Making The Best Out Of This

“You have breast cancer.” I could see them waiting for my reaction. “Ok”, I said. After being an oncology nurse for several years the news didn’t impact me. And after how my life has turned around and the way things have unfolded around me lately, nothing surprises me anymore. With pathology results, a book on breast cancer, tons of information, and a follow up appointment with a surgeon I headed home. I don’t know if it was denial or laziness, but everything stayed in my car untouched until the day of the appointment.

I met the surgeon couple of weeks later. He explained the biopsy results and asked me what I wanted. But I didn’t know. I went for an MRI guided biopsy and another area showed more cancer cells. “Ok. Definitely, I need a double mastectomy”, I thought. “Let’s make the best out of this. I want reconstruction and a little bigger”, I said. “That’s the spirit”, the nurse said. “I’ll take care of that for you”, the surgeon said.

My friend Lisa called. She took the day off in case I needed her. And I needed her to drive me to the surgery. Next thing I know, I woke up in my bed, at home. I could hear my grandkids laughing and playing in the porch. The baby was laying next to me making me feel useful and happy. I’m blessed in so many ways. Today my trust in God is stronger than ever. No need to ask or tell Him anything. I know He got my back. No matter what may be; Is it a friend by my side, the laughter of my little ones, the love of my family, or bigger boobs (πŸ˜‚), God knows how to make the best out of this new challenge in my life.

Bursting In Colors

When I was a little girl I was fascinated by a glass prism I had. I don’t remember how I came about to have it. But I loved every time a ray of sun entered the glass and colors burst out painting the walls all over my room. There was no way to know where the blue, red or yellow would end. I only knew the colors would come out. It was like a moment of celebration I looked forward to with greater expectation every time. Later on, I understood why a single ray of sun could change into multiple colors. I learned of the angles the glass had and how each color would travel at a different speed bending at different times, splitting, and coming out in different colors, instead of all mixed and together in a single ray of white light. Because each color was unique.

I grew up in Church. Going to church every Sunday made us good people. We followed certain rules, dressed up the same way, our thoughts were alike; we belonged to something and were accepted. Later on I learned that we were accepted as long as our thinking was like everybody else. We couldn’t be bent. Being bent meant that we were weak and not like the rest. That would contradict the ideas that had been put in our hearts. We had to be like a single ray of sun, traveling together without ever being disrupted or changed. And as a ray of light, I followed what I thought was expected of me.

As I grew up, I began to discover there were multiple colors in the world, that just like me, could paint the world beautifully. They were different. They traveled at a different speed than me. They bent at any angle life put in front of them, and they kept on shining! How amazing! A different color; a different speed; but coloring the world in beautiful ways. Could that be possible?

One day, I decided to step outside of the painted lines and walked away from the expectations people had for and about me. I realized I was being limited and unable to reach out the fullness of what I was capable of. Actually, God had better expectations for me; much better than what the organization or system had. I had been kept in bondage. Structures were no longer what called my attention or what I needed. Like the people of Israel, I needed to step out into the wilderness in faith and look for what would bring bright colors out of my life and reflect in others as ways to shine more brightly than they ever knew.

The moment my foot stepped outside the lines, I realized I was damaged goods. I had been hurt by a system that was never looking for my own good but for what will work best for it. However, God had a better place for me, where I would be a real agent of change. I searched for different angles in life that would bring the colors that were screaming to be let out of my life. In my quest, I was amazed by rays of light that beautiful people brought outside their life, making every moment a humbling moment. Ever since, I’ve been searching for a more challenging angle in life that would bring out a brighter color than before.

The path I have chosen to walked, has been filled by momentary angles that I have not regretted experiencing. In fact, I have entered each one at my own free will bursting my life in colors I never knew existed. And I will do it all over again…

Unexpected Visit

It’s 7am. With a cup of coffee by my side and the computer on my lap, I’m sitting comfortably on my porch. What am I missing? Music. “I need to have music”, I say to myself. I get up from the comfy chair and get my cellphone. Music keeps my heart content following a different beat every time. On the background I can still hear the birds singing. Their singing always bring a soothing feeling to my soul, no matter what. Regardless of what I’m involved in, I have learned to stop and meditate in the beauty that unpexpected moments bring.

The music starts and I can hear Jack Johnson singing one of the songs that have become one of my favorites these days: “Better Together”.

“Love is the answer.
At least for most of the questions in my heart.
Like: “Why are we here?”, “And where do we go?”,
“And how come it’s so hard?”.
It’s not always easy,
And sometimes life can be deceiving
I’ll tell you one thing:
It’s always better when we’re together.”

The day is cloudy and a little humid with a temperature of 82 degrees that feels like 86. My eyes scan the backyard and I remember when and how each plant ended up there. I’m thankful. Suddenly, a hummingbird enters into my backyard for a visit interrupting my thoughts with its fidgety movements. Of all the birds I know and new ones National Geographic introduces me to occasionally, hummingbirds are and will always be my favorite. He danced around and stopped for a second in front of a white flower. “Any moment now he will kiss the flower’, I said to myself. And my mind starts to wander…

Hummingbirds are tiny and could be missed easily, unless they happen to feel comfortable with you. I’ve had hummingbirds dance in front of my window, as if they were inviting me to join them in a quest into the unknown. With 350 hummingbird species known; each one is unique, beautiful and amazing. Hummingbirds have no sense of smell but a keen eyesight. I wonder if they can see colors we can’t even imagine. I wonder if they can see the color of our heart when we are sad, happy, or simply amazed by their beauty. I wonder if they can see the color of our soul.

Their flight is fascinating. Hummingbirds, like experienced swimmers, stroke their wings forward or backwards in a single dive. In a minute, hummingbirds change the angle of their wings giving them the ability to change direction at any given time. How cool is that? They flap their wings 200 flaps per second and their heart beats more than 1,200 times per minute. They develop strong wings to take them in search of unknown beauty found in unexpected places. I say to myself: “Oh to have strong wings to travel after what makes my heart beat, and go off to that place into your heart my soul desires…”

Hummingbirds lick flowers at a rate of 15 licks per second, and feed on nectar 8 times per hour consuming half of their weight in sugar daily. Like hummingbirds we should look for what makes our heart beat faster prompting us to feed on love and sweetness. The beauty of their prismatic feathers are certainly a unique feature. The colors we see on hummingbirds are determined by the angle they move, the position of the feathers, and the light that shines on them. Once again my mind wanders: “I can be perceived, and described by the colors I project in response to the light that shines on me.” For a moment I stopped to ask myself, what kind of light shines on me and what moves have altered the colors of my life? What kind of beauty, if any, I reflect and people perceive?

I’m still watching him this amazing beauty floating through my backyard, waiting for the moment he will kiss the white flower. My thoughts are interrupted once again by a quick turn only to see him disappear the same way it appeared; unexpectedly. He leaves me thinking how special hummingbirds are. And the question came dancing, as the speed of the hummingbird dance, back into my heart; only this time to remain and challenge me to reflect a soul filled by beauty, harmony, and love.

Note: Because of the activity they engage daily, no hummingbird has been found to be diabetic. πŸ™‚

The Fire

I once heard the story of a potter who was working the clay intensely. For long hours he shaped the clay, turning it into a beautiful vessel. He then placed it in the fire and waited.

I moved to Georgia in 2010. I loved Chicago and it took me a year to finally make the decision to move. Before moving I did my homework and after inquiring and researching different hospitals in the area, I finally found the one I thought was similar to the one I had been working at and loved in Chicago. The day came and I was on my way to my new place. I had made the decision in my heart that in Georgia I was going to find my forever home. However, things did not go the way I had envisioned.

When I started on my new job, there were many things going on that made me question my decision, and I wanted to go back to Illinois so bad… As I struggled with what I thought was a bad decision, I became angry and was upset all the time. I couldn’t see how I was coming across sometimes, especially at work. With patients, I was ok. But when it came to coworkers and work, I had no patience… and I was getting tired. Keeping up with anger is hard work. In 2012 I completed the masters with a concentration in nurse education and right away was hired at the university as clinical instructor. The future was turning a little brighter, but I still couldn’t see the light.

One day, a new girl started to work in the unit. She was unique. Very different than everybody else. Happy. Bubbly. She didn’t care what people said; and people really tried to make her life difficult. But she owned herself. AC reminded me of the girl I once was; the wild and free girl I used to be before getting hurt by people and a toxic system. Of course we became friends. She introduced me to other amazing girls, and we all became camping buddies. For several years we had an appointment to meet by the lake to spend 2 nights and 3 days sitting by the fire. It wasn’t long before we all realized how deep into the fire we all were.

In different ways, we were all experiencing some kind of hardship, discontent, and hurt. During those days by the lake we laughed, cried, but we also discovered some amazing things about each other. After being exposed for many years to a system that left me wonder if there was any good in me, my friends helped me feel good about myself. Those days made me realize that I had been sitting inside the ring of fire for too long. I couldn’t continue living in anger anymore and had to find a way out. I had to find my voice. And one day, I decided to see the good in the bad. Yes; my previous hospital, place, and friends were amazing; but moving to GA put me in touch with amazing people too.

A little boy saw the potter put the vessel in the fire. After some time he approached the potter and asked him: “When will you know that the vessel is ready?” The potter answered: “When I hit the vessel and I hear it sing, then I will know that it is ready to be removed from the fire.”

I was that vessel. Standing in the middle of the ring of fire, it was my turn to start singing. That day, I made the decision to always look for new opportunities; to see the good, instead of the bad; to look for whatever or whoever was waiting for me to arrive and make a difference. I will look for ways to find my voice and sing.