Overcoming all Obstacles

We all have a back story.  It's why we say what we say and do what we do.  It's the foundation on which our lives are constructed. Some of the foundation is constructed on sand, others on mud, and yet others on the rockiest of terrain.

When we invite a person into our lives, we rarely reveal the foundation. We never delve into our pasts and our conversations hover somewhere around weather, movies, and other trivial topics.  I'm quite good at this, and this is what hit me when I sat in church this last Sunday, listening to the pastor talk about people's "back stories" and how they impact every single moment of our lives, behaviors, and actions. 

Although I've shared my "back story" with the world, cancer's ravaging effects cripple me, almost as if there's termites trying to gnaw at the timber house that stands upon it. It leads me to doubt myself, my thoughts, actions, and decisions.

As many of you know, I went back to work a couple of weeks ago. I started back working part time, ten days a month, but often I have to give myself mental pep-talks in order to build up the willpower and confidence to achieve the smallest of goals. Over the last few weeks, I've pulled endless data on one hundred of our failing students, categorized them according to their academic and social needs, trying to piece together their own back-stories in order to help them succeed. 

I pulled twenty out  of their clasees this week, set up a picnic blanket underneath the trees, and sat down with them to discuss their strengths and weaknesses. 

"Why us, Ms?" They asked. 

"Because I believe that you can achieve anything you set your mind to," I said. 

"How do you know? You don't even know us!" One would inadvertently ask. 

My response, "Looking at the data, I know that you have met, if not exceeded the yearly English Language Arts assessment, however your Grade Point Average is below a 2.0 which leads me to believe that there is something holding you back. The data doesn't add up and I know for certain that if you can pass a five hour test and show grade level mastery, then you can bring up your GPA without any problems." 

I had to open up and share my back-story, my December diagnosis, my battle with cancer, the difficult months when I wasn't at work, and each time I shared, the termites began to gnaw on my resolve, "Yeah, lie to them, tell them that they can achieve anything if they put their mind to it, as if you have control over anything, as if you could really beat cancer. The truth is, you haven't beat cancer. Maybe the smoke and mirrors your wielding will work, but you are terrified silly that it's in you, growing and it's just a matter of time before you crumble." 

I tried not to give too much credence to these fears for I am a firm believer that mindset can impact health, that a positive attitude can shape one's fate. Yesterday I received an e-mail from my oncologist with the affirmation I needed to confront the doubt mongrels in my brain.  Her message said: "There is no evidence of cancer in your CT scan." 

Tears filled my eyes as I called my mother, my mother-in-law, and messaged the "8 Faces" that carried me through the darkness for without them the doubt would have crippled my foundation and left me in a heap of rubble. The affirmation filled me with hope and gave me the strength with which I will face my students next week when telling them that "in spite of my back-story, I can overcome all obstacles, as can they!" 

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Till next week, go live, thrive, have fun and do great things!


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