As well as being my Dad’s birthday, today is International Label Day courtesy of my fellow blogger Rarasaur (http://rarasaur.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/bloggers-celebrate-label-day/). She asked a bunch of people to help with this newly invented holiday, an idea she submitted to the Daily Prompt. Here’s a summary: “International Label Day would be held on November 21st. Labels get a lot of criticism for limiting and separating people, but there’s a beauty to them too. They show people to look beyond the expectations of the label. They show pride in the subcultures you like to be defined by. They show the versatility of the label.”
I thought hard about what label I would choose because there are so many to choose from. Unorthodox, maverick, determined, curious, undaunted, alive, anomaly, resourceful, straightforward. Coach, mentor, friend, kin, parent, sister, daughter, wife, aunt, cousin, Celt. Drugged, damaged, disfigured, mondaine, wiser, student, researcher, supporter, campaigner, challenged. Confused, spirited, faith, hope, survivor, lionheart.
I was on the verge of choosing anomaly and then I changed my mind and opted for Pollyanna. If you’ve seen the film you might already know why Pollyanna is my label. If you haven’t seen the film or read the books then I’ll explain. I watched the film when I was a young girl in the mid 1970’s; for some reason I never got round to reading the books.
Pollyanna is a child and her approach to life is based on The Glad Game – finding something to be glad about in every situation. She’s sent to live with her strict aunt but her optimism brings much happiness to the downbeat town, so much so that she makes it a better place to live and encourages other residents to play the game too. Pollyanna’s positive outlook is challenged when she’s hit by a car and loses the use of her legs but the townsfolk encourage her by showing how much she inspired them. Pollyanna regains her positivity and realises she’s glad she still has her legs. Eventually she learns to walk again.
Pollyanna is my label because I choose to find something to be glad about every day. Even on sh*tty days like 12th June when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was glad I trusted my instincts and sought medical advice early on. So for International Label Day and beyond I’d like to encourage more of us to try it out – play the glad game with me and see what happens.
Here are a few thoughts to get us started.
- Do you have the use of your eyes? If so then why not be glad that you can see to read. Or revel in the beauty of the sun rising, a waxing moon or twinkling stars. They’re all free, all you have to do is look.
- Can you hear? Then perhaps you could be glad to listen a child’s laughter, your favourite song, rain splashing on a windowpane or birds singing. No cost involved just listen and enjoy.
- Are you able to smell / taste? Savour the aroma of fresh fruit, flowers, clean laundry a pine forest, coffee. Relish the taste of your personal naughty indulgence – sweet, savoury, sour, sharp, all of them blended together. It doesn’t matter what it is, just be glad you can smell or taste whatever might be available to you.
- Do you have your limbs – all or some of them? Are you able to move around unaided, with the help of aids or a carer? Why not be glad of the freedom of movement. Even if it’s just a few metres you’re free to turn around, change direction, shift. That’s something to be glad about.
- Have you got friends or family? Be glad for the people in your life, for the love and companionship they impart and the sense of connectedness between you. Being friends doesn’t cost anything and it means we’re not alone.
- Do you have a roof over your head? It doesn’t have to be a palace or a mansion, you don’t even need to like it very much. As long as you have a roof over your head you have somewhere safe and dry to sleep. Isn’t it worth being glad about that?
- Can you think? Do you have ideas, thoughts, musings, dreams? Even if our bodies are less than able, the ability to think is something to be glad about. You can go anywhere in the world or to another world entirely with the power of thought.
- Are you alive? Do you have time to live? Why not live it and be glad? We all get crappy days. Sometimes there are crappy weeks, months and years. But you’re still alive, you still have the opportunity to live. Even if you had only one day left to live, you’d still have chance to be glad of that day. You’d have chance to reflect on your life and say goodbye to those you love.
I’ve experienced many things to be sad about either personally or through my various paid and unpaid work over the last 25 years. Suicide, death, illness, accidents, injury, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, discrimination, break-ups, abuse, addiction, burglary, mugging, bullying, infertility, mental health issues. Sometimes I’ve experienced all of them in one year, many of them first hand. There are times in my life when I’ve felt like I have been hit by a freight train. By rights there’s so much I could be sad about, permanently, for the rest of my life.
The Glad Game is not as difficult as it might seem. There’s an infinite number of tiny, miniscule everyday things to be glad about. Start noticing the little things – a pretty sunset, a walk along the street, fresh brewed coffee, the friendly smile of a stranger, clean water, a bed, stars, trees, fresh air. When you begin to notice the little things and start to be glad of them, the big things will suddenly seem dazzlingly brilliant.
I have cancer. It might kill me. I hope it won’t but just in case I wake up every day and I’m glad to be alive. I’m glad for the chance to live even if I’m destined to have a bad day. A bad day beats no days at all.
So will you try it – play the Glad Game too?