“I’ve Led a Charmed Life”

(I sure wish someone would invent a sarcasm font!)

SUzy in Black

That’s what most people think when they read my stuff…that I’ve lived a charmed life. Someone actually said that to me at an art show once. It was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A woman came into my booth and began to read my work. After a while she walked up to me. With a condescending tone she said, “To have written such positive, life-affirming things you surely must have led a charmed life.” I had just taken a gulp of my Diet Coke and, in a fit of irrepressible laughter, I spewed it all over myself. Not one of my more graceful moments!

You see, “charmed” is the last word I would have used. I have been through my share of trials, Childless, I had a premature hysterectomy in my early twenties that took away my dream of biological children. Then after being blessed with an adopted son, he almost died…twice! I was then divorced at 29. Being a single working mom, trying to gut it out with a 4-year-old son was challenging. (No explanation needed, right?) Then I married a widower with four young, very broken, motherless children. Add up all the challenges of that situation and then throw into that financial crisis’s, deaths in my immediate family, dealing with aging parents, and then a diagnosis of a debilitating, chronic disease and you start to get the idea. I’m just like you! I have struggled with both physical and emotional burdens that have pushed me to my limit – and then, with tears streaming down my face, was pushed even farther.

Reflecting on this now as I write this blog entry, I think the greatest lesson I learned from it all was that my attitude was the difference between and ordeal and an adventure. Some days I just had to figure out how to act “as if”… you know, “as if” everything is okay, “as if” everything is normal, and “as if” everything is just business as usual. I know some people call it “fake it till you make it.” But I like to think of it more as acting with faith. For me it’s about believing in something I can’t see or touch. It’s about reaching deeper into myself than ever before to find my true strength and courage. And more than anything, it’s about ignoring the voices both in my head and all around me, telling me I should just give up.

I like to think of it this way: What if just around the next corner a shiny brass ring is waiting for you? What if the rainbow’s end is just around the bend, and it’s pot of gold emblazoned with your name? What if you act “as if” for just one more minute? Just hang on and tell yourself this is not the time to wimp out. This is the time to press forward with faith. This is the time to put on your game face, and act “as if” nothing is impossible.

When I do this, I’m able to pick myself up, straighten my back and stand tall with conviction and pride, knowing I have within me the drive, the strength and determination to deal with whatever life throws at me. And because I’ve been able to act “as if,” in spite of all the junk that was tossed in my path, I’ve caught some pretty amazing things that came my way. While the idea of living a charmed life sounds good, it has been adversity that has shaped me into the woman I am today. I can honestly say I would not trade those experiences for anything.

Today I have a couple of my grown kids going through some pretty serious, life altering challenges. Watching them struggle is breaking my heart. Yet at the same time I see them reaching for that brass ring with every bit of strength they have. They are visualizing that pot of gold at the rainbow’s end and they are “acting as if” their lives depend on it. In reality, their lives literally do. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are being molded and shaped by their own adversities. And without a second of doubt, I know they will emerge as the amazing women God has always intended them to be.