Last night I had dinner with my mother in a beautiful independent living facility near my home. Since my mother’s recent illness, we have decided it would be better for both of us if she moved closer to me. We’ve been looking at places for her to live and last night was one of those visits. When I arrived at the facility, my mother, who had gone over a few hours before me, was already seated on a sofa next to a fireplace, chatting with a group of men and women. Near them was a man playing a piano, and several others singing along. It was beautiful. And for a few moments, I forgot about all the trouble that has been plaguing our nation and our world.
Since last spring, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, it’s been a rough ride. As you can imagine, between the recommended treatments, surgery, and some unexpected complications, there have been some pretty challenging times. But there have also been beautiful times. We have had long talks leading to healing of old wounds, enjoyed binge watching “This is Us” together, and at other times got absolutely giddy about something only we would find funny. Of course, I wish my mom had never gotten sick and never had to endure all that she has had to go through to recover, BUT since she did and we cannot change that, I am grateful for what came out of it. After all, my mom has lost 30 pounds, she looks and feels better than she has in years, her indomitable spirit is back with a vengeance, she is out attending lectures and looking for a bridge partner, and (most important to me) she and I are now closer than ever before.
I am sharing this with you today because I have woken up most days over the last few months with a heavy heart. In addition to my family’s personal struggles, I have been worried about my country and our world. The fractures are deep and the work that is needed for repair is massive, and will require great compromise, energy, focus, and determination. The heavy lifting is exhausting and yet there is no choice. And much like the situation my mother and I have just lived through, I believe that we can emerge better, stronger, and with greater capacity to embrace one another. Perhaps this experience will lead to an even better world.
It’s so hard to remain positive when things appear dark. I am a thinker and a doer, as you might imagine, and I am an inherently impatient person. Living through the past year with my mother has tested my resolve in so many ways because no matter how much I tried to do, we were both beholden to time and to fate. But the amazing thing was that while we were trapped in a situation we could not control, we both got to take advantage of the things that we could. We did things together, wonderful things, that we likely would never have done had the opportunity not presented itself in such an apparently negative way. And we both grew, and benefitted in ways we never could have predicted.
I share these thoughts with you because I am usually sitting in this position telling you something you should consider doing. I always want to help, to guide and to share my knowledge and my experience in the hopes that it might improve your life in some way, whether it be health, or fitness or mental well being. But today I simply want you to know that good things are happening in your life and in our world no matter what you may be seeing before you. And it struck me that just like my mother and I have been on a journey that led us down a beautiful and meaningful path, maybe this country and this world are doing the exact same thing around all of us.
I see hope and beauty in the stories I read, and in the faces of people I have met who are sharing their experiences and their hopes for change, both personal and global. I felt a warmth in the room at the assisted living facility where I sat with my mom, a cup of hot chocolate, and her new friends. I felt the incredible energy that filled my city when countless women and men attended a march that expressed democracy in its purest form. And I recognize that while I never wanted to have to read some of those stories or to sit in an assisted living facility or to assemble amongst hundreds of thousands of people to express my feelings, I gained so much in the process. And it all happened in spite of my best intentions.
So wherever you find yourself today, whatever moment, good or bad, perhaps take a breath and look both forward and backward from where you stand. There is a journey there, and you are stuck right in the middle of it. Embrace it. Take a long view…try and connect the dots that you maybe didn’t even realize were there. And above all else, have a little faith. And then square your shoulders, sharpen your resolve, and soldier on.
And perhaps in the process we will get to a better place together.
With love and hot chocolate,