Love, the Chemical Transformer by Isabella Cuje’

The night was dark and shadows danced through the inside of the car.  My mom hugged the steering wheel. My hands were clasped, knuckles bearing a white glow in the pale moonlight. Four wheels carried us with urgency. We were nearing the emergency room. My heart pounded within my acoustic bones and they seemed to rattle with each heavy beat. We parked. My mom and I were on mission as we walked through the glass doors, stepping into the sterile, foreign air.

“Shepard Matthews?” Mom asked the nurse at the front desk. She gave us the number. We started towards his room.

We passed room upon room until finally reaching the right one. We were greeted by a family friend who stood blurry eyed. I peeked inside. He laid there. My best friend, my blue-eyed boy, my dizzy dance partner and Sunday-afternoon lunch date. My company on rainy days, the one who pulled the loose thread of my thoughts and unraveled those messy knots. The boy who snuck sweet kisses in empty stairways that echoed with our laughter, now laid in a room in which my lonely footsteps echoed through the halls to reach. He was incoherent, as the nurses already pumped him full of pain medication. His eyes were fluttering open and closed like butterflies with broken wings. Surrounding him was family and close friends, sitting and standing, maybe kneeling. Each of us just wanted to be near Shepard. We just wanted to ground ourselves around him and feel his cold skin and reassure ourselves that he was okay.

**

That night and the following days Shepard spent in the hospital have marked my life forever. It all was so timely, as he and his family were planning to move to Asia Minor as M’s (that’s what missionaries refer to themselves as) the next week. His admission should have put a halt to that, but it didn’t. His family still moved a couple weeks later, when Shepard was released from the hospital with no diagnosis but a helpful prescription. So, why I am writing about this? I wasn’t the one in the hospital. My family didn’t risk everything to move to a foreign country. However, this experience is so important to me because of one thing, love.

In Chemistry, a compound is a substance formed by multiple elements. These atoms are usually bonded by molecules. Compounds are fascinating because the composition of the atoms is always the same. Take water, for instance. You can boil or freeze it and yet, it will remain water. It has simply undergone a physical transformation. However, to change one compound to another requires a chemical change. In many ways, your life is like a compound. The experiences that compose it will stay the same. For instance, you can’t change your past. However, I believe that love is the chemical that forces our lives to undergo a chemical change. I believe that when we allow love to reign over our past, present and future, our life is not just bettered, but it is transformed into another one; A shiny new compound, if you will.

Love is what led the Matthews’ to become missionaries. Love is what kept me sane while I held Shepard’s hand as he laid in a hospital bed.

Without love, we are compounds bound by molecules of regret, anxiety, sadness and loneliness. The first night that Shepard was admitted hurt like hell. It broke me to see him in pain, but I had love. I had love and truly, it is the very marrow of life.

I thought you might enjoy this guest post by my seventeen-year-old granddaughter. Warmly Dr. Beth


Stay Aware and Enjoy Little Pleasures. You Can Create a Happiness Habit!

“What in the world are you doing?” I asked with a smile. 

Jim was gently rubbing his collarbone with his left hand.

 “Rubbing it in.” he smiled back as he gave one last, quick rub. 

“Rubbing what in?” 

“The good feeling of being here with you, of course.” he replied.    

Then it dawned on me. Jim was taking time to focus on the good feelings we were sharing as he “rubbed it in.”  He was adding one more positive moment of life to a new habit of being happy. He was retraining his brain!

You’ve heard the phrase,  “ Take time to smell the roses.” Corny but true.  Taking time to savor and be grateful for the sweetness of a ripe peach, the good feeling that comes with a genuine compliment, the joy of a family at dinner having a good belly laugh together, or like Jim, the pleasure of just hanging out together.

Positive psychologist, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, suggests that these “good” events are typically subtler than the negative ones and harder to recognize. Also, she says that we tend to take positive feelings in stride because they are less novel, not necessarily out of the ordinary, and not threatening. Studies show, however, that good events outnumber bad events by three or four or five to one and that staying aware of them is good for us.

Happy people generally have better medical, dental and psychological health, suggests Dr. Kurtz of the University of Virginia and coauthor of Positively Happy. Positive people also tend to see improvement in the physical and  psychological conditions of people around them.

Here’s the point. Do you tend to focus on the negative? Do you find yourself craving continuous moments of high passion and intensity and disappointed with the small things in life? Or do you have a mindset that allows you to look for and enjoy those micro-moments of positivity? You have choice!  Instead of missing the sweet moments or automatically going to the negative, you can choose to look for, and enjoy life’s everyday small moments of pleasure, good relationships, satisfactions, and joy. And there’s more good news. You have lots of them.   Your choice…

 

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Can A Leaky Heart Be Full Again?

Mom, you can't fill a leaky heart." my son said in a recent conversation. Humm, I knew "leaky" meant wounded and bleeding. I wondered, "Can such a heart ever be full again?"

Upon reflection, my answer is, " Yes.” We can fix our leaky hearts, if we are honest and compassionate with others and ourselves. Honesty and compassion are the healers.

Stopping the leak is rarely easy. We must be willing to forgive and to accept forgiveness. Also, being honest and compassionate with ourselves and others can be a huge challenge requiring time, courage, and humility. Rummaging around in old thoughts and feelings can hurt, really hurt until we finally let go of them.

But we can do it!

I admit to having a leaky heart, but it’s healing. Honesty and compassion are working for me. What about you? Would you like to give honesty and compassion a try?

I would love to hear from you.

Oh, Oh, Time For The "Miracle Breath!"

How many times a day do you need to take a deep breath to buy some time or clear your head and refocus? When you need to refocus, give the “Miracle Breath” a try.  This simple little breathing exercise can help you get out of the parts of your brain that control fear and desire and get you back into your frontal cortex. Frontal cortex? What’s that? That’s the part of your brain that helps you think clearly and plan ahead. It’s right there behind the bones of your forehead. 

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