Writing My Story Helps Me Learn to Live Again — Maybe It Can Inspire Others

“photo of brown wooden house beside leafed plants” by Lopez Robin on Unsplash

As writers, we must sometimes get out of our comfort zones and write about topics that are at once painful and exhilarating because, in a small way, writers bare their soul for the world to see. It is in these soul-baring stories that we can come to grips with the good, the bad, and the ugly of our life’s experiences, and the catharsis that comes from those moments allows us to grow and mature as individuals.

“As for the healing, that comes from the writing, from living and writing. That’s my catharsis. That’s why I never regret sharing because it’s part of my healing!” — Karrine Steffans

So, it is with my writing, as well. There is something healing that comes from telling stories of my life, even the events that left me battered, broken, and seemingly unable to get up and move on. Why? Because in telling the story of those events in my life, maybe… just maybe… I can help someone who is unable to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is not an oncoming train but the light of what will be a healthier, happier life for having endured whatever trial life throws at you.

It is through trials which included a failed business, a bankruptcy, mental breakdown, and cancer that I have learned to live life more openly and honestly with myself and others.

With a melanoma diagnosis in December 2017 and the subsequent surgeries, my serenity when it comes to things I have little or no control over has increased because, in the case of cancer, I had no control over the outcome and it would be whatever it would be. In letting go, I had to be all right with either a positive or negative result because I could not change either one no matter how hard I tried. But, people did not understand what I was doing, and they thought I was being nonchalant or cavalier, but, for me to be mentally ready for either outcome and give myself a fighting chance, I had to let go of something I had no control over and turn it over to God.

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr was what I needed during this time to remind me I could only change the things I had control over and I had to trust God when it came to the cancer diagnosis.

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.” — Reinhold Niebuhr

Thankfully, the surgeons were able to remove the entire area of cancer from my face, and it was in-situ or fully contained, and after reconstruction, my life is back to normal, but in other ways, my life is both better and worse for having gone through the experience.

Before the cancer diagnosis, I had become relatively cynical when it came to doing things for “friends” and letting people see my true feelings because I had been burned numerous times over the years by pseudo-friends. Even though I have tried to live my life with honor and integrity, I found that after being burned one too many times, I was living by the motto, “do unto others before they do it unto you.” I had utterly abandoned the golden rule, and my feelings were something I kept hidden in a box because they had been used against me more times than I cared to count. But, with the uncertainty of this diagnosis, I decided to open my heart again, allow people to see the real me, and work to trust people again.

It has not been an easy process and knowing that I made myself vulnerable to the vagaries and the connivances of human nature, has left me exposed to being hurt, but I still believe that my fellow man is by nature mostly good. I think my gut will still be able to tell me when something smells foul in Denmark, but if I do not see the signs and get hurt, there should be some lesson I can learn from the experience that will leave my life better than before. It is through trying, failing, and being hurt that we learn human nature and it is these interactions that allow us to see both the inherently lovely people and the inherently evil people who walk through our lives daily.

Life is meant to be lived, and as innately social creatures, we want to be loved. I can see that I have been and am truly loved by many people, and my life is better for having met each of those individuals. They added seasoning to my life, and those encounters made me who I am today.

Jim Valvano — ESPY Speech — March 4, 1993

When Jim Valvano was dying of cancer and gave his speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards, he gave us a blueprint for how we should daily live our lives,

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

I can see that my life is pretty extraordinary and yours can be, too. By living each day in thought, laughter, and tears of happiness or joy, we will have the courage to change the things we need to change and the ability to let go of those things we cannot change and over time an ability to recognize the difference in the two. Your life is extraordinary, know that and live your life to the fullest every day because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

I hope my words inspire you and bring a blessing to you in your life, feel free to reach out and tell me how you find encouragement daily and what you do when life gives you lemons. Remember, it’s a wonderful life we live, and you are special.

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