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Lesson Learned

By: Patty Murray, Chairwoman and Co-founder of Hope for Two…The Pregnant with Cancer Network

Patty Murray

Since I was a scout for eight years, the Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” is woven into the fabric of my life.  I know I’m not alone. Preparing for the next event, presentation, school year, etc. is what we all do every season, every day.  However, sometimes things occur that deviate from “the plan.”  Those deviations would throw me off and I would desperately try to get back on track.  But I learned I had to adapt.  Truly, I should have learned that lesson 16 years ago when I was happily moving along with my third pregnancy and was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  I still wanted to do all of my usual tasks.  My husband would reel me in and say that the world won’t fall apart and the kids won’t get sick if some things don’t get done.  They could even eat boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner and survive – imagine that!  I experienced the lesson, lived the lesson, but never learned it until just recently.  I guess I’m a slow learner.

The “Ah ha” moment came at the end of spring 2011. March 21st is the first day of spring, but in Buffalo, New York it didn’t feel it until the end of April.  We experienced “winter” for 6 months (the first flakes arrived October 15th and departed April 27th).  As an avid gardener, I so look forward to the advent of spring, turning over the soil, pruning perennials, adding compost and manure to the beds, weeding, and leveling the soil.  But we couldn’t even start before the end of April.  My parents just came home from vacationing in Florida on April 30th and raved about the bulbs in bloom, the blue sky, and brilliant sunshine.  But I could not see it.  All I could think about was what needed to be done before planting.  I had 30 short days to prepare while still running my house, this organization, and everything else in between – the daily treks to pick up my children from after school activities, weekly track meets, end of the year Music concerts, being present for the events surrounding a graduating High School son (prom, prom party at our house, baccalaureate mass, graduation ceremony, etc).  And just for kicks, add in mother’s day, your husband’s birthday, and a family member having “issues.”  It seemed all so overwhelming, almost suffocating.

What happened was as follows.  My mom and I made our way to our favorite nursery and picked out many flats of flowers.  Then, in between the never ending rain, my husband and I squeezed out time and rushed through the whole process.  Many weeds were overlooked; ground was overturned but not perfectly leveled.  We had everything planted before June 1st.  The result, a “very beautiful garden this summer” (so say the neighbors).  The downside – several of my sunflowers drown due to too much rain and inadequate leveling, more weeds, and not enough color blending; but only I noticed.

Lesson finally learned. “It all” doesn’t have to be done.  Do what you can and let go of the rest. Maybe some of it wasn’t necessary after all.  Sometimes, focusing on the preparation actually gets in the way of living.  I learned to flow with all the other players and events instead of viewing them as obstacles “blocking” my plan.  They are part of life.  Actually, the “issues”, the tears, the laughter, birthday and other celebrations ended up being the exclamation points during that month of May 2011.  Now I leave room in the plans for unexpected elements, knowing that they will show up and embrace them when they do.  In the end it isn’t about how much we’ve accomplished, but how many people we’ve touched along the way.  Until next time, I wish you and your family peace. ✿