I am no longer afraid of the storm, for I am learning to sail my ship. — Louisa May Alcott
I came across this quote in a caregiver’s newsletter this week. It really resonated with me because to understand its full impact, a person has to have weathered storms in life.
Like most people, I’ve experienced my share of life’s disappointments, sometimes bordering on tragedy. My father became seriously ill when I was 13. I broke my leg and lost the lead of the 9th grade musical and was marooned at home for five months. I miscarried between my daughters. I divorced after 40 and lived alone for the first time in my life. Ken was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago and MS 7 years ago. I was fired or laid off a half dozen times. I’ve had to shop in thrift stores, live on food stamps and saw my 800 credit rating plummet into the 500s. Through all of these things, I’ve learned it’s not what happens to you; it’s how you deal with it.
I found out who I was and how strong I could be by facing the tragedies with humor and a positive attitude. It didn’t come naturally, but I soon learned nobody wants to be around a complainer. I looked for the positive elements of a situation and concentrate on them. It’s not that I’m brave or special; it’s just that it’s so much easier to go with the flow.
When you choose to live a thankful life and find the positive things in dire situations, the bad doesn’t seem as bad. Best of all, a positive outlook makes the sadness of the tragedy easier for everyone around you. Friends come forward to help. Family steps in, too. In fact, our doctors have gone so far to tell both Ken and I that we inspired them. I don’t know about you, but that was exciting.
So, when Ken is so weak he can hardly sit in a chair, we stay at home and are thankful we can experience a quiet day. We laugh at the goofy game shows, play on our computers, and just are thankful we have a comfortable place to do both. Before we know it, the day has passed and it’s time to cuddle in bed and thank God for a good day.
When he’s feeling strong, we have a day like yesterday–bumming around accomplishing errands, visiting friends, while laughing together, and having a date for lunch–just the two of us.
Our ship is on a steady course. We realize the storms will come, and when they do, we either strap ourselves to the mast and hang on to each other, or we point our ship into the wind and wait for calmer winds and sunshine. Either way, we get through the crappy times together and rejoice when we can sail again through calm seas.
It takes a lot of living to understand how to weather the storms, but experience has shown finding the smallest positive detail — and there always is a nugget of something good in the worst possible situation — you’ll come through the bad weather with a calm you never dreamed was possible.