Awhile ago, I thought, what if we abandoned the sad diagnosis? What if a doctor didn't arrive with a heavy sigh and bad news? What if he said, congratulations? Your life is brand new today. And you are joining a community of creative, dynamic, powerful people. You are truly special. You get to put yourself first. You get to make very conscious choices about your life and your future. You will bring tolerance and compassion to your relationships. You are stronger than you ever guessed. And you will learn so much about yourself. You will open doors that you cannot even see today. But you will change the world. Just as your world is changing forever. Starting today. What if?
That is my dream for our future, one that is alongside the mainstream story, equal in importance and contributions, with respect and potential. Where we are enriched by our challenges instead of being diminished by them. Where it's okay not to be okay. As part of this vision, I have simple advice from my years of hearing one tough diagnosis after another.
Grieve Let the feelings be real. Yesterday's world is over. And saying good-bye is important. Feel the depths of emotion, because going dead inside or numb will only postpone those feelings, not make them go away.
Write your own story Read the books, learn the facts, then know that your body has its own story to tell. Just because statistics say one thing, it doesn't mean that will be your thing. Getting overwhelmed and fearful will not change the facts today. You are not controlling your story, but you can decide how you write it. Do you notice the darkness, or the dawn?
Connect and Support There are so many of us out here supporting you. We have been on the other side of that difficult news. We have grappled with pain, medication, uncertain futures. Find people who understand your story online or in your community. You do not have to speak up, but reading their stories may help you gain perspective on your own. We are an incredible resource for each other.
You do not Need to Beat This I have heard how I can beat a lot of my challenges. Oh, you're stronger than other people. You'll figure out a way to overcome. And the reality is everyone who has heard bad news decided to fight the odds. No one chooses to have physical challenges. And having challenges is not a reflection on inner strength or positive intentions. You can be emotionally healthy, strong, and happy. And you can still be sick. And that's okay. You do not have to spend every day fighting to overcome your obstacles. A tree that can bend in the wind will grow taller than one that stiffens and breaks.
Be Kind to Yourself Your body works so hard. Even if it's breaking down, it's trying its best to survive and thrive. Be kind. Give rest. Give good food. Give kind thoughts. Because as angry and disappointed as we may feel, our body is not trying to punish us. It is not trying to upset us. It is doing the best it can under the circumstances The more we can be on the same team, the more our body can give us in turn. Every day can be a battle. Or a dance. Try to listen. Treat yourself well.
Love is Love is Love. Yes, times will be tough. Relationships with change. There may be strain and challenges. At the same time, love is deeper and stronger than any physical changes. Love goes beyond how far we can hike, or how many chores we can finish in a day. Love knows us as us, and holding onto that makes the challenges a lot more manageable.
This garden has thorns, yes, but flowers too.
For you, new to our community, I wish you strength, and patience, and beauty. People may say time heals all things, but you and I know that's not true. Time will not heal us. Time will change us. I have known fear and pain and loss. I have also known joy and fun and adventure. We have the perspective, the knowing how fragile we really are day to day. We do not take a moment for granted. We know intuitively how quickly the world can change. We appreciate small moments. We understand the wonderful gifts that comes from spending quality time with people we love. And in that way we are the lucky ones. Congratulations. And welcome to our community!