Saturday, December 08, 2007

Remembering Pollyanna

The snow that fell on Wednesday will be gone by the end of the day with the light rain that is falling and the high 40s temperatures. As I look outside the window, I can see both white and green patches. The yin and yang of a winter that will soon be upon us. I only really love snow when I have nowhere to go, when I can watch as each infinitesimally small flake joins with others to create and inch, a foot, a blizzard. But Wednesday, I had somewhere to go. My Mom was having back surgery on her recently fractured vertebrae - her third such surgery. The good thing about this hospitalization is that we do now know what is causing the fractures and the recurrent infections. The hematologists decided against a bone marrow biopsy. Her primary care DR wanted it, but in the end it was determined that a definitive answer would not change her course of care. Final diagnosis: Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) with bone marrow failure. It's cancer or it's pre-cancer, depending on who you talk to. MDS disorders have been defined by their predilection to evolve into acute myeloid leukemias (AML), yet not all cases terminate in leukemia. It's something she has had and that has been treated and monitored for 4 years. Obviously it has progressed so they are increasing her injection from every 6 weeks to every two and adding more calcium to prevent the fractures. Symptoms of the disease are kidney failure, infection, bleeding, bruising, anemia, the fractures, fatigue and weakness.

The good news is that, as of yesterday, she is now back in the skilled nursing center undergoing rehab while she gets her strength back and will be back with Dad in independant living in a week or so. It was only 5 days after she was discharged from the skilled nursing center (remember Thanksgiving) that she fractured her back and pain forced her back into the hospital. We are looking forward to a pain-free, energetic family Christmas, a joyous ending to a very full year.

I subscribe to a wonderful daily newsletter, 365 Days of Coaching. Last Sunday, the message was to list our 100 best moments of the year. "Taking time to acknowledge our accomplishments for the year is a great way to appreciate all the hard work we have put into making the year what it was. We just don't take enough time to recognize our accomplishments and give ourselves credit for what we do. By acknowledging what we have accomplished, we give ourselves the time to be grateful for our successes. An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful way to end the year and begin the new." I can easily rattle off 20 or 30 right now. But the big lessons and discoveries begin when you reach down deep for #45, then 76 and finally, 100. It's the perfect summary for the year and just the right entry for my juicy new journal. What about a best moments journal for 2008, an on-going record? I bet I could top 100 easily if I keep track of them as they happen.

It is easy to dwell on the difficult times, to share in another's sorrow or misfortune. We are caring and compassionate beings. It is all too easy to disregard, dismiss or trivialize moments of happiness. Many of us tend to think of happiness as something big, like winning the lottery, the birth of a child, getting an A on a test, a promotion, or acceptance into a juried show. That's more a feeling of exhilaration. As I have aged, (and fortunately, with that comes wisdom), I have discovered that happiness is (or can be) a daily state of living. Happiness comes from making the best of each day, each situation. It's an attitude, an approach to life. It's the greatest gift my father ever gave me - to look for the positive in every situation, to be grateful for the good that still exists in the midst of trouble or turmoil.

Remember Pollyanna? I saw that movie at a very impressionable age. But what a good and lasting impression it was. My life is the Glad Game. I've noticed it's my first reaction to all sorts of bad news or setbacks. The Glad Game, an attitude of gratitude. Call it what you want, but remaining positive and optimistic steers you through any situation, no matter how dark the night, how rough and choppy the waters get.
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. ~ Denis Waitley

This is my true religion: arbitrary moments of nearly painful happiness for a life I feel privileged to lead. ~ Elizabeth Berg


Lisa Cook said...

Oh yes! I DO remember Pollyanna! Haley Mills was my favorite actress back then. I wanted to BE her! Thank you for sharing the photos with us today. And thank you for sharing your strength and positive outlook on life. Once again, you show us the way. Life indeed is good.

May you and your family have a wonderful holiday together with continued good health for all.


Kim said...

Thank you, Lesley, for reminding us of the true nature of our lives, deep down grateful joy. I hope your mom does well, especially for Christmas, a time of intense joy for me, even more so this year, since I will have my son home from the military school he attends pre Iraq deployment. Kim

dogfaeriex5 said...

thank~ you for this post, i love your blog, you are very inspirational and i love your love of your family, there needs to be more of that in this world...
take care and happy blessed holidays...xo

Pamela Taylor said...

Pollyanna left a deep impression on me as well. I LOVED that movie and my husband actually called me Pollyanna the other day....I have been wondering how your mom was....I am sad about the diagnosis, but so grateful for your beautiful attitude, Lesley. It will help your parents and your children and grandchildren as you go through whatever is ahead. And Christmas will be so special for all of you, I know. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Are you so excited about your upcoming year of family and art? The timing sure seems right, doesnt it? Have a wonderful Christmas.

Cindy In Carolina said...

I just recently saw Pollyanna and I hve been trying to play the Glad Game everyday with one of my friends. I remembered this morning on the way to work that I forgot to play it yesterday. I am GLAD that the sun is shining and we are having warm weather.

Jeannie said...

I too wanted to be Haley Mills, or at least have her for a best friend. I am so glad your mom is doing better and that the diagnosis was not multiple myeloma (My grandmother died from it). Thank you for sharing and reminding us that life is good. Wishing you the best.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I accidently deleted the first post, but I just wanted to thank you for sharing your positive outlook on life and trying situations. I came upon your blog via many links and I'm glad I stopped by to read it. It was exactly what I needed right now - hope and faith. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I will say a prayer for her and send my blessings and positive energy her way. I want to wish you and your family a merry Christmas.