Two Servings of Lifequakes with Seven Slices of Perspective
Before Thanksgiving, I received two emails.
One was from a young, aspiring writer seeking some advice. He was wondering if he could find the time–in between his day job and raising a baby girl with his new wife–to sit down, chase his dream, and write a book. Even though he loved his “new” life, he was concerned he would not find time in his new life to do what he loved.
The other email was from a woman–north of 50 years old–who was recently diagnosed with a progressive brain disease and sought some advice. She wanted to know how I learned to accept my diagnosis, how I find the courage to face the day, and how I find hope in such a hopeless diagnosis.
I spent much of the Thanksgiving weekend eating Pumpkin Pie, not counting calories, laying on my couch, watching football, and thinking about the emails.
I mean, part of me was honored and humbled. Strangers were curious to know my opinion about chasing dreams and living a meaningful life while facing such a cruel disease.
Another part of me was confused. Was I old enough and wise enough to offer valuable life advice? Was I somehow now a pundit Pilgrim who had traveled to unfamiliar lands and returned to Plymouth to tell about it?
I heard my own voice in those emails. The uncertainty. The urgency. Not long ago, I was where they were.
Wondering if I could chase my dream and become a writer.
Wondering if I would live long enough to see a book of mine published.
Wondering how my diagnosis was going to change my life.
In his tremendous book “Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age,” NY Times Bestselling Author Bruce Feiler explains most adults will face three to five “lifequakes” in their lifetime.
Lifequakes, according to Feiler, are both planned (like a pregnancy) and unplanned (like a medical diagnosis) that caused a seismic shift in a person’s life. These events ring our doorbell like an early dinner guest. And so with a smear of flour on our cheeks and frenzy swirling in our hearts, we’re forced to answer the door and attend to our guest.
Leaning on words like “unprepared” and “confused” and “but,” I sensed these two people were enduring lifequakes.
One email explained, “I’m unprepared for this. Confused. Life is much different today than it was yesterday. Yesterday I was fine. But today, I’m not.”
I understood. I felt their yearning. Their disillusionment. Life was suddenly strange. If yesterday was like eating turkey on Thanksgiving, today is like eating hamburgers for dinner on the fourth Thursday in November.
There’s little we can do to prevent or even prepare for the lifequakes. However, some perspective can allow these events to teach us about ourselves, our purpose, the people we love, and how we want to spend our time.
When I awoke from my Pumpkin Pie coma, I opened my email and responded as best I could. I offered them slices of advice to hopefully help them today and for the rest of their days.
Here are Seven Slices of Perspective for Dealing with Lifequakes:
1.Do one thing today that will make your life easier tomorrow.
2.Happiness isn’t given. Happiness is earned.
3.Slow and steady may not win the race. But slow and steady certainly finishes the race. Finish the race.
4.Struggle awards perspective.
5.Spend some time each day doing something you love.
6.Weight is lost one pound at a time. Marathons are run one step at a time. Books are written one word at a time. Be patient. Be persistent. Keep Going.
7.After you die, people who love you will go on living. They will struggle. They will turn to your spirit for guidance. Don’t let them down. In the time you are alive, set a good example for the living.
Ordinary Hero is now available in hardback and available, upon request, in local bookstores or libraries, even if your local bookstore or library is in Peru.
Greetings to everyone who found me on the University of Pennsylvania’s Ataxia Clinic’s website! Thanks for stopping by. I have ataxia and though I’m not a doctor, I hope my words comfort, encourage, empower, and serve as good company on your journey.
December Book Promos for You:
Are looking for inspiration? Are you searching for a better version of yourself?
This month I joined literary forces with some best-selling authors in an awesome book promotions. Click the link below:
Recent letters you may enjoy:
Jay Armstrong is a speaker and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life.