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Good Luck, Bad Luck

The children's book "What Good Luck, What Bad Luck" by Remy Charlip that I read at the age of five helped form my outlook on life.
I read the children’s book “What Good Luck, What Bad Luck” by Remy Charlip at the age of five and it helped form my outlook on life.

You’ve Got It Easy

Yesterday, a friend of mine told me I had it easier than her because I had Richard and she was single.

Her thinking was that because we were a team, I never worried like she does about having a career or paying bills. I could just take off on trips whenever I wanted to. 

How little she knows me. How little anyone knows another person’s circumstances or struggles or fears.

Yes, being a part of a couple and having a firm base of support is an amazing gift when navigating life’s capriciousness in doling out luck. 

I am incredibly grateful for that. But I don’t have it easy. 

I wanted to tell her that at 35, my fingers stopped moving properly due to a neurological movement disorder. Suddenly I had no idea how to create the complex and intricate movements necessary to play my flute at the professional level I’d enjoyed for 20 years. 

I wanted to tell her that the company I worked for over a decade where I poured my heart and soul into bringing them success, granted me a leave-of-absence without pay to explore a personal dream before my body would be wracked with arthritis. I trusted them and returned when we agreed, only to work three days before being demoted to “on call.” 

I wanted to tell her that I was given a choice of removing my breasts entirely or “watching and waiting” with the knowledge that invasive cancer greatly elevated my risk of more cancer. I had two crappy choices that left me scared and angry. 

I wanted to tell her it’s better to celebrate your friend’s bravery and success rather than comparing yourself with bitterness, because bravery and success are available to you too even when the future looks bleak and frightening. 

The Church of Kaka Occurs

Life is tough.

The trail I walk is most-often a setting for facing life’s struggles and learning to practice patience and acceptance in ways that are empowering. 

I believe wholeheartedly in abundance and grace because I have experienced it first hand. But that doesn’t mean that I subscribe to the theory that we “attract” good or bad circumstances. 

The old adage, “shit happens” or maybe more politely “kaka occurs” is often a motto of mine. 

Why? Because when bad things happen at no fault of our own – which they do from time to time to all of us – believing we caused them to happen only makes us feel at fault, triggering a spiral of shame and blame which is completely useless when trying to navigate the difficult situation. 

It’s like a well-meaning doctor neighbor of mine who told me I got breast cancer because I never had children so didn’t breast feed.

Really? And how exactly do you know this, Dr. Neighbor? 

And just for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s true. What the hell am I supposed to do about that now at age 58?

Fortunately, Unfortunately…

When I was a kid learning to read, I came across a book by Remy Charlip called Good Luck, Bad Luck (also known as Fortunately, Unfortunately)

What good luck!
Ned got a letter that said, “Please come to a surprise party.”
What bad luck!
The party was in Florida and he was in New York.
What good luck!
A friend lent him an airplane.
What bad luck!
The motor exploded.

The story goes back and forth between these states – a bit more dangerous and ridiculous until the end when he makes it to the surprise party planned for him!

Even at five years old, I thought this was the funniest and truest thing I had ever read. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. The only thing we can control much of the time, is how we deal with it. 

“Good Luck Bad Luck” was becoming my life mantra. 

Though I doubt I’ll attract a lot of followers to the church of “kaka occurs.” It doesn’t feel good or have a ring to it to tell people the trail sometimes is just a mud pit without views. 

Be Where Your Feet Are

Last summer when I was diagnosed with cancer, I found that the sooner I accepted that sometimes bad things just happen and started living fully in the present challenge ahead, was the sooner I was able to act. Hikers refer to that state as “being where your feet are.”

Usually feet are moving, so if you’re where they are, you are in a state of action. As I met the scariest moment of my life, the action I took saved my life and secured my future.

There’s a lesson in all this about vulnerability and accepting what we can and can’t control. In facing an uninvited ordeal head on, so much gets tested, like discernment and being brave when being brave is required, even if it feels like the hardest thing imaginable.

I want to show my friend grace because she made her comment to me a very difficult time in her own life as an unemployed single mother over 50. I don’t doubt for a second things are very hard for her.

And I’m not here to knock her down but to help, mostly by promising that everything changes and things will eventually work out. Be brave, stay present and aware, and keep taking the next step.

2 Responses

  1. Oh this is powerful. And sad. And true. And real. You nailed it, Sometimes well meaning people can say the most hurtful and offensive things. You have a huge heart. Offering Grace…so kind of you.

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