"Why are you so positive – what choices and experiences led to that?"
I’m very rebellious!
Like many of us, I grew up in an environment with schoolyard gossips and bullies; where people complained about weather, neighbors,
and the state of the world; where most conversations focused on the “worst case scenario.” I challenged myself
to turn every negative into a positive.
Even in my home, where I knew I was cherished, love was expressed
through over-protection, fear, worry, and negative thinking. Attempting
to fit in, I often kept my optimism to myself, yet inwardly I was searching for the “best-case scenario,” simply
because it felt better: “Hopeful” felt better than “helpless;” “Maybe” felt better than
“never;” “You’ll never know till you try” felt better than “why bother?”
By the time I reached adolescence, my “positicianing”
defied authority. The more I was told I couldn’t do something,
the more I was determined to point out the positive side of every situation. Sadly, however, I allowed negative influences
to permeate my beliefs. On the surface, I argued and engaged in power struggles, just to prove I was “right;”
but inside I felt lost and alone. My ultimate frustration led me on a journey through depression, drugs, eating disorders,
and feeling utterly incapable of accomplishing my deepest dreams.
I survived through
words of comfort and support, from friends and strangers, and by reading the wisdom of others who’d traveled this path
before me. I returned from the brink of teenage suicide simply by focusing on a poster that read, “No doubt the Universe
is unfolding as it should.”
I latched onto that phrase
and have carried it through my life. At that young age of 18, when I thought I’d had all the suffering I could take,
the real “pains” of life were just beginning – and so was my ability to transform them into gifts. I married a wonderful
man, have 3 beautiful children, and live a magnificent life of my own making. Still, as many of us do, for the last 25
years I have lived personally, or vicariously through loved ones, with mental illness, depression, obesity, addiction, near-death
trauma, brain injury, cancer, and various forms of disappointment, disability, loss, and grief.
Consequently, I've witnessed miracles. I’ve experienced resiliency, gratitude, appreciation, hope, determination,
grace, and joy beyond reason. I’ve gained self-esteem by doing “esteemable acts,” serving others, and accepting
that the Universe is unfolding as it should.
I accept I can’t change what happened. But when I change how I THINK ABOUT what happened, a whole new world
emerges. Lessons are learned, patterns are broken, experience translates into wisdom that can benefit others. In this light
– with time – bigger pictures emerge. The good that I strive to uncover rises to the surface in grand style –
a new job, a new friend, a new home, new opportunities that would not exist had it not been for past adversities. And the
funny thing is, my pain – even in the moment – is lessened. I judge few things as “bad” or “wrong”
anymore. It’s all “just information.” And I get to choose how to apply it to my life. When I look at the Big
Picture it’s easy to see the gifts outweigh the pain.
I listen to others tell their stories. I listen with an open heart and mind, what we call “Hospitality of the Heart.” Because of my experiences, I never discount or dismiss their discomfort – on the contrary, I
first had to acknowledge my pain in order to reposition it in my thoughts.
A simple nod of understanding builds
trust which creates connections, breaks the isolation, kindles hope, and Awakens our Optimism!