“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~ Author Unknown
I recently made the decision to fly to the Midwest on a last-minute whim. If everything fell into place, I would see each of our four kids, seven grandchildren, my mother and my mother-in-law in a six-day, four-city sweep, so I booked a flight and overstuffed my carry-on bag.
A few days before I left, my mom called. She’d found a lump. It was in the same breast where a cancerous tumor had been removed 30 years ago. “No cause for concern,” said my mother, the eternal optimist. Three days later a biopsy was taken, and on the day I landed, I learned that my mom had breast cancer. Again.
From the start I was thankful. Thankful that I took this last-minute trip. Thankful that I would be with my mother for the scheduled mastectomy. Thankful that she is an optimist, because her gift for favoring positive thoughts and silver linings has rewarded her with better health than her medical records would suggest.
On the morning before her surgery she hosted a coffee at her house. In the afternoon she met with friends to play bridge. She ate dinner with our son’s family that evening and stayed until she was thoroughly exhausted, squeezing the last drop of activity from a day that someone else might have spent commiserating on the couch. Her surgery was a success and within 24 hours she was back home, resting between phone calls from well-wishers.
Within an hour of my mother’s return home, my husband called. His mother was on her way to the hospital by ambulance. It turned out to be a cautionary trip, after a hard tumble, on legs that failed to function in the moment. She was examined and tested and ultimately dismissed.
That night we had much to celebrate as our mothers were both home resting comfortably, so we took our grandchildren out for pizza. My husband supervised as the older ones dropped quarters into arcade machines until the pizza arrived while I held not-quite-two Lola on my lap. She had just spilled a cup of ice water on herself and I was mopping off the chill when she launched herself from my lap like a frog in pursuit of a fly. She landed on the floor on hands and knees but her mouth smacked the carpet with enough force to send her top teeth into her upper lip. As I picked her up she was crying the dreaded silent cry. Her eyes squeezed shut but tears flowed freely. Her mouth, wide open, released not a modicum of sound, but blood sluiced forth like a broken spigot. When she finally took a breath, her wails of upset and pain repeated only one word, “MOMMA!” So, I delivered her back home to her parents and drove away feeling like I flunked Grandma 101. How on earth did I ever raise four kids?
At this point I needed a hot shower and a good night’s sleep but I decided to make one more stop to check in on my mother. When I arrived at her house she was distraught. The port at her surgical site was not draining. She couldn’t rest until she had a doctor’s assurance that it was operating correctly, so back to the hospital we went. With my mom in her pajamas and me covered in blood and baby snot, the emergency room staff withheld judgment and unclogged mom’s drainage tube.
The next day we flew home to Florida and arrived just before Tropical Storm Gordon unloaded waves of swale-bursting rain that snaked through the new tile on our roof, and into the rafters over the garage. We yawned through our frustration; too tired to be upset. Just before we collapsed into bed that night, our air conditioner slipped into silence and refused to be resuscitated. Ugh. A leaky roof and broken AC. Didn’t momma always say there would be days like this?
Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s big stuff. Sometimes it’s a lot of little stuff all at once. Sometimes we cause the stuff to happen, and other times the stuff rises up without warning and demands our undivided attention. How we deal with stuff is more important than the stuff itself, because no life is without troubles. And besides, bad days are necessary. I’ll repeat that. Bad days are necessary. Because “days like this” are opportunities. Opportunities to look inward for strength and peace.
Imagine your bad day, or difficult moments swirling around you like a tornado. Stressful thoughts, despair and demands on your time and resources whirl in the atmosphere around you like dirt and debris. It becomes so difficult to see past the rush of darkness, we often forget about the light. But what if we were able to step back and bring our awareness to one moment at a time? One trouble at a time. One cancer diagnosis. One trip to the emergency room. One bloody fall. One leaky roof. Together they are a tornado, but individually they are passing moments. Individually, they are surmountable.
We all possess peacefulness. It dwells deep within, even on those days when the tornado of chaos threatens to carry us away. We only have to remember to take a step back. Direct our focus inward. Remind ourselves to breathe and invite calm into our heart.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.