Several years ago I began unearthing a long untold story from my childhood, an extended march through a dark time from which, frankly I never believed I’d emerge.
How’s that for dark? I teenage girl who didn’t believe that she’d ever see 30. Perhaps that belief was part of the motivation that fueled some of the behaviors that later plagued me, but that’s a discussion for another time. The journey of which I speak was my being diagnosed at age 14 with ulcerative colitis.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Many people hit by this disease or any of its brethren — Crohn’s Disease and the like — wrestle for a lifetime with this inner dragon. Others succumb to the disease. Not only did I survive, but the cards that fell for me granted a slip into full remission many years ago. So long ago that at this point I’ve spent more of my life without the disease than I had with it. A true blessing.
As I thought today about what I wanted to share for my National Poetry Month “Poem a Day” offering. More Neruda? Virginia Woolf, maybe? Perhaps slip maudlin with Sylvia Plath? My eyes drifted across my desk, seeking inspiration from any of myriad things I keep scattered about for just such moments. The collection rotates, fresh thoughts and inspiration all around me. A few pieces hold steady, items from watershed moments, tokens of memory from those whose presence in my life left indelible imprints: A “Spencer Katt” mousepad from PC Week Magazine; an old desktop boom microphone stand; my Atlantic City Press credentials from the 1989 Miss America Pageant; photographs from my 1995 trip to Israel; a handmade card from my dear friend Christine Herron’s adorable daughter … and a small, well-worn plastic card.
For years this card lived in my wallet. I carried it with me many places. The story of this card and its importance in my life already were fodder for this series. If you missed it, you can skip out for a second and read about it here.
Go ahead, I’ll wait …
Ah, you’re back? Good. Now as I was saying … this card meant a lot to me, so much that I stopped carrying it with me in the event my wallet got misplaced or stolen. Instead, I put it among the creative inspiration fodder in my home office — a space that until quite recently lay fallow without my use. It’s good to be in this space, writing and building on new ideas … and it’s even better to glance daily at this reminder of an important message and the person who gave it to me.
So today’s National Poetry Month contribution isn’t the most graceful or profound. It isn’t the most beautiful or captivating. It is, however, one that is emblazoned on my heart. Hope the message rings for you.
It’s How You Cope
Life has its measure of setbacks —
Some are small, some are larger in size.
There are portions of every existence
Which clearly we’d like to revise
But stresses and problems are normal —
Disappointments are part of the game.
If we let these moments control us,
We must assume part of the blame.
It’s how we react that’s important;
We mustn’t distort what we feel.
Let’s work with what life has to offer
And never begrudge a bad deal.
Depression can never assist us
In weathering woes on this earth.
We shouldn’t let each disappointment
Give rise to more grief than it’s worth.
Instead we should try to discover,
As life in intensity mounts,
A way to place things in proportion.
You see, how we cope is what counts.
—Bruce B. Wilmer
Today’s Gracious Gratitude. I am grateful for:
- The Vegas Golden Knights crushing the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 4–0 sweep!!!!
- Sliced avocado sprinkled with truffle salt
- mango salsa
- Realizing that after I scorched a piece of pizza in the oven that I had another piece in the freezer
- Having a freezer with food
- Friends who check in for no other reason than to say hi
- The magical conversations that happen when I take a chance and share something personal
- The light that comes on after I’ve given someone a copy of a poem or a story and I see them connect with the message.
- My dogs