Something interesting happens to a person when given a diagnosis that means you could die anywhere between 2-10 years... "potentially". It's that word "potential" that does me in... it absolutely makes me crazy! I don't think the same, I don't plan the same, I don't care about many things in the same way I used too. Time has become a very valuable asset as well as the things I choose to do on a daily basis. No time for wasted moments because every single minute, hour, day and week matters. Here are some of the insane and crazy things I find myself doing now that 6 months ago would have never been on my radar. And, I'm telling you these things for several reasons. But the best reason is that I hope it gives some of you some perspective on not sweating the small stuff. AND... sometimes we really shouldn't sweat the big stuff either. What do I mean? Well.... for example...
The other day I was having a conversation with a friend and she was upset because they were experiencing the one thing many parents don't want to experience... yes, their unmarried college aged child had done the unthinkable... the unexpected pregnancy. Now, 6 months ago I would have been like my friend. I would have been worried about what people would think and devastated for my child and how they were going to cope. It would have been this gigantic stressful event. There would probably be yelling, fussing, chastisements and lessons to be taught because yes, this is serious and needs to be handled seriously. But, to be brutally honest, if this happened to me right now, I would secretly be ecstatic, incredibly happy and ready to run down to the nearest baby store! Because in my cancer riddled mind that has the "potential" deadline, I would be thinking... "Woo hoo! I get to be a grandma!" See... cancer makes you crazy! It makes you celebrate things that normal people don't celebrate. Instead of being worried with my friend like I normally would, I found myself feeling... jealous. What is wrong with me?? How can I be jealous over something like this?? Yep... crazy!
But guess what?? Mistakes, whether they are big or small, don't have to be the end of the world and now it's easier for me to wipe away the stuff that is ugly and see the beauty that some things have to offer. Not just in this particular situation but just with life situations in general. I understand that even the biggest mistakes in life can be laced with something wonderful if we take the time to look past all the negativity. So, in my friends situation, bringing a new life into the world clearly comes with obvious struggles but it can also bring new opportunities for joy. And for me, the joy would most certainly outweigh the struggles. Becoming a grandmother is a rare and precious moment many people take for granted. I would love to experience this joy and I hope I get the opportunity. Now, just in case my kids are reading this, I'm not suggesting you DO the unthinkable on purpose... please don't! I'm just saying that when big mistakes happen, try to look for that silver lining. Every situation has one, even if it seems silly or small. And, when you find that silver lining maybe it can help transform that mistake into a potential opportunity for something better. Yes, I used that horrible word "potential" because well... at the end of the day, life is unpredictable.
Here is something else that's changed... the way I eat. It's strange and wonderful to care so little about what I put into my mouth. I don't worry as much about calories or what's bad or good. I eat what I enjoy and I enjoy what I eat. It's very freeing and satisfying to not worry about something like that. As a society we put so much focus on food, in particular guilt... and, it's not healthy. Life is to be enjoyed... and I enjoy good food. So, yes I'm going to eat it with a big smile on my face. It reminds me of that one line from a movie I watched called "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Roberts. She says: "I'm going to finish this pizza, and tomorrow we're going to go on a little date and buy ourselves a bigger pair of jeans." Yes, I get it now... Of course, everything in moderation is still a good rule to follow and I will still eat my fruits and veggies. But, life really is to short to deny yourself all of the things you enjoy all of the time... so yes, I will take the time to enjoy that nice glass of wine, eat a brownie, or get a second helping of my favorite dish!
Something else I find myself doing now is looking at myself in the mirror with a new pair of eyes. 6 months ago I was obsessed with aging. In my bathroom you would find plenty of anti-aging products along with a pair of tweezers that I would use to vigilantly pluck away those annoying gray hairs. But, now I look at my slowly developing wrinkles with pride and they bring a smile because now I know that getting old is something to celebrate NOT something to dread. I realize how silly I was to be so afraid of something that I should've been cherishing. Not all of us get to grow old and now I will treasure each year I do get with a new appreciation. So, the anti-wrinkle creams are gone and so are the tweezers. I love each and every one of my gray hairs. And, I hope I get more of them... I hope I get a whole head of them! I will wear my gray with pride and joy for what it represents. A lifetime of memories, hardships and a life well lived.
So, in a nutshell...
I find myself to be more forgiving than I used to be... I've learned to just let things go and be at peace. I have decided that it is okay to embrace our mistakes and those of others and try to learn from them and see them for what they truly are, which is an opportunity to better ourselves.
I find myself less annoyed when I fall off the bandwagon and eat more cake than I should because living with a guilty conscience about everything I put in my mouth was sucking the joy out of my life. And, life is to be enjoyed.
Age is beautiful... so very beautiful... I will cherish every moment I am alive.
So, call me crazy if you want too... but yes, it is okay to indulge, it is okay to forgive and let go, it is okay to be proud of your beautiful, imperfect self! Our imperfections, scars and gray hairs are what defines us and they are the permanent markings of lessons learned and a life fully enjoyed.