Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Half Full or Half Empty?

A glass sits on a table half-filled with water. Is it half full or half empty? If I've learned anything, I've learned that the only way to decide which end brings the most potential, is by accepting what is going on in your life and then making a decision to move forward in the midst of life's trials.

This is something I dealt with last week when my FIL underwent quadruple bypass. The odds were against him from the very beginning. Fate had already seen him undergo quadruple bypass a year ago, and with favorable outcome. What the doctors did not know before going in this time, however, was that the repaired areas of my FIL's heart had rapidly declined. So as the doctor's performed surgery to repair those same four arteries, they also struggled to repair a Mitral Valve that they had decided against replacing last year. Added to that procedure, my FIL's Tricuspid Valve needed a tweak. And so, as the doctors worked diligently on these risky tasks, a 5-6 hour surgery ended up taking 11-12 hours.

My FIL wasn't expected to live through the night, but he did. He'd beaten the odds before, surviving a boulder to the chest, kicks by bulls, and a front end collision with a tracker-trailer on ice. The family knew he could do it! We all prayed for healing. Friends prayed for it. And through it all, the man I knew for 31 years fought like a fighter unwilling to throw in the towel against a more talented foe. As our visits were minimal in the SICU, each one of us applauded his stubborn streak, willed him to fight yet again. He tried. He assured us he heard our voices. But his body grew weaker and by day two, his kidneys had failed. The third morning, his liver function declined and jaundice set in. As LTC and I rushed to the hospital, we received the unwelcome call that my FIL's struggle had ended.

Is our glass half empty or half full? As I sit and look at my glass, I am filled with peace. You see, the doctors said without surgery, my FIL wouldn't have lasted more than 4-6 months. With the surgery, at least he'd had a chance. Courageous and brave, he took that chance, hoping it would give him more time.

How many times do you take a chance, oftentimes knowing the outcome of your decisions might not measure up to what you'd originally planned? As a writer I take that chance every day I sit at my computer, taking dication from the muse. I don't know how the book will turn out in the end, though I know it will come to happy fruition. I have no idea if it will gain an agent or editor's attention while writing it or if it will sell, but I write. I challenge myself, knowing that unpublished writers can wait hours, months, even years, surviving rejection after rejection before realizing success. Still, there is that chance that I can do it. If I learned one thing last week, I learned that I need to be more diligent on taking a chance and I need to better prioritize my time.

My glass is half full. I choose to believe it. My FIL based his decision to have surgery upon that very concept. No matter the outcome, how can I, given the opportunity, deny myself the chance to achieve my goals of becoming a published writer? How can you deny yourself any goal you strive for? Life is a gamble but if you play the cards right, your glass will overflow.

Thanks to the voices of members of my local writing chapter and especially my blog sisters here, I push on. What helps you push on?


  1. I always look at the glass as being half full. I am competitive by nature and I refuse to give up. What pushes me on is me. My other idiosyncrasy which pushes me along is the need to understand everything and everyone. I want to know the reasons people act as they do and what motivates them. Good or bad, I need to know. I am optimistic that each understanding of others makes me closer to understanding my own purpose in this world. That keeps me optimistic, even in the face of people who disappoint me.

    It sounds to me like you FIL was a very strong, very determined man who loved life and his family. He refused to give up and take the easier road which held less promise. The harder road, the one he took when he chose the surgery, is the road less travelled because it is the harder road. He saw his glass as half full because he wanted to be with his family and this was his chance to do that. I admire him for his choice. He sounds like he was someone I would have loved to meet. He sounds like a wonderful man. You and your family are in my prayers.

  2. Like you supportive friends who are always there are what helps me push on when I feel like I just can't go one more step!

    Hang in there!

  3. I applaud your FIL for the outlook prompting his decision to go ahead with the surgery. Courage is required to forge ahead in situations such as that, and he summoned that courage.

    I am a glass-is-half-full kind of girl. However, when I find myself in the shadowlands, mired in doubt and uncertainty, supportive friends and family are there to boost my strength and courage. With their help, I find secure footing.

    You and your family remain in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. There have been tough times this week, haven't there?

    I do my best to be positive. I believe that every day, we make a decision about whether to be positive or not. I admit sometimes being a cheerleader is exhausting. "Ready, Okay! It was probably better that the yard man hit my window with at rock! I like the people at North Alabama Glass and it gave me a chance to talk to them. Also, I like to support local business and this just gave me the best opportunity."

    Sometimes get on even my own nerves.

  5. Cheryl, I agree that understanding motivations can help us come to terms with events around us. Though we may not agree with what occurs, we can process things a bit easier.

    My FIL was a hard man, born of coal mine parents. His father was a preacher and his mother carried a loaded gun in her purse. He was a real character and loved to push my buttons whenever a debate rose at the table. I'll miss him. ;)

  6. Stephanie, friends are the best gift anyone can have and I'm so thankful for the ones I have in my life. Glass full!

  7. Thanks for your prayers, Crystal. I've felt them all along. ;)

    My FIL was a strong man, one bent on doing things his way. I think about his courage and chastize myself for not taking greater risk with some things in my life. Better to go all the way than to wish that you had later on. Right?

  8. Oh, Jean! You surprise me in fantastic ways!

    First, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss this past week. We've been through it, haven't we? My prayers and thoughts have rested upon you during this time.

    One thing I recognized during my FIL's visitation and funeral... good ol' southern hospitality. The kind that comes in the way of food, friendship, gifts of flowers and plants, cards, phone calls, in the presence of family and friends (some you haven't seen in years and years) and those who worked with the deceased, who want the family to know how the departed blessed their lives. There is nothing better to be found.

    Many times this past week, I counted myself doubly blessed to be living in the south. And I thought of you, Stephanie and Cheryl, our lists and the blog you did, Jean, about funerals. The remembrance brought a smile to my face.

    Comfort in the presence of a glass half full. Nothing could be finer.