Later today I will have my regular Friday Favorites post coming your way… its mostly done and one of my favorite things so stay tuned for that….but in the meantime as I walk around Hopkins awaiting for Danny’s procedure to be done another type of post has come to mind.
Do I want my husband to be sick? No. Do I worry about our dwindling paid time off, the ground we gain to lose on medical needs, and signs that our life is not on a path to wellness after all? Yes. Are there advantages to not being the actual sick one and just the spouse? Certainly. Are there fears that Danny may never know that are only whispered in my heart at the thought of living this life without him? Yup. There are so many facts and potential worries that float around our minds and follow us as we continue to dance between normal life and sick life – but there is something different that is hanging around these days too.
This year I am focused on Hope. And if you check out my post you will see I have come to learn that is not just about making wishes that you send into the stars, rather it is training your whole self (mind, body and spirit) to live in expectant joy for what’s to come. It is total focus on remaining positive knowing there will be good to come, there will be hard to come, and the fact that there is a future with possibility is reason enough to rejoice. You don’t have to know the answers and you don’t have to have every single thing you want come true – rather it is learning to cultivate the positivity in the journey. For an A type who likes a plan, for a gal with HUGE dreams, and for a person of faith who struggles with knowing they are blessed with much, yet their heart longs for more….. hope while just sitting in the present is hard as hell. If I am being honest, I have come to discover my heart and mind would rather live in worry and fear, then just wait and see. If I am worrying about it, then I am doing something towards my future. This is a lie, it is a trap to get us off track, make us distracted and turn us into the worst version of ourselves…. this is something I want out of my life, as much as my human nature will allow. So this means it has been a daily (sometimes hourly) effort to pray, fill my life with gratitude, demand my thoughts stay focused on those I love and blessings, and CONSTANTLY pulling myself back form the icky place to return to sitting in the present and committing to joy.
Today is February 1 – I have had 31 days and a few hours to work on it and I have 11 months and a few hours to go….. but ya’ll committing to this has already been a game changer. The fear I have in writing this post is – “what if it all changes?” “What if Danny gets so sick our life looks completely different and I lose all my hope?” “What if I lose my job and parenthood never comes and my dog escapes while staying with my in-laws….. and hope is never part of my life again?” Is this post smart to even write? I could turn into a liar so fast….. could I be tempting fate? But here is my exact point, I have committed to living in hope and it has changed so much of our world that I want to share it…. even if I am afraid … writing this is a step forward on my hope journey.
So how has it made the change? It sorta strange…. but has been true:
Every morning I have to write ten things I am grateful for and in fact my pal Rachel Hollis has encouraged it to be about the little things. And if you start to write those little things – you will start to notice them even more. Every morning as I fight my inner sleep lover to hit snooze and roll over for a few more winks, I now will lay still and feel my soft sheets and watch as the rays of sun peak through my window and I say thank you. Thank you God for the riches of a lavish bed when so many have nothing. Thank you for a home that not only keeps me warm and safe – but gives me front row view of a beautiful sunrise just as my eyes open. And thank you that when I lift my body out of this bed it won’t be to head to the fields and start manual labor or to exit into the cold crisp air because I have to race to a job that I need to survive…. but I will gather my favorite prayer books and hot cup of coffee and move to a cozy couch to ease into my day by holding the hand of my maker. This feeling EVERY MORNING was a learned habit and it has changed everything for me.
Now gratitude pops up all over the place for me! It is a constant mood booster and way to focus the mind. Last night we got to Baltimore late because we both had to work a long day and worried knowing our alarm would be set for 4:45AM to get to the hospital on time. Initially I was frustrated cause if things go well with the procedure and we are out of here on time I will need to race to drop Dan at home and then get to the office. I need my sleep so I can function. But as I drove through the city to our hotel and I saw those homeless, hungry and likely hurting gathering what blankets they could find to settle in for the night and I was making my way to our favorite hotel in the city to have a quiet night and then crawl into a warm cozy bed. Suddenly I felt unworthy. Danny is not feeling good – in fact the inhaler has become our latest accessory that has to be closer to us than it has in years….. but how blessed that we have access to medical care and the resources to handle it. How lucky that we sorta get a date night away from doing dishes and worrying about laundry or even walking our pup in the cold and trade it for a night watching TV and just being together. Maybe getting up here late and having to deal with this mess all together isn’t the worst thing.
When life is rolling along just fine, you are distracted with busy and things going so well you gotta stay at high speed to keep up, its hard to take the time and slow down. How often are we too busy living our lives we don’t stop to assess and appreciate them or maybe take a breather and help make changes to make it run a little smoother? Each and everyday you exit your front door and head to life…. with each change in season, with every new chapter of life there are places you pass that remain ever present – that tree in your yard or that little pond on your neighborhood – while life swirls on around it there it stands letting the winter days melt away to give way to spring – but do we stop to take notice? Do we use the changes in our environment to help us take a moment and acknowledge the changes in our life? Coming back to Hopkins isn’t necessarily a good thing and the past 4 months it usually is sign things are not getting better. So often it has felt like a let down or downright failure. But I also can’t seem to shake the realization that I am given this space where the white hospital walls or the pretty brick from the historical part remain constant, so I can stop and take in the changes around me. Another winter we come here bundled up cozy and looking forward to our walk to Dan’s favorite cup of hot coffee in the cafeteria. Or the summer when we sneak out to the courtyard between appointments ignoring the heavy, thick heat for a few moments to feel the glorious sun.
This acknowledgment of the seasonal changes leads me to where we are. Yes, being back might not be because Dan is a medical marvel and everyone wants to see the perfect picture of transplant life….. but he isn’t as sick as the day our doc took a walk with us to say “Dan, its time to list” and Danny had to walk beyond slow so no one would see him try to catch his breath. Yes, we would rather be in VA at our jobs and coming home to a Friday night where we plan our next trip or play with our pup – but isn’t it amazing that we find things to laugh about here or each other’s hands to hold instead of my tear streamed face and your annoyed at the world hospital presence – our standard hospital looks when living here in January 2017. Yes, I am not the one that is sick….. but my life has been enriched with a great love story – because we have to work hard against these strange odds together ….. would we even be the couple we are without this life we live here in between the halls of Hopkins? Would I even ben full of the love and admiration and gratitude for our life…. for my husband …if I was too busy with regular life to slow down and take stock?
My writing of this post hit me like a ton of bricks as I traveled back from my ice coffee run and visit with Jesus while waiting for Danny. And it is making my eyes brim with happy tears as I type away in Dan’s recovery bay while he works on getting his oxygen up. Maybe it is my year of hope…. maybe it is the faith commitment I have made to God that I will show up to him EVERY DAY if that is what it takes to not lose my faith and hope – even if I feel angry when I get to my prayer time….. maybe it is is lessons learned or maturity. Whatever it is – our outlook, the way we experience this life, and the bravery we have to keep pushing forward despite the question marks that aren’t finding any answers has been life giving in this season and I suspect you don’t have to be in the hospital walls to experience the same.
As we head into a new weekend I invite you to take stock of your world. The little things like the HUGE gift of running water that we all take for granted or the unique things in your life: family, kiddos, job, dreams …. and appreciate how they have grown, changed and how far you have come. And maybe find the constant evergreen tree in your yard or scene outside your bedroom window that can serve as a view to appreciate the way life keeps moving and a reminder to stop and take it in. I promise taking these moments and making them a practice and then a habit will bring pretty big change.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!