A few weeks ago, I was watching Rosie O’Donnell’s interview with Suzanne Summers. I’m a big fan of Suzanne’s – not so much the Three’s Company days – although who didn’t watch that if you grew up on the 70s? – but I’m more a fan of her cookbooks and entrepreneurial spirit. She was really the first celebrity chef that I started to follow and gained a lot of knowledge from her writing about processed carbohydrates and the way they attribute to weight gain. I credit those books with my first forays into gourmet cooking and I developed my own style through experimentation with those first books.
I’ve followed along with her alternative treatment choices for her breast cancer and with the bio-identical hormone replacement therapies as well as the stem cell, breast reconstruction journey that she’s been on. She strikes me as a very intelligent, determined woman who makes the best out of the situations that she encounters. And I mean, really the best out of them, seeming to thrive in situations where many of us would have thrown in the towel.
In this interview, Rosie would bring up these harrowing experiences and Ms. Summers responded to each one with a very believable “What a gift that was!” It struck me and as I listened to her interview I really started to think about it.
Alcoholic, abusive father? What a gift!
Getting fired from Three’s Company for expecting as much money as her male co-star, when she was clearly the break out star? What a gift!
Finding a lump in her breast? What a gift!
Fighting to get approval and her years’ long journey to have the stem cell, reconstructive surgery done in an American hospital, by an American doctor on an American woman, even though she could have gone to Japan and had it done years before? Again… What a Gift!
I started to think about my own life and let’s be honest, I’m pretty much a “Silver Lining” kind of gal – but I set aside some time and really thought about it. Could I really look at everything in my life as a gift? And while I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to think of the loss of loved ones as a gift, I was quite surprised to think about how much I do view as a gift.
Let me explain:
It’s no secret that my family went through a financial upheaval over the past couple of years and that we had been enjoying a pretty good run of abundance before hand – but thinking about it, I really have to say that so much good has come of it. I’ve learned so much about who I am and what my values are, where I want to spend my energy and resources for the highest good of my circle of influence. I have found that as a whole, my family and I are nothing if not resourceful, that we are fearless in trying new ideas, and that we can have fun in a paper bag if need be. I have gratefully learned that my husband is willing to do whatever is needed to support his family and that as a work at home mom, I’m pretty capable of earning a living myself, even in the harshest economic climate.
About a year and a half ago, some people whom I thought were friends decided that they didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. Instead of just ending the friendship they decided to drop a bomb into the middle of it, making up lies that they told other “friends” that I had said about them. I reacted very badly, going into a deep mourning, even though in hindsight, I can see that I was already pulling away from these people. It was very public however, with them saying things about me in public forums and to other friends. I kept quiet, never responding to the public attacks, even though when I tried to contact them and discuss what happened, I was denied, even told that they didn’t know what I was referring to.
I never thought that I would see the gift in that at the time, but there were so many gifts looking back that it’s stunning. First and foremost, the people who stood by my side, who knew me well enough to know that these things were not true. They were the biggest gifts of all. However, a very unexpected gift was the deep understanding that the more success one has, the more likely the small people will begrudge it. In the long run, after many months of going through the cycle of grief, I have come away with the surety that whomever criticizes me, whether it’s warranted or not, it will not ruin my day, nor detract from my accomplishments. That’s certainly not to say that my feelings can not be hurt, I’m actually hypersensitive, but I’m able to discern what is constructive and what is not.
Oh look, more gifts.
I think that we’ve all, at least most of us, had a very challenging couple of years. But I’m grateful for all the gifts that have come of it. I may not have loved living through it, but in the end, I can see the process. I just hope that I’m able to remember this during my next struggle, instead of having to wait for so long.
Silver Lining in the midst of it…
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