Hey there! My name is Gaby and I’m 27 years old, I’m married to a hilarious, red bearded, worship pastor and I gave birth to the most dreamy, blue eyed, chunk nine months ago. My first child is a ten-year-old golden retriever named Copper, and we currently reside at my parents' house (for the last eight months) while we wait for our home to be rebuilt after a house flood last summer. I love cooking, decorating, and children of all ages. A chai tea latte can usually turn my whole day around for the better, and a deep conversation about real life with a true friend makes my cup overflow...oh and I have cancer.
I bet you didn’t see that coming. Neither did I.
Four months ago, I heard the words you pray you never here, “It is cancer”. My whole world stopped for a few days as I tried to come to terms with what it would mean for myself, my family, and my five-month-old little boy.
I experienced every emotion you can think of and the emotions would change in a matter of seconds. (When you already feel a little unstable five months postpartum - this was enough to make a woman actually crazy). Thankfully, the instability faded and peace started taking over. My faith, my family and my controlling “determined” personality helped me quickly get to a place of “let’s do this!”
I learned to embrace life in a new way, trading my worry in for faith, the “why-me’s” into gratefulness, and finding my joy in what truly matters.
It was, and still is, a daily choice, and some days I am much better at it than others, but among the ridiculous amount of knowledge I’ve gained about the thyroid gland and lymph nodes, I’ve also learned so many valuable lessons that have changed my life. Life is too precious not to cherish!
Yeah, it sounds cliché, but life IS so precious. Not only when you have it together. Not just in the Instagram worthy, picture perfect, hair done, kids dressed, house clean moments. (If these moments even exist). Life is so dang beautiful in the midst of your chaos, your pain, your shortcomings, and your trials. For me, a “perfection enthusiast," it took a cancer diagnosis to really get this! I was missing so many beautiful moments of my life. I wasted them in worry. I lost them in comparison. I neglected them while trying to “measure up." The craziest part about it is that I had no idea I had been missing so much.
I am such a worrier, seriously, I worry about EVERYTHING. I’m currently staring at the baby monitor while my son naps to make sure he’s breathing, and I’ve been doing this every day for NINE months!! You can find me worrying about what others think of me, worrying about being accepted, worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong at just about any given time. I worry! So, you give a worrier a cancer diagnosis and...yeah, not good! I spent a few days completely engulfed in worry about the what-if’s and the worst case scenarios. I just went through the motions of caring, feeding, and playing with my son. I flashed the friendly grins at the nice people who told me everything was going to be ok. I absently bowed my head for the prayers being prayed over me. Things were moving all around me while I was stuck in slow motion. UNTIL, through the chaos, a pair of little blue eyes looked up at me and smiled. I lost it! I was missing so many blessing right in front of my face because I was too busy worrying about things I had no control over. The worrying didn’t change a darn thing! It didn’t make me feel any better, it just took me away from recognizing how much I have to be thankful for. I quickly realized I had missed far too many blessings at the expense of worrying, and that’s not something I’m not willing to do anymore. And do you know what it has brought this worrier? PEACE.
I’m finding freedom like this in so many ways, by choosing to focus on what I have as opposed to what I lack. I have quickly realized what DOESN’T matter and I’m learning to live accordingly. I actually find myself laughing when I think about what I was caught up in just a day before my diagnosis. Less than twenty-four hours before my life came to a screeching halt I was obsessing over not getting invited to something I saw take place on social media. I went through all the reasons why I could have possibly not made the list. All were related to not being good enough in one way or another, and all of them lies. I had no idea how little it mattered and how little I'd care just several hours later. It JUST DIDN’T MATTER and I gave it so much of myself! We waste so many precious life moments on things that don’t matter, and we miss so much of what DOES matter because of it! I have never felt more free than I do now, still awaiting a “cancer free” declaration, because I've truly realized some things Just. Don’t. Matter.
Why does it take a terrible tragedy we see on the news, or just barely avoiding a car wreck, or in my case, a cancer diagnosis to get us to hold our families a little tighter, to let go of what doesn’t matter, or to find gratefulness in what we have been given?
In those moments, we “get it.” We are the lucky ones. We realize what we have is what someone else is longing for. And like most other things, by the next day, it fades. But what if it didn’t? Even in our mess, and our not-so-perfect lives, we can find something to be grateful for. Even when we are stuck in worry of things not turning out like we want. Even when the meaningless traps around us tell us we aren't good enough, even when you don’t get invited to that thing. Even when you find out you have cancer... There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for!
What things in your life are stealing you away from what matters?
What can you focus on today that will allow you to embrace your precious life?
Enjoy your precious life friends,