At the end of October, an amazing person, friend, mother, wife and aunt left this world. I would have said her light went out but her light hasn’t gone anywhere and that is exactly why I decided to write this post.
When I stop to think about the kind of person I want to be and the impression I want to leave on those who I encounter in life, I have a handful of women I look to as role models. Each of them have certain attributes I would love to have within myself. Don’t worry, I do realize that I cannot just combine the best traits of my role models and become some kind of super woman. No one is perfect and I am certainly not. I can, however, learn things from each of them and try to apply those lessons to my own life.
The biggest lesson I have learned from my Aunt Julie, and was so eloquently shared by my cousins at her memorial service, was that each day you have a choice: you can choose to have a good day or a bad day.
While we cannot control our circumstances, as she could not control her cancer, we can control our attitude and she fought with a smile on her face and kindness to those around her. I heard countless stories of how she befriended the nurses in the hospital, went to spinning class within a day after chemotherapy and was a loving human being to everyone around her. The nearly one-thousand people who attended her service are a testimony to the lives that she touched with her incredibly bright light.
As someone who has battled anxiety and depression for most of my life, choosing to have a good day is hard. If I’m having a bad day, I want to have my bad day. I want to wallow in it and show my pain to others. The past year or so I’ve been trying so hard to be positive instead of negative. To choose my attitude.
However, I have not tried more than I have these past few days back at work. I wallowed last week in my grief and how heartbroken I felt for her husband and children. But on Monday, I decided that I would have a good day no matter how bad I felt when I woke up. I chose to be positive, joyful and kind to others. To say I’m a work in progress is an understatement but trying is certainly better than nothing.
Julie said something to me once I will never forget and will always make me laugh: “Life is too short for uncomfortable underwear.” While sound advice in and of itself, I think it’s metaphorical as well. If something was wrong, Julie didn’t complain - she did what she could to fix it and moved forward with a smile on her face. She knew that life is too precious to let things keep you down.
Every day we all have a choice to have a good day or a bad day. What are you going to choose today? Because I’m going to choose to look at every positive aspect of my day instead of complaining. I’m going to choose to be happy and kind to others no matter what. Lastly, I’m going to choose to be grateful because gratitude leads to happiness, not the other way around.
On a separate note - two of Julie’s daughters ran the NYC Marathon to raise money for Cholangiocarcinoma, which is a rare, and unfortunately fairly underfunded, form of liver & bile duct cancer that my Aunt Julie fought for over two years. To donate to their fundraising efforts, click here. Every gift makes a difference to both their fundraising and the support that they feel from our community.