I truly have no intention of insulting someone as smart as Maslow and I’m positive that he was right when he detailed the human physiological needs of air, water, and food –especially food! as the basic requirements for survival, but I’m gonna’ hypothesize that he should have added sunshine to the hierarchy. Now to support my theory: there are few human beings who do not need the sun and depend upon it for companionship, encouragement, and hope.
We think of it every day, applaud its appearance, mourn its loss. The sun warms our planet and our hearts.
Sunshine motivates, celebrates, inspires, grows, heals, strengthens, builds, loves.
And the blessed sun softens life’s blows. Always.
As a cancer patient, I felt more fierce and stronger on sunny days. Like I would live forever.
But winter is here and with a vengeance. shorter days. darker too. Less sunshine. So we’ve got to learn to make our own cause we can’t live without it. no way! There are five basic ingredients I use to help me shine. This was my recipe during the darkest, greyest days of my life.
2 1/2 cups GRATEFULNESS
There’s always someone walking a bumpier lonelier sadder scarier messier path than yours. Even in a chemo lab. He sat across from me every third Friday. Both of us smiling weakly, nodding our hairless heads in quiet recognition. But he didn’t have a chance, the nurses whispered. Trying, against all odds, to beat cancer in its horrific fourth stage. And shamefully, thankfully, I knew I was the lucky one. And I felt grateful. plus dreadfully guilty at my good fortune and his terrible fate. I wept the day his chair sat empty. And gave thanks too. Yup. Sitting bald in a chemo chair, poison coursing through my veins feeling grateful. Homemade sunshine.
1 1/3 cup HUMOUR
Learn to laugh. ESPECIALLY AT YOURSELF! Of course not in a degrading manner but just because you don’t take yourself too seriously! I was warned to wear adult protection if I ventured out in public within 5 days of a chemo treatment. Apparently I wouldn’t know that I had to go and IN FACT, I wouldn’t even know that I was actually going until I had gone! (I’m trying really hard not to say the ‘dirty word’ because my kids think I may be stuck in one of the Freudian stages?!)
Anyhow, of course I ventured … all the way to Walmart….but just in my underwear. Well, not just my underwear. I did wear clothes too, but those were my fundamental jean skirt-wearing days so you get the picture. Now add to the picture a pile of brown, more like black, stuff on the feet of the bald woman in a jean skirt. And she’s crying. Until a stranger steps in making her own version of homemade sunshine asking for help to get it cleaned up… imagine the poor guy who gets called to aisle 5 for maintenance thinking it’s just another routine spill!!!! She holds my hand all the way to the bathroom and walks me to my car -which takes us 10 minutes to find! but we are laughing so hard that I am crying again. I can’t believe I didn’t get her name.
But I call her God.
Cause she saved me that day and made me laugh through one of the shittiest days of my life.
1/4 cup KINDNESS
I remember a well-meaning pear-shaped church lady offering me consolation, I know what you’re going through! Our basement just flooded, and our dog’s litter only gave us two pups when we were counting on at least five! She recited her woes into a face bereft of lashes and brows, a head empty of hair, a one-breasted body with digits missing nails…and that was just the visible stuff. I wanted to shake her. She needed a good shaking. Wow, that’s tough, I said. And hugged her. Be kind. even when people are stupid and selfish. cause we all are sometimes. Most times, I think, we have no idea.
3 tbsp SIMPLICITY
Seeing the beauty in the simple. It’s the most complex kind. And the best part about simple things is THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!
You don’t have to be on a beach or in Paris or hiking the Rockies …. you can be in your grey house on your grey street on a grey day and find something simple to celebrate.
I love fall and especially the gorgeous colours of the leaves. When I lived on 3 acres, I would rake 120 bags of those #*@#*@& leaves every year! But during the autumn days of my cancer journey the only time I raked was with my hand to fill a box with the red and gold and orange gems to send all the way to sunny Florida. Jessica was studying there and missing me and the leaves. Imagine her delight when she opened a big box of Canadian fall leaves! No note. nothing but leaves.
Simple. Complex. Sunshine.
2 tsp FORGIVENESS
Just let go. We hold on to so much shit junk that isn’t serving us. Sometimes I’m shocked at the foolishness that occupies my mind. And ashamed. Stuff that would drive away any hint of sunshine in my day. Cancer taught me the most about forgiveness. I had to forgive God for allowing this mess in the first place. He understood and we worked it out! I had to forgive my body for betraying and assaulting me. The friends who had no idea what was really going on and couldn’t possibly understand without actually walking in my shoes needed forgiveness. Like the pear-shaped lady. Mostly, I had to forgive myself. And know that I was still a Wonder even if I could no longer wear a blue and red suit with long sexy boots. A Wonderful Woman. Like you. Forgiving ourselves to homemade sunshine.
I’m making homemade soup today. And the weather may be calling for homemade sunshine! So when I run out of ingredients and need to restock, I’m gonna’ remember what a Wonder it is that I’m alive!
And shine on.