Lessons Learned

Everyone goes through difficult times, such as losing a job, divorce, or the death of someone close. It is how you handle and recover from these periods in your life that gives the personal strength. I have always tried to live my life by the adage, “find something positive with everything in life”. Even at my lowest, I have looked for something positive. It may take some searching, but it is there if you look hard enough.

I have had some horrible experiences in my life; when they were over, I dusted myself off and moved forward. I became a stronger person from those experiences. When I shared those experiences with others, I found not only did they help me they helped the other people.

One example in my life occurred three years ago. I was diagnosed with Large B-cell, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It is one of the most aggressive of the many types of lymphoma. Yet I was told it was one of the most curable. However, it also has a high rate of reoccurrence. As I listened to the doctor, I remember thinking of the comical line, “I have good news, and I have bad news. Which one do you want first?”

I went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. I couldn’t eat and lost weight. I lost my hair. When I say I lost my hair, I mean I lost all of it. I was totally bald from head to foot.

My blood cells, especially my white blood cells, diminish to almost zero. I was vulnerable to every virus and bacterial infections out there. I had one episode that required them to hospitalize me. I had never been as sick as I was then.

When I finished my chemotherapy, they gave me a couple of weeks to recover. Then I began radiation therapy, and I went five times a week for six weeks.

It was a horrible experience, yet, when it was over, I looked and found multiple positive things. The most obvious, it saved my life. I have not had a reoccurrence and as I approach five years, the percentages get better. I can live with that.

The next positive experience was meeting the many medical caretakers. Each and everyone were patient, compassionate, and professional. The woman who administered my chemotherapy became my Guardian Angel. She monitored and handled every reaction from the treatment. She gave me encouragement while I sat in a recliner with the caustic chemical entering my body. Often when the discomfort became intolerable, she was holding my hand. I never left the clinic without giving her a hug and thanking her.

When I was so sick, my faith became even more important to me. When I was at my lowest, I asked God to give me strength to endure. He did and I have felt His presence in my life since. Now when I pray, I also pray for others that He will give them the strength as he did me. Every night when I put my head on my pillow, I search my day to find that positive incident. When I do, I thank God, and can instantly fall asleep. What a positive blessing He has given me.

Before my diagnosis, I was an avid golfer. I belong to a local golf club and played at least three times a week. Going through chemotherapy, prohibited my play. When I started getting depressed, my good friend suggested I start writing my memoire. I took an on-line course and then began the process. The depression and much of the anger and resentment I had held for years was resolved. Now my writing holds as much of my attention as did my golf. I still go out and chase the white ball, just not as much.

The Internet has hundreds of sites, which provides suggestions for overcoming difficult times in your life. I went through and picked out some I thought were meaningful.

“Everything can—and will—change”. This horribleness in your life will not last forever. Be patient, the sun will be out tomorrow.

“It’s a learning experience”. When we encounter something, which affects us this much, we don’t want to forget the incident. If it was a mistake, take responsibility for the error. Remember it as a “lessons learned”.

“Be kind to yourself”. When you are down, don’t place demands on yourself. Get out and have some fun. Buy that item you have wanted. Feed the inner self some happiness.

“You have overcome challenges before”. Think back in your life and remember something similar. How did you handle it then? Did it help or hinder the recover? Go back to the “lessons learned” file.

“What other people say about you is none of your business”. How many times have you said, I cannot do that, what would people think? This is your life, your happiness. This is not a dress rehearsal, this is your life, not theirs.

“You have a lot of strength”. Rely on the inner person that got you through it before. Remember the learning experiences of the past. Keep the positive attitude.

“Great Things take time”. If you have a project or you are working for that promotion, be patient with yourself. Strive to meet your goal, but remember it doesn’t happen overnight.

“Biggest fears don’t really exist”. When you think things, cannot get any worse, stop, and look at the situation. Is everything this bad or have your exaggerated it in your head. Look at what is real and what isn’t. You could see that it isn’t as bad as you thought.

“Forgive”. If someone has said or done something to upset you, as long as you harbor the anger, you will not get over it. Forgive this person even if they don’t appear to be remorseful. If they apologize, accept their apology and mean it.

“Ask for help – you are not alone”. If the issue seems more that you can handle or the problem seems insurmountable, ask for help. Keeping it to your self may inflate the issue. It is not weakness to ask, rather it shows strength to admit and conquer the issue. Always remember, God is with you and he listens to our prayers.

“There is always something to be thankful for”. When we take the time to carefully look at the situation, there is always something good or positive to find. It might take some self-examination, but you will find it. When you do focus on the positive and watch the negative melt away.

“Prayer”. When the situation is over, don’t forget to reflect back. Add a “thank-you” to God when you pray for giving you the strength to overcome it. It is through God’s love that we can conquer anything in our life.

4 Replies to “Lessons Learned”

  1. Thank you again for following my writing. I have so many drafts of my memoir, yet I’m still not satisfied. I wish I could afford an editor. I’m sure they could put the final pieces together. However, I do write on.

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