20. It Might Be A Tumor

There’s a scene in the movie Kindergarten Cop, where Arnold Schwartzenegger complains about a headache, and one of the kids says it might be a brain tumor.   Arnold says, “It’s not a tumor!”  Whatever your problem, at least it’s not a tumor.  And if it is, so what?  Someone, no, a lot of someones out there in the world have something worse.  I say, be thankful for what good health you do have, no matter how much or little that is.  I thought ALS was bad, until I met people living with ALS whose spouses left them after they were diagnosed.  And left them with children to raise.  Or worse, took their children from them.  Or how about my friend Libby, who was lucky enough to get ALS and also start losing her vision.  Or, my friend Lisa, who was diagnosed with lung cancer right after she quit smoking. It spread into her brain, and she died a year or so later.   I thank my lucky stars that I’ve had to deal with ALS for so long.

I sprained my ankle a couple of days ago.  I definitely didn’t need that on top of ALS.  I can barely stand anyway, and now right now I can’t stand at all.  So,  in the midst of feeling really sorry for myself,  I get on Facebook and see that it is my friend Tammy’s birthday.  My friend who has ALS AND cancer.  My friend who has learned she probably won’t be here this time next year.  Now,  she has been given an expiration date before,  with ALS,  and proved that doctors don’t know everything by living way past that date.  But,  cancer is trying it’s best to do her in.  So,  what’s a sprained ankle??!  Why was it again that I was feeling bad?  

No matter what your problem is,  someone out there has got more to deal with than you do,  I guarantee it!  Whatever problem you have,  don’t dwell on what you’ve lost or what is wrong.   Focus on all that you have.  No matter how much or how little.  If you can read this, you have more than so many people in this world. Take a couple of minutes and just think about all the good things you’ve got going for you!  For, one,  you obviously woke up today.. boom… blessing number one!  You are breathing… boom,  blessing number two. I could go on,  but you get the idea.  Don’t forget about all those little things like just breathing,  or talking,  or moving around,  or having food to eat.  They don’t come so easily for everyone.  

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19. Life’s Been Good To Me So Far

 

Joe Walsh was spot on with his song, “Life’s Been Good  “.  I would say, for sure, life’s been good!  Except, I guess, for the whole ALS thing, and the golf ball sized kidney stone, that wasn’t much fun.  But we are focusing on the good stuff in this blog post.  If you listen to the lyrics, they say,

I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.  Life’s been good to me so far.

I think it’s okay to do a little complaining.  My blog posts may not show it, but I probably meet my quota on complaints most days.  Just ask my kids, I’m sure they would say that I am a complainer.  The trick is, to know when to stop your complaining and thank your lucky stars.

I think Lou Gerhig got it right too, when he uttered  those now infamous words,

 “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”  

Lou Gehrig realized how many good things he had going in his life.  It’s all about being grateful for what you have. No matter how little you might think you have going for you, start listing it all and it will add up faster than you might think.  Oprah suggests you keep a gratitude journal. Write down something , or a few things, every evening that you were grateful for that day. Gratitude for what you have can change your life. Not just your outlook on life, but your entire life. A Course In Miracles says, a miracle is when a shift in your outlook occurs.  That’s how a person, who is supposed to be dying of cancer, can be truly happier than their neighbor who has their health and enough money to last a long lifetime.  My outlook has definitely shifted in the last several years.  I went from, “Oh no, I have ALS” to, “Yes, I have ALS”, to, “Oh yea, I have ALS”.  I consider every single day I am still here a miracle, and try to focus on life and not ALS.
Gratitude is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.  What are you grateful for today?

9. Living In Thanks 

I remember dinners at my grandmothers house usually began with a prayer of thanks. As a little kid, that was probably the only time I stopped to think about what I was grateful for, other than at church on Sunday’s and while I was opening up my gifts on birthdays and at Christmas. It has taken me years to get into the habit of not just giving thanks, but living in thanks. Living in thanks is easier said than done. When you are in a good mood it is easy to sit back and think of things you are grateful for. It gets harder when nothing seems to be going right. It is hard to feel grateful when your only source of entertainment and link to the world outside your house is the internet, and your internet is down. It might, however, cause you to be extra grateful when it’s actually working. It may even allow you the time you would have normally spent scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed to do something else, like write a blog post about how grateful you are.

Writing down three things you are grateful for every day is a good way to get started living in thanks.  If you can’t write them down, at least stop and think of three things. It can be anything at all. Something good that just happened, or maybe the sun is shining outside, or maybe your new puppy only had four accidents that day instead of the usual five. If you can keep a list or journal of what you are grateful for, when things aren’t going so well, you might feel better if you read through all the great things that have happened in the past. 

When something goes wrong, I am trying to get into the habit of stopping in that moment to be grateful.  One day, not so long ago,  as I stood up at the toilet after having left my sample (required for my refill of pain medication) in the container on the toilet, as that plastic container stuck to my leg and the contents spilled out onto the floor, I was instantly grateful that this happened in my bathroom and not the bathroom of the doctors office. I may have even been a little bit grateful that I wasn’t able to (didn’t have to) clean it up. There’s always something to be grateful for, no matter what the situation. We just have to get into the habit of tuning in on the good stuff.

My favorite author, Pam Grout, wrote a book called, Thank & Grow Rich: A 30-Day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy. 

It’s one of my all time favorite books. Pam believes that when you live in gratitude, you are living in the frequency of miracles. I know that when I focus on the good things in life and expect more amazing things to show up, they do.  If you tune in to a radio station that plays all rap music, and you want to hear classic rock, what will you get?  Rap.  Sure, every once in a while a classic, like “Walk This Way” will play, but you will mostly just get more of what you are tuned into.  So, if you want to see more good things happen in your life, quit focusing on the not so good things, and tune in to all of the awesomeness already happening in your life and be ready for more.