Who are you? If given the opportunity to introduce yourself, what would you say?

I was given this opportunity and was asked to introduce myself a few weeks ago. As I pondered upon what to say, nothing felt right or suited me in my current situation. I guess it boils down to “what do I want people to know about me?” Well, realizing that all of my labels are just that, labels that can easily fall away in a moments notice, I felt like I wanted to get right to the core of who I am.

This is what I said, “I could tell you any number of things about myself, but none of them define me. In all truthfulness, I am a child of God, part of the Divine, and I am constantly seeking further light and have an intense desire to share the light I do have”.

Luckily the woman I was being introduced to is a seasoned yoga instructor and knew exactly what I was talking about. Had I said this to anyone else they may have thought I was high.

In the past few years, as a good majority of my labels have been stripped away, I have asked myself this question over and over. Thankfully, I am finally learning who I am.

Because of the situation one of my sons is in, having had to battle cancer for the past four years, I find myself trying to walk in his shoes often, in an attempt to help him through this very difficult journey he walks in such a graceful manner.

One of my greatest gifts, but also my greatest curses, is my compassion. I have a great deal of compassion for people, especially those I love. I tend to be provided with experiences that allow me glimpses into their situation and offer me the ability to stay present with them and hold space in an understanding way. However, because of my compassion for my dear son, I find myself in a state of suffering A LOT. If only there were a way for me to take this cancer from him… I would have done it so long ago.

The goal for me of late has been to internalize the reality that cancer does not define me. I am not cancer. My family is not cancer. My son is not cancer. My desire of late has been to understand how to help him understand this. It is difficult to do because of all the reminders. For instance, I cannot tell you how frequently strangers come up to us with a loving smile on their face and say, “you don’t know me but I follow your blog/facebook page, keep up the great work”. Or when you find yourself scheduling a dream trip to Hawaii because some dear friends, who were initially strangers, have offered to send your family on a trip to create memories because they are so generous and realize the situation your family is in. While these are HUGE blessings, they are also stark reminders of the fact that we are living everyone else’s worst nightmare, and so to find the courage and ability to step back from myself and be an observer of thoughts, experiences, and labels, and keep proper perspective that I, Jackie, at the core of my being (my spirit… my soul) am NOT cancer, is difficult to say the least.

I am observing cancer and if I can have the courage to stay present and allow all of the negative energy to pass through me, I can have peace in this moment.

Our minds are hoarders, they are! They would like us to believe that somehow by understanding and fixing the past or by worrying about the future we can bottle up and hold onto peace to ration out as needed. THAT IS FALSE. Peace can only be had in THIS moment, and then when you get to the next moment, you can have peace there as well. Peace cannot be found or given, it cannot be saved or borrowed. Peace is something that comes from staying present in this moment…. And I’ll let you in on another little secret I’m learning… Peace only comes from a source of light and the greatest source of light is the sun, right? Wrong! Close! It is the Son, the Son of God. Is it a coincidence that sun and Son are pronounced the same? Is it any coincidence that they both represent light? Not only do they represent light, they are such an enormous source of light that in their presence no darkness can exist.

The more I’ve studied “yoga” or mindfulness, the stronger my testimony of Christ’s gospel has become. There are so many helpful intellectual windows in yoga philosophy that it has become a bridge to help me better understand many of the principles of the gospel I used to struggle to make sense of. For example, in yoga, when I hear “let it go”, my mind immediately translates that into “give it to the Savior”.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to practice, (because that’s what life is, a continual practice) these tools of “staying present” and “letting it go” as I not-so-patiently waited for the results of yet another scan of my son’s lungs. Riley has been told that unless there is a miracle the cancer will return to his lungs and so, as you can imagine, each scan offers the perfect opportunity to practice these skills. UGH! I am so far from perfect at practicing what I know, but I am so very grateful that I have these tools. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of who I really am, a child of God, that each day is a gift, that the present is a present, that the Savior loves me, and that He is eager to take my burdens from me if I will just let them go.

The scans provided good news! There is no new cancer and the damage from the radiation was a bit improved. Thank you Heavenly Father, for yet another blessing.

It is very hard to Embrace Adversity isn’t it? In my mind, here are my options…. I can let adversity destroy me, OR, I can embrace adversity and use it (and abuse it if I’m in a fighting mood) to stretch, strengthen and enlighten me. I can let adversity win, or I can kick it’s ass.

Who am I? I am a child of God who came to this earth to learn, experience and grow and the best way I have found to accomplish that thus far is to Embrace Adversity.