Monday, September 16, 2013

Keep Short Lists

I’m stepping off the Disney/Vacation bandwagon for a moment to share something that’s really been on my heart and mind these past few weeks.

San Diego Sunrise

In my line of work, every once in a while, something happens that helps me refocus on the things that are truly important. Cancer doesn’t care whose life it invades. It doesn’t care about the person’s story, how old they are, how many children they have, or who their family is.

Working in oncology these past eight years has taught me that nothing is unchangeable or impossible. Our lives can change in the blink of an eye (either good or bad) before we have a chance to catch our breath. Life is SO short. I know that 80 or 90 years seems like such a long time, but it goes by incredibly fast. I spent a few moments at my grandfather’s house this past Saturday for the first time in a long time, and I was amazed at the emptiness there. Walking in the door with him not sitting in his usual chair, greeting me with a kiss and a “Hey, Kid!” was almost more than I could take. It amazes me to think that life ends so quickly. Sure, I know all about the dying process and what to look for when life is about to end, but it still amazes me that a person can be here, alive and breathing one minute…and gone the next. The craziest thing is that NONE of us know when that date or time will be!

La Jolla

Nothing that happens on this earth to us is a surprise to God. He already knows what choices we are going to make and what directions our lives will take us. It’s what we do with the choices we are faced with that makes a difference. He knows our birth date, and he knows the date we are going to be taken away from this Earth.

We were placed here on this earth for a reason and for a divine purpose. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I know that I want to fulfill God’s plans for my life while I have the chance. I want to make a difference and leave an impact while I’m here.

La Jolla 2

Working in Oncology has taught me a lot about life and living life to its fullest. Above all else, it has taught me that I need to take advantage of the time my family (and I) have on this earth, spend as much time as possible with those I love, hug more often, say I love you every chance I get, and truly LOVE those around me.

I’ve been re-reading a trilogy from my teen years, and a sentence in one of the books caught my attention. I thought the quote was a perfect way to sum all of these thoughts up:

“Keep short lists. Learn to forgive quickly and go on because one day you’ll wake up and find that somehow you got old when you weren’t looking. Your lists won’t matter at all then.” –Robin Jones Gunn

Maybe this all started with my birthday and turning 31? No, I think it was actually a culmination of things – my birthday was definitely a factor along with thoughts of my grandfather, and case studies I’ve been working on this past week. I don’t want to grow old, but its inevitable, I don’t really have a choice in the matter. Age is what you make of it and I love Walt’s quote that says, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up!

La Jolla 3

Sorry if any of my thoughts came off as sounding morbid, I just wanted to share what’s been on my heart and mind lately.

Have you ever faced a situation that helped you refocus on the important things in life?

24 comments:

  1. I still read her books too!!! Still one of my favorites. All that you said is so true. You never know how long God will keep you on this earth. Things happen in all our lives to shape us to what we are today. Key is to stay focused and keep the faith. :)

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    1. All so true!! Love her books...and the fact that I can relate and connect to her books even as an adult! :0)

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  2. Beautiful post Karen! I think about it often and try to stay focused on enjoying my life to the fullest and showing those that I love how much they mean to me. Short lists! I really like that.

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  3. Hi Karen,
    You are SO right! It's almost scary how someone's life can be changed in a matter of a split second ( whether it a birth or a death, or a situation that mames us for life). I certainly can testify how important it is to take advantage of everything God has offered us in this short life time. It saddens me that at times others just don't get it! ~M

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    1. Yes, I agree completely!! Scary is right, it's crazy how fast life can change!

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  4. This is quite a post Karen. So poignant and yes, the older you get, the more you appreciate little things and the lists don't matter.

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  5. Um, I LOVE Robin Jones Gunn!! Christy Miller series????
    You're an Oncology Nurse! School Social Worker here! I almost went into Child Life as a Specialist! I get it. I love the idea of "short lists"

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    1. YES! Christy Miller!! I re-read Christy & Todd the College Years trilogy over the weekend! Too funny...love that you know what I'm talking about - both with the books and with your career! :0)

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    2. I love those books. I re-read the Christy Miller series this summer. I need to read the college trilogy. I was reading book 1, but I got side tracked. Have you read other books by Robin?

      You definitely have a tough job! I commend you for your work and your passion to help others.

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    3. I really liked the Sierra Jensen series and I think I remember reading Sister Chicks, but I'm not sure what else I've read! I'll have to go back and look because I really like her writing style. Who knows what books of hers I've missed out on!!

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  6. Such true words Karen. I have been thinking along the same lines lately...especially after hearing all the prayer requests for children who have cancer. We can't take for granted our blessings on this earth! Because you never know how long you have here.

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    1. I agree, that's so sad. Pediatric Oncology is something I could never do...would break my heart daily. I admire anyone who works in that field!

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  7. So beautifully written.Age creeps up on you and you don't realize it's happening until one day....... When you are young and living life to the fullest, with your husband, family and friends, you take things sooooo for granted and don't think that someday 'young' will be gone. Or maybe it's 'wellness'
    or 'happiness'. Just LIFE! You just expect it to always be like it is now.Before you realize it life has faded into something different and most likely you won't like the change, but there is nothing you can do about it. With God in the picture,from the time you start your life, there is always the assurance He will be there to help and guide you through every step in this journey.And then there is the afterlife! Hopefully you've invited God through your life and then you have the assurance of Heaven.Plan now!Cherish each day!

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    1. :0) Thanks for the input, Grandma K! Appreciate it!

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  8. This is a really great post. Thank you for sharing. I struggle with death. It scares me so much that it really does prevent me from enjoying life. My boyfriend tries to remind me that we have control over nothing - none of it - and so worrying and not enjoying the moment just prevents you from having moments with the people you love while you can. Its so hard, and I'm really working on it, but like you, I just can't believe one moment someone could be here and the next they aren't. Its just too painful.

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    1. I feel the same way at times so I know your pain. It's hard not to worry because you really don't know!

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  9. Beautiful post Karen--thank you for sharing! In your profession, I am sure that you see human nature in it's rawest and most pure moments. So many of us, myself included, forgot how quickly life can change and every now and then we need reminded otherwise.

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  10. YES! What a wonderful post. As a pastor I am reminded time and time again how fragile life really is. For me personally though, I was in the earthquake in Haiti back in 2012, and that REALLY opened my eyes.

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    1. Oh goodness I bet that was a huge eye opener!

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  11. This is a beautiful post. And so true - life can change in an instant. Keep short lists - I like that. You can so easily become bogged down in all the details and forget to look at what's really important.

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    1. Thanks, Emily! It's definitely easy to become bogged down in details!

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