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Can you learn to love the pain?

I love the many things going on in my life right now. Obvious ones are I love my family, friends, pets, career, and how far I’ve come in my relationships with my siblings, husband, extended family, and friends. I love the city I live in…Austin, and I also love the city I was born in… Chicago. I love my age because I feel like I’m finally at a place where I can be myself without the burden of worrying about what other people think. I genuinely love myself…my mind and my body. I love that I’m not a people pleaser. I love that I make myself a priority. I love that I set boundaries. I love that I can see through the bullshit…people’s bullshit, and step back and decide how to handle the bullshit. With my children, I’ll call them out. With other situations and people, it depends. I love that I’m discerning and am usually able to assess the source of the bullshit: fear, anger, lack of experience/knowledge, miscommunication, systemic problems, etc. I tend to file the information away in my mental library as additional tidbits until it’s time to address and take action.

I could go on about the things I love, but, what about the “not so lovely” things that inevitably happen to all of us. Why can’t we have the good stuff all the time? It feels so good! I don’t think our lives were meant to experience euphoria in isolation. The human experience is perplexing and all encompassing. There are books that can explain it better than I. I’m simply here sharing my perspective. In the last two years alone, I’ve experienced extreme challenges and pain: my husband’s brain surgery and the ongoing subsequent health issues, my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, my mom’s death, and me being the sole financial support in my household. Those are the big pains, but then there are the other ones that add up too: the disapointments (my trip to Haiti was just canceled last week), miscommunications, misunderstandings, financial shortcomings, feelings of inadequacy, helplessness and/or hopelessness, parenting, children that struggle in school and relationships, failed dreams and aspirations, miscarriages and inability to have children, broken relationships, work sacrifices and demands, etc.

I don’t have the answer to all of life’s problems, but what I do know is I experience great joy despite the pains of life. Better yet, I experience great joy because of the pains. I’m content. Firstly, it comes from a place of deep gratitude for being alive and gratitude from knowing I’ve encountered and survived many obstacles. I have supportive people in my life and people that pray for me. I accept that I can’t control most things. I’m also flexible in my thinking and have learned to go with the flow, not to force outcomes, and trust God.

Can you learn to “love” the pain? In short, I don’t know. I think it may go against human nature. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get to the place where I love pain, but I’ll strive to love it. I do appreciate it. I can see that pain makes me appreciate all the great things in my life even better.

What are your thoughts?

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Make room for the sweet stuff

It’s been 2 weeks since we welcomed our sweet babies, actually our new kittens, into our home and it couldn’t have come at a better time. My 15 year old son took one look at one (supposedly the more outgoing of the two) rolling around and said that kitten reminds him of a cannoli because of the contrast of the solid white on his tummy against the grayish stripes on the rest of his body. And just like that, my son proclaimed with a grin, that he should be named Cannoli.  I laughed because he is characteristically usually thinking food, but I kind of liked the name. So then my children and I agreed that their names should have a theme and since Cannoli is an Italian dessert, we’d find a French dessert name for the other.  After a quick google search, we landed on Beignet, which was PERFECT because my husband has made beignets (our first time ever having this dessert) twice to help my son earn extra credit in his French class. So there you have it, our kittens are named Cannoli and Beignet. As it turns out Beignet is the more outgoing of the two and Cannoli is more chill. Cannoli is also completely litter trained unlike his brother.

In June, my coworker was going around telling folks about a litter of kittens that her mom’s cat had and they needed a home. I jumped in right away and not only said that I wanted one, but I was thinking about two. The look on her face was of surprise and delight. I had never been so sure of anything in a long time, at least sure of one kitten, but I had thought about maybe two in the past so they wouldn’t get lonely while the family was away at school and work. You see, my children and I created a 2016 vision board in January and a picture of a cat is on there.  Yup, I told my husband that this was the year, so he’d better get his mind right. I’ve missed having cats, and in the 19 years of living in Texas, I haven’t had one, except for the neighborhood cat that we feed sporadically.

The kittens are a complete joy and everyone, including my husband, is in complete awe of them (ok…maybe my husband isn’t in complete awe, but they make him smile a lot, especially when they fall asleep on his lap). I know families who have pets when their children are much younger than mine, but my son used to be allergic to both cats and dogs, so that was a big part of the reason that we didn’t have pets. When he was tested a few years ago, we found out that he was no longer allergic to cats, but still allergic to dogs. Now my children are ages 15 and 10 (11 next month), which is old enough to really appreciate and help take care of them. It’s been a joy  to see how loving my children are to them. This really was the perfect time to receive them into our home because we’re getting them litter trained while we’re still on summer schedule and we have more time to play and enjoy them before the school year hustle/bustle starts. Plus, with my husband’s surgery in May, and disappointment with not making it to Florida for my cousin’s wedding that same month (see my first post), we needed a burst of joy.

I see why some animals make great therapy pets.  Pets don’t judge you. They just want to be loved and cared for. This whole experience makes me think about how you have to open yourself up to receive joy. I wrote a previous post in response to the daily word prompt about being open. I’m convinced that being open is a conscious decision that you have to make. I could be bitter about a lot of things, but it’s my decision on how negative experiences affect me.  I know it’s easier said than done, but it takes work, and for some, fight. If negative internal dialogue is an issue, then it will take consistency to keep your internal dialogue positive and in check.

I could type more, but I want to end noting that there is a lot of misfortune, hate and injustice in the world, but seize opportunities to receive and express joy. Be grateful. Make room for the sweet stuff.