Relatively speaking, the end of last year and early part of this year was difficult. My dad went through 8-weeks of chemo and radiation 2000 miles away. Mid-way through the school year, my husband and I had to find a better school environment for our daughter. Plus a few other irritating things were going on that just added to the noise.
Usually I am pretty good about taking these kind of things as they come. What I wasn’t used to was having them all pile up in a few months.
Luckily I had a wonderful positivity coach during this time. It was my dad, yeah, the guy with cancer. Because of the distance, we were on the phone constantly during those months. The premise was that I was calling to check on him and boost his spirits, but often I was the one who got the lift.
He’s a true Mid-westerner. Doesn’t believe in blaming others or wallowing in your sorrows. Kind of this Abe Lincoln thinking.
Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
I’d like to share a few of the lessons in positivity I learned from my dad over these few months:
Lesson 1: Keep things in proportion – don’t make a bad situation worse or bigger than it is.
My dad can put a positive spin on life’s challenges. Like when he was dealing with a barrage of chemo side effects and feeling awful, I’d call and ask how he was doing. He say, “A different day, a different side effect; but luckily none are as bad as the cancer.” What a perspective!
Lesson 2: Look at each negative situation or relationship on its own and deal with it. And whatever you do, don’t add the bad stuff up.
Another day I called, he was feeling pretty good so we were chatting and I told him about several of my challenges. He simply said, “Take ‘em on one by one, kid.”
Lesson 3: Cracking a joke helps. And it sure beats complaining.
I could see my dad dealing with the ups and downs of the chemo. It was really hard to watch him go through it. I was with him one day he was in a “feeling awful” cycle. I asked how he was doing. He said, “Every day is different. Some days you feel like a nut, some days you don’t!” And we both cracked up. It was all we really could do at that point.
Lesson 4: Expect the best. See it – pretend it’s just around the corner.
When I was at my parents’ home near the end of the chemo, my dad got up out of his chair and told me to put on my shoes and grab his car keys. He needed me to take him somewhere. We went to the local car dealer. He went in and ordered my mom a brand new SUV – with all the bells and whistles. Driving home he said, “I know I’m going to be fine, so I needed to get her a thank you gift. She’s taken such great care of me.”
So learning lessons from someone else is great. Applying them is where the rubber meets the road. I ended up taking the items I had to deal with one by one.
My family and manager supported me in traveling to help my parents during the chemo. And in the end, my dad was right. He is fine – total remission. In fact, he’s doing great. And my mom loves her new car.
My husband and I found a much better fit for our daughter and got her through the school transition. It was less of a big deal than we imagined it would be. Now she is thriving in the new environment.
And the biggest lesson I learned?
Lesson 5: Count your blessings.
It’s easy to get sucked into negative situations – especially when they involve your family members, the people you love. If you start counting your blessings regularly, you will find the good things usually outnumber the bad things going on in your life. So, make a list – it will empower you. Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. It will help you lift yourself up to that wonderful positive place where you can really live.