of the Haiti people, after the tsunami, who gathered together, amidst the rubble, to hold a church service and were witnessed joyously singing hymns out loud. Or how about after 911, when everyone across the country united together to offer up prayers, support, money, and help to those emotionally and physically wasted by this catastrophic event. The problem I find is the media, instead of finding positive stories to focus on, concentrate solely on the negative. It is no surprise that so many are wandering the streets deeply depressed, gun shooting incidents are becoming the norm and Debbie Downer stories are replayed and replayed and replayed over and over and over. I often wonder what would happen if instead of reporting all the ‘bad’ stuff, media spent at least 30 minutes, every broadcast, reporting on great stuff. Maybe it would cause a tremor of encouragement and motivation. But I guess, sensationalizing robberies, murders, pedophiles, and all the other nasty parts of life is what gets people to watch and keeps ratings up. Sad, isn’t it? Which leads me to…
#6-Find something to laugh out loud about each and every day. Do you know how effective laughter is for preventing stress and for your health? So put down the cell phone, grab your computer and get on YouTube. There are TONS and I mean TONS of funny videos showcasing kids, animals, Super Bowl commercials, etc. Or grab a book, yes a book full of corny jokes. There has to be one so ridiculous it tweaks your funny bone. If all else fails, borrow your nephew, niece or best friend’s kid and go HAVE FUN!!!! Believe me, kids will always find something funny about life and they have no inhibitions sharing their comedic views, no matter how inappropriate or silly!!! Which leads me to my final strong point…
#7-If you have attempted any combo, all of these or one of these and strength is still waning, then spend some time with someone who is craving compassion. Nursing homes are overflowing with people who are craving attention, an ear, touch, sympathy and caring. The local animal shelter is packed with animals needing petting, someone to lick, cuddling and who provide unconditional love and acceptance. The neighbor next door could use some homemade cookies or dinner or just a visit with a nice cup of joe or tea. Everyone, me and you, at some time, needs someone to share our lives and stories with. All it takes is a hand, held out. All it takes is an open heart. And all it takes is strength…to be vulnerable, to let love in, and to be a companion. Believe me, lonely is not a good place to be. But in moments, when we are alone, compassionate memories filter out doubts, downers and don’ts into hope and recognition of how important each one of us is.
Thursday night I received a call. And I responded. Tomorrow the phone may ring again with a different situation, a different request, a different challenge. So, when I answer, and I will, I know whatever life is knocking down, whatever antics Debbie Downer is trying or whenever my body is refusing to move, I am filled with spiritual and mental strength enabling me to move through the dark and to keep moving till I once again find the light.