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Handbook for Mortals : Enduring and Changing

Seeing Yourself More Clearly

Seeing yourself and what is important to you more clearly means:

Adjusting to living with serious illness will require that you be honest about what you are feeling and experiencing, in both good times and bad. You don't have to hide or be embarrassed by tears, anger, and frustration. A touch of humor may help you cope. Janie would post a sign on the front door, either "Mom's Having a Good Day," or "Mom's Having a Bad Day," depending on her mood. She said, "I guess folks ought to know what to expect when they come to see me. This gives them an out if they're not up to the challenge." Your own challenge is also to be honest with yourself and to live within your limitations, but to live fully within them.

Along with determination and honesty, be open to what life has to offer now. Tom said, "You know, I never stop being afraid of dying. But I'm more afraid of not living. I've got just so much time, so I have to make the best of it." He started painting again, a hobby he had long ago put aside. It served as a powerful antidote for the depression that haunted him.

No longer able to participate in her regular activities, Janie learned to knit and taught her daughter some simple stitches. Eventually, their "knitting time" became their special time together. Learning new skills or finding renewed pleasure in interests long forgotten can be a wonderful affirmation of your spirit. Tom and Janie would quickly say that it wasn't easy to find their way through the "shadow of the valley of death." They discovered that they had to turn to others who gently helped them see a different direction, nurturing the determination that lay quietly within, waiting to be summoned.

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