Win or lose, it’s how you play the game

 

Life deals us cards to play throughout life.

 

Most of the time we fairly confident in our ability to play. The cards may not be the best, but we learn strategies to play confidently. We find ourselves having to bluff from time-to-time, but we get through it and win a hand or two.

Sometimes, we are dealt a handful of crummy cards.  We have no idea how we can win the game. And then, the next few hands are worse than the one dealt before it. We might even look at those cards and wonder why it seems that we have been dealt more than our fair share.

Have you ever noticed that some people can still win the game and continue to be happy and have fun, despite the overabundance of crummy cards that are dealt to them, often at no fault of their own?

Some people play poorly.

They may blame the deck, the dealer, or LIFE for not having been given better chances of winning. They may complain incessantly about without a willingness to take responsibility for how they play in those situations. They cannot see their way to turning the hand around through better play, or cutting their losses strategically.

 

Cards

 Bad cards happen to us all; but we have to play them.

If we want to have a more fulfilling life, then we have to choose to play, otherwise we automatically lose.  We have to choose to re-frame how we see what we have been dealt…what we live.  We must choose to see beyond the negativity that we feel and learn how to figure out how to see our cards from a different perspective. (Perhaps, we have a habit of talking about most things from a negative perspective?)

Taking ownership of our habits can be biggest struggle.

This is the one “card” that we can choose to play differently.

When we play the cards we have been dealt in life, we are playing the game with the others around us. Do we want to drag the others down so that we don’t have to be alone in the miserable game? Or can we choose to have some good fun with others who can move through life with us?

Again, we must play the cards dealt.

It’s not always easy. In fact, sometimes, it is all we can do to just get through the game without quitting.  But, the next hand we are dealt may very well be the winning hand.

 

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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.

* * * * * * * * *

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

How Lucky Are You?

four-leaf-clover-711625__180Twenty-three years ago, when I was an Executive Manager with Tupperware, my Distributor, Karen Joyce Hanzlik, used to say “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”

She, too, was a baby boomer and grew up with some of the same work ethics that I was fortunate enough to have learned. I admired her greatly for her positive outlook on life.  I remember her best by how she viewed life and the challenges it presented. She was consistent in her messages to her team that there was something positive in everything that happens.  We simply had to be willing to view the situation differently and look for it.ladybug-354521_640

Some people say that success comes only if one is in the right place at the right time. Others complain that there cannot be success unless one is born at the right time or to the right family. There are so many reasons that one can use to justify why he or she is are not successful.

Although there are many factors that may influence one’s success, it is important to consider what the word, “success,” means. Money is only one way to measure success. When we limit our vision of success to money, power, or prestige, we may always find ourselves on the short end of the stick.

If you look for success you will find it. It may not always seem easy, especially if the unit of measure for that success is compared to what others have or what one does not have.

* * * * * * * *

By what other standards can you measure your successes? When you open up your vision of success, you may be surprised at just how successful you already are.

And luck has little to do with it.

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I Am a Survivor!

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Ah! The irony! It is almost funny to me that on the first day of this month I would write about being a “Survivor.”  It was in May last year that I received news of a diagnosis which would forever change my life.

Perhaps this is “The Great Set-up” for me to begin to tell more of the story about the events that transpired one year ago.  I have not really wanted to take a look at some of what has happened, generally in relationship to my fears, expectations, and the people in my life.

But, yes.  One year later, I am still alive.

I have survived…

Pokes and prods.  Opposition and defeat. Misinformation and misunderstandings. Tests and surgeries. Fear and failure. Disappointment and broken promises. Pain of body, heart and soul.

And as life has given me all of these things, I am also grateful to have received…

Encouragement and hope. Lessons and sound guidance. Surprise visits and special moments. Laughter and joy. Understanding and healing. Reconnection and renewal. Celebration of body, heart and soul.

And I have survived the A to Z in April 2013 Blogging Challenge.  Twenty-six posts.  Fifteen days.

I started five days late, having forgotten I’d signed up.  I skipped days because I couldn’t think of anything to write about.  I didn’t think I could get it done.  And I wanted to give up.  But I did it anyway.

Just like I’ve survived this past year with Stage IV cancer.

Survived CT scans, MRIs, a biopsy and a prognosis from one doctor that told me it was not likely I’d make it past one year. Survived the mother of all surgeries to live to talk about it.  Survived a year of my own crazy thoughts of death and dying.

And some days I’ve forgotten to “sign up”  for life. Skipped days because I couldn’t think.  I didn’t think I would be alive today.  And I wanted to give up. But I lived anyway.

May Day.

I begin this month in celebration of my “survival” of the A to Z in April 2013 Blogging Challenge.  And I ask that you celebrate with me.

Celebrate by working your way through each post and sharing your comments as you “survive” Coral’s A to Z in April Blogging Challenge.  (It does not have to be all in one day!)

And I also begin this month in celebration of my “survival” of this past year and ask that you celebrate with me and continue to LIVE life with me.  Challenge yourself to live life doing the things that you think you cannot do.

I will not promise that I can make you a “survivor badge” as you accept either of these challenges.

What I can and will promise you is a genuine look into my life, how I think, and an opportunity to get to know me better (whether we’ve known one another for days, months, or years online or offline).  I also promise that I will do my best to respond to each comment that you leave here on the blog.

I also promise you that when I give of myself to you–when I share my heart–I take a big risk.  I am vulnerable with you.  I will allow you in. Give of myself in a way where  I can feel hurt, pain and disappointment.  Just as I will share hope and joy and love.

Whether you know me face-to-face or simply through my writing, trust that I do not take whatever is shared lightly.  Ever.

And though I’m certainly not perfect, there are several in life and beyond who could attest firsthand to that.

From the depths of my heart, thank you all for your continued support of me as we learn together how to keep…

Laughing, hoping, loving, living (and surviving)…beyond life’s challenges.

(Note: Please share this list and/or a particular post wherever you deem appropriate.  If you should find that any hyperlink is broken, please let me know by leaving a comment here on this thread.  Thanks!)

THE A TO Z IN APRIL 2013 BLOGGING CHALLENGE RECAP

A is for Announcement

B is for Bridget, Brunner and Brandy

C is for Courage, Connection and Community

D is for Decluttering

E is for Eulogy

F is for the F-Word

G is for Girl

H is for Honesty

I is for Inspire

J is for Jewelry: What I have learned of life from making and repairing jewelry

K is for Kindred Spirit

L is for Lamentations of an Old Woman

M is for Music: A story from my life

N is for Naughty and Nice

O is for Optimism: Fighting what life dishes

P is for Promises: Broken and otherwise

Q is for Quote: Facing Fear from Eleanor Roosevelt

R is for Roosevelt: Another quote Teddy-style

S is for Stop It! (A Shrink Speaks)

T is for the Thunderstorm of April 2012

U is for an Unstoppable and Unabashed Life

V is for small v

W is for Walt Whitman and Words to Live By

X is for Xenophobia Revisited

Y is for Yes

Z is for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

Z is for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

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“Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay! My, oh my, what a wonderful day!”

These words from the song which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song from Disney’s 1946 release, Song of the South, seem appropriate for the Z post of the A to Z in April 2013 Blogging Challenge.

With this post, I have not only finished this challenge on time, but I have come to a wonderful realization!

On January 1st this year in The Beginning of a New Year as a Writer and Storyteller, I claimed:

” Last year, I neglected to write often or chose not to do so as a way to (perhaps) keep from facing those challenges on certain levels. Avoidance. Denial. Fear. 2013 is the beginning of a new year.  To build relationships.  Make connections. Tell stories. Other people’s.  My own. After all, that is what I do best.  I am…a storyteller. Facing into my own stories, sharing it for the world to see.  Writing them down. Regularly. That is what will make this storyteller…a writer.”

In the past four months, I have posted 51 times. Compare that to 2012 and 19 posts in 366 days.  The details speak for themselves.

Granted, some of the posts were revisiting articles I’d written years earlier that I thought were important to share again and, in one case, sharing a blogpost from another writer.

But the truth of the matter is this:  In 120 days, I have posted 51 times.  That averages nearly one every other day.  And I have faced into more of my own stories, sharing them for the world to see. Regularly.

So, yes!

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!!

I do believe this storyteller is becoming…a writer.

 

Why Are We Surprised…

…when things turn out superbly?

Sometimes, I find myself completely flabbergasted when I do something right.  Or it seems too easy.  And then there is the idea that something is not a meaningful experience if it isn’t painful enough. 

Where does this mindset come from? I’m sure that I could over-analyze this to death. 

My ability to do things well, put together a quality presentation, effect positive changes, and inspire others to look beyond challenges and see possibilities is no fluke.  It comes from living my life, learning lessons, and being willing to share my story in order to make connection to others. 

Rather than waste my energy on the analysis, I am simply going to smile and be grateful that I have lived long enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor of life. 

I encourage you to do the same.  You have earned the right.