How did I get myself into this situation?

Whenever a person asks themselves that question, especially if it is regarding the totality of their present situation, the answer to the question usually involves a series of decisions and events that led up to it.

In our circle we have a friend who we will call Robert who recently caught a cancerous growth in time and temporarily survived cancer.

In our conversations he reflected upon what might have led him there since no one else in his immediate family suffered from it. Like so many bad things that had occurred to him over the years, it seemed unique to him.

There were a series of decisions that he made when he was young that at the time seemed right but over time has proved to be completely disastrous.

He accepted being stuck in a simple dead end job with great benefits to support his family and remain heavily involved in his international organized religion. Both decisions greatly affected him in very bad ways as they both proved to be extremely stressful and limited in rewards.

The details to both pathways are too horrific to recount here.

Robert had one brilliant resume from his teens up to his college graduation and then an excruciatingly declining one filled with one massive disappointments, humiliation and depression afterwards.

At one point he was so stressed out that he would wake up at night with acid coming up into his mouth.

Very true story.

If he had to do it all over again and his life story was an intersection in a bustling city, he would run through traffic and crowded streets, zigging here and zagging there as fast as he could without looking back to get as far away from it as possible.

Over time life forced Robert to make changes and the decline in his health was one of the main factors that led to the life alterations.

Having said all of that, recently Robert was jogging in a tree covered park and the myriad of events from the past began to creep into his mind. He is aware that you should forget the past, not dwell on regrets and all of that but it is interesting how certain things out of his control will trigger thoughts of his massive failures like seeing what appears to be a successful professional male in a nice job, coming into contact with someone who is much younger who seems to be making extremely good decisions and the like.

Even if he doesn’t want to think about the past, he is forced to.

His dreams are no place of escape either. Sometimes they are very detailed and brutal.

Then he wakes up.

As he was running down that tree covered pathway among the fall leaves turning into stunning orange and red colors he reminded himself how beautiful the day was. The weather was warm and still, the air was fresh, the park was quiet and for the moment, he doesn’t appear to have cancer. article, photo credit

All of that could change tomorrow.

Yes he felt it was like low expectations that those are the things that should make you happy and thankful for when in the larger picture you have lost so much and achieved so little of your dreams but he also felt it was wise not to let that moment pass without appreciating it.

It truly was a beautiful moment.

It was a moment he will remember for some time because he decided to truly appreciate it.

Perhaps it is a good idea to appreciate your life in the moment as opposed to being forced to because your life can immediately change so dramatically.

Here in the consistently arid and sun drenched Northern California, which has become the new normal, many communities live with the constant threat of out of control raging fires that in just a matter of days could completely decimate their lives.

The decision to purchase a home complete with a nice quiet and natural life among nature in the forest is not what it used to be.

Southern California has lived with this nightmare for years but now it seems to consistently affect the north as well.

Some of the other scenarios are just too painful to mention here but from the loss of a loved one, just like that, being surprised, caught off guard and laid off to….well finding out that you have cancer, life can change on a dime and no matter what fantastic decisions you have previously made, your new life will be very different from the old one.


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”… John F. Kennedy

One of the films that seems to speak well to loss and appreciation emanates from all places in the supernatural world. article, Paramount Pictures photo credit

The Lovely Bones is a 2009 supernatural drama film directed by Peter Jackson, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, and Saoirse Ronan.

The story follows a girl who is murdered and watches over her family from the in-between, and is torn between seeking vengeance on her killer and allowing her family to heal.

The film was an international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

The sadness of the film was over whelming yet, at least for us, cathartic. We remember more of how we felt as opposed to all of the details but it is a movie that tends to stay with you. The critics certainly had mixed feelings about it, but for us, once we started watching it we couldn’t take our eyes off of it.

Nor our hearts.

It was the relationships shown in between the story lines that inspired appreciation.

So much of the appreciation involved once ordinary incidents that later become extraordinarily precious.

In a June 29, 2012 article posted by Ms. Laurie Mintz Ph.D. in Psychology Today, she speaks to that. “Studies by John Gottman and colleagues reveal that the more couples express appreciation for one another, the more successful their relationships. Gottman found even the smallest gestures of appreciation counted—a smile, a pat, or a simple “thank you.” Likewise, the appreciation doesn’t need to concern large events or actions; on the contrary, Gottman’s research reveals that the more often couples look for positive, daily, small things to appreciate and comment on, the more affection they have for one another.”

That certainly could apply to friendships as well. article, photo credit

It is the daily small things to appreciate and take the time to reflect upon and remember that can help us get through the major pains, losses and disappointments of life.

Sometimes running down a tree covered path on a quiet fall day, for the moment, may be the best appreciative medicine in the world.

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