35. It’s A Wonderful Life

“It’s A Wonderful Life”  has always been one of my favorite movies.  I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it.  I watch it at least once a year.  I had the words printed into a decal and put on the wall above my fireplace, “It’s a Wonderful Life”   (click to see).  It’s just a little bit crooked.  The reason it is crooked, is because my daughter put it on the wall for me when she was only twelve years old.  The fact that it’s crooked reminds me that it’s a wonderful life,  not a perfect life.  Much like the chips in the dry wall around the door frames in my house.  Those chips and marks are from wheelchairs and patient lifts.  They are reminders of the bumps in life.  The stains on the now old carpeting are from pets we have loved,  and children growing up.  They all remind me that my house is not just a house,  but a home.  Every stain,  every mark,  has a story behind it.  I’m not opposed to getting some new carpeting one of these days,  but I don’t think I would want to live in a house where everything was perfect.  A friend of mine used to tell me every time she came over,  that my house had such a homey feel to it.  I took that as a compliment.

I remember that a friend of mine told me about a client of hers,  who took her on a tour of her big new fabulous house.  She had a big staircase put in,  with old-looking wooden stairs.  She kept apologizing and complaining when some of the steps creaked and made noise as they stepped on them.  They apparently were supposed to look old and used,  but not sound old and used.   I can’t imagine having that as a problem in my life.  I mean,  if you are worried about that,  your life is pretty good,  right?  Or,  maybe she just worried about everything, I don’t know.   I am thinking she might have more problems than squeaky stairs.

Life is all about learning.  If you led a perfect life,  I don’t think you would learn very much.  I think we learn more from the hardships in our lives.  But. I have realized that just because we have problems,  doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our lives in the midst of those problems.  If you wait until your problems are solved to be happy,  you might as well give up now.  I don’t know of anyone with no problems.  I know of people who seem to have no problems,  but they are just trying to make their lives look better than they really are.  If something looks to good to be true,  it probably is too good to be true.  I generally don’t let things worry me too much,  or not for too long anyway.  If something breaks,  I  just get it fixed.   If I can’t get it fixed,  I buy a new one.   If that won’t work,  oh well,  I’ll figure it out eventually.  I’m not going to worry about it.   When something goes wrong,  or not the way you hoped it would,  just remember that you can’t know what you do want,  until you know what you don’t want.  So,  be grateful that you have been shown exactly what you don’t want,  so that you can now make the changes needed to move onto what you do want.

Try to focus on all the wonderfulness of your life.  Ignore the bad stuff and the problems as much as humanly (and safely) possible.  Search out the good in every situation.  And,  believe me,  there’s something good in everything.  If I can say that,  when I have been living with delightful ALS for 22 years,  then I think anyone can.

This may sound crazy,  but I have always loved to look at old tombstones,  and see what they have written on them.   I also love the design of the old ones,  there is so much detail to them.  Not like the new ones they have today which all seem to look-alike.  I think I found my love of tombstones through an art project in elementary school,  when we made a relief of the design and words off of tombstones (our school happened to be right by the cemetery).  Years later,  while visiting England with my mother,  we toured through some old churches and I saw the most beautiful headstones,  some with full stories describing the person’s life etched into the stones.

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I have often wondered what the perfect words would be to have etched on my stone.  How do you sum up a lifetime in just a few words?   I think I will simply say,  “It Was A Wonderful Life. “

 

 

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26. Laugh. Even if you don’t feel like it.

 

Who says TV is bad for you?  I know I heard that somewhere.  Maybe it was just sitting too close to the television set that I was warned about?  Anyway, contrary to popular belief, I think television and movies can be good for you.  In the movie, What About Bob, Bob takes a vacation from his problems.  TV can offer a tiny vacation from your problems. A few minutes to laugh or solve a crime, and forget about that doctors appointment coming up,  or that test you have to take,  or whatever it is that you don’t really want to do.  And, for those of us who aren’t able to physically do much besides reading and surfing the internet, sometimes movies and television are all we have to keep busy.  Well  that,  and writing a blog will keep you pretty busy! 

When I could no longer do things with my kids that required physical movement of any kind,  watching TV was something we could do together. Each week when our favorite programs were on, they would actually come out of their rooms and spend a few minutes with their mother!  Even though they no longer live at home,  we still watch television and movies together.  My oldest daughter and I watch The Middle almost every week.  My youngest daughter and I try to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy most Friday’s when she comes over. 

The same day I received my third confirmation that, yes, I had what doctors considered to be a terminal, incurable, and untreatable disease,  my husband and I went straight to a movie theatre.  Why not, right? We both had the whole day off of work, why waste it being sad and depressed? I had, according to everyone “in the know” (neurologists), at the very least, a couple of years for that.   So, we went to see, There’s Something About Mary.   Definitely the most hilarious movie of 1998. So, when my mind would have normally been devoured by sadness, instead, I smiled and laughed for 119 minutes. Probably the best thing I could have done at the time.  

Now there are probably close to a million channels (okay,  not quite) to choose from,  streaming on Roku, Amazon Fire Stick,  etc..  Although there are way too many shows not worth watching,  there are some really great ones out there too.   You can now watch them anytime.  No more waiting all week,  or even all year to watch the annual showing of holiday programs or movies.   If you are stuck in a bad mood,  or feeling down, a funny movie or sitcom can be just the ticket,  to at least give you a break from the way you are feeling.  The more you can laugh,  the better you will feel.  I  promise.  Laughter  really,  sometimes,  is the best medicine.  So,  try it. The next time you are feeling down,  watch an episode of The Middle,  or find What About Bob on Netflix.   I  guarantee you will feel a little better!