I suppose it would depend on the degree of heartache for most of us, and even then I’m fairly positive that our views of challenges are usually trivial in comparison to others.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I shared the importance of learning to be present and to enjoy each moment of life which is something I’m making a concerted effort to do.
The day I wrote the post I had attended my daughters cheer leading competition with my mom and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it but what finished the day off perfectly was a conversation my mom and I had with my friend Dorothy while driving home.
I’ve only known Dorothy for just over a year. I met her at a cheer leading practice shortly after my daughter joined the team.
About a year ago, when my Daughter Rosie joined cheer leading, she was a little shy and didn’t always jump right in to participate.
It took a few kicks at the can to build her confidence, and frankly I had doubts as to whether she’d actually settle into her new activity at all.
One day, while trying to encourage Rose to participate, Dorothy came to sit down beside me.
We started talking and I shared with her the fact that I was feeling a little worn out with it all!
She laughed and encouraged me that Rose would be fine. She then went on to comment on her grand daughter “Ally” who has never had an issue with shyness; she also expressed how thankful and proud she was of Ally’s confidence level despite the challenges the family had faced.
I have to admit I was curious at this point and couldn’t help but ask what these “challenges” were.
As Dorothy started to explain, I realized she is the grandmother of a little girl who lived only a couple of blocks from me who lost her life to brain cancer in 2006.
At that point, my perspective shifted and I realized how I was deeming Rosie’s lack of confidence to be a ‘challenge’ when in actuality it didn’t even rank on the scale of being an issue in life! In other words I had an immediate perspective shift!
Dorothy also shared that in addition to suffering the loss of her beautiful grand daughter Hannah, a year later, Kathy, her daughter (Hannah and Ally’s Mom) had also lost a battle to breast cancer and leukemia.
If that’s not enough, the whole string of tragedies occurred after Dorothy lost her husband.
While I listened, I’m sure my mouth was hanging open, yet Dorothy maintained her usual positive tone and was (and always is) the poster-lady of personal strength and gratitude.
Now, I’m just going to digress a little and explain that I’m aiming to convey a lot in this post. There is background to this story, both surrounding Dorothy, her past, but also the way she draws on her personal strength and gratitude to see life positively as well as she “chooses” to accept life the way it is and make the best of every day.
Because there’s a lot to explain, I’m breaking this post down in to sections in order to clearly share the many pieces contributing to my message.
How I knew Hannah Hatlen’s Story:
As many of you know, I live in a small town on the west coast of British Columbia. We have a wonderful community of people, and although it has grown a lot since I arrived in 1974, we’re all connected in one way or another, and while we may not ALL know each other personally, if there’s anything of significance, word gets around!
A few years ago when my daughter was born, I belonged to a ‘moms’ group. We met every Thursday to have a visit and a coffee and show off with our beautiful bundles!
I can remember as clear as a bell the day I attended one of our Moms meetings and heard the news that a precious little girl in our neighbourhood had been diagnosed with a form brain cancer. Her name was Hannah Hatlen.
I’ve tried to find the words to describe Hannah’s short life but felt you’d get more out of it by watching this video summarizing the heartache suffered by the Hatlen family and the impact this has had on our community.
Our Random Conversation:
During our drive home from the Cheerleading Competition on Saturday, for one reason or another, my mom happened to mention her dear friend “Vi” who has also suffered a string of losses during these last fifteen years.
When my mom was talking to her friend Vi, one day, the conversation turned to the subject of if we cold could live life over.
While my moms’ friend Vi is an incredibly strong and positive lady as well, Vi’s response was “oh Pauline, I don’t know if I’d have the strength to go through some of it again”.
Frankly, I can’t say I blame her.
Now here’s where the conversation becomes incredibly inspiring and magnifies the power of mindset and the importance of making the decision to focus on personal strength, gratitude and living in the moment:
Dorothy’s response was that she would live her life over again… and although, I could see Vi’s perspective, I am in awe of Dorothy’s courage.
Dorothy then shared two other personal stories that we were not aware of: Dorothy’s first marriage didn’t work out (same as me) but she also lost a son at the age of 7, many years ago.
She then went on to explain the fact that we have no choice BUT to accept the cards dealt in life and have a decision how we are are going to handle them. (Not exactly in these words).
She acknowledges naturally, that while losing her son, Kathy and Hannah are nothing less than tragic but that she “accepts” this as part of her life.
If she hadn’t married her first husband, she would have never had her son. She knows she was blessed and entrusted with him and gave him the best seven years of his short life.
She would have never had the gift of her wonderful Daughter Kathy, who in turn gave her the gift of Hannah and of course Ally; nor would she have her other incredible daughter Cheryl who is a pillar of support and a wonderful person.
She also has an amazing son-in-law, Tore (Kathy’s husband, Hannah and Ally’s dad) and of course little Ally, who we all adore.
She lives each day in gratitude for what she has and holds on the memories of the people who have moved on before us.
Though she admits, there are some days she feels a little off, like the rest of us she makes the personal decision to be the best she can be, and make the best out of every day.
For the rest of us:
If you are reading this blog right now, I am asking you to count your blessings and learn a thing or two about personal strength and gratitude from this post.
We all face challenges from time to time, but I’m hoping you will put them into perspective.
The purpose of this post and my message all along is and has always been to help you to enjoy each moment of life, show gratitude and be grateful for everyone you have. Draw on your personal strengths and scoot through life taking time to smell the roses along the way.
If you wish you could live life over, let it only be to take Erma Bombecks advice and hug your kids and dear ones often.
If you find you sweat the small stuff & petty problems as part of your daily routine, perhaps you need to come back and read this story and take a leaf out of Dorothy’s book…often!
Focus on the Law of Relativity, and then move on to build your personal strengths, live life to the fullest, and count your many blessings.
If you found value in this post, I’d love you to share it amongst your friends and on any social networks as well!
Here’s to personal strength and gratitude and that we don’t lose sight!