Looking Back

(The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book “10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss”, a cancer journey and a story of great love):

I sit back now and, four and a half years later, read my complete story for the first time. It always amazes me how everything looks so different with the passage of time. When we’re in the midst of a problem or issue in our lives, we can feel so lost and tangled, however, the passage of time gives us a frame to see it in an isolated view that allows us to be much more objective. We can look back and see how truly strong we were in a difficult time. We survived!

We learned how to live. There’s nothing like a terminal diagnosis to make you stand up and face your life head-on. It is a challenge to yield to the ravages of disease while living your life in the most wide awake, conscious, grab-a hold-of-it, fully alive way you can. It becomes a daily decision to keep living even as you are dying inside. We learned to be at peace, be curious, be loving, be grateful, and keep seeking new experiences in the stuff of everyday life. Never had the dew on the lawn sparkled more brightly, a friend’s smile seemed so warm and friendly, the sizzle of a summer barbecue smelled more tantalizing.

For those facing it, a terminal diagnosis can make one even more fully alive, for now you know that your unique and precious life is about to be taken away from you. So embrace it with gentle loving hands and pull it close in gratitude. Stand firm and say, “I’m not dead yet.”

And when it comes time to face that final moment, embrace it too with that same complete acceptance, knowing that our end is part of the natural process for all of us. It’s just another step along the way. But let it end with no regrets. Know that you have lived a complete and joyful life being curious, loving, happy, and appreciative of all you have been given.

When Tom was given his terminal cancer diagnosis, he courageously grabbed hold of his life and began to live it with joy, determination, and quality. It wasn’t a dramatic change. Rather, it was a quiet defiance that said, “I am going to live my ordinary life in the face of this disease that is trying its best to dominate and control my life.” And so, he got up every morning, he travelled, he went to concerts, he enjoyed time with family and friends. When he needed to, he rested, he retreated, and then he got up again the next morning to live his ordinary life. And just that quiet defiance that said, “I am going to live today” turned his ordinary life into an extraordinary life, one where every day counted.

So live your ordinary life. Make it extraordinary. Make every day count.

Suffering Loss

(The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book “10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss)

When we suffer a great loss – a loved one, a pet, a belonging, a relationship – it feels as if we lose a chunk of ourselves. Our identity and recognition of our personal self is so entwined with the “other” that we have no clear sense anymore of who we really are.

Birth itself is a push for separateness. The newborn baby emerges into the world alone, a unique individual. There will be many who walk the path of life with him/her but, once again, at death, he or she leaves behind loved ones and walks alone into the mystery of the afterlife.

We can walk parallel paths with others. We need not be alone. But we are separate and we need to explore and discover our individuality and self-worth independently. We can’t look to others to fulfill who we are and remain healthy and strong.

We need to find ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, our interests, our passions, and walk our path. A husband can’t be everything to a wife, a friend can’t be everything to another friend, a child can’t be everything to a parent.

Be thankful for the relationships in your life. But know yourself. Know that you are a unique “one” capable of standing strong when the storms of life leave you shaken and alone. You will survive. Find the inner you and begin the journey anew. A part of your physical world may be gone but the spiritual connection will always be present, with your memories and love and your very being. For the relationship with your loved one has transformed you and become a part of who you now are. And that will never be lost.

The difficulties in life can be, well – difficult. We wrap ourselves in the pain, burden ourselves with heavy loads, stand in the shadows, and trudge through life self-absorbed. But if our journey of negativity becomes a marathon, then bitterness sets in. We end up hurting ourselves. Rest when you need to, linger in the darkness for a while, but to benefit from those difficult times of our lives, we need to cast off the mantle of darkness. We need to step into the sunshine of life once again, stronger simply because we made it through the storm.

I wish you, my reader, faith, hope, and love. May you have courage, perseverance, persistence, and gratitude as you travel your journey in life.

Out of every loss, we have a new gain. Out of every ending, there is a new beginning. We can choose to look at our lives as a series of losses, or we can choose to look at our lives as a series of new beginnings.

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my new blog. My name is Barbara Heagy and I am going to share musings, ideas and other writings that contribute to understanding, encouraging, and uplifting each other in this path we call life. We all face joys and sorrows, achievements and problems. By sharing them with each other, we build each other up. We create a supportive community, so we don’t feel isolated and alone. We are all in this together. Whether we are celebrating life or suffering losses, the aim is to get through our day with joy, gratitude, courage and resilience. I will speak from my own experience as a mother, a teacher, writer, dancer, photographer, traveller and survivor of life calamities which have included living with alcoholism, cancer, and loss.

I tend to be the eternal optimist, the old “the glass is half full” person, but I am learning that whether you see it as half-full or half-empty isn’t the issue, for after all, the glass is refillable. Whatever life throws at us, we can get through it. Our faith, friends, family and community help us do that. This blog can be a place to celebrate, to support, to encourage each other.

I plan on writing a weekly blog dealing with a variety of issues from death and dying, creativity, living your life purpose, dealing with loss and other life issues we all face every day.  I hope to hear from you too. Please add your comments to the comments section below with the aim of providing a positive site to share our ideas.  I will read every comment and respond as I am able. I look forward to hearing from you.