Happy New Year!

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”  ~  Lao Tzu

gratitude At this time of year I find that I seek silence, a yearning to retreat to the calm place deep within my being, that asylum where deep hope resides.  To dwell in this space allows time for reflecting upon that for which I am most grateful, and there is much.

We have all heard the expression “count your blessings”.   When we take time out of our busy lives and journey to that place inside, we are reminded of all our blessings, for this is the place where that little voice that speaks to us of all that is lacking in our lives cannot be heard.  My gratitude list is long – family, friends, a higher power to guide me, health, the gift of life, nature, hugs, laughter, sunrises and sunsets, volunteer opportunities, etc., etc.

Today I hope that you take a few moments to allow that little voice to speak to you, particularly if you are currently navigating troublesome terrain.  Practicing gratitude for all that is good around us can be life-changing.  When we embrace all that we have with an open, grateful heart, we bring more of what we want into our lives.

May 2015 be a time of abundance for us all.  Happy New Year!

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Ringing of the Bell

The bell, silently waiting to be rung.
The bell, silently waiting to be rung.

The symbolism of the ringing of bells has been widely recognized throughout the ages and spans the globe. They have been used to awaken us, mark the beginning and ending of religious services, summon lawmakers to legislative sessions, used in celebrations, warn of dangers…the list goes on and on.  In this context, they serve as a rite of passage, for those who walk through these doors, heavy-hearted and fearful, and leave with hope in their hearts, grateful for the compassionate care given to them by the medical staff and the companionship of others whom they have met on this path.

Yesterday was Terry’s final radiation treatment and as I stood waiting for him to emerge from the patient waiting area, a sadness enveloped me, an odd feeling I thought, on a day meant for celebration.  I shared this with one of his technicians and Nicole, the patient advocate, who both explained how completely normal this was (me, completely normal?!).  Something that had become a daily routine, something that could be done to eradicate this insidious disease, had abruptly come to an end.  It made perfect sense to be having this experience.  What did not make sense to Terry, and what he was totally unprepared for, was the sudden emotion that washed over him.  Although greatly relieved that this chapter was coming to a close, he was also walking away from part of his family, a very kind, compassionate, supportive family at that.

We will forever carry in our hearts all who wrapped us in their loving care and are most grateful for the remarkable medical staff at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

yesterday’s struggles

are today’s celebrations

wrapped in gratitude

And the Countdown Begins

In the wee morning hours, I sit shrouded in solitude, my thoughts rousing me from slumber as they are wont to do.  This nighttime reverie has not always been my friend, but in this moment of waning darkness, it is a welcome companion taking me on an inward journey.  I find myself reflecting upon some hard truths I have learned these past few months, so many amazing family and friends who have blanketed us with love and support during a trying time, and a looking ahead to an ending of sorts.

This week is to be the final week of radiation treatments for hubby, a daily routine that we are both pleased will be ending soon.  Terry has breezed through these treatments, to the surprise and pleasure of his doctor and our immense relief, in large part we are told due to Terry’s fitness level, eating habits and positive attitude.  No more testing will be required  for six weeks, at which time another PSA test will be conducted to see that the radiation has done its job (and we are confident it has).

The diagnosis of recurrent prostate cancer could not have come at a more challenging time, given that we were deep into our prospective caregiver roles for his parents when the news arrived.   Challenges seldom seem to be timely companions but  bring with them some valuable lessons, growth opportunities, if we open ourselves up to them.

I always knew that Terry and I would handle this part of our journey with a positive attitude but I was not quite prepared for a discovery I made about myself.  It seems somewhere along the way I became perfectly imbalanced in my quest to balance caregiving, gardening, canning, further cancer education, nutrition plans, emotional support system for hubby, etc., etc.  At times it felt as though I was mired in a rare fugue state, an empty vessel.  Leaving very little for oneself is an undeniable risk for those who find themselves in caregiver roles.  I thought I had this one wired, knew how to walk this tightrope, done it so many times. Ha!

The love and support sent by so many helped to buoy us and our heartfelt gratitude knows no bounds.  The universe knows when to send what we need just when we need it.  A perfectly timed email, phone call, inspirational thought for the day, and strategically written blog posts were our allegorical life raft.  A few of you played prominently in our healing process, and hopefully I have properly shared my gratitude with each of you.

Beyond all those blessings, we were graced by two angels (in the form of a childhood friend and his spouse) who once again opened their home and hearts to us, the first time taking us in almost six years ago, allowing Terry to heal from his initial prostate surgery.

Our angel friends, Doug and Donna
Our angel friends, Doug and Donna

As Terry’s treatments took us to Columbus, weekdays were spent with these special angels and all that was required of me was a few home-cooked meals (perfect, as cooking is one of my passions).  I don’t know too many who would so unselfishly give of themselves in such a way.  I cannot express the gratitude and love we feel for these two for a debt we hope to never have to repay in like kind.

As I sit wrapped in earning morning solitude, raindrops gently tapping in perfect synchronicity upon the roof, I am reminded of a quote I came upon recently by Henri Nouwen that so aptly speaks to the personal connections we share with one another:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”   

We have been touched by so many from around the globe.  Please know these grateful hearts will not forget such kindness.

grateful heart

Happy Thanksgiving, with a Grateful Heart

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  ~  Albert Schweitzer

I often find myself marveling at how much I have to be thankful for in this life.  Some of my greatest blessings, I can now see, stem from the adversities that I have endured, as this is when I have had my “growth spurts”.  As a dear friend reminded me the other day, many seeds begin the germination process in the dark and we are no different (thank you Lisa for that bit of wisdom).  Don’t get me wrong, I relish those times where life is humming along and my spirit soars, full of light and love, when compassion and gratitude seem to imbue my every fiber.  I am blessed to be at such a place in my life right now and recognize that many are not, with so much suffering in the world.

Today, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I give thanks for all my experiences, as they have made me, well me.  I am thankful for having enough and not wanting for much of anything.  I am most thankful for family and friends, even those friends that I have never personally met but whose blogs I read daily, across the far reaches of this universe, those who touch me in the most profound ways, beyond what they could ever imagine.

For those who live with far too little and whose suffering is great, I pray that there is someone in your lives to extend a healing hand, as I have been fortunate enough to have had time and again in my life.  Let us all be reminded that there is much life to be lived, no matter where we are at on our path.

Blessings to everyone on this special holiday for a day full of light and love.

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Regardless…

Regardless of the means

with which you came into this world,

union of loving bodies entwined

or tragic circumstances unfurled.

~

Regardless of the childhood

you reflect upon today,

full of laughter, love, security

or fear, rage, and dismay.

~

Regardless of the path

that brought you to this place,

you are indeed a blessing 

to this precious human race.

~

Regardless of why

you may feel set apart,

breathe life in deeply

with a grateful heart.

 © LuAnn Oburn 2012

Have a beautiful weekend everyone!