Who am I?

I’ve been thinking lately how strange it is––being here and then being gone. My Mom and Dad passed years ago and so many of their things, knickknacks and valuables, have been sold or lost. Sure some were kept by their siblings but so many things that made up their lives just vanished. Poof.

Of course my folk’s legacy hasn’t. The effects of their lives on each of my family members lingers on. That’s important. I even wrote a post about the importance of legacy.

Still, I find it strange how we can be living a full life with all our possessions and then one day it’s no more.

Do you ever wonder what it is that makes us us? Where do our thoughts come from? What about right now? I’m writing as the thoughts of what I want to say pop up in my brain and fall onto the screen. Are these thoughts, these words, just the result of electrochemical impulses jumping across synapses? Are we nothing more than billions of neurotransmitters sloshing around in grey matter?

Or is there something more? It seems to me that if thoughts are merely generated through reactions within our brain than those thoughts should be random and chaotic. But they aren’t. Where does our logic, love, hate, fear, courage, lust, philosophy, mathematics, art come from? When we choose whom to love or even just our favorite color what is directing those choices? How can electrochemistry alone explain that?

Our thoughts are organized to make us unique individuals. Who’s doing that organizing? Who is creating order from the chaos?

Yes, we are physical beings. But physics can’t explain the origin of thought. It only explains how our brain, our command center if you will, moves those thoughts to nerve fibers in our muscles. I decide to hit the “J” key and that thought is processed amongst neurons in my brain which stimulates muscles in my index finger to press down on just the right place on this keyboard.

Is there something more? If I say it is “me” who decided to hit that key than where is that “me”? Is there a part of me that exists apart from this physical body? If I were to keel over right now all those electrochemical impulses would stop but what about the source that guided them?

I guess I’m asking if we have a soul. I really don’t know.

I’ll have to think about that.

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Letting go is not easy. There are people in my past I’ve had to release. They were too toxic for me (and, who knows, they may see me as too toxic for them).

I can’t give any more details but suffice to say we are no longer on speaking terms. I wish it was different but it is what it is. I’ve tried to open the door to settle the issues between us and repair the relationship but they’ve bolted it shut.

With Leuk in my life I can’t afford any more negative stress. So I’m letting go. My life with my wife, kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids is wonderful. I’ve chosen good friends too. That is everything I need.

I tell you, finally letting go of past issues and embracing the blessings of the present has made so much difference. It’s actually made me feel stronger, happier, and healthier.

Do you have a stressful situation that is beyond your control? Are you still ruminating over struggles of your past. Drop it. Drop it all and move on with those who love and support you. You know the old saying “life is too short?” Well, if you have leukemia that phrase rings a lot truer for you than it does of others.

It is important, very important, to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. But I believe it is even more important to get as much of the negative stress out of your life as possible.

So I hope you will join me in my quest for peace. I recently wrote down all my regrets and worries. It took up a lot of note paper! I read through them, recognizing that they are from the past and don’t need to linger in my mind any longer. Than I burned them. I actually went outside and burned all the notes, all the troubles, in our bonfire pit.

Whew. Letting go was a challenge but the payoff has been great. I hope it will be for you too.

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Yesterday I managed to locate a step-brother I’d never met. I spoke to him and his wife for a long time on the phone. They have a photo of my birth father. Since I have no memory of what my father looked like (I was 3 when he divorced my mother) the photo will mean a lot to me.

It turns out I actually have two step-brothers, a third has passed away. I hope to meet with them very soon. I found them when I looked up my father’s grave memorial on www.findagrave.com. The family from my father’s second marriage was listed there. It took a bit of internet searching to find my step-brother’s phone number but I finally did.

I’ve often written on this blog of the importance of family. Now I get to extend that family. Wow. I never thought that could happen. I’ve always had a hole in my heart not having known my birth father. I hope to meet with them and get to know my father through the eyes of his step-son.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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I’ve kind of been in neutral lately; doing more thinking than writing. I know I am so blessed to be at the early stages of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. I still don’t have to do chemo, my white blood cell numbers, though much higher than they would be for a healthy person, are keeping at a relatively steady level and not climbing. So in that sense I am doing well. (See “Score Card” link.)

Yet, I feel more tired than usual. You might say my get-up-and-go got-up-and-went. But today I’m back at the keyboard.

Leuk is a strange bed fellow. I don’t always feel his presence but he is always there just waiting for me to acknowledge him. He’s been in my thoughts more than usual lately. It’s strange contemplating your own demise. Of course, being that I’m 65 years old I suppose I would be doing that even if I didn’t have leukemia. I’m not really afraid, just a bit frustrated that I have CLL.

There’s a window to my right filled with sunshine and the greens of summer. It is a reminder that Leuk hasn’t beaten me and my life is meant to be enjoyed. I have a wonderful wife and family. There is so much to be grateful for.

It is good to focus on what we’ve been given instead of what’s been taken away. I’ve gained so much more than I’ve lost. This life of mine has been very good and there are still more blessings to come.

I hope all of you, especially those who are struggling in your battle against leukemia, can see the summer sunshine outside your window and know that you are alive and every moment you have with your family and friends is a special gift.

Please hang on to that. Leuk only wins if we give up. Even if the day comes that we face our own death, Leuk isn’t the winner if we’ve lived our lives to the fullest. We don’t have to finish that “Bucket List” to have had a successful full life. We only need to have received and given love.

I don’t really think it’s what you’ve done that matters so much. I think it’s more important who you are. Don’t ever let Leuk take that away from you.

Godspeed to all of you.

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I worked out in the gym last Friday. I’m lucky that my leukemia still lets me do that. Admittedly I didn’t put in as much time as I might otherwise have. I’m probably not going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger anytime soon, but it was a good workout.

I did some time on the machines, then some free weights, and finally the treadmill. It felt good to get back to an exercise routine.

I’m trying to keep in mind that there is still a lot I can do besides sitting on my butt watching NetFlix. (Well, I still do that but only after I’ve done something healthy!)

I think it’s possible to live life with Leuk more positively if we can keep our minds and our bodies active. For me, keeping my body moving helps my attitude remain positive. The last several weeks I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I managed to drive my wife to work and keep the house clean but, with a few exceptions, the rest of the day was not very productive. I felt tired and very unmotivated.

I can’t tell you that all your days will be sunshine and rainbows. Many of you know that even better than I do. The important thing is that we find ways to pull ourselves out of dark moments that sometimes beset us. Leuk has moved in. He’s is a part of our lives now. That doesn’t mean we just give up.

Some of you cannot go to the gym. Some, I’m sorry to say, have to live a less active life because he is making you just too tired. If this is you please do not feel guilty about not being able to be more active or able to help out around the house. Do what you can. Once you start doing whatever you are able to you will be surprised at how it improves your look on life.

Leuk is an S.O.B. No doubt about that. He may have a hold on our bodies, but not our minds. We are in control of our thoughts.

So, for now, I’m thinking life is pretty good.

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