Attitude. It is the one thing we can all choose to control in life. Without a positive attitude, things might have looked different in the life I have lived. When I was a sophomore in high school (circa 1996), a fellow dance company member gifted us a quote about attitude. At the time I was just a teenager living life, but it would only be a few short years before I was diagnosed with cancer.
From the age of 10, something in my soul new there more to this life, but the circumstances that surrounded it was beyond comprehension. You see, something happened that would make anyone gasp for breath in shock. I was abused.
I hid the pain of my trauma behind the leaps and pirouettes on the dance floor. So when I found my first soul-quenching quote, something resonated in me that inspired a positive outlook.
When diagnosed with cervical cancer and undergoing a partial hysterectomy, through grace, I remained positive. My attitude shifted from pain and hurt to the perspective of being alive. After ovarian cancer occurring twice after my cervical terror, I knew my outlook on life helped carry me forward.
Life has a funny way of giving us exactly what we don’t expect or plan for. While we write to-do lists and dreams, things happen that change our path. Cancer was never the vision I had for my life, let alone enduring the emotions of it three times. Abuse was not either. Overcoming the feelings of all of this was not on the radar as well. During the trauma and discovering who I was after all of this before I reached the age of 26, I was still just a little girl at heart and had no idea about the big bold world we all live in.
For me, the world felt tricky. I had not graduated from college with a four-year degree, nor would I ever be able to give birth to my own kids. My dreams and hopes of what life told me as I child I would have or accomplish would never be, I was so lost. And felt so hopeless.
Navigating through the pain of tears streaming from my 10-year-old self in shock of the tears between her legs and why I had to endure over a dozen surgeries that forever scarred on my body sent me into a tailspin. The life I thought would be never was. And for so long I never knew why. Somehow through all the blows, I found myself. I kept pushing forward, knowing there was something more. On paper, I should be dead, but I’m not, and I am convinced that my attitude saved me.
Only, I never knew what that something more was. Finding yourself in the tragedies and staying there is easy, Choosing to get up and move just a little bit forward, having that slight edge to hope for just a little bit more is where the magic happens. Our attitude about life is everything. We can choose to give up, or we can choose to stand up when we feel like we have nothing left to give.
Honestly, I felt that I had nothing left. I did not know why I was given all this pain. I did not understand why I was given this heavy sadness. I remember a photograph my parents have of me grinning from ear to ear in footie pajamas as a three-year-old. My smile was bright and so big. I wanted to be that child so badly once again, but I was tainted with heaviness.
Sinking lower than I thought I could ever go, I always remembered that my attitude would make me or break me. Miss Positive should have been my name on the outside. I spoke it for a decade before I actually started believing it. And then I wrote my story. I put my heart on my sleeve and described the pain endured as a child and the haunting of that stupid “C” word – cancer. Most importantly, I bared my soul on how I overcame all of those raw emotions and dug deep to my mental health.
From hurt to heart, I found happiness and love. Love for myself. Because when you come from the depths of what feels like hell, you find love. And I am proud to say I found a love for me and a love for living each day to the fullest.
Attitude is what shaped me. That attitude quote I received at 15 years old has been carried through thick and thin.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the past, than education, than failures, than successes, that what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a school… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our ATTITUDES.”Charles Swindoll
Cloudsurfing – Abuse, Cancer, and Fear Took My Voice, Now I Soar is my story of overcoming. It is shocking, sad, funny, and healing all wrapped into a book that comes down to our attitude. If we desire something different, it is up to us. I have been hurt, hurt others, and know that I have always done the best with what I have known at the time.
If we choose to, we can overcome. We can break up with fear, or follow our heart. It is up to each of us.
May we all have a believing and loving attitude.