Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Trial is Really a Blessing?

I was looking at pictures of Paul last night.  It was strange to see the impact that cancer truly has on someone.  It can take a vital, healthy person and literally age them and destroy them before your eyes.  I remember thinking as I watched my husband’s health decline so rapidly that it was like watching his life being snubbed out in fast motion…one minute he looked healthy and happy…the next minute he could not walk to the bathroom anymore.

The last picture does not really reflect how thin he was...I think it is because his head was laying back and pushing his neck forward making him look heavier than he really was.  Anyway, please notice the smile.  Paul was amazing because he always had a smile even in great times of adversity and pain.  The first picture taken does not reflect that because he is watching television...but it is the only picture I have of him at Thanksgiving by himself...four days before we got his diagnosis of cancer.

Fortunately, we were able to get video of Paul before he passed away.  I have created a short video with some of those clips.  As can be seen in this video, it was as hard for Paul to leave us as it was hard for us to have him leave.  The first clip is from December 2009, the other clips were taken on Feb. 13 & 21, 2013.  He passed away on February 25, 2013.
Click on this link for video:

I have had some flashbacks recently about those last couple weeks of Paul’s life.  I remember how hard it was to watch him starve to death.  He could not eat anything because of his bowel blockage and we were no longer able to give him TPN ((Total Parenteral Nutrition—given through his PICC line) because he was on hospice.

I have to say that it was excruciatingly painful to know that I could go and get a bag of TPN out of the refrigerator and just hook him to up to get some nutrition.  Paul did not want that.  He was so sick. The rules on hospice are that you cannot give anyone “life saving measures”…Paul could only eat if he could do it by mouth…that was not possible.

I could not throw the TPN bags out…we had a weeks worth sitting in the refrigerator…finally a good friend took them out and threw them away for me…I just couldn’t do it!

When we were placed on hospice we were told that Paul would probably live 7 to 10 days.  Paul lived for 12 days.  He had no food and very little water for 12 days.  If you would like to read more about the last couple weeks of his life see these blog posts It is Time For Hospice and Trying to Adjust.

As I look back on that time, I realize I was blessed, otherwise I would not have made it.  I see God’s hand in all that has happened in my life.  He is always there to help lift me.  He utilized the hands of others then and He is still utilizing the hands of others now to help us.  Many thanks to all my angels!

Is there really any good way to lose your spouse? Not really.  After discussing this with friends who have lost their spouse whether it was instant and unexpected or from terminal illness it is HARD!  They both have drawbacks—just of a different nature.

Are there people who have greater trials in life?  If you were to ask me that, until recently, I would have said yes, absolutely!  Now, I don’t know how I would answer that, but not because I think my trials are greater.  I see things differently.  If I say that there are others who have greater trials than mine then ultimately I am saying that there are others who have lesser trials than mine.  It is not my responsibility to judge or determine how hard someone else’s trial is.  It is my responsibility to have charity.  It is my responsibility to show compassion, empathy and understanding.

I have learned through my own trials that perspective and attitude DO affect the outcome.  As strange as this sounds, trials are a blessing IF you choose to see them as one.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

We become who we are because of trials.  They help to define us as to whether we become better and stronger or become a defeatist!  It is important to remember, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” –C.S. Lewis

Please watch this short video called “Mountains to Climb”.  It’s message is very uplifting and profound!
Mountains to Climb 

So are trials really a blessing?  It depends on your perspective and attitude!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Laughter Yoga

Did you know there is something called Laughter Yoga? I didn’t until today, but just the thought of it made me laugh!  I guess I just was trying to visualize…somehow yoga and laughing doesn’t seem to go together…I think of meditation and yoga…deep breathing and yoga…or maybe the game Twister...that is a form of yoga many of us are familiar twist and contort in all kinds of strange and unusual positions...trying not to get too don't want to end up with your face too close to someone else's booty...then you fall on each other and laugh your heads off!  Ummm...I don't think that is what they had in mind at Laughter Yoga International!

I have discovered that laughter really can help to heal a wounded soul.  I am not sure why Laughter Yoga would be necessary or is actually more beneficial than just laughing on your own. The reason it might be beneficial is because you create laughter with others and you are allowing yourself time to be silly.  Sadly enough, we don’t take time to do things if we don’t make time for it…that could even include laughter. My vote is to forgo the the Laughter Yoga and play Twister instead! 

Brad Wilcox said, “Humor helps. Humor heals. In fact, many medical studies have linked laughter with better physical and mental health.  Such studies confirm the scripture that states, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Prov. 17:22). Humor allows us to view our lives in a more positive light, deal with personal conflicts and intolerance, and cope with trials and frustrations that might otherwise seem overwhelming. As we are told in Ecclesiastes, there is “a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:4 ).” 

We all encounter things that seem ugly, inconvenient, even unbearable. We change what we can, but sometimes we simply have to accept and cope with unpleasant circumstances. Humor can be a helpful coping tool.

After Art E. Berg was thrown from an automobile during a rollover just five weeks before his wedding date, his neck was broken, and at the age of 21 he was left a quadriplegic. Although his body no longer serves him as it once did and he is confined to a wheelchair, Brother Berg is far from being helpless and depressed. He has learned to depend upon the Spirit of the Lord and draw upon his own incredible will to overcome. He now lives a life full of service, activity, and accomplishment. What got him through? Among other things, Brother Berg says peace came from learning to laugh again, particularly with his family. He writes, “I am not sure I would have survived the emotional trauma of my injuries and the complications of my new life if it hadn’t been for the wit, chuckles, laughs, and good-natured humor of my wife and family.”
Abraham Lincoln struggled with bouts of depression and used humor as therapy. His ability to laugh at himself was revealed during a political debate in which his opponent called him “two-faced.” Lincoln replied, “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”–If We Can Laugh at It, We Can Live with It, Ensign, Mar 2000.    
Gary K. Palmer said, “I have learned that the ability to laugh at everyday family difficulties helps keep life in perspective. If we will learn to laugh and play more with our families, not only will we feel better but so will they. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” says Proverbs 17:22.  Studies show that humor and laughter help people live longer, happier lives; be more creative and productive; and have more energy with less physical discomfort.   Humor reduces stress, fear, intimidation, embarrassment, and anger.  Laughter also has extraordinary healing power.  When a person laughs, blood pressure decreases, heart rate and respiration increase, the body releases endorphins, and depression declines.  After the laughter subsides and you relax again, that good feeling has a lasting effect, even until the next day.   Not many medicines will do that.

On average, children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh about 15 times. Why the gap? Did we lose something? Have we forgotten the way we used to be? Why is it that children seem to cope with life’s oddities better than adults? Perhaps it’s because they do not fully understand. But I think it’s simpler than that—they laugh. As we grow older, we get far too serious. Watch children play. They don’t need expensive toys to entertain them. Everything is fun. They are spontaneous. Only when we become adults do we start to get boring. Do we need to cultivate a different attitude? Humor is in the way we see things, the way we think. It’s an attitude, not an event. Perhaps the key lies in becoming more childlike.

I think laughter is more important than a family vacation because it’s always available and it’s free. Vacations are not. Big family events and vacations are wonderful, but these will not replace the daily humor and laughter in a home. Laughter is like getting away without going away. It gives you a break.

Laughter improves communication and builds relationships because everyone laughs in the same language. Your children will remember your humor much longer than they will the things you buy them. Children are more receptive when they are having fun. Laughter helps us remember. And we remember what we feel”-The Power of Laughter, Ensign, Sept. 2007.

Paul knew how to laugh…I can hear his laugh now.  He was always trying to make others smile.  Laughter was something that helped us through some really tough times.  

Have you ever noticed laughter is like yawning--it is contagious!  Sometimes you start to laugh because you hear someone else laugh.  You may not even be sure why you are laughing.  

This blog post was prompted by a quote a friend sent to me, “Laughter is the brush that sweeps away the cobwebs of your heart. Seven days without laughter makes one weak.” Mort Walker 

Cobwebs are threads of spider webs covered with accumulated dirt and dust.  In essence, a cobweb is a snare--something that traps or entangles.  If the prey that has become entangled in the cobweb doesn’t get free, it will eventually die, because either the spider will come and get it (don’t need gory details here) or it will die because of starvation.  

If we allow cobwebs to entangle our heart, it will eventually destroy us.  The cobwebs can be sorrow, anger, hate, self-pity, holding grudges, selfishness, etc.  

In addition to laughter as one of the bristles, I also see that prayer, scripture study, service, and gratitude are bristles on the brush that helps to sweep away the cobwebs from our hearts.  These are the key things that have helped and are continuing to help me survive.  They are keeping the cobwebs away! 

Brushes only work well if all the bristles are in place.  If you have bristles that are missing in sections on the brush, it is not as effective while using it.  While you may remove some of the cobweb, some may be left behind.  The part that is left behind can keep you entangled to a degree.  I can feel when some of the bristles on my brush are missing…then I know it is time to replace the bristles…make sure they are all there! 

I say it’s time for a good laugh!   

A song to make you smile!