SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 312: “Are We Prepared?”

‘Think Positive’ pendant, A gift to my family from Brain Tumor survivor Rhonda.

On May 18, 2012, we conducted an experiment. Setting up a booth at a local art walk, we extended a 365 invitation to anyone who wanted to express one word with the world; a word that they deemed as council to us all. From affirmations to language we heard it all. Yet, in the middle of the hum of advice and slang, one woman charged us with a well-earned call to action, “Think Positive.” A call that although consumes two words, is necessary in the telling of her story… A story that deserves a this second entry dedicated to what our two-worded friend shared with me on that May evening, and a story that today, our new friend Rhonda, returns to share in-depth with us all.

“I don’t know whoever is out there, or whatever…” Rhonda begins, “…but they gave this to me because they knew I could handle it. They knew it was going to be OK. And the clinical trial that I was on, will now be good for a lot of other people. That was helpful, I was looked after for some reason, but I… they… knew it was all going to be OK.”

You see… Rhonda is the survivor of a very large Brain Tumor and despite the clinical trial that she gives great credit to in healing her, she equally applies a mental medication to the recovery that she so peacefully carries. Rhonda tells me how she never gave up, even when she was in the greatest of pain. “I pushed myself to always think positive.” She says as she shows me the book of affirmations that her husband created in recording each day of Rhonda’s fight for her life.

Rhonda is more than an example; she is an activist for others. “I entered into a 5K walk to raise money and bring awareness to the need for finding a cure for Brain Cancer.”

Cool a lot of us enter athletic events for a cause, what makes Rhonda so special?

Think Positive! she ceaselessly promotes. It alone conjures proactive works, but Rhonda puts her actions behind her brainwaves. “I was in the middle of my Chemo when I walked the event. I remember waking up feeling terrible and weak, but I knew I needed to do the event. Once I started walking the pain went away and I finished the event. Since then I have not missed the chance to participate.”

It gets better, the second year Rhonda entered, she created an invitation to join her in a team walk, fifty entered with her. The third year seventy-seven, and now in preparing for her fourth event, Rhonda is hoping for eighty-eight.

I talked it over with my family and it looks like we will be supporting the walk this year, The 2012 Race for Research, Sunday November 4, Playa Del Rey, CA, and I want to ask for your support in joining Rhonda’s team if you are local to the event. Or if not able to attend, maybe you can donate a little to her team. Click here for more information on how to contribute. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could build her team to over one hundred?

“Think positive and pray for our angels.” Rhonda declares as she gives my family a set of bracelets and charms with “Think Positive” stamped into them.

“I started to give them away in seeking donations to be used in for research…” Rhonda explains, “…But after a while I stopped asking for money and directed everyone to donate directly to the Brad Kaminsky Foundation for Brain Tumor Research. It was too hard to deal with the non-profit paperwork and tax issues myself, and the Kominsky Foundation has the resources to get the funds into the right hands.”

Rhonda as she recovers from her surgery that removed an aggressive brain tumor.

Per words of wisdom, Rhonda advises, “Listen to your body… and when you feel that things are not right, you should definitely go in and get yourself checked out. And think positive, no matter what curve balls get thrown at you… they come from out of nowhere… and you have to think positive! And, hopefully everything will be OK.”

Rhonda looks at her illness as an uplifting step in knowing herself and in growing her compassion for those around her. A compassion that can be felt in her every word and via the glow she brings into the room. But naive and rose-colored her glasses are not. “I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate what I have,” she owns the lessons learned in life and illness.

Rhonda today, healthy, free and clear of all tumors.

“’I worry about where we are going to be in the future. Because of all these computers and all these things, and we don’t know what is in store for us. I kind of want it to be turned around… to go back to like it was in the forties, the fifties and the sixties in a way; like a ‘Leave It To Beaver’ sort of thing.

I feel like everybody is in such a hurry… that we need to stop and slow down and look a little bit. It seems like everyone’s heads are always in their phones. And, you watch people… they are not paying attention. No one is looking around and seeing things or each other. Everyone is just kind of in they’re own selves… There are people looking out for the community, but it always seems that it is the same people.

Slow down… it’s fast out there… and it is only going to get faster.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath…OK… Slow down… It’s not the end of the world if you are five minutes late. We need to take it down a notch or two, and hopefully that will help us. Stop looking at everyone with that look…you know… that… ‘Come on buddy!’

It’s OK to slow down a little bit.’”

How many of us are willing to let go of overly stressing, relaxing our schedules in allowing our eyes and hearts to open to the world and people around us? To give ourselves permission to see, and to grant ourselves ownership of what we feel is assessable at the moment. A hard thing to do, I know. And sadly, it’s such human nature to only do so when tragedy or disease strikes… But, what if?

What if we could master outlooks and soulfully monitor thought patterns. Training our minds to better govern the over analyzation and quest for scholarly or worldly knowledge that so many of us get tripped by. For quite possibly if we could, doorways unknown or unseen might potentially open.

Rhonda explains, “’The past two years I have met people for reasons I don’t know. It just feels that I have met them for reasons that have not come up yet. There is a Yiddish word, ‘Bashert,’ meaning ‘Things are meant to be.’ There are reasons for everything. Why there are…? I don’t know, but now I see clearly that there are reasons for a lot of things.

I do worry about a lot of things, but I know I can’t do anything about them because they are not here. I worry sometimes for naught. I’m always thinking, but there is nothing you can do until things happen, and you have to have hope that you are prepared.’”

In physics they say “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” The same principle applies to our minds.

Rhonda speaks of looking at the world with worried eyes. But in her worry there is peace. How can that be? You might ask.

The answer can be found in one great word that Rhonda buries into her above quote… Hope.

For hope is the rain that extinguishes fear; and, in pulling from my scientific comparison, may I be bold enough to offer a word of council. Without hope… fear can reign.

To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Shall we grasp onto hope as we acknowledge the flames of fear. For as equal to the burning paralysis of fear is an equally strong force: The waters of hope, for in them flow, as proven by our brave friend Rhonda, a power able to overcome any obstacle… Even ourselves.

The question then remains, “Are we prepared?”