Category Archives: positive thinking

5 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Looking Backward

A year ago this time, I was in a very different place.medium_407591133

I was secondary caregiver to my mother whose Alzheimer’s disease was progressing more rapidly than any of us had expected, and certainly had hoped.

I was primary relief for my father who was shouldering the brunt of the daily exhaustion, frustration and heart-ache of living with a loved-one with Alzheimer’s.

I was living in the suburbs, trying to maintain an aging house and yard.

I was working hard to grow my business while also working part-time in a career path I had no interest in, but it paid some bills.

And I was trying to balance my own family life and all that entails on a daily basis.

I was stressed, I was tired – ok, exhausted.

Mostly I felt alone. My mom, the one I knew at least, my compass, my champion, my sounding board, my support, my friend had left me.

Flash-forward one year and all that has changed.

My mother seems content and is physically healthy in a nursing home surrounded by angels who attend to her daily and nightly needs; the stress and constant worry lifted from our weary shoulders.

Don’t get me wrong – we still worry – but we know she is safe and well cared-for. And what more can we ask for her, knowing that we could not provide the same level of care ourselves.

I  have moved to the city and down-sized to an apartment. I don’t miss my house or my excess possessions. In fact, I am still donating things weekly, anxious to pare down to just the essentials (and a wee bit more – it is nice to have a few luxuries, but only if I have space to store them!)

I am walking to shops instead of driving everywhere.

I am living close to theatres and our world-renowned symphony and film festival planning evenings out instead of in being numbed by the television.

And I am gearing my business toward a path that I know will be fulfilling.

So here are the 5 lessons I’ve learned over this past year that you can use too:

1. Ask For Help.
Try as we might, we could not provide for my mother as we wanted to and especially as she needed. We called on in-home care until that option was exhausted. When the phone rang and my dad asked me to come over to help him, I ran, because I knew if he was asking, he was reaching a breaking point. (Asking for help is not something that comes easily in our family.)

medium_2234720298But if we hadn’t asked for help, we may not have received it, and who knows where we’d be today.

Maybe my mom would still be in a nursing home, but not with the timing she and we required and I shudder to think of the many scenarios that could have unfolded if we had soldiered on, trying to manage by ourselves.

2. Accept Help.
Sounds obvious that if you ‘ask for help’ you naturally ‘accept help’, but they really are two separate things.

As hard as asking for help is – and if you are not used to asking, believe me, it is hard, very hard – sometimes accepting help is equally or more difficult, especially when it is offered unsolicited.

Often our friends, family and colleagues recognize well before we do that we are struggling and could use a hand.

When help is offered, step back and pause and try to stifle your pride.

Ignore the “I can do it”, “I’m fine” “I’m managing” voice that so many of us listen to.

medium_3445776069Take a deep breath, recognize the gift you are being offered and say, “Thank you so much for caring. Yes, I really could use your help”.

Even if you only allow them to do something small or easy, it is one less thing for you to worry about.  Then accepting help the next time it’s offered may be just a tiny bit easier for you. 

3. Surrender
There are some things that are simply out of our control. So surrender to them instead of fighting against them, wishing and hoping that things were different.

Accept that this is the way it is.

We could not stop, halt or reverse my mother’s disease progression no matter how much we wished we could. We had to surrender ourselves to the facts and do what was best for her, taking ourselves out of the equation.

We can only control our own actions so we acted in her best interests.

Surrender can bring grief. Let yourself grieve. You’ve been fighting the no-win battle.

Surrender. Release. Breathe. Accept. And move on from this new place.

It is from this place that I realize my sisters and I are providing the same for my mother that she for so many years provided for us. We are now her compass, her champion, her advocate, her support, her friends – and we’re good at it since we had the best teacher.

4. Look forward
Funny  that ‘looking forward’ appears on a list of lessons learned by looking backward, but I learned that by looking forward and envisioning a different possibility for myself, my life is now following a new trajectory – one that feels supportive and right for me. 

image012If all we did was look backward, we’d only see where we’ve been and have no idea what possibilities await. Some might call that ‘living on the edge’ or ‘living spontaneously’. I don’t.

Living life through the rear-view mirror harbors regrets.

You look at opportunities passed-by. Forks in the road you could have traversed. I don’t want to live with regrets.

Looking forward allows for planning and intention. For me, those are two crucial components in achieving my goals.

And I know that the future means I will have to say goodbye to my mother once again. (I think having to say goodbye twice is the hardest part for the family of Alzheimer’s sufferers.) But until then, she is still a part of our lives and we love her just as much. Passing on is a fact of life for us all. I shall be grateful for the time we’ve had but continue to look forward to other happiness ahead – she would want that.

5. See how far you’ve come.
Contradictory to #4, looking backward can be extremely helpful IF you don’t live there. 

Periodically turn around and see where you were six months ago, or a year ago, of five years ago.

medium_1431384410Examine the lessons you’ve learned.

Celebrate your achievements.

Recognize your champions – even drop them a card of thanks.

Be grateful for the help you accepted along the way.

Then turn around and set your course for the future.

Yes, a lot has changed for me over the past year but what has remained consistent is my positive outlook.

I have realized that positivity isn’t a character trait.

Positivity is a choice.

I choose to look on the bright-side.
I choose to find the good in people.
I choose to look forward more than back.

And when I do look back, I look for the lessons I’ve learned and the distance I’ve travelled.

Change brings momentum.

Training wheels off, I'm goin' all out!

Training wheels off, I’m goin’ all out!

That is why I’m excited to announce that in the next day or two (technical challenges considered), the name of this blog will be changing.

I hope you come back to see where I’m taking it.

Because with you, the journey is much more fun.

Hop on!

Enjoy the ride!
Let’s see where we end up!

What lessons have you learned over the past year?
Share them below.

Photo credits: Photopin
calendar photo:
dog photo:
white flags:
boat wake: Alberto Mateo, The Last Footprint e: w: –
boy with magnifying glass:
bike rider: my dad – thankfully no photo of me crashing into a parked car moments later. He didn’t tell me how to stop! That was the next lesson. 😉

Climate Change & Extreme Weather – The Conclusive Connection.

Some camps are still trying to debunk the connection between Climate Change, a.k.a. Global Warming, and the extreme weather events that are occurring with increased frequency and intensity across the globe.

While storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and droughts engulf, destroy, and devastate cities, towns and villages, the discussion continues.

“Can we prove that climate change and these recent severe weather events are related?”

REALLY?  {Hand-to-forehead} AAHHHH!!!

Eminent scientist and environmentalist (and I’m proud to say Canadian),
Dr. David Suzuki, explains the undeniable link.

The question now should be:

“What can we do to HALT this process?”  

Do you believe there is a connection between climate change/global warming and extreme weather events?”
Leave your comments below.

David Suzuki Foundation website:
Video credit:

Welcome to the Bright-Side! A blog celebrating the good in humanity, inspiring quotes and life observances.

For years I’ve been wrestling Pollyanna – struggling to stay positive in a world of negativity, trying to shield my children and myself from a bombardment of negative news and media images only to feel like it was a loosing battle – one against the masses – but that’s life. What can you do? Well, this…

I, for one, am going to turn negatives into positives, stop wrestling with my inner Pollyanna and let her shine and begin to refocus on the good in life.

As a child, like most I suppose, I was overwhelmingly positive – the quintessential Pollyanna, always looking on the bright side of life.  If I fell and scraped my knee (which I did with remarkable frequency), I thought, “Well, it could have been worse, I could have scraped my nose too.”

But as I matured and the many things I hoped would happen, didn’t; the many things I imagined would happen, didn’t; the many things I expected to happen, didn’t; my Pollyanna braids unfurled and disappointment transformed them into a tight pony-tail of conformity or neatly constructed bun a-top my head while a that’s-life-what-did-you-expect attitude took shape.

As much as I have tried to suppress it, a Pollyanna-ness still flickers inside me, the warm embers of which help me to maintain an overall positive attitude, believing that things happen for a reason and there is a lesson to be learned from it all but from the vantage point of age (or what some might argue as ‘wisdom’), I wonder why I’ve accepted that adage.

Sure things happen but the reason might be because of my attitude toward it so just because it happened, do I need to accept it?

  By changing my outlook, perhaps disappointment could turn into gratitude.

So I haven’t travelled to Italy, nor do I have the money to do so in the near future.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t get there at some point.  Instead I should be grateful that I can afford to put a roof over my head and can make spaghetti whenever I want. Italy is something I have to look forward to, and what is life without dreams?

Am I the only one out there yearning for the bright-side in life?

According to one recent listing of the top ten tourist attractions in the world, Disney theme parks took two of the top spots with a third at number eleven.  Are we so discontented with reality that a combined 32,952,000 of us annually spend our hard-earned tax dollars to live a week in a fantasy world rather than in the world we created?

Perhaps it’s time to change our perspective.

Join in my observations as I share my findings — things I see around me to celebrate, the good in humanity, the quirky, things that make me smile or things that I’m pondering in my quest for what’s good out there — and send me some of your own ‘brighter-side of life’ observances for as that originator of all things zen said:

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Buddha

  Let’s focus on the good in the world. Fasten your pig-tails Buddha, this is going to be fun!


*   *   *   *   *   *

Any links associated with blog posts are for your reference only.  I am simply sharing my brighter-side-of-life findings and receive no compensation for such recommendations.

I’m spreading the positive, people. What you put out, you get back. Please keep all comments to a positive tone.  Negative comments will not be posted.  

*   *   *   *   *   *

photo credits: Carolin Grandin
© Carolin Grandin 2012