I don’t believe in coincidences and I do not believe that you meet people by accident. Pastor Joel Osteen always says that when you are ready the right person will come into your life. My day started out annoying, with me trying to convince a medical office staff that I did not owe a co-payment for a surgical follow-up. I was so irritated that when the nurse took my BP, it was abnormally high (I normally have low BP). Then I wasted more energy on calling the insurance company and trying to explain the concept of a Global Surgical allowance to the customer rep. I finally just gave in and told the rep to just forget it, because I figured I wasted enough of my precious time that I would not ever get back. I finally left for my new addiction, Starbucks. I just bought a new laptop, and could not figure out how to connect to the Internet. But, luckily there was a lady who had just come in and sat down next to me. I figured I’d just ask her if she knew how to do it. She figured it out right away, and from there we started talking about everything, including my Blog. I gave her the Blog address, and even logged on to show her the site. She said she would check it out and asked me to write it down, including my phone number. I think 3 things were accomplished: 1 – I got off the Pity Pot that I had been on for a few days, 2 – I met a potential friend, 3 – I promoted my Blog. From all my readings, I know that you don’t achieve a goal overnight; rather, it is through a series of small, incremental steps, done over and over, consistently, that will make it happen. I’ve written about this before, but many times I have been ready to just give up and stop writing this Blog because I am not getting the feedback I want. But, I know that I must not let the “evidence” I see in front of my eyes deter me, because it is deceptive. It comes down to patience, perseverance, and belief in yourself and your abilities. Was it a coincidence that I met this lady, just when I was feeling low? I do not think so.

Adversity Teaches Empathy

It is amazing that so many people take for granted being well and feeling well. There is nothing more humbling than having a debilitating illness or injury to bring you back to earth. I have been one of those athletic people who would look at someone struggling in the gym or out just walking slowly, without trying to understand that each person has a story. I have been struggling for many months with debilitating back pain and severe degenerated right knee. My back and knee pain was so bad that I would have to hobble from bed into the bathroom each morning, walking like I was 85. The constant, unrelenting pain and soreness also affected my state of mind, causing depression. It is so hard to look at the bright side of things when you are hurting over and over and life looks so bleak. It was so humbling and embarrassing on my trip to Guatemala. On the plane I would start to get anxious when we were about to land knowing that my back and knee would be so stiff that it would take a while for me to unbend. Getting up and carrying my luggage out of the plane was torture. I always thought of myself as this physically fit specimen and now I felt like a cripple, limping down the aisle. Things that I used to take for granted, like climbing down the steps of the airplane (in Augusta for some reason you have to climb down these stupid steep steps to get off the plane) caused me so much anxiety—being so afraid that I would fall or need assistance. When you are physically well, things like that don’t even occur to you. Now things that were never issues were now major concerns. Once in Guatemala, I was in constant pain, living on Ibuprofen. It prevented me from going on walking tours and, coupled with me being lonely, I was miserable. When I went on a tour to Panajachel I had to constantly climb in and out of the boat that ferried us from village to village on Lake Atitlan and that was pure torture. Once if it had not been for two guys holding me, I would have collapsed, due to my knee totally buckling under me. Back in the States, it did not get any better and I have since had knee surgery (much more extensive than I thought it would be) and have also had epidural steroid injections to my back. I want to travel now, but I was unable to plan for anything due to the constant uncertainty of my physical condition. Whenever there is a life altering event, whether it be a loss of a job, illness, death, divorce, you always look for a reason. The thing is that I feel there are no coincidences in God’s world and it may not be revealed until years later or weeks, you do not know. I am slowly starting to feel better but being so debilitated gave me real empathy for others. When I see people hobbling slowly across the street I know that there is a story behind it. I have a friend who suffers from MS and is on disability. She is estranged from her family who is totally unsupportive, yet she still perseveres. Another woman I went to school with just finished battling stage 4 uterine cancer, having gone through hell with chemotherapy, major surgery, colostomy, and having to rely on others since she lives alone. Then I look at myself and realize that maybe it is not that bad. Of course, when you are feeling better it is easy to look back and say it was not so bad. I am still having problems with numbness in my body, but maybe this is God’s lesson for me; be grateful for each day that you feel well and don’t take it for granted. It has given me a better understanding of other’s problems and pain, physically and mentally. Nobody has a perfect life, although sometimes it seems that some people do on the outside. It has also given me more of an incentive to change my life because I can appreciate that there are no guarantees that you will be around tomorrow or even later in the day. We take for granted that we have an infinite amount of time to achieve that elusive happiness and that is not true. My friend Janet is now in France with her husband, one among many trips they take. They are living now, not putting off what may never happen if they waited. Being so ill has put a time frame to my plans. I know that I absolutely cannot continue to live a life doing what I don’t want to do. I ask myself sometimes, “when are you most happy.” The answer always comes back, “when I am not at work.” It is time for me to move on to the next phase of my life. I am so consumed with making money due to my upbringing (compulsive gambler dad) when money went flying out the window and life was insecure, that now it is my main focus. Yes, money does buy things I like, but continuing doing what I don’t want to do is killing me over and over. One day I will wake up and it will be my last day on earth and I will die never having taken the big risks and living a life of my dreams and how sad is that?