Sunday, February 26, 2017

Going Back To Chemo

I'm not cool like LL Cool J... but I ALWAYS laugh at myself

So... I'm not happy about this - Cancer is a jerk and I have to go back to chemotherapy treatments if I want to stay alive. Hopefully the treatments will do that but there are no guarantees. 

I love music.
When I think about having to go back to chemo, I can't help my inner 1980's child from rapping (badly) to LL Cool J's famous Going Back To Cali

If you want to know the truth, this is a VERY serious life-threatening situation (obviously). Silly me wrote my own lyrics to the song and I even recorded myself rapping... AND uploaded it to YouTube. Apparently, it's a huge embarressment to basically my whole immediate family so.... my lyrics - black on white - will have to suffice. (Personally, I thought my video was really funny however it was nixed by my dear husband and my teenaged daughters). 

Laughing about chemotherapy and cancer wasn't amusing to my family and I respect their feelings. I already cried my eyes out and got up from the endless pit of... mud. I want to have some fun and, as the girl with cancer, EVERYONE has to forgive me for making fun of cancer and chemotherapy.

I HATE YOU CANCER!

Going Back To Chemo (WARNING: if you click on this link you'll either laugh or cringe... LoL)
(With apologies to LL Cool J and songwriter Major Bill Smith)


I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo hmm, I don't think so
I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo I don't think so

Going back to Chemo, sighing, beguiling 
Growling, and crying, while in the lounge 
The mood is down, on the ward Cancer
And it's sly, cuz it's growing in A-E's
Liver reeking deal, pushed out, old-beef dammit stop!
and 5 kids waiting....

Doom burdens growing, 'da groan, it's whining 
Bringing all the scars on the way
Constant on ice thinned, smack feels grim
Stop I'm-a upset and whoosh hey!

I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo, yea y'all, I don't think so
I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo

I'm going back to Chemo, aching 'en, praying 'en
Tyin' me in knots they never before flung
the chase, I'm upset it's a gyp
Beat the disease old, and the hurls still drip

The uncured grip, but this girl kept dancing
Pleading, grasping, grueling, resisting 
Din't ask fer it so darn, so we should'n quit to pray
Don't want to do this: brutal, but I still want to stay

I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo - no man I don't think so
I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo

I'm going back to Chemo, clawing, bloodsucking 
Surprising, realizing, pleas eating me up
Er Almighty - bawl; deals - stall
I said, I liked, the ocean
He bode me to preach, "Save me!" I screech 
Capsuled in doubt - outran burden
How I thought, "That was fast," but this whirl was faster
Freeze! Bearing gore -  withstood the climb
I said, "Woes; more cries, I gotta disguise,"
and I ran away with a chuckle of mine....

I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo, I don't think so
I'm going back to Chemo, Chemo, Chemo
I'm going back to Chemo, I don't think so....


video


Monday, February 6, 2017

Blowing It All Away



I've encountered too many dark tunnels on Facebook and social media. I've tripped and fallen victim to the trap of disrespectful dialogues and personal attacks. Keyboards have become weapons of human destruction. How painful it is to witness and endure what lurks from behind infinite screens?! Flippant meanness, grudges, jealousy, and bile inflict misery on friends and strangers alike. Constant tug-of-war inevitably leads us down dark and lonely tunnels with no light on the horizon. 
People are terrified of death but I believe that more and more people have developed a fear of living. You can't cure your pain or fear unless you’re willing to live through it. Happiness is an accomplishment especially in challenging times. Instant information, literally at the tips of our fingers, are both a curse and a blessing. In the end, what really matters? Have you ever hushed a child or ignored a person, who is right in front of you, in order to attend to a glass screen? As of 2017 - who hasn't?
We hunger for acceptance, forgiveness, love, and kindness. It's become permissible to starve the people we encounter, in reality, from our attention because it has also become normal to live behind screens: iPhones, Androids, and their competitors gave birth to a real-life Zombie Apocalypse. The security that inner bliss creates can only be accomplished with acceptance that the ONLY thing you can fully control is yourself and YOUR reactions to what happens around you - in real life and online, whether you're being watched or not. Loneliness and depression are epidemic and I'm not surprised if it intensifies incrementally according to how much time is spent on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Every new day we can choose to rise from the darkness of the previous night and create light. Living is the greatest opportunity to waste! It's a choice to respond with compassion instead of anger, acceptance rather than judgment, and love over hate. Silent observance (not commenting with sarcasm and insults) is usually the kindest and most appropriate response to things we disagree with in person AND even more so on social media. It's sad to see how many enemy-ships have resulted from refusal to reconcile with differences in opinion while embracing the newly acceptable practices of "unfriending" and "blocking" people from our lives. The ultimate displays of primitive intollerance are now inaugurated via the most developed modern technology.

The baseless hatred and anger is rampant online and I ask, why not kill it with kindness? To err is human and to err on the side of kindness and being nice can never harm you. As one example of a variety of takes on a human truth states: they may forget what you said - but they will always remember how you made them feel.
I'm not perfect and that drives me to try harder. Every act and intention should be for goodness, for light, for kindness, for happiness, and for love. The rest is a waste of precious time. Life is too short to let it blow away. There are no refunds or exchanges. Time is irreplaceable and social media may be robbing us of of our most precious possession: life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Love, Life, And Death

(I originally posted this 1 year ago, Jan, 6, 2016 for Hevria - edited for Jan. 8, 2017)

“May G‑d console you, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” This is what we say to someone who is sitting Shivah, who has just lost a loved one to the final stage of life. Death has no parallel on earth. So jagged, paralyzing, and final. Death causes such a surging fallout, is considered so terrible and sad in its finality, that the event stands alone in human experience. Death is the winner of all calamities. Death is the last of all events and it may suddenly pounce on us or lead a slow lingering process of illness and suffering that affects entire communities of people.
I have been quoted many times saying, “There’s only one thing I’m sure of and that’s that I’m going to die – we are all going to die.” From the day we’re born until our final breath we’re on a path of slow decay. Death of our human experience is inescapeable. When the process is concluded, the only tragedy is the pain and havoc created in other people’s lives; the survivors left to pick up the pieces, fill the void, and repair the element that once secured the positions of all of the parts relative to each other.
The symbiotic relationships of mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or friend – once balanced now disoriented, tortured, and broken. The agony of the empty seat at the table, the cherished photographs, yearning for lost time, and so many tears. Death takes our souls, and leaves behind debris of catastrophe; a mixture of treasure and grief. Depending on who you were while you lived, you may leave a pale sludge, a cataclysmic residue, yet quite often the death of a person leaves behind a celestial ghost which must be apotheosized and ennobled on many occasions.
An utterly selfish and self-centred reality is where I often find myself; in self imposed solitude and contemplation. Happy and euphoric, manic and ecstatic, the existence of my life in limbo seduces my heart and whispers a quiet love song. Why am I here? To make my soul juicy and fatten my essence for smooth entry and illustrious admission into The World To Come. Death, I fear You not. I yearn for you, dream of you, and welcome you in good time. You are my future and I hope we will share an eternal love until the time of Tchiyat HaMetim: revival or resurrection of the dead; one of the fundamental beliefs of the Jewish Religion.
During the vulnerable journey from the physical to the mystical, the laws and practices for the survivors attempt to comfort the newly departed; unraveling a plethora of seemingly odd rituals meant to respect and comfort the eternal soul and providing a framework and structure of action. We’re commanded to abide by the ceremonial rituals and traditions ordained and protected by the ancient Talmud and Kabbalah. Knowing what to say, how to behave and do are painful dilemmas and anxieties for supporting members of society, community, and the mourners themselves. The mention of death often brings a fidget to wellbeing and apprehension to existence.
Dedication and care is devoted to how to comfort the terminally ill – what to say? What not to say? Obviously every individual has unique needs and desires. I am open and invite discussion and sometimes I overshare. Others are quiet and private. We are all sullen, bitter, and utterly tormented at times. Dying is a complex tangled process encompassing a spectrum of anxiety, exhaustion, hope, relief, and dread. It assails my loved ones with great vengeance. The inevitable yet unknown stages of death fondle me and entice a forbidden macabre dance with mortality that is graceful and lovely, grotesque and twisted.
I’m an observant Jew and all too acquainted with the rituals of handling the deceased. My mother volunteers with Chevra Kadisha: an organization of men and women volunteers who accompany the deceased through ritual preparation for burial and known as a burial society in English. She has assisted in countless ceremonies of Taharah: the ritual cleansing process of washing, grooming, and dressing deceased women.  I know of the dedication required to participate in the Jewish process and steps for caring for a body. The honor and respect of breathless bodies is intended to culminate in celebration of the life of loved ones following the grieving period.
We are not alone. The fundamental rules in Judaism, in death and bereavement, are intended to surround the dying and the mourners with a supportive community. The funeral procession, while a show of respect to the deceased, is in actuality an act of the living for the living. The Hebrew word, levayah, signifies joining and bonding which, in my human understanding is an act of living humans – souls still living in their houses (bodies).
The most intense mourning, hours after death, to the seven-day Shivah immediately after the burial, to the 30-day Shloshim period… the mourning period of a year, reciting Mourners Kaddish, lighting candles, saying special prayers on certain holidays, and visiting the gravesite are physical and spiritual practices meant to comfort the loved ones left behind and are taught and believed to increase the wellbeing of the departed soul’s ascent to The Next Life AKA Heaven.
Throughout the world, there are cities built on volcanos. In an unpredictable flash, the gut of the volcano rumbles like a hungry bear coming out of hibernation. The foundation of entire cities may tremor underfoot and hot lava may spew into the heavens, vaporizing every living being in it’s path leaving tons of dust and volcanic stone. According to National Geographic,  more than one billion people (20 percent of the world’s population) live in volcanic hazard zones. Imagine that. I wonder what inhabitants of volcano cities must feel? Do they live in constant fear? It seems they do not especially after eruptions wipe out their cities and they are not slow to rebuild; in the radius of the same volcano.
We are all going to die. I focus my attention on living not remorse or sadness. I cannot control the worrying though I do try with exercise, healthy eating, bringing some sense of order and routine into my home, and taking various anti-anxiety medications. I’m acutely aware; 24/7 that I don’t have time for reluctance, shame, and complicity. Every moment feels like a potential opportunity for assertiveness, determination, and purpose and when I fall short of utilizing my time – that’s when the romantic whisper of death entices me and infiltrates my prayers. I pity the bodies who cheat their souls from a life with inherent meaning. Without faith, who is responsible for giving life meaning? In lieu of knowing the meaning of life, we must create it. It helps that I have a set of rules and guidelines provided by the holy Torah and I respect that it doesn’t resonate with everyone.
Whether you believe in G-d or a Higher Power (or not) right NOW is a wonderful opportunity in which we may never again have the occasion to create: create relationships and bonds, interact with our loved ones, and embark on projects that will bring goodness to This World. Our only certainty in life is death. When our soul’s homes break down everything else will cease to matter but the state of our spirits. Finally, without choice, the decayed house must be disposed of and the soul must leave.
I rarely attend funerals. I tremble as I fulfil my duty to visit Shivah houses and meet with mourners. I feel the suffering of others, strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, and companions on this earth. I feel a purpose and a calling to ease the suffering of people and it helps me laugh and dance along my Journey. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm comforting the mourners or if they're comforting me. My life has become so entangled with the purgatory of living with cancer and not knowing when the scary Jack is going to spring out of it’s box. I find and create joy and purpose in my life when I’m able to. I believe we can create anything we want and the more passionate you are the greater the creation. I am committed to kindness and hope, but mostly faith that everything is for the good and that I am a tiny yet important part of the Big Picture. I’m here for a reason.
Every hour, around the world, people are leaving their troubles and their ecstasies on earth and their bodies are buried or cremated in any number of religious or secular ceremonies. I wonder what it would be like to grow old? what is old? 70? 80? 90? 100? After a certain point, every step we take in life is as precarious as stepping on trembling ground where the hot molten lava bubbles beneath the volcano cities of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. The ground grows thinner beneath our feet with every step. The love of Life and the fear of Death are harder to grasp, as I walk the path of my Journey. I have no idea about what death is, so I cling to the faith and hope that apart from the pain and suffering of a disease like cancer, and the terrible consequences to others, this earth is only the beginning. I’m here. I will do my best to live, laugh, dance, and run until my last breath. When I go, I envision a wonderful New Beginning. Death may come knocking yet I have a beautiful future to look forward to.
It may seem twisted to have a love affair with death. People are afraid to die and yet I encounter countless people who seem afraid to live. You cannot deal with your pain or with fear unless you’re willing to live through it and I’ve experienced the contractions of giving birth to happiness in the face of agony. You may waste your life and it terrifies me to imagine the possibilities. Nobody chooses a life threatening illness like cancer and losing control is NOTHING like giving up. Happiness comes to those who accept that the only thing they can control is themselves and their reaction to what happens around them. There is no other way than to seek love, joy, and beauty that surrounds us. A life of happiness doesn’t cure sadness, anger, pain or betrayal. True happiness requires acceptance, forgiveness, and faith. There is no beauty without ugliness, no bliss without misery. Only I can decide how long I’ll visit those dark places.
Life is a journey and so is death – they are harmonious and inseparable. I have a choice to make every single day and what an opportunity to waste! I aspire to view the world with compassion not anger, acceptance not judgment, and most of all: love not hate. I'm not always successful. I fall. I fail.
I still have hope and I haven’t given up so when I go, I wish to have the last word. Those closest to me may hold my body in their arms and I hope they will want to cuddle, kiss, and carress me. I trust that Omnipotent Arms will take me and carry me Beyond. I long to climb into them. I long to leave behind lasting memories of love, faith, and joy. I wonder what it would be like if funerals were celebrations of eternal souls set free.... If we all agreed that The Next World is greater than this one, then maybe the custom would actually be to celebrate. We mourn because we, living people, experience tragedy and loss. If we were 100% sure about the glory and wonder that awaits the soul when it leaves This World, Shivah could be a seven day celebration; without tears, without sadness, but humans cannot live that way.
I know nothing. I merely dare to believe that This is only The Beginning… the rest has to be a wonderful mystery and I must force myself to look forward with complete faith.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Beginning Again - Make Light Not War


2016 was a particularly difficult year for many. Personally, it was one of my most challenging years. 

I'm convinced that we're living through a unique period of time. We are witnessing events and new norms in a world that seems to reject goodness. We're experiencing a very dark period where terrorism is expected and even legitimized as justifiable resistance. The new heroic causes are paved by the failures of the perceived downtrodden and "underdogs". Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are murdered in wars driven by religious intolerance and hate and the world has become complacent. What was once honorable expression against evil is now considered unPC and racist. 

The bubble that I live in is small and protected. The scary world is out there and I mostly experience it from behind a screen and in conversations - sometimes encouragingly respectful and sometimes unreasonably uncivil. The new way of communication via Twitter, Snap Chat, Facebook, and options to comment on every article written has opened up an uncensored and unfiltered avenue for a battle of words that can be uglier than your worst nightmare. Personal attacks, hateful, and profane language are no longer taboo. It's deflating to attempt dreaming up sustainable solutions when a peaceful outcome seems insurmountable. 

It takes courage, faith, and indestructable optimism to succeed at letting light shine through the darkest times. It's comforting to know that there are still many people on earth who seek the light and are committed to help spread it to those around us. Every moment of our waking hours, we make choices and it can be very challenging to remember the blessings and the goodness when it feels like the world is crumbling around you. I'm so thankful for the people who make the time in their busy lives  to help others and participate in quiet acts of kindness. Without love, faith, hope, and kindness, there would be no point in living at all.

I cannot imagine a life without faith or belief in God. For me, such a life would be meaningless. Why experience pain and suffering if our whole purpose is to live and die in such a short period of time? If this is all there is... take me now. 

On the Jewish Hebrew calendar, our New Year began over 3 months ago. Having grown up following the Gregorian calender, I'm better acquainted with the 12 months beginning January 1st. 

Welcome 2017. Who will live and who will die? Who will prosper and who will fail? Is our fate predetermined or can we each write a part of the present that will soon become history? Does it matter? I think one step at making the world a better place would be if we all lived as if life was eternal. Holding yourself accountable for every word written or spoken and every act ever actualized - even in the dark. Even if nobody but you saw it happen.

Darkness can be manmade but often it's just part of life. Extinguishing of light is a human weapon stronger than any gun or bomb. Spreading light is a choice. Passing the flame is an act that any of us can do from tiny sparks to enormous flames.

Be light. Spread fire.

Don't risk your eternity by spitting on the flames and causing darkness. 

It's a new year, a new beginning; a gift. Think, rethink, and proceed with caution. 









Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Wasn't A Killer Year


There's been a lot of chatter about how many celebrities have died in 2016. Many of them had lived long lives. Others had notorious and distressing history of drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders. I don't know if 2016 really was a remarkably bad year for celebrities - I'm sure there are statistics out there. Some deaths made me feel sadness more than others. We all die in the end; sometimes naturally and sometimes tragically.

Since I began my journey with cancer in 2012, I've made many new friends and many of them shared the common situation of having cancer. It goes without saying that having cancer greatly increases risk of death.

Not a day goes by without thinking about the friends I've lost. 

2016 took two very special people that I had the blessing of knowing if only for a short time.

One friend was Alan Braverman z"l (of blessed memory).
I was honored to meet both Alan and his wife, Tammy, when they came to hear me speak just over a year ago. Alan and I shared some similarities on our cancer journeys; particularly that we were both very young to get the types of cancer that were each diagnosed with. We both had surprisingly early relapses and ensuing continued on and off treatments right up until the end. More importantly, we shared some of the same life philosophies. Over the past year, I've taken great comfort in having a friend that I could confide in and we shared a dialogue that only young adults with stage four cancer could possibly fully understand. Alan lived life his way and I learned a lot from him. Alan passed away last Friday night, December 23rd, 2016.

In April Alan and I were both invited by Tishkofet-Gisha l'Chaim to a HOPE seminar. We attended along with other cancer patients and survivors. 
Alan z"l

At the HOPE seminar I met Rella in person for the first time. We continued to correspond and support each other, making plans for getogethers which, sadly never happened. Rella Itin z"l (of blessed memory) tragically passed away on August 4th, 2016. 
Rella z"l 

I know that my friends' deaths are not about me. Their deaths left young spouses and families behind including teens, young children, and toddlers. Large extended families and countless friends are also in mourning.

I always say that life is short and precious. I often talk about the purpose of life on this earth and each of us being tiny pixels in the great big picture..... and while I know it's not about me, since I began this often painful yet meaningful journey, my "cancer friends" have come and gone from my life. Though I have friends who had miraculous outcomes, it has become clear to me that friends with advanced stage 4 cancer don't stay earthbound for long. There's no magic formula. No reliable predictions or prophecies. 

I'm not proud of the selfish thoughts that I obviously have. Five years is a milestone statistically for cancer patients. In August I reached 4 years of living with cancer. Some friends never had the opportunity to reach this milestone but many did and are no longer here.

People traditionally like to make New Years Resolutions. Each year of life is an accomplishment for each of us and is certainly felt more intensively by families affected by cancer. Resolutions are about ourselves. How can we be better? How can we make life better for others around us? How will our resolutions and actions leave a positive legacy after our short lives end? How can we bless the memories of the precious souls who passed on to the Next Life?

My New Years Resolution is to live a healthy life - physically and emotionally - and to share my love, faith, hope, and joy with you.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Running With Cancer Not From It (retro post)

Jerusalem Marathon - 2014
The minute you have cancer, you’re either a survivor or a casualty, and, at worst, a victim. Don’t give me the statistics. Like my dad said when he became a cancer survivor over 10 years ago, “You’re either in the 100% or the 0%” (100% alive or 100% dead). When it showed up again and it was my turn we didn’t ask, “Why me?” or discuss how “it’s not fair.”  Everyone has their own cancer, struggle, or challenge. We’ve all got something going on and it’s just a tiny part of living. I often use the analogy of the pixel. If you zoom in on a digital photo you can see individual colorful squares or pixels, but not the full picture. Zoom out and you’ll see what’s really going on. I don’t connect with the metaphor of cancer being a war, fight, or a battle. Life is not a war or a fight for me. Life isn’t something to fight with, quit, or run away from. Life is a giant canvas and we are all tiny pixels. Every soul is an important part of the big picture. Someday we may merit to see that giant work of art…somewhere.

You can't run away from cancer 

My dad (survivor) & me during my first stint of chemo in 2012

Keep running

In my university days, I ran the Jerusalem half marathon two years in a row, I ran the San Diego half marathon, and the longest distance I ran was 35 kilometers straight with my dad when he was training for the Jordan ultra-marathon.

Run with the Cancer and not from it

I made up my mind that I’m never too sick to run and I’m probably a lot better off with the adrenaline along with the chemotherapy med.s coursing through my veins. My favorite drug is adrenaline. I look forward to being able to run as many kilometers as my body can handle. It helps to keep me sane; feel like something in my life is normal. I love the wind drying my sweat. I’m invigorated by my heart beating with life. My running gives me a break from feeling like a broken record with the needle stuck in a cancerous groove that repeats the same 1.8 seconds of track over and over again. 
Running in Beer Sheva 2015


The longer I run with cancer the more I realize that my type of cancer is great at keeping up. As of 2016, the cancer has come back twice since my original diagnosis. People I bump into say, “You look great!” and I say, “Thank you!” How lucky am I that I have cancer and I don’t look hideous?! 
The best element of being out alone on a run is what goes on in my mind. My mental state disconnects from my physical state and I experience life and thoughts that I’m otherwise unavailable for. It’s wonderful. It’s just me, my running shoes, and my music. There’s no cancer on a run and I sure feel like I’ve earned the break. Maybe the cancer will slow down and stay a few vital paces behind. I’ve been blessed with many miracles and I’ll keep hoping and praying for them. I’ll keep on running for as long as these legs will carry me.

Please continue to daven (pray) for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Command Happiness


Everybody wants to be happy. Pleasure creates life and most every life begins with a physical act of intimacy or pleasure.  I believe that it's a human instinct to seek happiness. The concept of a commandment to be happy has a severe and punitive quality to it. Will bad things happen if I don't comply? In order to be happy you have to know what you're happy about. It's obvious that life is not perfect and every person on earth will experience something worthy of being upset about. You might think, well I didn't ask to be born into this world, I don't want to be here, and I don't want to be alive but you'll be lying to yourself. Every person is desperate to live. We want to live so badly that when life doesn't go our way or isn't perfect we get mad and sometimes unhinged, miserable, and angry! 

There are some genetic and environmental components to happiness. Some people are born with better dispositions, better parents, better living conditions, or better opportunities. Most research on happiness has proven that happiness has little to do with external conditions. I believe in being thankful for what you do have before you can complain about what you don't have. The gift of life fundamentally obligates us to be happy. There's no excuse to being persistently unhappy because every person on earth has challenges and reasons to experience dissatisfaction in their lifetime. 

Does inner happiness mean are you full of joy every second? Does being happy obligate you to experience constant pleasure - never suffering from pain, sadness, or challenges? 

America is the only nation founded upon the pursuit of happiness as a basic right while it's citizens suffer from some of the highest rates of depression in the world! Statistically, some of the happiest populations on earth exist in some of the poorest, war-torn, and simple communities in the world. If you can't be thankful for what you do have than you can't be happy. If you feel entitled, that you deserve everything - you will never be satisfied. When you live without expectations and you acknowledge that you deserve nothing, and every breath, every new day is a gift, you create joy that is timeless and indestructible by events or tragedies. 

People think happiness comes from getting what they want, enjoying it, and then getting more and more of what they want. For some, temporary happiness comes from shopping, traveling, and even chocolate while others may seek happiness through temporarily escaping their own lives, maybe with the high from the thrills of physical pleasure; sex, drugs, or alcohol. True happiness exists somewhere between the gluttonist's indulgent: live for the day and the religious abstinent: live for the world to comeFor believers and nonbelievers alike, happiness should be a priority. The famous Hillel said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?". No matter where your personal code of conduct comes from, you need to have one and live up to it.

If you're invited to someone's house and you're a miserable and ungrateful guest, you probably won't be invited back but if you're a courteous and gracious guest, there's a good chance you'll be welcomed again and again. Bad things happen in our lives and in the world and you might forget every reason to be happy - like the fact that you're alive. Loved ones die, homes burn to the ground, and innocent people get cancer. You WILL experience grief, difficulties, and concerns but you are alive! Nobody asked to be born so if you think about it, we are all guests on this earth. If you can internalize that and the responsibilities that come with being a guest on this earth perhaps you can actualize the appreciation and joyfulness that comes with that reality. Life seems to reward people who take responsibility and live proactively.

The Beatles were wrong about, "Love is ALL you need," however love is crucial to happiness as are forgiveness and acceptance. True happiness requires us to love without restraint, pay attention to the people around us, and welcoming every new day with an open heart and gratitude. If you're thankful for what you DO have and you're happy to be alive then you can examine what's missing and work to make it better. If you're bitter, and angry about all of the things in life that you've been deprived of consequently you really shouldn't be complaining that your life is ruined, worthless, or meaningless. Every person has an eternal purpose. I know that my soul came to this world to fulfill a purpose and that gives my life meaning no matter what difficulties I face. People who are able to embrace and bond with their life's purpose have the ability to realize happiness in every situation. Their lives always have meaning which cannot be erased even in the darkest hours and most threatening situations.

If you're passionate about life and it's so important to you THEN you can look at what isn't up to standard, mourn it, and hopefully struggle and strive to make it better. You can only complain about death if you love life. If you don't love and appreciate life then why would you care about dying? What difference would it make to you? Never give up. To stumble and fall is human. Cherishing life means getting up and moving forward. Every life is full of obstacles and success may only be realized if you allow yourself to change your path and sometimes that means changing your destination. If you quit, your life is destined to end in failure. Love life and believe that it should be great! First obligate yourself to appreciate the goodness in your life and then you can be angry when things get messed up. Let your love and joy drive you to work on and repair what's wrong in your soul, at home, and in the world. Without the happiness you really shouldn't be whining. If you don't want life you can't ask for a better one.