The Rebirth Ring

I wore my “rebirth” ring the other day. A barista ringing me up complimented me on it and asked me about it. I told her it was my “rebirth” ring – that I’d bought it after I’d come through a really challenging time. I pointed to the sapphire on one side – “I was born in September – and that’s the stone for September” – and the pearl in the middle – “pearls are created from struggle – something beautiful from something challenging” – and the sapphire on the other side – “I came through the challenge and was reborn.” She said that was really beautiful, and I thanked her and nodded, and remembered, again, my Year of Insanity…

Ten years ago I went through a massive depression – I’d never experienced anything like that before – I’d always been a kind of naturally happy person – but I went through a year that was, literally, a life and death struggle for me. I couldn’t eat, contemplated ending my life, had a constant dialogue going on in my head, seriously doubted if I would ever feel happy again. It is not an exaggeration to say I wasn’t sure I’d make it through.

It was during this time that I discovered I had a wealth of friendships and love and people who cared about me. It was during this time that I also discovered how strong I am. I gained a confidence that I hadn’t really had before. I came to appreciate what’s really important in life – not material stuff – but love and kindness and integrity and the ability to laugh at ourselves. I have never felt impoverished since going through this. I’ve come to see I’m wealthy beyond anything I’d imagined.

People sometimes talk cavalierly about “choosing joy.” During the Year of Insanity it didn’t feel like joy was a “choice” for me. But now that I have my choice back – yeah, I choose joy. I’ve come to realize that life really is a matter of perspective – of how we look at things.

People have told me that they want my life – or that they love my life. And I guess I should feel flattered by that maybe. But…the thing is… love your own life. Make something of that precious gift you’ve been given. By saying you want my life you discount my struggles, and you discount your own possibilities.

I’ve never wanted to be anyone else. Never. Not even when I was going through my Year of Insanity. I knew, even then, that EVERYone has challenges in their lives. I knew, even then, that most of the challenges in my life were ones I’d created for myself and that it was my job to learn from them.

You – yes, you – have the power to bring love and kindness to someone else – even when you’re going through your own times of insanity. You have a purpose, and a reason for being here. As long as you can love there’s a reason for you to live – I realized that during my challenging time – and it helped me get through it. Let me repeat that: AS LONG AS YOU CAN LOVE THERE’S A REASON FOR YOU TO LIVE. There are people who need you here. Please don’t give up on your life.

You are loved. ❤

Choosing to Live

Mourning Mom, grieving with Dad,
responsible for another person’s
health and finances and life,
and a target for gossip and fabrication
by a pillar of my community –
I am battle-weary and sick –
at maybe the lowest point in my life.
And I’m thinking that maybe
I could just slide down deep into
sickness, slip into sleep forever, fade
out and die, and that wouldn’t be so bad.

And from some somewhere there comes
a moment of clarity – a question
at the crossroads: You can consent
to death, or decide to live.
It’s your choice.
Life won’t always be fun and easy.
Choosing life will mean complications,
responsibilities, and battles. It will mean
a commitment. It will take some courage.
That path is not going to be all rainbows
and butterflies and starry nights.

And I nod my head. I understand
what I’m taking on if I choose life.
I will encounter mean people. I will
have to balance checking accounts. I will
have to deal with grief and mourning
and loss and heartache and pain and lies
and disappointment and failure. But there are
people depending on me to choose life.
I am needed here. And there are people
that I need, too. And people here I love.
And sometimes there will be rainbows. And
butterflies. And starry nights.

And so I choose life.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Isn’t It Great to be Alive?!

Think back on the last five years of your life, my friend. Think of all you would have missed if you’d given up on life then – the new friends you never would have known; the sunrises and sunsets you wouldn’t have seen; the lessons you wouldn’t have learned, and the changes you wouldn’t have been able to make; the pictures never painted; songs never sung; all the love and laughter you would have denied yourself…  isn’t it great to be alive?!

great to be alive

photo of Mount Shuksan by Karen Molenaar Terrell