Sunday, April 6, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes

"In having less, and less to do, we give ourselves a chance to feel rich with contentment."
~ Meg Wolfe

I came across this quote while in the midst of my simplification efforts.  One of several quotes from The Minimalist Woman that served as an inspiration to continue donating, consigning, repurposing, tossing.  

This particular quote, however helpful,  began to niggle at me.   For though I definitely could see that I had less and I had less to do (clearing out the stuff had prompted me to reduce a few of the obligations I had undertaken, and I am retired after all)  I became acutely aware that I  wasn't consistently content.  Oh, there were plenty of moments, but I couldn't seem to sustain it for very long.  Because, truth be told, I have to admit -

I'm a worrier.  And the funny thing is (well, not so funny), that  I wouldn't have acknowledged this a year ago.  Chiefly, because I can catch myself when I start to fret  and then bring myself back to the present.  In fact, I can do this so well that the frequency with which I do this had become transparent to me.  Until a few months ago when, in a conversation, my sister called me a worrier and laughed when I protested. Laughed, incredulously.

So, I started to pay attention and was appalled.  I hadn't realized just how often I had to brace myself against dark imaginings, or made plans for dire circumstances.  Whenever my brother or sister said they were going in for a checkup, I couldn't relax until I heard they had a clean bill of health.  Whenever John would catch a cold or say he wasn't feeling well, I had to catch myself, interrupt my immediate chain of thoughts or I'd go from thinking his lymphoma had returned to my being a bag lady on the streets - a chain that was forged within a nanosecond.  And whenever I forgot something, like where I put my glasses, or a word I was sure I knew, well, you can guess...onset dementia!

Then, this past month John returned to Houston for his annual checkup. The full battery of tests. And I waited to hear if he was still in remission.  And I worried that we might learn the other shoe had dropped - it has been nine years, after all.  Wondered whether this would be the year...  Knew he was worried too, perhaps even afraid.   Vacillated between mere worry and outright anxiety.

The news was different this year.  Not only were his test results good, but they were better than ever. So good that he does not have to return for a checkup for two years.  So good that his doctor is confident that we are out of the woods.  The wonderful news, the miraculous news - that was once one of the worst diagnosis - non-Hodgkins lymphoma -
now has a high degree of successful treatment with the protocol John received nine years ago.  That anyone who has received that protocol - a stem cell replacement - and has remained cancer free for over three years, need not worry about recurrence.

Not worry?!  Novel idea.  In the weeks that have passed since his visit, I have enjoyed the first crocuses, daffodils and tulips of spring. Enjoyed lunch with friends.  Enjoyed watching The Voice with John and catch-up calls with old friends.  Enjoyed walks in the afternoon and reading mysteries in the short, I've enjoyed a worry-free zone, "rich with contentment."

I am not naive, however.  I realize there will be another challenge, another crisis, just around the corner.  That this may just be a lull in the storm of life.  But for now, for now I want to enjoy it and learn how not to worry about what might be.  Worrying about what is, well, that's enough for anyone. For now, I want to enjoy our tulips.

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