I was speaking to a group of cancer survivors in South Dakota Friday — telling my story and talking to the group about the “black dots” in our lives.
For those of us in that room, breast cancer either was or is the predominant black dot. But there are always things that loom heavy in our lives — finances, messy relationships, job insecurities, troubled kids.
I love reminding people we have power over our thoughts. Yes, we need to see the black dots and acknowledge them, but instead of feeding them all of our energy, we can work on turning our focus onto the areas of our lives that are filled with joy and kindness and goodness.
Surrounding the black dot are spaces filled with light. We just can’t see them if we’re only tuned into the darkness.
One woman, sitting toward the right side of the stage, was all in. I could sense by her nods and smiles (and even a high five at one point), that she had done the hard work in her own life of minimizing the black dots by intentionally looking for the good.
She surprised me when she stood up and walked out of the room, but I figured she just really had to go to the bathroom.
A few minutes later, she was back and just as engaged as ever.
When I finished speaking, the emcee came up to the stage and introduced the woman from the audience. Her name is Andrea and she had something she wanted to share with the crowd.
Apparently, when she left the room earlier, it was to ask if she could buy one of my books for every person in attendance. 100 people.
I was stunned. So was everyone else in the room. The women were giddy as they filed out of the conference. Andrea’s gift sent a ripple of kindness through our hearts that was almost tangible.
I was riding that high the next day when I found out eleven people were killed in a synagogue in an act of hatred. It’s all over the news and if we tune in only to that, we can begin to think the bad stuff is outweighing the good stuff.
But then I think of Andrea. And all the “Andreas” out there.
They are waking up every day and paying attention. Not to the nasty, hateful things happening, but to the opportunities in front of them to love big. They are bravely and boldly saying, I will not let the darkness win. I can’t do everything, but I can do something to add light to this world, to diminish the black dots for another person.
Thinking of the Andreas lifts my sadness. It restores my faith. It reminds me that while I can’t see the whole picture, I can trust there is great light surrounding those black dots.