August 23, 2021

Do our Choices Define us or Do we Define our Choices?


What we have for breakfast, what we wear to go to work, where we live, where we go to school, who we invite into our inner circles have a powerful impact on the lives we ultimately live.

As I am still in recovery mode from a hospital stay with a diagnosis of COPD, I ponder the choices I made, consciously or unconsciously, that led me to writing this article in this moment in time.

A hot flash just rushed through me. Not sure if it is hormonal or steroid connected. When I meet with the Physician Assistant at my PCP’s office tomorrow, I will ask her.

Since being admitted early Saturday morning, I have had time to ponder the long and winding road and where I want it to lead. I spent a lot of time there not sleeping, since hospitals are notorious for being places where rest can be elusive—since their job is to help make sure that our vital signs are on par and that the treatments are delivered on time, just not always ours.

I appreciated the attention to detail and service. I treasure the connections I made with colleagues (since I am a medical/psych social worker) who treated me like family.

When I was discharged on Tuesday morning, I was eager to take a shower, wash off the sticky glue that attached the cardiac leads to my body, and wear comfy clothes that were not hospital chic. I treated my return home the way I would if I were coming back from vacation. Laundry, fill prescriptions, put gas in the car, since it was almost bone-dry empty (kind of like my energy stores prior to admission), and, bonus, I ordered a fruit and chocolate tray for the staff on the unit where I stayed.

I am acclimating to a temporary schedule change, since I committed to taking the week off from seeing clients in my psychotherapy practice. My erstwhile sultry voice appreciates the rest. I spent a fair amount of time in the hospital and once I came home, binge watching the Netflix series “Atypical.” The focus is on a family whose oldest child is diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Sam, a character in the show, is fascinated with Antarctica in general and penguins in particular. His life revolves around a series of routines and acommodations to help him acclimate to a world designed for those who are neurotypical. The show deeply, dramatically, and delightfully highlights the complications of living as a human.

His parents, sister, friends, a therapist, support group members, and ancillary people who come into his life through those connections round out the cast. When it was over, I felt I had gone on a journey with the Gardners and their peeps. If I hadn’t been medically indisposed, I would never have taken the time to immerse in the show in big gulps. True to form, though, I sent a link to my coworkers so they could benefit from that resource.

I intended to sleep the night through last night, but was awakened by a tornado warning alert, which had me hunkering down in the bathroom. My daughter-in-law’s BFF had texted me to be sure I was okay and she “talked” me through until the “all clear” was given.

Truly, I wasn’t more than slightly nervous and when I got up this morning, I looked outside to find that nothing had even been toppled over in the wind. Today, I am easing through my day, reading and writing and doing promo. None of that is strenuous and none of it involves talking. Instead, I am listening to Jefferson Airplane serenading with “White Rabbit.” Do we think Alice really knows the impact of her choices when she makes them?

So, back to my choices: when I was a kiddo, I made unconscious choices about what loss meant, as my beloved grandmother died when I was four, and shortly after, I was diagnosed with asthma. Louise Hay and other transformational teachers say that lung issues are connected with unresolved grief.

As an adult, I entered into the field of social work and found myself employed in settings in which smoking was endemic among the patients/clients I served. I absorbed the toxins along with them. It contributed to a heart attack in 2014 as well.

When I initially received the new diagnosis, I was angry but since have realized that holding on to anger is literally like holding my breath until I burst. So, I decided to release the attachment to “how” it happened and am instead focused on “now what?” The next steps are medical and holistic, allowing and doing in appropriate measure.

The cover photo for this article was taken the morning before I went to the hospital. I had met with a friend who is a phenomenal photographer, named Terree Oakwood in a lovely garden in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The air was muggy and the abundant sunlight bounced off the foliage as I slowly meandered about, keeping my coughing at a minimum.

I’m not sure what I was contemplating when she shot this image. As I look at it now, it has a “hmmm, wonder what kind of mischief I can stir up now?” That is who I have always been. Creative juices in constant flow. Doing my best to connect the dots between where I am and where I want to be.

I never want my choices to define me in a limiting sense. Instead, I want them to lift me aloft into a new reality, recognizing that even if it is challenging, I will land safely.

I choose love. I choose healing. I choose peace. I choose abundance. I choose connection. I choose wonder.


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Edie Weinstein  |  Contribution: 52,950

author: Edie Weinstein

Image: Terree Lorraine Oakwood/The Moment Photography

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