Thursday, May 13, 2010


Cleaning out the book cases at my bed and breakfasts, (at least they are mine for two more weeks) I found a book called "Making Choices" by Alexandra Stoddard.  Well, you know me well enough by now to know that that would be today's topic.

I spent most of yesterday at the Warrior Family Support Center at Brooke Army Medical Center.   It is here, as in most places of healing and recovery, where choices are made minute to minute.  Soldiers were lined up to have barbequed brisket, beans and potato salad prepared by volunteers. 

My Kelsie's nose was in the air twitching with anticipation of a morsel being dropped.  And as always, I was in anticipation of one of those everyday, ordinary, extraordinary miracles that happen each and every time I walk in the door of this facility.

We all make choices.  We decide before we are out of bed, if it is going to be a good day or not.  We decide what to wear, what to have for breakfast, which direction to drive to work, what on our desks need attention first, and on and on.  But how many of us make a conscious decision, a choice, to have joy and happiness in the life we are living?  This life the one we have right now.  Not the one we hope we have one day after we get a better job, more money, win the lottery, or the kids are through school.  But this one.

Our choices are what we make of them.  We can choose to cringe at the choices and run from them, or choose to attack them head on. Or do as I do, and if you aren't sure of the right thing to do - do nothing.  This is my choice.  And on those occasions when I deviate from this and jump in with both feet, I feel something isn't quite right.

In Stoddard's book she writes, "There are never perfect choices, but there are wise, wonderful, and sensible choices." But it goes without saying that there are also those that fall flat!  I have come to believe that the world is in need of deeply committed people.  People who are committed to being happy.  "People who seem the most unhappy are the ones whose time is taken up by too much that is repetitive, routine, and ultimately uncreative."  If having a clean and tidy house or putting more money in the bank or taking expensive vacations becomes a higher priority than anything else, then what happens?  Then self pity and self absorption becomes insidious. You basically make a choice that will dig you into a hole that becomes deeper and deeper.  As Stoddard says, "The deeper the hole, the less chance you'll ever escape.  Complaining about your misery is self destructive because it guarantees that you feel awful."  That sentence is worth rereading!

Today I had plans.  I had a conference call with five people in New York at 8:00 am CST. I had the day measured out.  I had things to do, places to be, stuff to get off my list. It hasn't gone that way.  Back and forth emails and faxes from my realtor and the deadline of twelve noon rapidly approaching to initial and sign documents, phone calls and emails interrupting my life.  But in coming back to this blog on numerous occasions to complete it, I realized I had a choice too.  I could choose to be grumbling about all the interruptions or choose to take a deep breath and go with it.  I laughed with the realtor, had a meaningful conversation with a Vietnam vet, found a source for a lady in Boston with a heart condition for a detection dog, and talked to a team member in Houston about an organization called Vets Journey Home and their visit from our therapy dog, Whopper, who will be attending an event for them this weekend, and finally a conversation with my son in law about passing a kidney stone, and an email from a best friend that her sister has stage four cancer.  

My plate is still full of things undone, my tummy never got breakfast or lunch and my dogs are begging to be let outside.  But I wouldn't trade my life for anyones.  Sure there are times I ache for nothing to do, or to see a real person at least once a day on days like this.  But those of you who know me best, know I would find something to do because that would be my choice.

Love life, love this one great big life you have with all you've got and all your heart.  It may not be perfect, but it doesn't have to be.  Danny Kay hit the nail on the head, "“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it.” Embrace this day, this hour, this minute.  Squeeze all the joy out of it you can. 

"The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn."
~David Russell~

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 ~Maya Angelou~

I consider our soldiers. They do not complain or live buried in misery despite their plight.  I choose to emmulate them and a young lady, a soldier, just back from Iraq who has serious back problems and acute PTSD/TBI.  As she saw a Penny's From Heaven Foundation PTSD support dog asleep on the floor of the WFSC yesterday, she smiled, rose in pain from the sofa, and walked over to Chase. In a room full of 50-60 people, she cautiously lowered herself,  painfully, to the wooden floor and snuggled close.  She wrapped her arms around him, rested her head on his side, as he quietly inhaled and exhaled, offering a soft music that quieted this soldier's soul.  She never complained.  Quite the opposite she talked about what she wanted to do when her many surgeries are over.  Her choice is clear. 

Perhaps the answer is easy.  Perhaps she has seen the worst of life in combat.  Perhaps she chooses now to be happy.  She knows ultimately life is precious, fleeting and worthy of our attention and gratitude.  She puts empty cups in her refrigerator.  She doesn't know why.  It is a part of her brain injury.  But she laughs at it by choice.  "At least I know where I can find one."

She is an inspiration. 

She is what making choices is all about.

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