Having a conversation with a girlfriend the other evening about what kind of legacy we want to leave and what our lives are meant for started me re-examining my own life.
Seems lately that every day all day I see infomercials for buying final expense life insurance to make it easier, at least financially, for your loved ones when you pass.
The existential conversation about life and death can be quite complicated. Running the gamut of you live, you die, and that’s it, to a belief in an afterlife, maybe even reincarnation. I’m one who believes in the karmic synergy of the universe and that life on earth is just a way station. Our evolution as humans come from an understanding that our purpose is to learn gratitude, understand we are part of a whole and that what we do to others we do to ourselves.
Surviving cancer has given me a renewed relationship with my own mortality. I don’t fear death, it’s part of the human experience. I believe we were sent here to understand that we are reflected in the faces of others and that we are our brother’s keeper. In totality, we should aspire to our highest self.
My sadness about departing my physical body comes from the separation, no longer being able to hang out with my family and friends; enjoying precious time together. But, my new consciousness evokes a more incredible point – the amazing reality that I ever existed at all!
We are all miracles; chosen for an existence on earth. My greatest wish for humankind is that we embrace the fact our lives have an expiration date for the lessons we must learn.
For me, it means being given this amazing gift of life to explore, reflect, and leave this world a little better than I found it. My desire is to achieve my highest self; moving on with a smile on my face from having lived a life of joy with no regrets; clear in the ultimate understanding that every moment is precious so, be present and choose love as a mantra for existence.
Each and every day I choose to live my life without fear; understanding that taking chances and keeping faith through adversity is to grow as a person and citizen of the world. Fear makes some people commit heinous acts and is responsible for so much suffering in people’s lives. Fear can prevent us from speaking out when seeing a wrong or blaming some “other” for our problems.
But, living fearlessly can open infinite possibilities. Believe and realize your dreams. Reach out and understand that a simple smile can brighten someone’s day. Adjust your attitude to a positive point of view and create the life you seek.
Take the leap and have faith. Destiny lies in your hands.
A common denominator for us all? – Emotions. I’ve learned over time to respect all my feelings. We have them for a reason and it’s okay to not have a perpetual smile on your face. It’s all about degrees. Without sadness, we wouldn’t appreciate the joy in our lives. I saw the Pixar movie “Inside Out” and loved it! It’s not just for kids, adults as well can learn a lot about how emotions affect us.
My heart went out to Sadness. For her, situations always seemed to go wrong. I’ve always felt that we’re conditioned to believe the only acceptable feeling is joy and the others, anger, fear and disgust are to be avoided. Even in the movie, Sadness tends to get a bad rap, but we need her. Plus, she’s so darn adorable!
I always try to remember that it’s okay to be sad sometimes. Just don’t forget to get back up again and celebrate joy!
While watching one of my favorite tv shows, “The Voice”, I was struck by the lyrics of a song I haven’t heard in years, Joan Osborne’s incredible 1995 hit “What If God Was One of Us?” I instinctively grabbed my laptop and began writing down the bleak thoughts that had started rushing through my head.
With all the conflict, and negative energy coursing through the world these days, the question of the song lyric – “What if God Was One of Us?” made me pause and ponder; in what spirit are we living our lives?
“What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home?”
How we interact with or judge others has a ripple effect. Love and compassion shouldn’t be dirty words and we should be offended by and call out those who judge the world and view people through a crooked lens. As we go about our daily lives let’s be mindful and strive to live a life of hope, mercy, and kindness.
What we say and do matters. You never know who’s listening and watching.
“My religion is simple. My religion is peace, love, compassion, and equality.”
From the first time I heard this song and still now, I feel joyful and appreciative for the blessing of waking up to a beautiful day! And my intention reminds me – make the most of it!
Since I’m a word girl and lyrics get butchered all the time,😄 I picked this video which showcases the impactful words of “Beautiful Day.”
It sounds like such a simple thing to do but so easy to forget. Each day, each moment is a gift. I know for me, next time I question what’s up with time, I’ll have to reflect on my own sense of appreciation.
One of my favorite spiritual guides is author Don Miguel Ruiz, and his New York Times bestseller “The Four Agreements.” I’ve read and re-read this book and it always brings me clarity and a deeper understanding of how we interact with others and view ourselves. The book is based on the teachings of ancient Toltec wisdom and serves as a refocusing of how to limit self defeating thoughts and suffering so we can enjoy a life of fulfillment and happiness.
“Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity, say only what you mean.“
Believing in yourself is where it all starts. Waking up in the morning feeling blessed and sure that something wonderful is going to happen. The mind is incredibly powerful and shapes the life we live and the world we understand.
It’s so easy to find ourselves falling into the trap of walking around complaining about the usual crap and not recognizing that we create our reality by our viewpoint and attitude towards what we experience.
Agreement 2: “Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you.”
Surviving cancer has proven to be an amazing awakening to how I live my life. I have a new appreciation for the quote “Tomorrow is not promised” since 2015 when I was diagnosed with both Breast and Colon Cancer. Now I make it a point to relish each moment.
The 3rd Agreement is my favorite:
“Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.”
Fortunately I’d re-read “The Four Agreements” before my cancer diagnosis and Agreement Number Three – “Don’t Make Assumptions” proved to be a lifesaver; instead of freaking out upon hearing the news, I applied the principle, had faith and promised myself to live one day at a time.
“Always Do Your Best. Doing your best means enjoying the action without expecting a reward.”
I highly recommend reading “The Four Agreements” as an inspiring roadmap for living a more joyous and fulfilling life.
After watching a YouTube video of inspirational speaker Inky Johnson, I had to collect myself as tears streamed down my face in response to his incredible story. I then asked myself, how are you going to write about this amazing young man but then thought, what did Inky say? “It’s not about you but how you can be a blessing in someone else’s life.” I felt the importance of sharing Inky’s story of triumph and determination and what his experience may mean in uplifting another person’s moment of crisis.
Inquoris D. Johnson (better known as Inky Johnson) is a motivational speaker, author, and former football player for the University of Tennessee who rose from a life of adversity to becoming a shining example of the very best in us. Inky grew up in poverty surrounded by crime and drugs. But, for Inky, this hostile environment planted a seed of greatness that Inky nurtured within his spirit as he set forth in life with an unrelenting goal of making life better for his family through sheer will and commitment.
His early understanding of how the decisions we make affect everyone around us shaped his philosophy that quitting when the going gets tough or when we don’t like the situation becomes a habit which will eventually catch up with us.
From the age of 7 years, Inky trained religiously for his lifelong dream of becoming a professional football player. Starting as a child, doing extra training on the practice field late at night in the headlights of his mother’s beat up car. Her loving eyes serving as an unwavering source of inspiration and pride.
“When you work from the inside-out you understand your WHY, you understand your HOW, and you understand your WHAT.” Inky Johnson
Inky Johnson was born on February 12, 1986 in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in the rough Kirkwood neighborhood in a 2-bedroom house with his mother and 13 other family members. He slept on a pallet on the floor and recalls arriving at the bus stop early to shake out his backpack to make sure there were no roaches or rats inside. In true Inky Johnson fashion, when given the opportunity to transfer from his failing school to one of the top in the city, he refused noting that he wanted to be an example to his siblings on how they could make it out of their violent and drug infested neighborhood. Even then he knew it wasn’t about him but others.
Inky’s opportunity to advance out of his surroundings arose one night when a coach walking down the street came across Inky and his cousins playing. The coach signed them up to play organized sports. Inky played football and baseball. Graduating from one of the underserved public schools in Georgia, Inky’s talents on the field earned him a college scholarship to the University of Tennessee playing football. His noticeable skills earned him a shot at making it into the NFL draft. But, to his horror, it was not to be. A life altering accident at Neyland Stadium made Inky ponder:
“When we fail to achieve our lifelong dreams, we must ask, “Am I Failing, or is God prevailing?” Inky Johnson
September 9, 2006 in a game against Air Force, Johnson went for a tackle and jammed his shoulder into the body of the Air Force running back. The hit caused permanent nerve damage in Inky’s right shoulder and left him fighting for his life. His right arm was paralyzed; ending his lifelong dream of lifting his family out of poverty as a player in the NFL. For most people this unbelievable turn of events would have brought them to their knees, but not Inky. He reached into his soul and drew on a power that had been growing in him his entire life. He saw the dream crushing accident as an opportunity to share his life experiences with others because he knew God had a plan for him.
Inky tours the country and shares his inspiring words with audiences as well as on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. Inky speaks from his soul with a compassion and strength that makes you reflect on your life and strive to be a blessing in someone else’s. Hearing Inky’s story for just a few short minutes gives you a bucket full of motivation to uplift and inspire you to do your best every day.
“We Become What We Feed” is a wonderful parable spoken by Johnson infused with mellow Jazz meditation music adding to the richness of the story. He encourages you to download and “marinate on that.” Inky Johnson
Sharing a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones is truly a blessing. Having food on the table and a roof overhead is a luxury not everyone can afford.
As we enjoy our traditional turkey and pumpkin pie, let’s remember those without. Reaching out and sharing should be part of our consciousness as I believe we are our brother’s keeper.
As a cancer survivor I am keenly aware that tomorrow is not promised, appreciative of the fact that no matter how bleak the world may seem, we are only here as flesh and blood for a second in the Universe of time. We should not take for granted that we, as well as friends and family, will always be here.
As a child, I remember Sunday family dinners being a time to catch up on our week and just enjoy each other’s company. No TV, No Phones, but quality time to bond and appreciate these special moments.
Merely hanging out with our cohorts is a precious gift we should treasure and make time for in our busy lives. Enjoying these riches is a blessing we should value and appreciate; treating these simple but special occasions with tender loving care.
This Thanksgiving and every day, embrace each moment with mindful purpose and positive energy; understanding the importance of spending time and enjoying one another.
Let’s make it our mission to spread love and compassion. As the Dalai Lama said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
When we lose the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we lose touch with our humanity; devaluing the reality that just because it won’t affect us doesn’t lessen its impact on others.
Make it a point to lend a helping hand not only during the holidays but daily; praying for grace and mercy for all.
I am forever thankful and grateful to my beautiful family and friends. My cup runneth over with joy as I celebrate the blessings the Lord has given.
Last week I was feeling extremely stressed and in a fatalistic mood. I didn’t even feel like this when I had cancer. My emotions have been running the gamut of mad, sad, empathetic, scared, and grateful for those incredible souls on the frontlines who are working 24/7 to assist and save as many patients as possible.
So, I wrote a dark, end of the world, melancholy opus to fit my hopeless state of mind. After reading it to my husband and accepting my feelings; I shook myself and said “you can’t publish this. It’s okay to live in your emotions for a short while but, you must pick yourself up and put events into perspective. Creating the reality you want to see.
We’re all sad, frightened and hyper-sensitive of the ground shifting moment by moment on this roller-coaster ride that is Covid-19. “After all this…” is a reminder to refocus our minds and embrace the implications that are woven into Humanity.
I Am You and You Are Me. We Are Our Brothers and Sisters Keeper!