For the first time since my mother’s and sisters’ deaths, I am sharing my personal journey from calamity to triumph, with the publication of Repairing Rainbows: A True Life Story of Family, Tragedy and Choices.
Repairing Rainbows reveals my positive and determined view of life. It is not a depressing book about tragedy and loss. It is moving and heartbreaking, yet uplifting and hopeful at the same time. It is a story about love, strength and appreciation. It is a story about courage and hope. It is a story about choices.
We always have choices. We choose where to live, what newspapers to read, and what clothes to wear. We choose restaurants, partners, stores, paint colours, friends, gifts, toothpaste flavours. We choose activities, careers and hobbies.
And we get to choose our thoughts.
We have an array of options at our fingertips, when it comes to our reactions, views and perspectives.
We can focus on the good or the bad, the gloom of rainy weather or the delightful fact that it’s feeding our flowers, grass and trees. We can complain about the storm or anticipate the rainbows. We can find traffic frustrating, or be thankful for the fact that we are lucky enough to live in a country with modern transportation. Standing in a long line in the grocery store can be annoying, or an opportunity to people-watch, or be friendly and chat with strangers in line. You can let an interfering mother-in-law’s comments get under your skin, or be grateful for the fact that there is a mother-in-law at all. Walking into a mess made by the kids can easily trigger anger, or the realization that they were having fun, and then further gratitude for having kids at all.
. . . the list can go on and on.
We always have choices.
We can choose HOW to look at any situation, no matter what it is. We can choose thoughts that are inspiring and empowering. We can think about ways to persevere and overcome, or we can become victims. We can think about our life as a gift, or we can view it as a punishment. We can go through life with determination and zest, or drag ourselves through every day as if we are tied to a ball and chain.
I choose to look at life through rose-colored glasses. For me, that means I choose to take a favourable view, even if I have to grasp at straws to find a glimmer of positivity. I will find a way to focus on the positives, look at the bright side, expect the best, and somehow remain optimistic.
I choose hope instead of despair.
I choose acceptance as opposed to judgment or rejection.
Forgiveness feels much better than holding a grudge.
Recognizing opportunities to learn and grow outweighs the burden of guilt and regret.
Truth and honesty are way easier than lies.
I choose gratitude and appreciation rather than greed and jealousy.
I choose happiness for others, instead of envy.
I much prefer being upbeat and joyful, compared to down and miserable.
I choose to smile.
I choose to laugh.
I choose to live.
Looking back and reflecting on that time as a thirteen year old, when my whole life came to a disastrous halt, I now understand and fully believe in the power of choosing our thoughts. After losing my mother and two little sisters in a plane crash, I was able to move forward, taking baby steps, because I chose hope. I refused to give up. I replaced fear and panic with hope and dreams. I never let go of my trust and faith in the future. I found positive things to focus on. I avoided miserable people. I admired the colours of flowers, trees, birds and rainbows.
I really listened to songs, finding words and messages that were happy and meaningful. I watched movies with happy endings, and read feel-good books.
I spent time around animals noticing their joy and appreciation for everything – a walk in the park, the chance to play, a bowl of kibble.
I don’t live in a dream world. I am not naïve. I’ve enjoyed tremendous personal and professional success. The life lessons I share come from well earned experience. And I do live by the words in Carole King’s song, Beautiful:
You’ve got to get up every morning, with a smile on your face
And show the world, all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel
There’s no template to follow that will determine the course of any tragedy and its effects. But the toughest decision people have to make when faced with tragedy is whether to succumb to or overcome the sorrow. It’s a choice about whether or not to respond to a crisis with hope. You always have that choice. You can give up or you can go on.
I chose to go on. I chose life.