Life is full of opportunity and hope.
My life has been full of challenges, obstacles, and adversity.
Every single one of those has made me the person that I am today.
I would not change anything in my past.
My past is my greatest teacher.
No matter what, in life, we ALWAYS have choices.
And, I very sincerely believe that there is always a positive choice that will lead to a positive outcome.
Take Time For Yourself.
If you want to have a good life, lower stress, greater joy, you need to make YOURSELF a priority.
If you do not, then what do you really have to give others? How can you find genuine happiness otherwise?
Find the Blessing.
Adversities are life’s challenges. They are usually not easy, and can break some.
The challenge is to make the most of it, to find some aspect of it that is a good thing, a blessing, a unique opportunity.
Real Life Example.
My wife Lily got cancer last year. Honestly, that sucks! She is so lively, fun, intelligent, happy, genuine, compassionate, and loving.
Well, it may suck, be has made a choice to make the most of her experience, to learn about her health, the disease, and her options.
So, in looking back, what blessings do I see? Well, she became stronger than I have ever seen her.
She so openly accepted help from others and made new friendships and bonds.
As for me, I learned my love for her has NO LIMITS! That I can stay by her through anything and love her more.
She came through it and is cancer-free now!
We are more aware and now want to return our blessings and help others.
And, we now understand the other side of being a Care Partner.
Think about it.
Find what you have, take a sincere stack of your life and the blessings therein.
Find the things that you can do good with and make the most of it.
My Role Models on Positivity
My mother, Mary Kay Reedy, is one of the most beautiful people I have ever had the honor of knowing. My mom was this young, beautiful woman who met and fell in love with my father, Roger Reedy when they were very young. Their love story is very powerful and has greatly influenced my bothers and sisters, among others. Together they had eight children. My mom had health issues most of her adult life. She dealt with chronic pain for a very long time. The last five years of her life were especially difficult. She suffered both kinds of strokes, diabetes, back and knee pain, and arthritis. She was constantly dealing with medical issues. It is my belief that having eight children was tough on her body.
No matter how much pain she was in, especially the last five years of her life, when I would call her and ask how she was doing, she would say, “Well, I’m better today than i was yesterday.” Whether or not that was actually true, it was her mantra. She chose a positive attitude. My mother had one of the most beautiful deaths you can imagine. For the last month of her life she was on hospice. All of her children were at home with her and my dad for that entire month. We were all in our 40’s to 50’s at that time, but we used our sick time to be with her. Every day she was bright eyed, positive and loving. We all laughed and cried so much. In those days she recalled her fathers words near the end of his life:
“Be happy, be good, love God, and always smile!”
You ask anyone who ever knew my mother and they will tell you that she had the most beautiful eyes. She really did. No matter how much pain and suffering she was in, they would always shine through. I believe that is true because she had such a positive and beautiful soul and she chose positivity and she chose love as her ways of seeing and living in this world. Now, she was not perfect and she certainly had her bad days. But her positive days far outnumbered her bad ones. And when she could be herself, she would choose to be her best self. As she got worse, she did not always have a choice. But I promise you, on the days she did have a choice, it was always a positive choice.
In the month that my mom was dying, her husband and all eight of her children were there with her at home. Often I was sifting through family pictures and putting together a compilation of her life (and it had to be under five minutes). This was my love letter to my mom and we played it at her funeral. My brother John got some of the best photos he could and made a poster gallery for her. He was the only one that I let help me edit this video. I believe she was proud of how we chose to remember her.
My Sister Anne actually wrote a book about that month with all of us and my mother’s dying. It’s called: My Cannonball Into Peace by Anne McCarthy. Soon afterwards Anne changed her career from being an RN, to being a hospice nurse. A profound and positive choice for her!
My father is as strong of a role model in my life as I could have. He and I have quite a history. He is the smartest man that I have ever met. He is a civil and nuclear engineer. He is truly a leader in his field. At the age of 86, he is still very active in his profession. My father certainly has his flaws. He gets embarrassed when I tell him the things I admire about him over all of our years together. He says I look at things a little to good. He knows he has imperfections. I do too. But what I also know is he’s a man of integrity, heart, and love.
My dad would work hard all day, take a long commute home from Chicago to the suburbs and finally get home. Often there had been some family drama. If it had been me who got in trouble and was sent to my room for bad behavior, and told to wait until my father got home, I would be there full of frustration. My dad would come in after kissing my mom and listening to her day – and then having to come to my room where I have been stewing, waiting to get out of punishment. He would calmly ask me what was going on. You can be sure I was frustrated and vented out at him on how wrong my mom was, or the sibling who wronged me and got me punished. No matter what though, my dad would calmly listen, let me vent, and then calmly talk with me about things as he now sees them. He’d talk about choices and ask me if I felt I made some good ones.
What I remember most was, no matter how tired or frustrated he might have been, he was there for us. He chose to make us a priority and to listen. He chose to really be there for us, no matter what happened in his day. That is the role model that I used to be the teacher that I was. I tried to always let my students speak their piece, to listen to them, and to help them understand they have choices.
My dear friends Charlie and Lucy Wedemeyer talk about choices. When I taught the unit on adversity every year, it was to help them understand that no matter how difficult things are or seem to be, there are still choices, and there are positive and negative ones. In the adversity unit I would read them the last few paragraphs of their book, “Charlie’s Victory”. In there Charlie wrote the following:
“Wherever we speak, to whatever audience, I always try to warn people. Sometime in our lives well all be faced with some circumstance that will seem too difficult to cope with. When that time comes, we have to make a choice because God gives each one of us the power of choice. We can choose to be miserable, feel sorry for ourselves, throw our own private pity party, and cause everyone around us to be miserable too.
Or, we can choose to face our trials with God’s help, knowing we’ll come out the other side as stronger people for the experience. We all have that choice. In summary I’d like to borrow a quote from my friend, author Tim Hansel, who suffers from his own chronic pain and observes in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, what is true in each of our lives: ‘Pain and suffering is inevitable, but misery is optional.’ We must make the choice.”
Here is a video where Steven Hawking talks about Charlie’s attitude: