As we have begun a new year we reflect on what life brought our way in the one we just closed the book on. We either tend to focus on the blessings, the wonderful things that happened or we are glad to kick the year to the curb as we remember the struggles and challenges it brought. I like to try and find the balance between the two, because as I always say we must find the joy in the journey. It's always there, but sometimes you must look harder to find it.
As I close 2017's book and start a new one this year, 12 new chapters to be written and 12 old chapters to reflect on I remember the butterfly. Butterflies have become my thing, my metaphor of life. As I've said before to me they symbolize a catalytic moment in life, death, divorce, tragedy of some sort or in many of our cases diagnosis of a disease like Parkinsons. We go through the stages in these catalytic moments similar to grief which tend to be Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Those stages are represented by the journey a caterpillar embarks on as it leaves the light bound for darkness, isolation & fear only to emerge stronger & more beautiful than it could ever have imagined. As I reflect on the struggles of any given day or the past year I focus on this process and how any obstacles that come into our life are full of lessons, give us strength, courage and determination to forge on.
The past year had many blessings and joyful times. Simple moments & memories made with my two young girls. Adventures camping with them, trips to the beach, celebrations of their birthdays and me hitting my 40th year of life. Date nights and memories made with my wonderful and supportive husband, great times with a handful of wonderful friends that I hold close and am grateful for always. Memories, milestones, missions accomplished, goals crushed and alot of wonderful things. However like any year there were heartaches, the loss of a beautiful soul, my dear friend Caitlin after a courageous battle against cancer. My 9 year old daughter developing severe anxiety, panic attacks & separation anxiety all stemming from worry about her mother. (Insert knife through heart) My own progression of PD & Dystonia & the need for a cane during "off" times, wheelchair placard for my car, inability to exercise the way I used to etc... Discussions and the start of a lengthy process to see if I can get Deep Brain Stimulation (yes, brain surgery) for treatment of these progressive neurological diseases I live with. Coming to terms with the fact that my hard working husband who works for weeks at a time on the complete opposite side of the country needs to soon come home and live & work here. And the stresses of making that happen like being able to afford for him to return to school to take a new trade and afford my medical expenses when he leaves his job which average $600/month right now. Getting sick with the flu and being unable to keep meds down and getting a first hand glimpse of what Parkinsons Disease has done to me and what life would be like without medications, which scared the hell out of me. That's just to name a few of the challenges 2017 brought.
How we cope and deal with all these things that are often painful and completely out of our control is a choice. We can choose to focus on the negative, wallow in our own sorrow, isolate and get depressed and stay cocooned inevitably or we can put on the boxing gloves and fight our way out stronger, better & determined. When we choose that option we can reflect to learn lessons from those obstacles, see what we could have done differently in how we reacted, find what good came from those situations. Because after all life is all about balance. Great things can happen to us but we pay for them in some way if you dig deep and look for it you'll see what I mean. Just like the bad things that happen to us there's much good to come from it if you change your perspective on how you see it. It's like the great Muhammad Ali who also had Parkinsons said... "Float like a butterfly, but sting like a bee" I see this as be gracious, take the time to see the beauty in things, take what comes your way but always remain fierce, always fight on, always stay focused on the end goal.
So as a new year is upon us, a new book ready to be written, 12 new chapters full of potential in your story ready to unfold how will you choose to write it? How will you choose to have the main character react when life throws a challenge into the story? How will you choose your character to respond to the joyful things in life? How will your character live for all 365 pages of this years 12 chapter book of life?
I personally pray that I always have the courage to write my story my own way, to never change a single word for fear of it not being what someone else wants to read. That my story will touch someone, inspire someone, teach something to one of it's readers but most importantly that it will keep me focused, grounded, honest and that I'll find inspiration in myself, continue to find the determination required to fly and keep finding the strength to write the best story I possibly can day in and day out. I pray it's a book that someday my 6 & 9 year old girls are proud to read, a book that shows them to never give up no matter how hard the struggle may be. I will write my story, my way one page at a time focusing on the joy and learning from the pain.