A Great Nation of Great Citizens Includes Cancer.
During some difficult periods recently, I found powerful inspiration in two Presidential speeches, one very recent and one from long ago.
“We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know” about our history, “We have to learn what we should know. We should know about our country. We should know everything: the good, the bad, the truth of who we are as a nation. That’s what great nations do, and we are a great nation.” - Joe Biden, July 25, 2023.
A great nation requires great citizens. Many of us have work to do not just on ourselves but for ourselves, our friends and family, our communities, our country, and our world. I add myself to this list, and my desire to do better is only growing.
I just got out of hospital from surgery to deal with possible cancer. Cancer? What, me? I only saw the blood in the toilet mid May, had tests, saw specialists, had more tests and by the end of last week I had surgery, only two months later! And now due to pathology backlogs post-pandemic, a conclusive diagnosis is eight weeks away. So far, I have managed swimmingly through this tidal wave of health reality crashing down on my shores, tugging and pulling at me in wave after wave. How will I get through the next eight weeks? I will continue to use my TQ.
Transitional Quotient (TQ) is a set of qualities and skills, like self awareness and self management of how our transition is impacting us and those around us as well as the roles we all play in supporting or inhibiting change. Our perspectives and those of society at large are also important. Consider the wide views and uncertainty about cancer – from “it happens” to “it’s a death sentence” and what comes up with each phrase, from acceptance, to fear and dread.
“Life is in the Transition” author and MEA faculty member Bruce Feiler found that we go through multiple transitions in our lives, the largest ones called Life Quakes impacting us profoundly. We are often unmindful of the uncertainties of life until these Life Quakes are upon us. Acknowledging their existence and recognizing we need TQ helps us to bear the burden and become great citizens in our lives and the lives of others.
I discovered and developed my TQ from recently completing both Transitions and Purpose online courses offered through the Modern Elder Academy (MEA). I could not anticipate that I would be using the lessons while I was still learning them! TQ enabled me to approach my health situation by improving my self awareness, adjusting my attitudes, and developing new tools like compassion and curiosity.
During my hospital stay I needed compassion and curiosity more than I could have ever imagined. Because private or semi-private rooms were unavailable, I found myself in a wardroom. One of my ward mates was not doing well and was extremely uncomfortable as a result. His thrashing every night set off alarms on his monitoring equipment requiring frequent nursing interventions and waking up his roommates.
As I lay there in some pain and discomfort, unable to return to sleep for extended periods, I got curious about why my roommate was struggling so much and how that must make him feel, stoking my compassion. His impact on my stay was unfortunate but a reality I had to accept. Becoming agitated would not help so I focussed on fulfilling an aspiration yielding a mantra that helped me rest ‘be as great a citizen as I can.’
The second Presidential quote reminds us of our obligations as great citizens in a great nation, providing more inspiration for my aspiration:
"Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” - John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
Jane Depraitere is a lifelong learner and entrepreneur. Jane completed a law degree, accounting designation and an MBA before receiving her sommelier designation from the Wine and Spirits Trust in 2015 (4) Jane Depraitere LL.B. CGA MBA | LinkedIn. After rewarding careers in the investment and wine industries, Jane is taking 2023 as a midlife sabbatical to reconnect with her purpose.