Time for a little survey. When you glanced at the three pictures above, which one first caught your eye and held your attention the longest? I don't know about you, but for me, it would have been the picture in the middle that held my attention the longest. Mostly, because it represents pain. In full disclosure, I have often tended to be a glass is half empty kind of person viewing myself as a victim of life's circumstances. However, over the past year, huge changes have occurred that have turned me into a more positive person. These changes took place in big and small ways this past year. I continued to utilize the Tapping Solution - a favorite series was called, 21 Days of Gratitude. While I worked through it, I find not only my gratitude about all aspects of life growing, but I also became a more joyful person. It wasn't a contrived joy, but a true and lasting joy. As a teacher this year, I created The Room of Positivity for my students. Together, we found and posted positive quotes that we hung on the wall in our corner of positivity.
As always, God's timing was essential because I was about to enter the most difficult physical trial of my life. Back in November, I began to notice problems when I ate. Symptoms were especially severe when I happened to eat fatty foods. The first time I had a full blown attack, I assumed it was my gallbladder. I was in such pain that I went to the ER convinced that my gallbladder needed to come out. Unfortunately, no stones or sludge appeared on the image, so I was sent home. I put my name in for an appointment with a GI doctor and was scheduled for three months out. From there symptoms subsided, partially due to the fact that I avoided fatty foods. I assumed what had brought me to the ER was only a passing attack and took my name off appointment figuring someone else might need it worse. Moving forward, I avoided high fat foods to avoid pain or problems.
Then around January, circumstances worsened. I had a particularly beautiful Italian meal that left me feeling terrible for several days in a row. I rescheduled my appointment with the same GI doc and waited three long months to see the doctor for daily pain that would not subside. Meanwhile, my appetite decreased and I found less and less enjoyment in eating. The day that my appointment arrived, the doctor's office called to tell me that the specialist I was supposed to be seeing had his own family emergency and I was going to need to reschedule. At that point, I had lost so much weight and my intake of food and drink was so limited that my mental health took a steep nosedive. Knowing that I was in a precarious place, my husband took me up to his place of employment Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, IA, where I was admitted through the ER. The following afternoon I had my devilish little gallbladder removed.
The days prior to my gallbladder being removed were the most physically painful I've ever experienced. To get myself through, I practiced positivity as I never had before. In other words, I chose to feed the good wolf - light, love, hope, faith. At the same time I chose to silence the darker brother of fear, disappointment and negativity. Two particular practices that were helpful? I repeated this mantra over and over again: I am a victor, not a victim. I am a victor not a victim. It helped me to stay grounded in the truth of how I can choose to see my circumstances as a gift or a curse. I also used a handy breathing tool, Rainbow Breathing that I had practiced with a student of mine who struggles with anxiety. The premise is to breathe in each color of the rainbow as a source of light and breathe out darkness and despair with it.
So, let's go back to those pictures. The middle one is sad of course. It's a picture of the scars from my surgery. If I only fed the bad wolf I would stay stuck in, "Oh how sad for me that I had to go through all of that." I would also completely block out the beauty of the other two images; flowers from co-workers wishing me well and a beautiful salad I made myself a couple of days after surgery. The former represents the fact that I have many good people in my corner rooting for me. The latter represents the fact that I have a reset in making healthy eating choices for myself moving forward, a lesson I continually learned while my pesky gallbladder had its way with me.
Feeding the good wolf has changed my life drastically this year. If I had not begun that practice this year, these last several months, weeks and days would have been unbearable. I am so grateful that I was prepared for this season by a God who knew what I was coming up against and walked me toward it. Friends, the choice in life's circumstances and whether or not you see yourself as a victim or a victor is always up to you. Take it from someone who knows from experience, choosing to feed the good wolf may take more concentrated effort, but it is well worth it in the end. 'Til next time.