How Do You Handle Joy and Pain? [An exercise to help you grow through your feelings.]

Last week, I walked into work on a particularly lovely day. The sky was an extraordinary blue; the air, warm without being oppressive. A slight breeze jostled the branches of the trees. From my car to the office, I marveled at this quiet beauty and peace.

Suddenly, I stopped, nearly stepping on two dead baby birds on the sidewalk. I held my breath as I looked at their bald heads, their tiny, hairless pink bodies, their small beaks and their closed eyes.

I looked up at the beautiful tree and the gorgeous sky above it. In an instant, beauty, joy and pain merged.  Sometimes they occur independently, other times, simultaneously.

This is life.

Registering this profound scene, I continued walking. This moment of joy and pain reminded me of one of the most difficult and joyous times of my life.

In May 2010, two weeks after my son turned 1 year old, I learned that my father was terminally ill with only 6 months to live. I also learned that he was an alcoholic diagnosed with cirrhosis.

The abrupt reality disorganized my life, my home, my sanity and my heart. The details were tragic and required a strength within that I did not know I had.