Luck and Choices

“I’m lucky to be alive.” That was told to me by my ex-husband the other day. Let me explain a few things about my ex-husband– first, we are friends. Honest to goodness friends. We have a son together and we are both actively raising him – together. We communicate daily; we listen to each other’s ideas and agree on courses of action for our son. The divorce did not start out that way, but the cancer changed all that. Cancer. That’s my second thing to explain. He is a cancer survivor – advanced, aggressive, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The doctors thought it developed within a months time and was so aggressive they used experimental treatment, so unknown as to what they were doing they literally told me if the cancer did not kill him the chemo would. He had less than a 10% chance of survival. He beat it, no he kicked its ass. Excuse my language, but I think it appropriate in this instance. But it took its toll, he has neuropathy in his feet, numerous surgeries and treatments and the poor man lives in pain every day. Both his ankles are fused to his leg bones so he has no real flexibility and he said it is like his feet are on fire or walking on glass 24/7. This man has an incredible pain threshold so if he says he hurts anyone else would have cut their own limb off. But he goes to work everyday, spends time with his son and is appreciative to be alive. Lastly, he is a black and white kind of guy, not sniff the roses kind of guy. Very old fashioned, things should be a certain way, no ifs ands or buts. So for him to say he is lucky to be alive it is a huge statement and reflection. Even though he cheated death at just 41.

He called me yesterday to tell me his first oncologist, Dr. Hwang, died earlier this month. They were the same age. Dr. Hwang would have been 49 next Thursday. Dr. Hwang was a wonderful doctor and man. He was patient with us and supportive when my ex was first diagnosed. I am truly sorry for his family; they have lost a great man. Here was a man that fights to save people from this terrible disease and he is outlived by one of his patients. Reflect on that for a moment.

I normally give advice on resumes, interviewing and personal business presentation. Today, with learning of the passing of Dr. Hwang I felt compelled to post a blog as a gentle reminder to myself and others that we are lucky to be alive. Our lives may not be playing out like we would like them to, we may not have a great job or a job at all, we may not have a significant other, we may not have a lot of things – but honestly do we look every day to see what we do have?

Eight years ago when my ex-husband was going through treatment and I was there every night and every weekend it would have been easy to complain of everything that was going wrong. I was rebuilding a relationship with the man whom I divorced a year prior, I was working full time, I was a full time mom, I had no significant other and financially it was difficult. I did not focus on these things. My focus was that the father of my child was going to survive to continue to be a father to his son, I had a great job that I loved and was able to go to every day, I had a beautiful son who was involved in his dad’s treatment and an incredible child, I chose to focus my attention on my family rather than find a relationship, and I could pay my bills (maybe a little late) but I could put food on the table for my son and a roof over his head.

By focusing on the positives it helped us all get through that terrible time. My son and his father have a good relationship, I own my own business and after 20 plus years the love of my life is back in my life and we will be getting married in the near future.

In learning of Dr. Hwang’s passing, it gave me a kick in the hind quarters. Everything that I had complained about yesterday ticked me off. That I was complaining rather than acting. I had to get myself back on the track of what can I change today to make it better – what choices can I make to eliminated the complaints I had earlier.

Here’s the thing – if I wanted to be preachy I could at this point tell you to write down all your blessings, take time out of every day to reflect on the positives, see the good in all people and generally hug yourself. But, really, that is not me. If you know me or have read any of my earlier postings you know that I pretty much say it as I see it and can be blunt.

So what I would really like to say is this – let’s get over ourselves. Yes, there are things in our life that stink, we all have that. But, which of those things can you change? Be honest here, you can not blame all the ills of the world on others. Take some action and take back the positives in your life. Don’t have a job and feel like you are sending out hundreds of resumes? Have someone look at your resume. If you do not want to hire someone for it, have a friend look at it with you, someone who will be honest with you. My client’s pay me to do their resumes but it is more than that, I am honest with them. I do not always tell them things they like but they know I will be honest and work with them to make it their best. I work with them. Go to the library, they have lots of reference materials. Do something to make a positive change.

Have friends that feed your negativity? You get together and have complaint parties? Stay away from them! I have enough stuff I need to focus on, I do not need to take on their complaints and negative energies! Kids acting up and wont listen to you? Get them where it hurts, take away their privileges and make them earn them back. Do not be afraid to be the bad guy – my goodness that is part of our job as parents. Yes, it is harder to hear them whine about not having their phone, but too bad. If my son whines, it just adds to the chores list of time it takes to get it back. Eventually he learns.

With everything, you cannot always control the situation, but you can control how you react to it. That is your choice. Take control, take action and be glad you have the opportunities to do so! I will leave you with my favorite saying: Some pursue happiness, others create it.

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