Thursday, December 31, 2015

Resolving to Hope and Trust and Let Go

I’ve often said I don’t have a bucket list. Then I read, “The Moral Bucket List,” an article in the New York Times by David Brooks.

“The Moral Bucket List,” divides bucket stuff into two groups; things we want to do or achieve and the person we want to become.
“To do” bucket lists include adventures we hope to experience, places we want to visit, and accomplishments that look good on our resume.
The “becoming” bucket list is about values and virtues—discovering our purpose and building our character.
When I started my blog, Know Hope Know Growth earlier this year, I wrote the tag line, Hope is trusting things ultimately work out the way they are supposed to--and seeing opportunities to learn in even life's toughest stuff.
Mr.Brook’s article helped me realize I do have a bucket list. It’s to live up to that tag line and become the best I can be at trust, and hope, and letting go.
Living up to that tag line is my resolution for 2016.

Are you making any resolutions this year?

My new year's wish for each of you is that you know the hope, trust, and magic of letting go of something you fear.

I hope you’ll keep coming back to Know Hope Know Growth and share your comments. Your insights mean a lot to me and always help me learn and grow.

Happy New Year.

Carol (P.S. Is anyone who knows me surprised I have a beach bucket list? )


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree - A Lesson in Letting Go

A ceiling-high evergreen with its sweet forest scent is among my favorite holiday traditions. So it’s a pretty big deal that for the first time in almost fifty years, my home doesn’t boast a “real” Christmas tree. 
My attachment to Christmas trees is a cherished hand-me-down from my dad who died much too young when I was twelve. Dad had a knack for scanning the tree lot to pick a tree so full and tall. Even after cutting off a foot or so the trees of my childhood overtook half of our enclosed front porch.
Trimming on Christmas Eve was a hallowed occasion, retelling the history of and thoughtfully placing each ornament—always, always, painstakingly lacing tinsel one strand at a time.
I loved how closing the French doors that led from the enclosed porch into the living room trapped all of that wonderful tree smell inside.
So imagine my distress the year my mother somehow coaxed my dad to “update” to a tacky, silver aluminum tree. In spite of Dad’s efforts to cajole her back to reality and my sibs and me pleading for our real tree, Mom prevailed. Dad reluctantly bought and set up that make-pretend tree. Mom decked each gaudy stickly-excuse for a branch with lore-less, uniform royal blue balls. No delicate teapots or ice cycles or the rare fluorescent lights from Dad’s childhood. The rotating color wheel beaming up from the floor to bath the silver imposter in streams of green, orange, blue, and red, just made it worse.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is a rookie compared to that tree.

For months after that sucker came down, my sibs and I staged a Dad-backed revolt. By the next year, Mom relented and we had our real tree back, reassigning the silver imposter to the shuffle board room in the basement.
After my dad died, the silver tree resurrected for a couple of Christmas’s. By the time I was a teen, I seized responsibility for buying and putting up the tree. With the help of my friends, we’d cart a seven-footer the six or eight blocks from the tree lot to our house and have a tree-trimming part on Christmas Eve.
Even when I was single and lived in a third floor walk-up apartment, I found a way to have a real ceiling-high tree.
So why is there a four foot artificial tree, dubbed a “Charlie Brown tree” by our five year old nephew, gracing our living room this year?
For years, my husband Jim has caught a bad “cold” over the holidays. We blamed it on holiday get-together hugging and kissing. I’ve suspected for years it was really an evergreen allergy. Afraid admission would put my holiday tree in an endangered species; I kept my suspicions to myself.
Then last year, his cold progressed to bronchitis. He hacked his way through a steroid dose-pack and two antibiotics without improving. Miraculously, he stopped coughing and sneezing within hours of un-trimming and tossing the tree.
Now, I love real trees, but I love Jim a lot more.
It turns out, our four foot artificial tree is plenty big enough to display the delicate teapot from my Dad’s childhood and the sentimental ornaments Jim and I acquired over the years. We get ample whiffs of evergreen scent from the wreath on our front door. I can have the things I love about a tree, and still take care of what I love the most.
And, isn’t being reminded what we love most what the holidays are really for?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Earlier this month, I read seven novels in two weeks—four for book clubs and three because I committed to write reviews.
I love to read, but a book every other day—what was I thinking? Reading at that pace felt too much like work.
And, speaking of work.
Like retired people do, since “sort of” retiring almost two years ago, I joined a few new social groups. Pretty quickly, I was “invited” to chair committees—an honor than in social-group-speak means you get to do more work.
I used to fantasize about all the free time I’d have in retirement. Turns out, having the gift of time depends on how well I say NO.
Saying no has never been my strong suit. I’m more the over-commit-to-the-point-of-burn-out type.
I want retirement to be different—to stop multi-tasking, be present in the moment, and savor one thing at a time.
Sure I want to read good books, meet new people, and make a contribution. The trick is finding balance that leaves downtime to have fun, revel in life’s everyday simple joys, and savor quiet time with Jim.
Finding balance means following my instinct and NOT saying yes when my gut is screaming, say no, say no, SAY NO. Here are a few things I’m learning help me follow my gut.
·        Know your purpose – Do you know the 80/20 Rule? Basically it says that 80% of value comes from 20% of “stuff.”
Once you figure out what gives you the most value and joy in you life, hone in on the handful (20%) of things that bring you the most joy (80%). Say yes to the stuff that lines up with the 20% and graciously say (gulp) no to all the rest.   

·        When Saying No is Saying Yes – It can be hard to say no, especially to someone you care for and don’t want to disappoint. It helps to remember that saying no to stuff that brings you less value means you give yourself the gift of time to say yes to the people and things that matter most.    

·        Say No with grace – To avoid feeling cornered into impulsively or guiltily saying yes, a template or script helps. Something like, I appreciate your confidence in me. It’s just not the right time for me to do this. Keep it simple, kind, and sincere.
Time is infinite and precious. As hard as it is to say no, it’s worth the effort when it leaves me the time to say Yes, Yes, Yes to the people and things that matter most.
How about you?
  • Are you overwhelmed with holiday drama and demands yet?
  • Do you ever say Yes when No is better for you?
  • What advice can you share about kind and graceful ways to say NO?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Survivor, Veteran, Thriver. That's What I Want to Be

November 11th has special meaning as we remember and honor those who have served and fought for our freedom and all that we are thankful for.
This year, November 11th is also the one year anniversary of my last chemo treatment—a marker in a different kind of battle, a very personal war.
So what has changed in a year?
For one thing, I have a head full of hair—an external sign that the “good” cells affected by treatment are healing. My body once again feels like my own.
That leaves my mind and spirit.
A phone message from the doctor’s office still sends a shiver through me, even when it can’t be bad news because I haven’t had a test or exam in weeks. I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear about someone else’s cancer recurrence. The difference, 12 months later, is most days, I’m strong enough to remind myself everyone’s cancer is different. Today, it’s easier not to take another person’s cancer outcome on as my own.
I am more acutely aware that cancer is everywhere. It’s not just the people we know who have it; it’s the daily mention of cancer in the news, commercials, books and TV. The next time someone has cancer on a TV show, note the bleakness in everyone’s voice and eyes when we learn that it’s stage 4. Am I the only one who never noticed before that cancer is always stage 4 and seemingly hopeless on TV?
In almost every novel I read, there’s a character—usually a woman—that dies from cancer. Am I reading too much women’s lit?
A year ago those TV shows and books freaked me out so much I had to turn the show off or put the book down. Today, I try to remind myself they are not my life.
I do not want to be held hostage by fear.
Last month, at AtlantiCare’s Women’s Health Event,  it really resonated with me when Christina Baker Kline called herself a cancer veteran rather than a cancer survivor.
Then, someone who read my recent Philadelphia Inquirer essay, Cancer through the Rearview Mirror,  identified as a Cancer Thriver.
A Cancer Thriver.

As my body, mind, and spirit continue to heal, that is what I want to be.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cancer in the Rearview Mirror

Recently someone  commented on a blog on optimism I wrote in April 2014,
What struck me as a re-read my blog post is that I had no idea my life was about to change in a big way--just a few weeks later, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Talk about putting optimism to the test.

My blog post today is a link to my essay about Cancer in the Rearview Mirror, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I hope you'll follow the link and let me know your thoughts.

Friday, October 16, 2015


While cleaning out a file drawer, I found an assessment from when I worked full-time. Unlike a typical performance evaluation, this was a “360” where you get feedback from colleagues at different levels—your boss, peers, people you manage or mentor.  
At first, I didn’t want to look at it because I remember being disappointed in the results.
I looked at it anyway. To my surprise, my performance was rated in “excellent shape.”
So why had “excellent shape” disappointed me?
In a few areas, one or two people disagreed with the majority—16 people said I was a very good or excellent listener, encouraging and sensitive to others’ needs, fair and consistent.
Two said I was not.
Because Excellent isn’t Perfect, my over-active perfectionist gene zeroed-in on the negative feedback and the positive got blotted out.
Does that ever happen to you?
Like many things in life, perfectionism in moderation can be beneficial. It helps me to set high standards, reach for goals, and be true to my values.
What’s not beneficial is perfectionism on steroids that obsesses about the expectations of others and fixates on failings and mistakes. I've worked on modulating hyper-active perfectionism most of my adult life.
It helps me to refocus on Progress not Perfection. Today, I know I’m making progress and growing, because I look at that old “360” and instead of the negative it's the positive that stands out.  
So what do you think, is Progress not Perfection what hope and growth are all about?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Are You Living Your Life on Purpose?

Are you living your life on purpose?

I was twenty-something when my career in Human Resources started—around that same time I began saying I wanted to write a book.
By my mid-thirties, I already knew there were parts of Human Resources work I loved and parts I didn’t love at all. My job required both parts, and I did them because that’s what you do when you have a family, mortgage, other bills, and want to get ahead and climb the corporate ladder. 
I didn't realize back then that in the midst of that juggling act, I had already started taking steps towards living my life on purpose.
To progress in my, I needed a Master’s degree. As an H. R. Executive, the logical degree was a Master’s in Business Administration. MBA meant statistics, accounting, and finance, the parts of H.R. I didn’t love. I wanted to excel in coaching, counselling, and training—the work I found most meaningful. In spite of colleagues telling me the “wrong” degree might derail my career, I followed my heart—and my purpose—and earned my Masters in Health Education and Employee Counseling.
Shortly after, I accepted an HR Executive position that meant moving from Philly to the Jersey Shore. Living “down the shore” had been one of my dreams since I was twenty-something. Achieving that dream when we moved to Cape May reminded me I had been carrying another dream around since my twenties—the dream about writing a book.
I joined my first creative writing group. At my second meeting, I read three hand-scribbled pages that had taken hours to write. I didn’t know it then, but those pages were the beginning of my first novel, PEACE BY PIECE.
Three scribbly pages for my book--a huge step towards life on purpose.
That writing group led to more steps—writing workshops, conferences, and eventually earning my Masters of Fine Arts/MFA in Creative Writing.
By then, I was fifty-something and determined to finally stop doing the parts of HR I didn’t love. With the support of my boss, I set a goal to not be in my job by the end of the year. Months later, I was happily coaching and training--the meaningful work that, along with writing, I know is my work life’s purpose.
So I ask again. Are you living your life on purpose?
And, just how do you discover your life’s purpose?
If you had asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said, a nurse, teacher, or librarian. I  spent my career in healthcare, teach adults, and devote a load of my time to writing and books.
My child-self was pretty close. I knew my purpose as a child. I’m betting you did too.

Want to live life on purpose? Ask yourself:

·         What have you loved since you were a child?

·         What gives you meaning and joy?

·         How can you bring more of that into your life?

Take one step in that direction, and then take another. 
With each step, you will live your life on purpose.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Do You Believe in Signs?

On my morning walk, a few hours before my last oncology follow-up, I found a heads-up penny. I instantly pocketed it, believing it would bring me good luck.
When my nose itches, I preemptively kiss Jim, wanting to be on the right side of “have a fight or kiss a fool.”
Twitching left eyelids, itchy palms, moths in the house, cardinals in my yard-you might call them superstitions. My Italian mother taught me they are signs of respectively; good news, unexpected money, and souls in my midst.
The number 1017 is another very personal sign. It may not mean anything to you. For me, 1017 will only ever mean the day my father died.
Since being diagnosed with cancer last year, I cannot tell you how frequently I see or hear the numbers 1017—on the clock, a ticket stub, cash register receipt, an address—countless times and ways the numbers 1017 show up. And, every time they do, it feels like a sign my dad has my back.
One day at a time, I'm adjusting to this stage “beyond” cancer treatment, trying to shove cancer so far behind me, I stop fearing its return. The exception--my follow-up oncology visits still freak me out.
Finding that penny the morning of my last oncology visit was only the first sign. A couple of hours later, as I stoically got ready to leave the house for my appointment, Jim looked up from the newspaper and said, “Wow, it’s already 10:17. Where did that last hour go?”
He could have rounded back to 10:15 or up to 10:20. The fact that he said 10:17 felt like my dad telling me we had this and my visit would be fine.
And, it was.
Does this all sound eerie and far-fetched? Or, like me, are you a sign-believer, too?

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Helena Johnson - AuthorI am happy to welcome guest blogger, Helena Johnson.

Helena is a writer from "the other side of the pond," and we met in a Facebook writing group. I value her positive outlook and believe you will, too.
When I met my husband 16 years ago, we both shared the same dream of one day retiring to Spain. Over time, the stress and pressure of work, made him feel there was no way he could learn a new language, he was too old, and thus our dreamed died.

Some years later, after seeing our teenager through cancer and losing a parent in the same year, we re-evaluated our lives. We started spending the summers touring France and fell in love with the country and the lifestyle, and our dream was resurrected. Hubby even took French lessons. 

Recently, we decided that as our daughter was over 2 years in remission, had dealt with her demons and was in a happy relationship, our son had completed his electrical apprenticeship and was enjoying his new flat and the older three were all settled with good jobs and partners, it was time for us to think seriously about our new life in France and so we found a house and it’s full steam ahead with the purchase
However, yesterday I found myself  back in the cancer hospital with my daughter. I had stopped going to the check-ups with her some time ago, as it’s a good hour from my house, whereas she works nearby and was happy to go alone. I felt she was showing signs of premature menopause and her GP was not taking her seriously, so I needed to step in and insist on a referral to the fertility clinic, as she desperately wants to start a family soon. It might be nothing, and I hope it is, but I didn’t want to ignore it and then it be too late to save some of her eggs.

As we sat in the waiting room for an hour and a half - they are always running late - I could hear a beeping noise coming from a nearby ward. My mind recognized the sound, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and then my daughter shivered and said ‘I hate that sound.’ Memories came flooding back as I realized it was the sound of the chemo machines and I was quite overwhelmed. I have a habit of shutting out anything bad in my life and this was just another event that I had packed neatly away. I felt guilty for not going with her to all the check-ups, as I realized she must feel the same each time she came here.

I didn’t have much of a battle with the consultant. After explaining her symptoms, he agreed that she needed to be referred, which actually worried me more. So we now find ourselves back again to hoping for the best and agreeing to take it one step at a time, but that is all you can do in life. There is no point in wasting your precious days worrying and being upset, it won’t change anything. Make the most of each day and deal with the bad if, and when it happens. You don’t need to be religious to have faith and hope, and as for France, that will still happen, albeit perhaps a little later than intended.

Helena Johnson is a writer, wife and mother, living in beautiful North Yorkshire, with her husband and two dogs. Find her blog at:

Her daughter's cancer inspired her to write, Coffee "n" Cake Short Stories, a small collection of heartwarming short stories about love and life. All profits go to Teenage Cancer Trust.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

What We Keep

Since “almost” retiring 18 months ago, I’ve done a lot of what my mom jokingly called, “squozzing down.”
I’ve packed and given away boxes of hardly used dishware, knick-knacks, and holiday decorations, a book-case worth of books. With minimal hand-wringing, I’ve donated thousands of dollars’ worth of suites and other “work” clothes.  
So, why are the shrunken t-shirt Jim bought me on our first date and my threadbare Margate circa mid-1970 cut-offs still in the drawer? Why do these relics—that no longer fit me—never make the donate-or-toss-it cut?
When my mom died several years ago, my siblings and I went through the ritual disbursing of her stuff. I carefully choose what to keep—the Hummel I bought her when I back-packed through Europe, a chipped vase from my childhood, a mama and baby snowman from her holiday collection, the library desk where I spent hours as a teen talking on the phone. I kept her red polo shirt with blue flowers on the collar—not because I’ll ever wear it—it just looks so much like her. Beyond that short list and some family pictures, there was a lifetime of her stuff I was able to let go.
And yet.
When I came across a tattered envelope with, “Cindy’s Wedding,” scrawled across the front in my mother’s handwriting, I could not bring myself to toss it.  Something about her handwriting as familiar to me as her smile and her voice, just like that red polo, felt too personal to let go.
I can’t explain it. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a rational explanation for what we keep.
What do you think? When you sort through your stuff, do you know why you keep what you keep and why you let other stuff go?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Anyone Else Need Remedial Letting Go?

If you have followed my emotional tug-of-war this past year, you know my feelings have boomeranged from denial, fear and projection to fragile acceptance and hope.

Habits learned over years in a 12 Step program—one day at a time, letting go, acceptance, courage, first things first—became life lines, put to a new kind of test. Even after years of “12 step practice” there have been days I needed to repeat the Serenity Prayer so many times, I nearly wore it out.
So I was intrigued recently when I heard someone talk about letting go as if it’s a one-time event. Like, it’s an on/off switch or sports shoe slogan. Just do it. You let go and presto. Fear and projection and worry are done.
If only.
I’ve worked on letting go for most of my adult life. No doubt my over-developed sense of responsibility and amped-up impulse to control spur my Groundhog Day approach to letting go—put it down, pick it up, give it over, take it back.
I’ve been known to ceremonially let go by writing down my worry, stuffing the paper into a jar, and tightly sealing the top. Often that works. Sometimes, no lid is secure enough to guarantee I won’t take the worry back.
Life would be simpler if I could learn to let things go once and be able to move on. It’s just never been that way for me.
Does it work that way for you?
And, if it does, can you share your secrets to letting go?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Art of Slowing Down

I feel humbled and grateful every time someone asks if I’m writing a sequel to CAPE MAYBE or PEACE BY PIECE, or hopefully inquires if I’ve started another book.
So why do I also feel guilty each time I admit I’m not?
It’s not that I’m not writing—a blog post here, an article there.
When I was still working in my day job, I faithfully wrote at least eight or ten new pages a week. For several years, I belonged to a small writing critique group with a few retired men. Week after week, I’d bring a new chapter to the group. The retired guys might have a few new pages. I didn’t get it and once said something like, “I work 50+ hours a week and commute 100 miles a day and still find time to write. You have all day. How do I always find more time to write than you?”
In a voice that felt like a pat on the head, one of them said, “Time is different when you’re retired, you’ll see.”
I love writing and always envisioned that when I retired, I’d write full-time. The thing is; loving writing doesn’t change the fact that writing is hard work. I’ve worked a lot in my life. Is more hard work the best use of my retirement time?
When I first retired, slowing down was harder than I expected. I couldn’t imagine how I’d fill my days. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I am surprised to find how much I enjoy life without appointments and deadlines—how much I relish quiet time with Jim, and just doing one thing at a time.
Waiting for hummingbirds to flint by my office window, or dolphins to break the water’s surface, is a pretty amazing gig.
Am I rationalizing and being lazy, or is my job right now to learn and embrace the art of slowing down?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beyond Cancer

My blog encourages looking ahead with hope and thinking positive, so it’s humbling to admit how often I find myself looking back, acutely aware of what I was doing this time last year.

One year ago this week, my first chemo treatment loomed. Now, six months of chemo and radiation are six months behind me. My first set of scans and exams show no evidence of cancer. I feel healthy, and unless friends and family are just being nice, I look healthy, too. My scarves and never-worn wig are all packed away. My hair is back and I am active and able to do everything I did before.
Most days, I dare to believe that we kicked cancer’s butt.

 And yet.
The fear of recurrence still loiters inside me. Turns out, the Cancer journey doesn’t end with diagnosis and treatment. There’s a stage called beyond.
The shadow of cancer is not easy to shake.
Last week, a neighbor asked me why I still have the chemo port imbedded in my chest. I told her they usually leave it in about a year, and I purposely haven’t asked the doctor about taking it out. Part of me wants to keep it for the same reason I stowed away the scarves and unworn wig—hoping as long as I own them, I’ll never need them again.
“Ah, bargaining,” my neighbor said.
As soon as she said it, it hit me—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Bargaining is one of the stages of grief!
I keep thinking I should be done with grieve and fear by now, that I should have arrived at acceptance. Then I remind myself that grief has no timeframe—it is not a straight line.
I have a newfound respect for every cancer survivor striding beyond cancer to their five-year cancer-free anniversary.
How did I never see their courage before or realize they take each determined step with the shadow of cancer still nipping at their heels?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The One That Got Away

I am four or five, riding the subway with my Dad, because he is still a couple of years away from owning his first used car—a 1953 or ’54 Chevy. I bounce on his shoulders, knees pressed against his ears. His hard-work hands circle my ankles as he paces along the platform. At that height, I am nearly eye level with the Chicklet vending machine. He digs two pennies from his pocket and I plunk them into the slot all by myself. The little yellow box with two Chicklets tumbles out and he lets me chew both.

Riding the merry-go-round at Hunting Park, I reach for the brass ring each time we go around. Daddy holds my waist so I stretch as far as I can, knowing he won’t let me fall. My arms are always too short.
I lay across his sturdy hands in the ocean, flapping my arms and kicking my legs, learning how to float. Later, he pushes the blue canvas stroller I am at least a year too old for, and trots from one end of the boardwalk to the other.

 I climb to the very top of the monkey bars at the playground willing myself to strap my legs over the bar and hang upside down. Daddy watches from below. He never seems disappointed that not once am I brave enough to lock my knees, trust my legs, and let go.
At my Girl Scout meeting, the leader needs volunteer drivers for our next outing. Dad owns the Chevy by then and I know without having to ask him that he will say yes. I proudly raise my hand.
We are in the living room. It is sometime after the brain surgery that made it hard for him to talk. He scrunches his eyes, gestures with him arms. He struggles to squeeze out words that I do not understand. Finally, I figure out he wants to know how I’m getting to Girl Scout camp. I tell him my uncle, his brother, will drive me and a smile spreads across his face. He will never walk, or talk, or drive again, but inside, he is still my Dad.
The Father’s Day right after that would be our last. I was twelve when he died and Father’s Day has always been hard for me. Most years, I just try to ignore it.
There’s a line in my novel, CAPE MAYBE, where the narrator, Katie says, “I don’t remember my father, but I miss him as if I do.” Unlike Katie, I did get to know and remember my Dad. He was burly, consistent, and dependable, a mystifying balance of gregarious and reserved. Because he died when I was so young, all of my memories of him are tinged with childlike awe. I wish my adult self could have known him, even if that means I would have learned he had some flaws.
You hear people say, “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss him.” The truth is, I don’t think about or long for my dad every day. But even after 50 years, there are many days when the ache of missing him is so raw, it still feels new.  
Recently, a friend who also misses having her dad in her life referred to him as the one who got away. That really struck a chord with me. Does it resonate with you?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Four Must-Know Lessons about Forgiveness

Recently, I saw a TV clip about a man who was shot and killed many years ago during a robbery. In the piece, the murdered man’s grown son met and hugged and forgave his father’s murderer.

I know the anguish of losing a father as a child, and the lifelong ache of growing up without him. If instead of cancer, another man had killed my dad, could I bring myself to forgive him?

Even when people hurt us by accident, forgiving can be hard. If someone harms us on purpose, forgiveness can feel impossible. Like most people, I’ve had my share of opportunities to practice forgiveness. The toughest for me was forgiving Jim’s ex-wife. I thought I’d faced my harshest forgiveness test, when weeks before my step-daughter’s wedding, her mother left a phone message uninviting our entire side of the family to the wedding. She gloated that it had been her plot all along.

A year later when my stepdaughter was pregnant with our first grandchild, her mother outdid herself on the forgiveness meter. She issued an ultimatum to Jim’s son and daughter—I won’t share my grandchildren. Pick me or your father to be in your life.

Forgiving her, and them for accepting her ultimatum, has taught me more than I ever wanted to learn about forgiveness. I’ve yearned for my father most of my life. How can Jim’s children purposely waste theirs? Even all these years later, as Father’s Day approaches and old hurts resurface, it helps to remind myself of the four must-know lessons I’ve learned about Forgiveness. 

1)    Forgiveness is for me, not the other person. I learned the hard way that holding grudges and obsessing about revenge causes me as much or more pain than the original offense. Forgiving turns off the resentment-replay machine in my head, so I can let go and move on.


2)    My own expectations contribute to being hurt by others. Other people don’t always make the choices I think they “should.” I feel calmer and happier  when I accept others as they are and don’t “should” on them.


3)    I feel best about myself when I practice the golden and platinum rules—treat others the way I want to be treated, or even better the way they want to be treated. I can hope others behave a certain way in return—I can’t control their actions.


4)    Forgiveness makes room for hope. Sometimes we have to let go of something—even something precious to us—to make room for something else. Hope helps me believe things will turn out the way they are supposed to and the future will make sense of the past.

Forgiving has a magical ability to open our hearts and make room for something better.

Are there resentments you have held for too long? Is it time to lighten your load and forgive?

And, isn’t feeling good and having a happier life, ultimately the best revenge?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Know #Hope Know Growth

I probably don’t have to tell you, some days, having cancer, chemo, and radiation sucked. Early on, fear and gloom hijacked most of my thoughts. As my family and friends rallied with prayers, support, and encouragement, something pretty amazing happened. I realized I had a choice—let the dread consume me, or one day at a time choose hope.
If cancer taught me anything, it taught me HOPE IS A CHOICE.
In creating this new blog, Know Hope Know Growth, I thought a lot about life being a cycle of ups and downs. For me, hope means continual attitude adjustments to focus on the ups. Hope means noticing and being grateful for the little things, and looking for the opportunity to learn from the downs.
Hope means trusting that while things won’t always turn out the way I want; they will always turn out the way they are supposed to, and that I’ll get what I need to accept what I get when I don’t get what I want.
All of that, and what we learn from the ups and downs, is what I hope we can talk about here.
So, let’s get the conversation going in comments. Do any of my thoughts on hope feel familiar, and what does hope mean to you?