We’ve all heard the two words many times for many reasons throughout life. If you haven’t, well, you should’ve. After all, this is it folks. We all get one crack at this thing called life. I would like to think most people try their hardest to make the best of their lives however and whatever that means to them. Just as each one of us are uniquely different from anyone else both mentally and physically, our likes, dislikes, beliefs, morals, faith, environments, and statuses are also unique to each one of us.
With that said, there are a couple of things that we ALL have in common. We all wake up to the same sun, go to bed with the same moon, and our blood is red. With each new day we get a chance to make choices that we believe are the best decisions for us at that moment in time. Choices are infinite throughout our lives. We learn the right choices from the wrong ones. In that specific order. You have to learn to be wrong in order to know you’re right. Everyone is one decision away from a different life, good or bad, right or wrong. I’ll let that sink in.
But, what about when life makes choices for you? I mean, you cannot predict or make choices to become struck with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, autoimmune diseases and many, many other life-altering circumstances. There are many health choices we can make to improve our overall health. Sometimes, it’s all about genetics though. You didn’t make that choice to have the genetics you have. Life made that decision for you. So, what do you do? The only choice you have is how to react. Your chosen reaction is based upon what has been thrown your way without your approval or disapproval and previous life choices.
Chances are, all of our choices will be different in some way or another. No one is going to react the exact same way as another. It’s all in the details of the situation and person(s) involved. Previous life experiences are considered in the choice of your reaction. When life throws stones at you, and when your life choices up until that moment have had no affect upon the stones thrown, your reaction will be quite different than the reaction you’d have if your choices DID have an affect on which direction the stones were thrown. Who’s to blame? You? No, of course not. It’s life. Still, a decision on how we react remains in question.
After over two years of making many choices regarding my own failing health in which I had no control over obtaining, my reaction still changes frequently. Choices after choices when battered and bruised from life’s stones, leaves me weary most of the time.
Many days I make the choice to block everything out of my life for awhile so I can process all that has turned my life upside down in such a way that every movement, every door I open, every step I take, every door I close, every dizzy moment leaning against something close by, becomes overwhelming. I can’t make choices to cause my body even more pain every single day. My body does a good enough job of making those choices for me. Uncontrolled choices are being made by my own body. What? Yes, my body is literally running my life. I try to make the right choices to avoid causing more pain, but sometimes that doesn’t work. My body laughs at me and decides that that choice doesn’t work any longer. Time for a new choice on how to handle standing up too long will cause me excruciating pain and swollen legs, ankles and feet. No longer will the medications work to help alleviate this health issue, no longer will my choice to do a little at a time while on my feet work anymore. I have no choice. Nothing I do can help my body recover, heal or stop attacking itself.
Life without chronic inflammation and pain caused by several life-altering autoimmune diseases and heart issues is hard enough. There are too many choices just living each day normally. Normal. What is that? Normal is a matter of perspective and situations causing you to live the best you can with what you’re dealt. There are many ripples in life that will throw you off balance. Now imagine having to make those ‘normal’ choices while your body continues its ongoing war upon itself, leaving you helpless in defense.
One day when I blocked out everything else in life and tried to clear my mind, I made a life decision. That life decision was to roll with the changes, don’t fight so hard to not accept what is really happening to my health and enjoy what I can, while I can in whatever means I can. If I have to use my walker in order to be able to enjoy the day with my husband while photographing something special, then I’m going to make the choice to not be angry or depressed that I have to use a walker at the age of 55. Instead, I’m making the choice to be grateful for my wonderfully supportive and loving husband who is more than willing to help me enjoy the day. It may not be as easy as before to live my life, but I’m still able to do what I can, when I can. I chose love over self-pity.
Helping others helps me. My beloved Ace, the dynamic therapy dog is my savior on most days. He and his brother Deuce just know what I need and are stuck next to me on those days or moments when I need extra courage and strength. My mom, unfortunately has been thrown life’s stones as well. With Alzheimer’s stealing her brain, and falling breaking her hip she needs my help now more than ever. Our decision to move her close to us helped make it possible to watch over her care. Then there’s Ace. Ace helps her so much with his sweet-souled love. From the moment Ace came into my life, I knew he had the temperament and will to heal others. I made the choice to dedicate my time in training him as a therapy dog. Making the choice for us to be a therapy team and have the ability to help others feel better because of his innate instincts to heal and love is one I will cherish forever.
Now that I’m considerably restricted in my activity, Ace has become my therapy dog. He and his little brother Deuce keep me laughing and moving. They seem to always know exactly what I need, when I need it – sometimes before I even know it. I hope whomever reads this will take some time to think about what I just wrote about therapy dogs and their healing powers. To witness the magic of a therapy dog outpouring unconditional love with total strangers is nothing less than experiencing a miracle.
The ‘before’ me (always active and doing something involving a lot of energy) made a life decision when my first grandson, Nico, was born. I made a promise to him and myself that I would always be there for him and the rest of my grandchildren. My husband and I want to spend as much time as possible with our children and grandchildren now that he’s recently retired. Although it is nearly impossible to make plans with my body constantly trying to bring me down. We live each day hour by hour. And to alleviate confusion and frustration, we have made it clear to all those we love that we may have to adjust our plans if my body makes the choice to disrupt what we had planned. Those moments are the choices I despise the most. For fear of letting others down and disappointing myself and my husband, it’s a choice made out of necessity. Otherwise, the other choice of pushing through and going ahead with the plans already made will end up being absolutely miserable for all. These are tough choices to make.
My choice to scratch my creative itch and take up photography is a decision I will never regret and hopefully one that will be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren long after I’m gone.
Capturing moments with our grandchildren is something that is of utmost importance to me. I want them to remember us, to remember special and simple times with us. I want them to know we were present in their lives and hopefully leave positive influences upon them for a lifetime.
I love sharing and capturing the simple things in life with our grands. One doesn’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun. Simple things like helping bake a cake for Papaw can be just as much fun than if we took them to Disney World. Okay, maybe not Disney. You get the message.
Our grandchildren mean the world to us. So my husband and I made an agreeable choice together to be present in their lives as much as we possibly can. Geographically, this is quite a challenge. My health issues bring on another challenge. With our choices being thought out and in agreement with one another, we are able to make our choices happen by trying to anticipate what my body will choose to do. Being prepared for all of the ‘just in cases’ helps make our choices easier. In addition, we are also aware that our plans may change at any given moment. Making the choice to ride it out and remind ourselves, “that’s just the way it is” when we do have to suddenly make a change in plans helps ease the disappointment. Having lived with the guilt before when these changes had to be made, I realized it is much easier and less stressful to accept and move on.
Taking photos of what I love, how I see life through my lens, and what makes me who I am, is a choice I will never regret and hopefully my footprints in this life will be placed carefully and thoughtfully despite my disabilities. I will continue to share the beauty of life and how I see it through my photography for as long as I’m able to. I’ve chosen to try and accept the fact that this is the life that was chosen for me. Even though I didn’t ask for theses illnesses, or the responsibility of caring for my elderly, sick Mom, I can make the choice to be the best person I can be despite life’s stone throwing.
Although life is full of choices, I also believe there is a greater being that has our path in life already chosen for us. How we react to this is up to each one of us in our own way in which we feel is the best choice for us at the time.
My choices so far have allowed me to realize the true beauty in this world, the impact we can have on another person can be greater than we imagine, and the smallest of details in life can be the biggest joys. How you choose to leave your footprints in this world, well, it’s your choice. Step carefully.