Reflecting on 2017 and looking forward to 2018

2017 has been a year of LIFE.

2017 was the year that marked five years since my diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer. As there is no cure in my case, there is no remission.  Yet, here I am looking forward to the sixth year, many believing that August 2012 would be my last birthday.  I celebrated my 62nd this past year, and I look forward to the next!

2017 has been a year of EDUCATION.

I studied Spanish in 2017. I also enjoyed lectures and discussions in Philosophy, Ethics and World War II History from professors who are brilliant and love their subjects.  I am taking all these classes as a “senior audit student,” so my tuition is waived.  I do not receive a grade or credit for taking them, though they will show up on my transcript that I have taken the classes. I received my Bachelors degree nearly 16 years ago, but I love to learn, and I like the challenge. I will continue doing the same in 2018.

2017 has been a year of CREATIVITY.

It was only three years ago that I picked up a paintbrush for the first time to put something on canvas. If you talked to my friend and creative arts “coach,” she would tell you that it has been difficult for me to break through certain emotions to get in touch with my child-like creative self.  Yet, this year, I painted 10 canvases, nearly all of them with faces. Though they may never become famous works of art, they are MY works of art, as childish as they may seem to others.

2017 has been a year of FRIENDSHIP.

This year I have come to realize the truer meanings of “friendship” or “relationship” to others, and what it means with friends, family and acquaintances, and in business and pleasure.  Learning to recognize those relationships, which are uplifting to all parties involved, as well as when there is little reciprocity, has been of the utmost of valuable lessons. I have continued to learn that, by accepting others for who they are, it is simply about love.  It does not necessarily mean that relationship will continue. Sometimes, we must learn to let go of others.  It is equally as important to accept and love oneself, and make choices that are best for us and our well-being.

2017 has been a year of GRATITUDE.

There are so many things this year for which to be grateful. Having had the opportunity to learn about myself and others, I am grateful for the chance at all the experiences and lessons that have been presented, even when it is necessary to deal with the painful realizations that all things and people are not as they seem.   However, though we encounter those few people in life who choose to stand in extreme judgment, spewing ugliness, and doing their personal best to drag others down into the mud with them, there are many more people in life that we encounter…

…there are so many more who are accepting and beautiful, uplifting and encouraging, supportive and loving, and who will be there without judgment.  

These are the people in life who are truly the most genuine, and will share themselves freely…vulnerable and without expectation.

If nothing more was learned in 2017, I have learned about genuine love from and for others and I am so grateful for these people in my life.

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WHAT IS IN STORE FOR 2018?

Of course, none of know the answer to that question!  We set goals, make resolutions, and have the best of intentions, before something happens to put a glitch in our plans, derailing all those lofty dreams.

All we can do is keep moving forward, approaching life with gusto and working toward being a better version of ourselves.

2018 will be a year of LIFE.

I know that I must continue to live every day that I am given. I will wake up and look forward to whatever adventures each day presents to me.

2018 will be a year of EDUCATION.

I will continue to audit classes in 2018. I am looking forward to what more I can learn. I love keeping my brain engaged.  I look toward taking more classes that encourage more of the creative side of my soul, not just the academic.

2018 will be a year of CREATIVITY.

The first class at the college for which I am signed up is a Jazz Musicianship class. I have known the professor for nearly 20 years. I have never taken a class from him, but I know that he is a brilliant bassist, having seen him perform with various bands over these two decades. I look forward to putting in practice more improvisation and taking more risks as a singer. I look to resurrect the music in me in a way that gives me joy, getting back to what I consider my “jazz roots.” As well, I’m in collaboration right now with another bassist to start to work together in 2018, possibly with a bass and vocal duo.

I have several more canvases that I have to paint. I want to continue to explore acrylic painting, and to approach my style of painting with as much freedom as I have begun to embrace,without worrying about what others think of it. I am also planning to enter a couple of them in a juried art show designed for veterans to share their art.

2018 will be a year of FRIENDSHIP.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

These words from Ms. Winfrey are representative of my biggest goal for 2018, as I too often waste too much energy and time with people, situations and things which I let “eat at me” and rob me of my inner peace, and halt my joy. Sometimes these are things that are beyond my control.  At other times, some will purposefully do whatever they can to “pick” and get a reaction.  HOWEVER…

Let me point out AND repeat the operative words:

I waste…I waste…

No matter what others may do to us, or try to do in order to cause us grief, even though it certainly does affect us, it is ALWAYS MY OWN RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that I care for my own well-being.  Like so many others before me, I must take care not to be sucked into the old patterns that some will try to heap upon me.

2018 will be a year of GRATITUDE.

Let us all be aware of (and own) the choices that we make, as these will be the ones that make the biggest differences in LIFE and views of success in 2018. Let us all be GRATEFUL for those lessons we learn by what life deals out. Let us all be joyous in the genuine relationships that we are given that truly lift us up to happier hearts and a desire to be better to one another.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!

2018 WILL BE A YEAR OF LIFE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living with Intention or Wandering?

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There seems to have been a grand movement toward the “living with intention” ideology. Of course, every generation believes that they are the first ones to think of it. Some use traditional philosophies or religious teachings to take the step toward living intentionally. Others reject the traditional, as it feels stifling and rigid with “should” or “don’t” around ever corner, guilt and shame being the motivator.

Some struggle for a lifetime, unable to see the joys of life through the challenges faced, often going to their graves feeling that their lives had no meaning or purpose, as defined by others’ definitions. Others accept their plights, taking on martyrdom as their sole purpose so others will not have to suffer the same unpleasantness and can live happily.

Then there seems to be those who have it all, exempt from the tragedies that have befallen others. They are born with societal standards of beauty, health, and success. If (when) they do find themselves in tough times, it is often hidden and rarely shared for fear of judgement by others or tarnishing the image they have worked so hard to maintain in their attempts to protect the status that they enjoy.

Each and everyone of us struggles. We humans are the ones who decide (and define) who are more deserving of those struggles.

Because we are bombarded by the definitions that others have piled upon us, it is often difficult to know what living intentionally means to us, as individuals. We are too busy trying to follow others’ acceptable versions of those intentions.

Some will choose a different path altogether, one that is seen as a wanderer or “dancing to the beat of a different drummer.” They are often rejected by family, friends, and society for being an  embarrassment. Years or decades later, they are still talked about behind their backs, and discussed as pitiful creatures who have not found their way.

The trouble with this is that the basis of these discussions is on very old perception, based on limited knowledge. It is often accompanied by an active refusal to seek new knowledge and understanding.

For the person who finds him- or herself as the wanderer, living without the intention that others think is acceptable, it is rather easy to fall into a habit of feeling unworthy or lost. It can be a challenge to find the meaning and purpose.  Perhaps, it is not in finding it; rather, in recognizing it when it shows up.

In the last few days, I have experienced some of those recognizable moments, which are evidence that I am, indeed, living with intention.  I will share more of this in my next post.

Until then, please remember J.R.R. Tolkein’s words describing Aragon…

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
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Reference:

 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), “Strider”, ISBN 0-395-08254-4

Photo credits:  Public domain photos via Pixabay

Copyright:  Author, Coral Levang, 2016. All rights reserved. May be used with permission and proper citation.

 

 

 

Lessons of Winter Solstice

According to WebProNews, “It happens every year between December 20th and the 23rd, the first day of winter – the Winter Solstice…” when the “sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees…when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun.”

This year it happens on Tuesday, December 22nd, at 04:48 UTC, which is 8:48 PM MondayPacific Time (PT) here in the Northwest United States.

So today marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. With all the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holidays, I am not sure that most even pay attention to this fact.

For some of us, Winter Solstice is a day of hope.

Both literally and figuratively, I am one that likes light. Though I am not much of a sun worshiper, I do like it to stay light longer into the evening. I also like to see what I am facing, so that I can prepare for what is to come.

Light feels like a smile upon my soul. Knowledge feels the same to me.

Tomorrow will shine just a bit more light than it did today. I am hopeful that I will also be open to learn a bit more than I knew yesterday.

I am grateful for Winter Solstice and the lesson it teaches me each year.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~Plato

Copyright © 2015 Coral Levang

Why Me or Why Not Me? That Is the Question

question-25527_640I have had my moments in life of asking “What now?” or “Why me?” I am no different than others who have faced their share of challenges, both large and small.

But the better question is: “Why NOT me?”

Does anyone deserve more or less than others in this life? What do any one of us have that is so much more special than others of us who have been put on this earth?

I am sure that each of us have someone or a number of other people in our lives who feel that they are the privileged ones. Or deserving. Or entitled to things, situations, money or a “break.”

These are the people who, when things are going in the manner they think they deserve, are happy. But the moment that something “bad” happens to them (whatever they deem that to be for the moment), the proverbial pity party starts. And when one does not accept the invitation to the party, there is hell to pay.

Then there are those who wish their misery on another. They take the “why-me-instead-of-him” approach, as if they can or should rank themselves higher on the “good person” list.

Many have grand successes in life, whether financially, socially, or professionally, etc., and  live in all their grandeur with so much dis-ingenuousness and narcissism , which really is unnecessary. Everyone tries to impress one another.

I have seen this in too many circumstances to not be able to recognize it. And these are the people who will so often judge, ignore, and discard others because they do not fit some image they have deemed the most worthy of their time, effort or love.

So back to the “what now” and “why me” questions…

Some people will be bombarded by life and feel as if they are entitled to a break, or to successes and other “good” things, dreaming of “if only…” Others who have already been fortunate to have lived the dream, feel they are the “chosen” and “worthy,” alive in their castle of self-importance. These two types of people are really not much different. They are simply at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Then there are those who get bombarded by the same challenges of life, who act differently. They do not feel shame and guilt for what is happening. They seek out others who are genuine and understanding. They take life by the horns and keep moving forward. They do not sit (long) on any pity pot that they might certainly be allowed more time than others, if they were to choose to do so.

They keep going…moving forward…living beyond.

They do not concern themselves with what the “pretty, perfect people” think of them any longer. They stop seeing the world through the eyes of those who will discard them without blinking an eye.

And they truly have learned the answer to “Why me?”

Why me? Because I am the one who can handle it. I am the one who will do it as gracefully as life will allow me to do it. I am the one who will continue to get up and keep moving when others weep at the loss of an illusion.

Why me? Because I am the one who will open my heart up to those of you who thought you were exempt from the crap that life dishes out. I am the one who will cry with you. Laugh with you. I will be the one who will accept you for who you are in spite of yourself.

Why me? Because I can. And I will.

And what next? More life and what it has to offer.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could..”― Louise Erdrich

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© Copyright 2014 by Coral Levang – All Rights Reserved.  (Post originally written and published on Bubblews.com on April 6, 2014, but removed from site by author)