It has been three months now living with multiple myeloma. It definitely lit a fire in me. A fire to live life fully, be true to who I am and conquer this beast.
I’ve been remarkably positive. Cancer not going to get me down.
Until a sponsored ad came across my Facebook feed from Mayo Clinic about multiple myeloma.
I did the unthinkable and opened it, read it and then read the comments from others! Bad idea. So much heartache…endless issues…chemo challenges…and too, too, many references to this being incurable! Dang! I closed my eyes looking for sleep to be the great peacemaker. It didn’t quite work that way.
Wasn’t long before the self-pity bus drove up and said “hop aboard…I’ve been waiting for you!”
Not good in an off-chemo week. These are not great weeks anyway. It takes a few days to unwind the meds, a few days of the shakes and the endless need for sleep. No power booster steroids. Just me in an altered state. My new normal.
I find myself in an unwelcome funk! Have I been ignoring the facts? Am I too trusting of the doctors and nurses who prescribe, administer and encourage hope? Do I have unrealistic expectations about my longevity? Is my faith and the peace it brings reliable? Have I lost my heart…my happy?
This doubt…this fear…this funk have me questioning the very thing that keeps me strong. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. My strength comes from this faith…this hope that the road ahead is perfectly planned even though I don’t see it…don’t have the google map to guide me and don’t know how long this new journey! I find peace and happiness in the simplicity of trusting.
So, the two sides of my brain are on the mat…wrestling the obvious. Funk or Faith?
Having cancer sucks and so no matter how positive I am, it was certain I would find myself in a funk at some point. This is not what I had planned for my future…my future with Mike, our children and grandchildren. But it is my future and my mindset is that I’m going to damn well make the best of it!
Reality is that the mental part is hard. John Milton, in “Paradise Lost”, said “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.” Wow!! Dwelling in a funk is pointless and causes suffering…why stay? Worrying about the future is a choice, is not helpful and drains emotional energy. Buddhist wisdom teaches that all situations are neutral. It’s the label we put on them that makes them positive or negative. It is self-inflicted…even worse!
This funk, this negative label, is all about not being able to control the outcome, change the trajectory, or bypass the uncomfortable. I gotta get out of here! I contemplate a way out…the other side of a funk…I need to get back there. And it occurs to me that the opposite of a funk is abundant faith and finding happy in the here and now…living in the moment without fear…which is the foundation to faith!
Happiness on its own is fickle, elusive, a mental battle. Everyone is searching for it, and there are plenty of experts ready to share their thoughts on finding one’s happy place. Amazon books lists 94,000 titles on the topic! That is just crazy.
And even crazier…I have one of those 94,000 books…a gift from my Amazon wish list that my daughter Alex gave to me years ago, ”14000 Things to be Happy About” I think I was attracted to it because I thought about how much fun it must have been to work on the project…to try and come up with 14000 things to be happy about!
I have always been a list maker…a list of the 100 things I long to do, walk along Hadrian’s Wall, travel the country to see baseball games in every stadium, a list of books I want to read, list of music I love and why. This will be easy…I start a new list…things to be happy about.
This daily routine of writing down five to ten things that make me smile…that make me happy…simple blessings… is a boost! I thought it would be a challenge, but it’s been quite the opposite. As I begin creating this list, I am lifted. I start to smile and this feeling stays with me all day.
The list is therapeutic. It is different than my things to do…places to go…creative projects…practice plans. It puts me right in the here and now with a wholeness and sensitivity that allows me to search for positive…savor each moment whatever that is…even the smallest…even the most difficult…even when happiness seems farthest from reality.
Our circumstances might be reasons for discouragement or sorrow but it doesn’t mean there is not some happiness to be found…for true pleasure resides in the heart, not in our circumstances.
And this is precisely where faith and happiness are connected for me…it is what God wants for me. He says “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.” He wants me to focus on the positive “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” And He reminds me to be happy simply by rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation and constantly in prayer*. This is a good prescription for a happy heart and letting go of this funk.
So, I move forward…working to balance the good days and the bad days and finding my way back to happy. Focusing on the joy of living between sunrises…letting go of worry…trusting each circumstance and keeping the faith.
And remembering the best things are often things unseen. It is said this is why we close our eyes when we kiss, laugh, pray, and dream! I love this…it makes me happy. I will add these to my happiness list (and my to do list).
*Ref: (Matthew 6:34; Philippians 4:8, Romans 12:12).