Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A bit of praise

Now, more than ever before, I understand my life is a game of chance. I surrendered to this truth a long time ago. Yes, there are some aspects of my life I can control, like my perspective and my attitude, but the day to day happenings of my health and my condition, well I am certainly spinning a roulette wheel. One day I might feel empowered by this fact when I find solutions to challenges I once though insurmountable like laundry or grocery shopping. And then the next day, I feel defeated by the spinning wheel of chance. I might be dressed and ready to head out and a wheel pops or I feel nauseated and lightheaded and must stay home against my will which leads me to swirl the drain of negativity. Frustration, negativity, and anger only cause me further resistance. I am not a person who responds well to any of these things. In fact, I shut down rather than fight when confronted with negativity. 

The past few weeks proved especially difficult. Right now, I spend a majority of my time on my health. And not the good for my soul eating well and exercising kind of time. I spend time coordinating nurses, sitting through nursing visits, emailing about nursing visits, going to the doctor, and lugging around a machine that is part of my treatment. And if any of the help or services I set up happen to decide not to show up, well I must email and coordinate all over again, which takes hours and even days. This way of life is grueling and exhausting. In the midst of all of this, I desperately try to stay on my own personal schedule. I try to fit in what I love like eating well, walking Belle, and meditation, and praying, writing, and reading, and even watching Real Housewives. I rarely get to the last one, but I try. The items on this list most important to me are the hardest to skip. Instead of a shrug of the shoulder, I can easily spew negativity in my own direction. And then the cycle continues, I feel like a failure and continue to fail. I resist instead of cooperate.

The funny thing is, I know this method does not work. I know, from many years of experience, this method does not work on children. I cheer children on with words of encouragement and excitement and find positivity far more rewarding and know it produces for more and far better results. I easily and fervently cheer for other people. And just when I was thinking about this quandary of negativity I seem to swim in, when I feel like the world is conspiring against me, I am smacked right in the face with a lesson. And a lesson from my dog, no less.

Today, as we walked our river walk, she taught me a huge and important lesson. I wear this negative pressure machine right now. It sucks out the bad stuff, while healing the good. It is a little box, attached to a tube that attaches to my body. The box is about three inches thick and about five by seven inches in size. When we walk, I wind up the tubes and tuck them behind my back and hook the strap of the machine to a bar on the back of my wheelchair. This way I don’t have to worry about it falling off of my lap and disconnecting from the force of the fall. Occasionally, while we walk, the machine slides down the bar, and rubs against my tires. It makes an awful grating noise that Belle just despises. The noise freaks her out, to put it lightly. She stops cold and ducks her head as if she was just hit with a brick. She does not enjoy the noise one bit. Belle then resists the walk and just decides to stop. I can see her fear every time I adjust my legs or my sunglasses. Instead of these simple adjustments, she thinks I reach for the machine and it will soon grind against the wheels. She cowers, digs her paws in the ground, and refuses to walk any further. I remain determined to keep her moving forward because I don’t want to instill fear or cause her to associate the river walk with fear. 

Today, she stopped right at the path’s entrance. I practically dragged her for the first ten minutes of the walk. I tried everything to get her moving, but nothing I tried worked. I tried to look forward and just keep moving, hoping she would follow my direction. I tried to keep picking her up and moving her along so she would see we were continuing the walk. Nothing worked. I grew frustrated and became a bit agitated and stern. I actually thought my refusal to back down might work. Instead, all it did was make her more scared. She isn’t used to sternness or frustration or anything of the sort. She is used to silly voices and kisses and cuddles. Then I had a thought. Instead of resisting her resistance, I chose to adopt the sweet, high pitched voice, she seems to lure out of me, and encourage and cheer her along. And what do you know, she trotted along side of me with the smile and happy prance I am so accustomed to on our walks. The more I encouraged and cheered her along and said good girl, that’s my girl, such a sweet girl, the more she walked and forgot about the evil machine. And as this moment continued, I felt my eyes well up with tears and that all too familiar lump in my throat. The kind of lump and tears that alert me to an aha moment or a lesson learned. 

I need to be a bit kinder and a lot more gentle to myself. I need to instill a softer voice full of encouragement and praise. When I don’t feel like I am doing enough or living up to a standard I have for myself and want to halt and give up, I need to speak lovingly and adjust my thoughts. I need to extend this energy to my thoughts and my inner self. I need to recognize I, too, am doing the best I can to do what I can, when I can. As easy as it sounds to ease up on myself, well it isn’t so easy. I create a bit of resistance because I am so hard on myself sometimes. It is far easier for me to be kind and forgive and encourage others, but I am worthy of the same treatment. So tonight, as I drift off to sleep, after I practice gratitude and joy, I will practice a bit of praise. Praise that I woke up and faced the day and continued to move forward, no matter where the roulette wheel landed. I am worthy of praise and encouragement, just as I am. We all are. 

The river walk and the path that reminds me to keep on moving.

And sometimes, along that path, it's okay to stop, drop, and roll in the grass and leaves. 


  1. Thank you for this post. Your words are so true and such an encouragement to me. I am going to try to remember to give myself a break and try to look for the good. Bless you Sarah. You are in my prayers.

  2. You are so beautiful. And so is Belle. You have no idea how you touch people, how you move people, how you, in a beautiful force-ful (force as in good force!) way, make people stop and think and appreciate and love. You rock, in all your humanness and make all things seem possible. Kind of like Jesus. Thank you, you are a light in a world that is sometimes dark.


  3. Sarah
    interesting that you have been on mind mind so much lately.
    Thank God for your little soul mate Bella who is there to remind you of the truth of who your are and why you are here.
    Thanks for your inspiration and determination.
    Love Love you

  4. Sarah,
    You never fail to encourage me and enable me to learn lessons. I have a dog much like Bella. An Aussie Doodle, and she is a good dog, but I get irritated for some of the things he does, like run away to kids playing when I let him off leash. After reading your post, I realize that my getting angry, upset, irritated doesn't endear him to me. I will be thinking about your post and practice patience, kindness and positive energy. Even if it doesn't train Max better, it has got to help me feel more balanced. Thank you Sarah! I can't wait to meet you one day!

  5. Sarah - this post speaks volumes to me right now. Thank you for a beautiful story to remember such a simple but difficult lesson.

  6. Sarah, I have been reading for some time now and think you are incredible. I by no means am comparing our situations, but just wanted you to know I am having my 5th (out of 6) chemo treatment for breast cancer today. I just sat down to (ignore the many things I need to do before I go) read some blogs and wanted you to know this post spoke HUGE volumes to me this morning! Thank you! It helped change my attitude of ugh to ok, I can do this! Only 2 more!
    Have a wonderful thanksgiving!


  7. Sarah, I hope you have a very nice Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends and of course the beautiful Belle. Maybe the weather will be nice so Belle can walk off the turkey and pumpkin pie. You have a lovely place place to enjoy being with her. Though she might be a little stubborn at times I'm sure she loves being outside with you.

  8. Sarah - be kind to yourself and Belle. Know that you are loved by many and we know your struggle. Let us help when possible. Tell us what help is possible.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Chris


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate all of your words.