Biji…

February 3rd, 2017

To her father she was referred to as Joginder, to her brothers she was referred to as Bibi, to her husband she was referred to as Jindro, and to all others: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family and friends she was simply referred to as Biji. A short name, she was tiny in size, but she was a woman with an enormous capacity of love and generosity. Right from the start and all the way to the end of her life she spent her time caring, loving and nurturing all her family. She was a true icon and matriarch of our family and she had a wealth of life experiences that she shared with us as well as all her wisdom.

Biji, was more than just my grandmother. She was my inspiration, teacher of life, and my best friend. We could never explain the bond we shared but it was genuine and it was love in its purest form –  unconditional and non-materialistic. We had a special connection, we always joked that it was because our birthdays were one day a part! Biji could always read my mind and know what I was thinking and feeling. She was always one step ahead of me and guiding me at all times. Biji was smart, I taught her how to read some words in English when she was in her 70’s and every day she would read the weather forecast back to me while I got ready for school. She would tell me its flurries outside today and to dress warm and wear a scarf, one that she knitted. She was an incredible and talented knitter, she made countless blankets, sweaters, scarves, hats etc… for everyone all with her delicate two hands. Whenever she was in the kitchen cooking I always found myself to be right next to her, helping her and learning from her, taking notes so I could one day cook the same way she did. We share countless memories and laughter while we cooked together.  She had no vices except for one…junk food and coke. She loved her pizza and French fries, khatta-meetha all with a cold glass of coke.

Biji and Pitaji were blessed with over 76 years of blissful marriage. Their love, support and dedication to each other was evident to everyone that knew them. They were inseparable & complimented each other, where Pitaji has the ultimate sweet tooth, Biji loved salty foods. Together they faced anything & were a true inspiration to us all on how to live together in peace and harmony. Prayer & spirituality was the essence of Biji & her constant teaching to all her kids to always be thankful to God for what we have, to do good things and always remember God’s name.

Biji passed at the incredible age of 92. When I stop to think about that and her age I truly understand how blessed our family was to have her with us for those many years. I know that today we should celebrate her life, her great accomplishments and the legacy she leaves behind. But that’s when I think with my mind. For my mind knows that she was of age to go, that she lived a full life. When I think with my heart, I don’t know her age, all I know is her value and significance she had in my life. When I think with my heart, all I know is that I lost my best friend on Jan 25th, irrespective of her age. My heart doesn’t think the way my mind does so I find myself balancing my emotions with logic at this time. When I think with my heart, I know I will never be able to give Biji one more hug or kiss. When I think with my mind I know that although the physical form of my best friend is gone, the light, the energy, the being that she was is eternal and will never die. So I take comfort in knowing this.

When Biji was alive we talked about everything, you name it, life, death and all types of experiences in between. She always told me that when she dies not to cry over her. I told her I would be lying to her if I said that I wouldn’t cry when she passed so we a made a deal that I would hold off for at least 3 days after she dies to cry to ensure her soul merges peacefully with God without any distraction or pull from me trying to bring her back. On the 4th day I told her not to stop me from crying to which she replied back to me “you can cry but I won’t be there to see you so do what you want to” to which we both laughed. I wake up and I don’t feel that she is gone, I feel her with me, with us. I am blessed to have a lifetime of memories with Biji which I will be sharing with my kids and hopefully their kids. Through her memories we will keep her always alive and in our hearts. Take a moment and close your eyes. Think of a memory that you shared with Biji. That cherished memory is forever yours and will never fade away if you don’t let it.  Thank you to each and every one of you for coming today. Thank you for your continued well wishes, love and support. Our family is truly blessed.

canCertainly live life!

Hand in Hand…

December 17th, 2016

We can see you. All of your wounds are fresh. Each passing day has its ups and downs and we know you are wondering how much longer you will have to endure this rollercoaster called life. We wonder the same. For you. For us. We know the answers to our questions lie with a higher source but we still ask them anyways.

We can understand you. This is not what you had envisioned for yourself and nor do we want this for you, but we are with you. Every breath, every step, you are not alone. We have different opinions about your situation. If we think with our hearts, we become selfish. If we think with our minds, we know what is best for you. Either way, we empathize with your situation.

We can feel your pain. Although you are the vessel that is enduring the physicality of pain throughout this, it transcends to us emotionally. These obstacles, these challenges are not yours alone to face. We are sitting right beside you on this rollercoaster, hand in hand, embracing the highs and lows together. We will continue to put our faith and trust in the hands of God and mark each day as a blessing.

canCertainly live life!

My life without me…

August 6th, 2016

Focus. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Congratulations you have just succeeded in clearing your mind of your thoughts. I bet if you jumped on a scale right at this moment you would weigh less since you unloaded the mental weight of the stress that follows you everywhere. In this moment of clarity everything feels better. We do not have the pressures of our daily lives weighing us down.

Ever find yourself floating through the day without any recollection of the actions that took place? Sure your assigned chores, tasks and deadlines all got completed but why does it feel like a blur to you? Where were you during those actions you performed? At times, this fast paced life has consumed me. I feel like I am running on autopilot and I can’t break out from this routine. I am alive indeed, but my life is living me as I sit and watch from the passenger seat of this car driving on this journey called life. I know this is not how it should be but I continue to allow it to happen. I flow on cruise control while actions and events in my life are passing by without me truly being present.

Today is a new day though and it will be different. I am making the conscious decision to break free of this routine and claim the driver seat. Are you ready to shed the mental weight of your stress? All you have to do is focus and…

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

canCertainly live life!

Gone in 60 Seconds…

August 6th, 2015

Behind the wheel, my power was restored back to me. I felt free. With both windows rolled down, the fresh air that hit my face was therapeutic. The rush of moving at a high speed provided me with the necessary adrenaline of feeling alive. This was exactly what I needed. As I drove, my fears and thoughts flew out the window and left me with my consciousness and awareness to be in the moment, to be back in control of my life.

Each day was another day of surrendering. Surrendering to what my family thought was best for me. Surrendering to what the doctors thought was best for me. And surrendering to what was happening to me. I realized that surrendering was the way that I could save my energy and focus it on something else. However, that was until I had to start my radiation treatments because at that point I didn’t want to surrender anymore to what my family wanted for me. The energy that I saved was now going to be put in use.

Part of my treatment regimen was to undergo 30 rounds of radiation therapy. This took place at the hospital from Monday to Friday, five days a week. The trek from my house to the hospital was roughly 30 minutes. For my previous treatments and check-ups I always had my mom, dad and brother with me as I was in no condition to be driving back home after my rounds of chemo. However, when the time came for radiation, I convinced my parents to let me drive alone each day to receive the treatment by myself. I convinced my dad that there was no need for him to take a day off from work each day just to drive me back and forth for a treatment that was over in a minute.

Thankfully my parents agreed to let me drive alone (of course with the consent of my oncologist), and I am grateful that they respected what I needed at the time. What they didn’t know was that this had nothing to do with wanting space away from them and everything to do with me and my desire of being in control of this situation; albeit as small as driving myself to and back from the hospital.

The preparation time to get me set up in the right position to receive the treatment took longer than the treatment itself. Once in place, in 60 seconds I would receive the dose of therapy and was out the door, on my way back home. Once those 60 seconds were done, I was gone from that environment in which I had been surrendering myself for the past 8 months. Once those 60 seconds were done, I was back behind the wheel and I was in control again. Some days I remember taking a slightly longer drive back home to prolong this feeling.

canCertainly live life!

My Wife, My love…

August 2nd, 2015

Dear Amrit,

Today marks our first year of marriage. In the past year, we have learned a lot about each other by living together especially since we both have strong characters. We have observed our habits and our attitudes when we push each other’s buttons in hopes to find a mutual compromise. Through this compromise, we have strengthened our bond, our love and commitment to our marriage.

Without a doubt, I can truly say that every day with you by my side has been a blessing. I picked up a card to give you and when I read it; each word resonated with me on how I feel about you. This is what the card says:

“I think of the days when we first fell in love –

Our dreams, all the changes since then –

And I look at us now and just know in my heart,

If I had to choose over again,

You’d still be the one I’d want by my side

To share every day of my life…

You’re my soul mate,

My lover,

My best friend forever –

My partner,

My beautiful wife.

Happy Anniversary.”

canCertainly live life!

Who Surrounds You?

July 24th, 2015

No topic is off limit to joke about. High is the threshold for inappropriate comments about the most random of things or incidents. If we are not making fun of each other or ourselves, then it hasn’t been a productive day. This is the dynamic that we share. Although we all lead busy lives and live in different countries, rarely does a day go by without us all communicating (thanks to whatsapp and the wonders of technology). We may be at different points in our lives, be it career wise, marital status wise or any other life milestone but the common thread is that we grow together through our respective life experiences and we share them with one another in hopes that we can benefit, learn and enrich our lives.

If I can attest to one thing through the life experiences that I have been through thus far is adopting a positive mindset and outlook on life is easy when you surround yourselves with people that encourage for this to happen.

Take a second, think about it. Who surrounds you?

photo by Badger Photography

canCertainly live life!

Empty Glass…

July 18th, 2015

As we stood together under the hut while waiting out the rain, I was secretly praying for it not to stop because of what was going to happen next. I am all for adventures but the thought of scuba diving in an ocean in Greece of all places, had caused me slight anxiety to say the least. I didn’t know at the time if you were feeling as nervous as me. If you did, you didn’t show it. The rain was coming down hard. The owner of the hut had placed a glass on the unsheltered part of the counter and I watched each drop of rain fall one by one until there was no more room to sustain it. A couple of minutes later the owner emptied the glass, placed it back in the same spot and the process continued from there. And then it happened. The rain stopped. Just like the glass of rain that was full, so too were the emotions housed inside of me. I couldn’t sustain my anxiety and the fear of what was coming next. I wish I could pour out my emotions that I had and start again with a clean slate just like the empty glass.

I wondered every night before going to bed when this feeling of constant fatigue, discomfort and lack of energy would shift for me. It was now week after week of feeling this way and no one had any answers as to why. I lost count of the times I went to see a doctor for a check-up and how each time I was told something different from the last one regarding my health. I was discouraged but what kept me going was my fear, my fear of the unknown. For me, the fear of not knowing trumps any other emotion. Once I was in the know, I did and continue to do my best to adapt to the situation and face it head on.

We had on our scuba gear that must have weighed a ton and we were empowered with the theoretical knowledge of what to do. If only the practical knowledge would be on my side in that moment because I froze the minute we had to go underwater. My heavy breathing, the build-up of my anxiety and my fear was too much for me to sustain. The idea of entering the depths of an ocean, not knowing what lies beneath was something I struggled with. As each moment passed by, the equipment strapped to my back was weighing me down. It was not as heavy as the fear that I carried. Not even close. My wife patiently waited for me to calm my nerves and trust that it would be ok. I had no idea that I married Lara Croft until I saw how calm she was; as if she had done this before. I looked to her for motivation. A good portion of the time passed before I allowed myself to overcome my fear. There I was now, submersed in the ocean. As I sank to the bottom, my equipment felt lighter each passing moment but the heaviness from my fear remained.

Cancer. So that’s what was causing me to feel that way for so long. That made sense as I had a feeling it was something more than what other doctors had told me. Finally, I was given an answer that I could accept about my health. But now that one fear of the unknown was solved, my diagnosis, another fear kicked in. The fear of what happens next. And so this vicious cycle continued…

When I allowed myself to focus, I realized how peaceful and serene this experience was. Besides the overwhelming beauty of the ocean floor, the water and the small fishes that circled us, this experience had much to do with breathing. I never saw how magnified the simplicity of taking each breath after breath was until I was there. It was ironic that alongside my fear, I also felt that I was alive. I felt that I was living in the moment, one breath at a time. Nothing else mattered there, the only focus was to breathe and this consciousness of being aware of each breath was exhilarating. Like the empty glass, I too felt no weight of emotions when I focused only on my breathing and nothing else. No thoughts running through my head, no fear, no anxiety, only the thought of focusing on my next breath.

canCertainly live life!

Meet My Wife…

November 16th, 2014

There is never a dull moment being with her. She has her quirks, I have my own and every day we learn something new about each other. Her laughter is infectious. Her playful nature keeps me young at heart. Unconditional is her love for me and for that I am grateful. She continues to encourage and support me while providing honest feedback and advice no matter what I am dealing with. We have entered a new space together. In this space we have decided to make a conscious effort to be patient with each other, kind and considerate to one’s feeling. Equally we know how to effectively push each other’s button. We are both guilty of occasionally losing our cool with one another and reacting poorly instead of controlling our emotions and communicating in a healthier manner. However, we try our best not to go to bed with any unresolved feelings as we realize it’s better to make up and apologize for anything we may have said to each other in the heat of the moment than to go to bed upset. We acknowledge that life is precious and that each moment is a blessing. We know that there is no guarantee for a tomorrow so try to enjoy the time we are here; appreciate the time we share together as best friends and companions.   

So meet my beautiful wife, Mrs. Amrit Kaur Deol. She plays an important part of my life and shapes the person that I am. We were fortunate to take an unforgettable honeymoon visiting Greece and Italy most recently and throughout the next couple of blogs I will be sharing some life inspiring stories that came from that experience with you all!

Our wedding took place this past August, if you want to check out a highlight video capturing our special weekend please check it out at the link below:     

http://blog.ioanfilms.com/the-love-story-of-amrit-and-hanspaul-express-edit/

canCertainly...life life!

My Shadow…

April 26th, 2014

I made a choice to not let you define me. You entered my life without asking for my permission. You took some things from me; for that I hold no grudges. For a slight moment I thought you were gone and just an afterthought. I realize that I am naïve to think that; for you continue to enter the lives of people that surround me without an invitation. I recognize that no matter where I go, you follow.

I try not to think of you but can’t help disassociate my life from you. At each and every corner I go, there you are. Your presence is triggered and brought forth by certain things, places, smells and emotions that unlock part of my mental archive of thoughts that I don’t want to rehash. I thought you were gone and just an afterthought. I recognize that no matter where I go, you follow.

You must be extremely busy for not a day goes by where I don’t hear something related to you. I know you are hard at work invading another person’s body while you take things from their lives during your undetermined stay. When I see this happen before my eyes to a family member or a friend, I can’t help thinking about the time you invaded my body. The time I housed and gave you shelter without choice. I recognize that no matter where I go, you follow.

Be it as it may be, the shadow that you have cast is something that will always follow me. The slightest symptom that I feel immediately makes me think of your return. I recognize and accept that. I also recognize that no matter where you go, I don’t have to follow. In spite of your constant reminder and your ever present threat of reoccurrence looming over me like a dark cloud, I don’t fear your shadow. I don’t underestimate you and the fact that at any given day you may re-appear in my life, I just know that there is no point in running away from you. Because the honest truth is no one can. I have come to accept that and this has allowed me to live life with no expectations and a guarantee that tomorrow will come. What my shadow doesn’t show is my unbreakable will. It doesn’t show my determination to face adversity by focusing on things that are in my control; my emotions and my attitude.

canCertainly live life!

canCertainly & Ambition Nation!

November 17th, 2013

This entry is slightly different from my previous written blogs as it is in the form of a video.

I had a great time being part of an episode of Sarah Bismuth’s Ambition Nation where we talk about certain events in my life and how I coped with it and my overall outlook on life.

Please take the time to check out both Part 1 and 2 of the episode at the links below:

Ambition Nation – Cancertainly Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuJiHAvE9dE

Ambition Nation – Cancertainly Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDy4gFN6-VU

I encourage you all to support Sarah Bismuth’s vision and the great work she is doing with Ambition Nation!

Regards,

Hanspaul Singh Saund