In 2010 I turned 40.

That year I had a husband, an 18-year-old, a 16-year-old, a 2-year-old and 1 one year old all living in a 900 square foot house. We were involved in the boys’ band and sporting events, graduation preparations and college interviews and applications. I was still dealing with postpartum depression which Dean and I kept to ourselves, and that summer I received a job offer to go back to classroom teaching. We also dealt with the passing of Dean’s grandmother and the emotional roller coaster he went through with that and the estate auction that took place soon after. Along with grief Dean was dealing with some severe pain and mood swings. The garden we did every year turned into a grump fest when it was usually an incredibly happy occasion. He was happily involved in the kids’ lives but found it harder and harder to have the stamina to keep up. He visited chiropractors for the pain and the family doctor for the never ending ‘bronchitis’ and ‘pneumonia’. His mood swings turned into being outright grumpy and hurtful leaving the boys and I wondering what the heck was going on. He started losing weight and sleeping more, and then, when on his umpteenth round of antibiotics for ‘pneumonia’ he started coughing up blood. We spent Christmas eve and Christmas Day curled up together in his hospital bed out of town while the children were taken care of by family and friends to have the best Christmas possible. My struggle with post baby depression took a back seat to the freight train that had been bearing down on us all year came into full view. The up side of the whole diagnosis? Cancer screws with hormone levels, which messes with one’s moods. With some meds he was back to his ‘personality’ self until things got really bad.

2020 I turned 50.

This is the 8th Christmas without Dean and 10 years since the initial diagnosis. The boys are 28, 26, 13 and 12 now. The youngest are at home with me along with two cats in the same 900 square foot house. The older boys are in happily committed relationships and wonderful jobs and have homes of their own, each with dogs as part of the family. I am the lead of a spiritual community and like every one else on the planet have had to continually adjust my days to fit the realities of a world with a virus that has reached every part of the globe. I must make decisions on what I feel is best for my family and the community I serve. I have maneuvered a dropping income, and children with cyber school responsibilities. I have listened to friends, colleagues and community members wrestle with the same questions and seek counsel in mourning a way of life that may never return and mourning those who have passed. I listen to those who have friends, family or themselves who are dealing with illness or injury in the midst of and because of the virus.

Crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. Their strength has an opportunity to flourish and so do the fears and mistrust. It also messes with the hormone levels in a person, much in the same way cancer did with Dean. People just do not act rationally. Stress and Fear lead to anger, anger leads to hate and dare I say it … they both lead to the dark side of our human experience.

Breathe. Drink some Valerian Root Tea. Breathe. Get outside. Breathe. Get some exercise. Breathe. Monitor your intake of any news channel. Breathe. Call a friend. Breathe. Meditate. Breathe. Ask for help. Breathe. Read. Breathe. Play music. Breathe. Picture what brings you joy and peace. Breathe. Cry. Breathe. Cry some more. Breathe. Know you are not alone. Breathe.

I think you get the idea.

Tomorrow does not need to look like today for there to be a successful experience.

Today does not have to be without its challenges to have a successful experience.

Life is change. Constant change. Happiness and Struggle sometimes coming all in the same minute.

Any change has the potential for all kinds of emotions. We learn, we adapt, we innovate, we travel through to the next change.

In cancer a family moves through the change a lot on their own. The rest of the world is not directly involved. Those that are closer to the situation tend to be very understanding of the family, giving them space to do what they need to do and being as much of a support as possible. No one agrees on the right thing to do for a person with cancer. There are a million books, a million viewpoints and a million ‘cures’. Yet, in the end, people tend to respect the family’s decision on how to live, and the treatment or non-treatment chosen.

 In a worldwide pandemic, everyone is affected in some form. Everybody. Change and challenge have the opportunity to bring people together to tackle the issue, or place people at odds in an every person for his/her/they selves. Debates can be a way to bring about new ideas or they can be a way to turn individual ideas into hateful rallying cries of hate and injustice. We have the choice to honor each other’ relationship with change or we can keep telling each other that we don’t have the right equipment or attitude to navigate the river of change.

Which brings us back to this….

Breathe. Have some chocolate. Breathe. Get outside. Breathe. Get some exercise. Breathe. Watch a comedy. Breathe. Take a drive. Breathe. Practice Yoga. Breathe. Ask for help. Breathe. Color. Breathe. Play music. Breathe. Print photos and add captions. Breathe. Cry. Breathe. Take a bath. Breathe. Know you are not alone. Breathe.

Life changes, it moves. In fighting the movement, we lose the breath. We lose time to fully be and experience. We try to make things the way we think they should be, we create suffering.

4 AM Christmas morning 2010 after Dean had an MRI and we were snuggled in a hospital bed he thought it would be a great time to make out in a hospital room. “How many people get to do this, here, I’ll pull up the covers.” I told him the drugs they gave him were working a little too well. My brain would not back down from all the ways my life was drastically changing, from guilt at not having Christmas ready for the kids, at fear for what was going to come with daylight and the talk with the doctors. It was a tiny moment. A doctor came in 20 minutes later and asked who I was why I was in bed with him. “I picked her up on Euclid Ave. on my way to the hospital,” Dean said without missing a beat. I laughed, Dean grinned, the doctor, choosing to be very serious and grumpy, did neither, he totally missed the beat.

2020. I was FINALLY feeling a groove. Older boys settled, school smoothing out for the younger ones. Fairly steady schedule and regular travel. And March came. We modified. We put on masks. We stopped our travel. We chose different activities to learn and explore than we did the summer before. Most out of changes governed with the realities of a worldwide virus. We changed to honor others also dealing with new realities. Things change. Roll with it, make the best of it. The tiny things mean much more than the big things. How many people get to experience things, this way? Don’t let choices within the change be the reason to miss a beat.


Grateful this 2020 for all the tiny moments.

Gratitude and Perspective 2020