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You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

In the last few years I’ve received emails from people all over the world. Some saying they were inspired to downsize their own belongings after seeing the YouTube video of my apartment. Some giving feedback after reading my grandfather’s memoir, and others just wanting to share a piece of their lives. Recently I received an email from a remarkable young girl who heard me speak at a reading last spring.

Dear Felice, Since we last talked, many new, congenial and negative events have happened. In my school, they have a ceremony for select students called The People’s Choice Award. To get the honorable award, a faculty member nominates you for being an outstanding student, peer, and human in general. I was extraordinarily dumbfounded when I discovered that I earned the award. It turned out that my principal chose me! … Although I have had many exciting things happen to me, I have also had some down parts. All throughout my schooling career I have gotten bullied by many cruel people. This 8th grade year was probably one of the worst. So many people can be extremely brutish and selfish. I don’t know if I have shared this with you but when I was an infant I had a very rough health life. I have this condition called Craniosynostosis. CSS is when your skull forms unusually different than others. I wear hearing aids and have had 6 eye surgeries. I consider myself VERY lucky. But because all of these negative things happened, it only shaped me into who I am today. Wholeheartedly, Julie

That same evening I went to a concert. Alicia describes herself as a “singer of songs, writer, teacher, healer” and, because I’ve known her for over 35 years, one of my closest friends. In between songs Alicia said she’d been dealing with the repercussions of Lyme disease, in particular, Bell’s Palsy, as the whole right side of her face had drooped the week before.

“And as I looked in the mirror,” Alicia said, “I thought, if this doesn’t get better, can I live with this?” After a pause she answered her own question. “Yes. If this doesn’t go away I’ll be okay.” Then without missing a beat, her guitar shot back to life and she began to sing the title track from her new album, “Isn’t It Amazing?

Sitting there, listening to my oldest friend, looking only slightly older than she did at age five, I realized with all the challenges we face in our lifetimes, having a positive outlook may not make the bad go away, but it will help heal them when they do. Amazing indeed.

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