Category Archives: culture

Finding Gratitude In A Cancer Diagnosis

After five years without my cancer returning, it is back! In four days I begin an intense round of multiple chemotherapies. Surgery is not an option for me this time. Chemo seems to be the only option now.Thus, I search for the courage for what I am about to face. I make last minute arrangements to prepare my mind, body, and spirit to begin to walk the new pathway to my future.

I feel fortunate to be a Ph.D. researcher as I use my skills to find, analyze, evaluate, argue, and describe the various courses of action available to me and my doctors. One of my areas of expertise is in cultural understanding of various groups, people, social classes, ethnic communities, and so forth to learn about and try to understand the value systems and choices people make throughout their lives. I can tell you that age, gender, cultural backgrounds, and various norms are readily observable within Western medicine in contrast to global medical choices. With a minor in statistical design, I am greatly dismayed when reading various medical peer reviewed journal articles, and when attempting to hold discussions with oncologists and other medical professionals. Answers to my simple questions regarding treatment outcomes are not readily available it seems. I do not have adequate time or resources to pursue inquiries into the various companies underwriting and sponsoring some treatment options, and clinical trials available to me.

On the other hand, I am also blessed to have been raised by an old fashioned Baptist minister, who taught me to have faith in God, to go to the scriptures for guidance, and to accept that everything in my life is according to God’s Master Plan. During this time I draw my gratitude from my heart versus my head, for which I feel extremely grateful and at peace. Daily, I read the various poems my mother wrote within ahouseinsideofme.com. Her ministry to the various families within my father’s churches offers guidance and gives me peace and understanding at this time.

Being the analytical person that I am, I have been thinking about patterns throughout life. For example, I do not think that anyone has a perfect life. Life seems to regularly present all of us with variances, for example, each day begins with a sunrise and ends with a sunset; every person experiences a birth and also their death; the tides in the ocean are governed by the gravitational dance between the Earth, Moon, and Sun to give us daily ebb and flow, and/or high tide or swells versus a shallow sandbar or reefs.

So it goes with cancer it seems. One discovers it and removes it through surgery, chemo, radiation, and various other treatments and joy follows with each test documenting no evidence of disease; yet apparently those little cancer cells typically like to reappear with a reoccurrence, and thus the cycle, i.e., remission and return which causes one to experience joy and sadness alternating throughout their life. We ring the bell at the end of a treatment interval and we reserve an infusion chair several months or years in the future. These variances are cyclic patterns of repetitions so often experienced by persons who are visited by the big “C” during their life.

For me, I have determined to find gratitude through my cancer diagnosis through my understanding of the above mentioned types of cycles experienced each and every day throughout one’s life. To be alive means total acceptance of variances during each and every day one is living. Just as the beauty of the colors of the sunrise always fade each day and the night blackens the sky; the joy of beating back and taming each cancer cell fills one’s heart with hope and expectation all the while, in the back of one’s mind lingers the anticipation of new cells revisiting to begin the cycle again.

My cells are visiting me again at this time. Soon I hope to initiate further action to invite them to leave me with hope. Thus, I find gratitude in my recent cancer return, similar in fashion to watching the waves in the ocean and each sunrise and sunset.

Be grateful!

#Gratitudeultra

Blessed At The Mission of Saint Agnes of Rome, Virgin and Martyr, in Solvang, California

Recently, I visited the Mission in Solvang, CA, attending a Mass led by an Irish Priest, and experiencing the spiritual and social life of the Santa Ynez Valley. Through serendipity I received a blessing for my upcoming medical tests, as well as a blessing for a precious Bible purchased by a dear friend whose mother is nearing her end of life. The kind greetings from all of the staff at the Mission were most memorable as were the old fashioned gospel songs played through guitar by yet another priest. None of this was pre-planned which is why I am blogging, with gratitude, about my experience this day. It was a very special day!

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Grateful For Wisdom When Ending The Journey Of Life: An Overview

I have always loved elderly people because they are wise and have wonderful stories to tell, if you listen. Unfortunately, we often get too busy during our own life’s journey to notice that older persons among us need more care from us. It is as though our journeys through life demand extra care when we begin our life, and again when we are nearing the end-of-life.

This posting includes my observations for you as a daughter, mom, friend, and health care professional regarding End-of-Life Care.

It is well known that people tend to like to stay at home as their journey through life comes to an end, but that is not always possible because of health issues, personal care needs, nutritional requirements, family distances, and so on. So, as we all age, the questions before us are: “What do we do?” “How do we plan for ourselves as we grower older and need extra care?”

Why am I posting this information for us today? Because I have watched my younger sister, my mom, and my dad pass away. Now I am watching dear friends and neighbors age, and I myself am growing older. As I was recently listening to Amanda Stead’s lecture on End-of-Life Care, I felt so grateful that Amanda reminded me, and helped me to summarize the wisdom we all have access to for our own planning:

  1. We are all going to die at the end of our life journey, so how does one prepare for the best end of life? There are multiple resources to inform us about end-of-life care just as there is knowledge regarding beginning life, as in birth, parenting, etc.
  2. As each of us, or our family members and friends age, it is important to learn about choices we each have regarding Hospice care, or Palliative care. Our choices do not need to be permanent as our health and care needs will change over time, but it is better to plan ahead and learn about such choices before being faced with an emergency.
  3. As one ages there needs to be decisions regarding independence, dignity, spiritual preferences, psychological, emotional needs, ethical decisions, and personal wishes.
  4. We all need to have people (family members or friends), who are our spokespeople in case we are unable to communicate clearly. We, or others, need to have an advanced directive (a written document) regarding our wishes for end-of life care.
  5. We all need to discuss realistic outcomes as we anticipate what may be coming in our future. Thus, before you become ill or lose the ability to communicate, you need to talk about what you imagine to be a good plan for your End-of-Life. You might begin such conversations by answering the question: “What matters to me most at the end of life is ______________________________________?”
  6. Sharing information is so important during this time. Information regarding your location preferences for where you wish to be as you grow older is important. Your financial costs, insurance coverage, wish for pain control, treatment preferences for eating, feeding, and swallowing should be identified.
  7. Your personal wishes, and cultural values are important and necessary to understand and honor during this time period.
  8. Reach out to Chaplains, Priests, Pastors, and Rabbis to incorporate your spiritual needs during these times of decision making.
  9. Take care of the above types of decisions before you grow too old for such planning. Make sure you share your thoughts with your family and friends.
  10. Know there is a “Dying Patient’s Bill of Rights”, and an abundance of resources provided through Medicare to assist you. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you should do today!

In the future, I plan to introduce a new “gratitude category” regarding end-of-life care as I am so grateful that information is available to me to provide for my dignity, spiritual, medical, psychological, and emotional needs as I grow older. In the context of generational differences in perception, as well as societal changes in our family constellations, it is more important than ever before to allow the elderly to prioritize their needs for independence as well as dependence on others.

I am grateful for knowledge regarding end-of-life care. How ’bout you?

For a spiritual perspective on End-Of-Life, let me conclude this blog with a poem written and read by my mother from her Book of Poetry titled, A House Inside of Me. The relevant poem for today is, I Don’t Want to Die I Like It Here. When you click on this link you will hear this poem. It seems relevant, in a more personal style of writing, to our topic today.

At this time in your life, What Matters Most to you for Planning? Please think about it as I am watching friends dealing and struggling with these issues right now.

#gratitudelite

Gratitude to the President of Ukraine

President Zelenskyy is a wartime hero, a global leader, and a model citizen harnessing the power of social media to teach important lessons re: humanity to all persons throughout the world. From the horrors of the war by Russia, Ukrainians’ heroism, bravery, and courage are displayed daily, 24/7, for all of us to witness and from which we may learn important lessons for life.

To be able to witness the impact that one man has around the entire globe is awe inspiring.

I pray everyday that Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, will live as we all need his messages:

  • Follow your moral compass with honor in the face of horror.
  • Human suffering may be overcome through bravery and inspiration.
  • Hope springs forward from ordinary citizens who are inspired.
  • A Spirit of Community reminds us to not leave our friends or our neighbors in the face of adversity.
  • The best of humanity emerges through kindness and unprecedented support of strangers.
  • “Be all you can be” is a true statement that will come true through aspiration.
  • Wartime politics is a “mirror” through which we reflect who we truly are.

I will always remember President Zelenskyy because his words, his leadership model, his moral compass have challenged the world. I ask myself:

Where was I during the Russian War against Ukraine, and what did I do for the good of humanity?

How did a single man, an actor, become a politician who united Europe through NATO, who eliminated, in part, the partisan actions within the USA Congress, who demonstrated global outreach positively through the internet, who dared to sit in his office and wait for Putin to attack him, have such a profound impact around the globe?

President Zelenskyy gives me HOPE and I am so pleased to live during his leadership.

#gratitudeultra

Note: the image was selected from a Tweet by #bettemidler @BetteMidler on March 4, 2022.

Guide to Gratitude

Let me express my sincere gratitude to each of you for continuing to follow my “Guide to Gratitude” through gratitudesquared.com. The featured image above is my hand drawn idea for this site that I sketched in February of 2021 when this site was launched.

I selected the term “gratitudesquared” because I believe that “gratitude” is multiplied when shared and experienced, and such has certainly been the case through this site. To date, after 174 posts, 6,759 views, and with 3,004 different visitors, and 128 followers throughout 64 countries, we (you with me) are sharing “gratitude” around us wherever we may live. I am so deeply touched by your comments, emails, texts, and conversations with me. Thank you.

If you look at my hand drawn idea above, you will see that when one gives “gratitude to another” it is a gentle exchange, a gift, something great or grand, may be God sent through all his/her glory, when two or more people gather together.

Further, that act of “giving gratitude” is often gleeful, gracious, grounded in some emotion, may cause growth on each other’s part, may be compared and contrasted with growing a garden of gratitude, and may be overseen and sent by God from one to another to accomplish a known or unknown purpose or goal.

Just think about that!

Gratitude is a free gift that we exchange with each other!

What have we learned about “Gratitude” within only one year? We have learned that gratitude is deeply personal and also shared. Gratitude may be fleeting or long lasting. Gratitude may be serious or fun. Gratitude stems from our moral values at times, but also emerges from momentary pleasure at other times.

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Walking The Pathway to Gratitude

I have been posting for eleven (11) months now, 160 posts to date, as I walk and discover my own pathway to gratitude so I want to pause and reflect upon the meanings beneath my messages to you. First, living in a State of Gratitude is not always easy and takes being in a State of Mindfulness I would say.

I prefer to be mindful when I blog about gratitude. Intellectually, it feels the best!

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I Am Grateful For My Spiritual Journey To Health And Wellness

I am nearing four and one-half years of health after multiple cancers and surgeries in 2017. I am grateful that I am still healthy, but never do I take my present health for granted. The source stimulating these postings is my joy with life, and my sincere appreciation and happiness to have time to “pay it forward” to others while here.

As many people do, I read and ask questions, and share with others to learn about healing and health and wellness. I can tell you from experience that there is a lot to learn and practice to maintain health. Sometimes I stray from my devotion to a healthier lifestyle, better eating, mindful practices with toxins and GMOs in our world, and Western and Eastern medical beliefs. But, when my CT scans and labs remind me that my body chemistry is changing, I jump back into better practices and pray.

People ask me what am I doing to stay so healthy? I tell them what I am learning, but many people do the same things I do, and much more, and, sadly, many people continue to die around me which makes me so sad, and gives me a feeling of survivor’s guilt. I want to do more to help others so I keep posting happy ideas, and peaceful thoughts. Also, I post joyful events like playing with your pets, and enjoyable moments with family and friends or beautiful trips deep into nature.

This month I am pulling all of my postings, videos, blogs, tweets, and Instagrams into more of a common “digital media” composite so that I may share what I believe and what I have learned thus far. If this is helpful to you, please let me know. If you would like more from me, please let me know.

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Gratitude Is An Emotion Causing One To Give

Currently I have so many people around me who are seriously ill: a dear friend with blood cancer, and large masses throughout all the organs in her chest; a relative about to have a permanent peg feeding tube (never to eat or drink by mouth again); a friend about to have a double mastectomy; a relative needing to repair a cleft palate again so he may eat normally; and so it goes with so many various and differing health problems. My reaction to each of these individuals is “what might I do to help you?” “What might I say to provide support and encouragement to you?” Personally, I am not sure that I have the proper background and knowledge to offer help, yet they contact me regularly so perhaps my “listening” to their fears and anxieties is of some assistance.

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Gratitude, The Brain, Morality, Group Behavior

Those of you following my posts will note that I love to study gratitude in addition to feeling it and watching others practice and talk about being grateful. The study of gratitude will take years to fully understand all the dimensions, traits, and states. My purpose is to excite you, influence your thinking, invite you to reflect, and please you with various examples of joyful gratitude. Once in a while I will take you a bit deeper into an understanding of what it means to be grateful. Today is such a posting, which is why I label this particular blog as #gratitudeultra.

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Staying in a State of Gratitude Is Not Easy: So How Do I Do It?

Recently, I wanted to go out to lunch with a friend. We tried four different restaurants and each one was crowded with a long wait. Plus, we had to mask up so we wanted to social distance. We had even gone at an early hour to avoid the crowds. I guess everyone else had the same idea. However, when we got to restaurant number five, it was empty. The food was better than the other places we had visited and the lunch was actually more enjoyable.

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