~ Helene's ~
ATTITUDES & PERCEPTIONS
20/20 had a show some years back on centenarians, people who live past one hundred years.
The top two things on the list they had in common beyond all other factors;
1- Their ability to adapt to change. 2 – A positive outlook on life.
This makes sense to me. When you think about how much stress, resistance to the inevitable changing flow of life & negativity places on us, & that stress by now indisputably affects not only our mind & spirit but much more so our body, causing up to 90% of illness science now estimates.
This stuck with me as it was a time in my life I was becoming aware of the different attitudes & perceptions in people around me. Some who seem to possess & age with these two factors, some who struggle to feel them & others who are not even aware of their inability to know when they are negative or resisting.
I was blessed with two parents who somehow each in their own separate way (they divorced when I was 12) exampled these two traits. At the time this show aired, being in my late 20s early 30s, I had started to look outside myself, listen to others & witness how they were influenced by attitudes they were brought up with &/or had been genetically passed down.
Perception of ones life, I observed, seemed to be key to attitude. I had a great aunt I admired who lost her only then adult child & husband in one full sweep of a car accident. Vibrant & full of love for life regardless, she lived with acceptance to change & positive attitude till her last breath. Days before her life’s end, as I fed her on my last visit with her in the hospital, she still felt positive about her life, believing she could get better despite the cancer ravaging her body. If not she would be seeing her husband & son soon, so either way all was good!
I myself at 22 lost my 21 year old brother to a motorcycle accident, had two early miscarriages before my third child, then 5 years ago I gave birth just 2 weeks before my due date to a stillborn baby boy & a year later my father died. Regardless I feel lucky & love my life. The losses were absolutely gut wrenching. My perception still is that I am blessed. There is always someone “luckier” but I believe many more less fortunate. It is my perception that allows me to accept these deep losses & continue on feeling positive. I went on to have another child, a girl, 1 ½ years after my stillborn. At 42! I now have four awesome, beautiful, healthy living children. That feels amazingly lucky to me!
Life is about change & not all are great experiences but it is also full of soulful lessons in those experiences. I would never have had my Tessa girl if my Brody boy hadn’t died. He was the forth & I was going to stop there. I went on, though I would be lying if I said without much anxiety, because I needed my last child to be a positive experience. How can I see his loss as negative? Devastating beyond words yes, but when I watch my Tessa sleep & play only positive feelings flow through me. Tessa (what we were going to name him if he had been a girl) means 4th. I deeply believe Brody’s 4th soul is meshed with hers, my fifth child. (When you bury a child they are forever part of the count).
Life has as much to offer as you are willing to risk & accept. Lucky & blessed is a state of mind.
Anytime / Anywhere / Anyone
The most painful times offer us the deepest lessons. It was my brothers death (hit by a truck while on a motorcycle at 21) years ago that offered my most poignant reality check on life. Six years later at 28 when I gave birth to my first it was clear in my mind that I wanted to teach her & live honouring this reality. As she grew there were many challenging times. Many parents may agree our first usually teaches us more than we teach them. In particular it disturbed me if we had “testy moments” just as she would leave to go to school, stay with Poppy (my dads) or simply go to sleep. To the depths of my bones it mattered to me that we were in a good place in our hearts. I was blessed to be the last one to say goodbye to my brother before he flew to the Island of St.Martin where 2 weeks later he met his fate. I am grateful that I insisted to get up at 4:00am & drive him to the airport, have a chance to give him one last hug & tell him I loved him.
Many times I would tell my daughter that I didn’t want us to part even (especially) if we had a “bad moment” without saying “I love you”. “Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone”, I would tell her. Don’t let any moments stop you from remembering this.
She was 14 when we got a call from the hospital that “someone should come” as Poppy, had been taken by ambulance there. She came with my husband & I in that anxiety filled drive. She was the first grandchild to be born, he was born to be a grandpa & theirs was a unique bond. I am forever grateful to her stepmother (thanks S.T.) for helping me decide to take her & for then staying with my 2 younger children as they slept. (I was 7 months pregnant with Tessa). It was only when we got there that we learned he had suffered a fatal heart attack while taking a walk outside his home at the bottom of Mont Gabriel. Aware he needed a triple by pass but choosing to take his chances & “drop while out for a walk” as he’d say, this was an ending I was comforted to know he could live/die with. This time we were all blessed as the day before he had driven my 14 years old back to St. Lazare from up north & stayed for supper. We all had a chance to hug and say “I love you”. No signs of how 24 hours would change all our lives.
It was on our drive back home in the quiet of the night, the trauma only beginning to take hold from the back of the van, that my parental dream of wanting her to meaningfully “know” this truth came true. “I get it now mom...anytime, anywhere, anyone.” Children do listen & learn from example. Teach them what matters most to you. Then live it.
It took years, thirty four to be approximate, before I even started understanding how & why to let go. Until then I had held on to pain from disappointment. Doesn’t matter of what or from whom, just that I finally saw how it was contaminating my life & soul. There seems to be this backwards part of us that feels somehow we lose if we let go. That forgiving means we were wrong & we give power to those who wound us. If you look closer it is so far from the truth. What I started to see instead is that the behaviour which hurt me had nothing to do with me at all, it was about the person from whom it came & that person was so affected by their pain (weather aware or not) they couldn’t do any better. Which then lead me to see if I hold on, I wouldn’t be able to do better, which in turn is bound to hurt someone else. Holding on keeps us stuck in the past. How can we be fully living in the present or look forward to the future if there is a part of us clinging to some painful past? Looking back can best benefit us by learning from it. Then we can grow, be guided by lessons & become more aware. It is only with awareness that change can begin to happen. Those who caused us pain go on without awareness of how much our suffering affects our lives. Just as we may not be aware of how the pain we have caused others affects others. It is purely for ourselves that we need to let go. Only you will know & feel how letting go brings you freedom. Say sorry when you cause sorrow & let go without the need to hear it, so you can move fully into your life & begin the process of becoming enlightened. So you can win.
Buddha said there are three truths:
There is suffering.
The causes of suffering are: Greed, Anger, Hatred, Envy, Fear
The road to end suffering is enlightenment.
(This is the true goal of yoga)