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Choosing Joy

I chose to create this blog for the main purpose of encouraging and supporting those who care for the hurting. People in crisis need people who believe in them and those who work to pull them up out of the sand.

I also know that life isn't always fair. Life doesn't always reward us for doing good. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. That is an inescapable truth. My premise is that you cannot stop random bad things from happening.

What you can do is change the way you view them. In other words, it is how we handle the trials and tribulations that come our way that defines our healing; defines our climb from darkness back into the light.

In a spirit of transparency, I am writing today from a place of frustration and grief. I am currently walking through a dark place in my life. In a previous blog, I shared about my husband's battle with Multiple Myeloma. I wanted to update you on our journey thus far.

The cancer was diagnosed in May 2023 (has that only been 5 months ago?). And things are moving faster than we were led to believe.

To get some context let me paint you a picture. For the previous 15 years of our marriage, my husband was a fitness buff. He could jog 6 miles. He worked out on the elliptical every day for 45 minutes to an hour. He watched his fat intake. In other words, in health measures, he put me to shame.

And then we met cancer. Cancer, an evil devouring parasite, focused its hate on Mark. In 5 months time, his body shape has changed. His breathing has changed. His appetite has changed. His outlook on life has changed.

And yet, for the past 5 months, we have forged a new normal. Stability came through routine and mutual support. We relaxed into a pattern that lulled us into the thought that "It's not so bad."

Things have changed.

Over the past couple of weeks, Mark has started to lose blood, requiring transfusions, which affected his breathing and he has been in the hospital for the past week as the medical professionals try to return stability to his body. The week has been exhausting, frustrating and nerve-wracking. Every time we think he can go home, another symptom appears. My mind and heart want to retreat into a dark hole and stay. It would have been so easy to give in to depression and hopelessness.


I realized that depression and hopelessness only serve to drive me deeper into a hole. By focusing on all of the problems, I was losing sight of any light trying to enter into my life. Therefore, I made a decision to practice gratefulness. I decided to choose Joy. I know it sounds ridiculous and a simple-minded solution. Choosing gratefulness and Joy does nothing to change the circumstances. Cancer is what it is, and his type is incurable. And his current health crisis is an output of that evil parasite. Nope choosing Joy will not change a thing. Nothing but prayer and good medicine can alter his current health crisis.

Allowing myself to wallow in the depressingly gloomy thoughts will not do a thing to alter the situation either. And it can limit my ability to support him and to support myself. So, no thank you please. I don't choose you.

I am not talking about being a "strong" woman...a superman figure..."pushing through the pain". That would be ridiculous and unhealthy. I am not ignoring the situation. It is so important to allow yourself to grieve the losses. it is important to allow yourself to feel sad, frustrated and even angry. As a friend of mine once said, "It's ok to go there, just don't pack your bags and stay."

I am talking about vantage points. I am talking about perception. This week I made a mission for myself to practice gratefulness. I changed my vantage point from all of the pain and aggravation around me to the realization of just how many people have reached out to us in love and in support. People have offered to bring us food, to help us around the house, to do all manner of things for us. People are praying for us. People are reaching out to ensure we know that they love us and are supporting us. That is an amazing gift.

There are many people in the same situation as us who do not have such a supportive tribe. Some people have to walk this journey alone. My heart goes out to them. The more I focused on the magnitude of our support, it was not difficult to be grateful. And, it has been a much more uplifting feeling than walking in darkness.

Although I opened up about my own struggles, this post is really for those who are also going through difficulties. I have been reading through some social media groups I follow, that many social workers are quitting and giving up on their profession. Impossible caseloads coupled with total lack of felt support has driven them away from their calling. So, my fellow social workers, this blog is for you.

Things are tough all over in the world of social services. Resources are dwindling, cases seem more difficult, and lack of support is at an all-time high. Do you feel as if you are being asked to make more bricks but without straw or water? If so, this blog is really for you.

Whether you are having professional struggles, personal struggles or some other type of darkness, it is possible to change your vantage point and find SOMETHING for which you are grateful.

  1. Your friends who allow you to vent your frustrations and offer encouragement

  2. Your family who love you no matter what

  3. The community of people who need your help

  4. The difference you have made in the lives of others

  5. The fact that despite the opposition you are feeling, you are not a failure because you actually care about others.

  6. (fill in your personal gratitude here)

Choosing gratefulness certainly won't change your circumstances, but it could change your thinking. And that could change your life.

Practice Gratitude

Choose Joy

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