Life is Life (Part 7 of Michelle’s blog series)

by Michelle Karl

This is the 7th post for Michelle’s Summer blog series. Her previous SaraBella posts include, “Cancer, Set Me Free“, “Fuel For Growth“, “Floating Together“, “Just Love“, “Seeking Water” and “Taking Hold“. She has shared her insight about her 16 month battle with (against) stage 2 breast cancer as she adventures on a 3-week road/boat trip through Wyoming, Idaho, Montana & British Columbia — to fish, camp, explore, reflect, and rejoice. We hope you enjoy the last post of the series — thanks to Michelle for her honest, insightful, and beautiful reflections of her story. You can follow Michelle on FB @

Appreciation. You cannot both feel sorry for yourself and feel appreciation at the same time. The two feelings and actions contradict each other. In the last sixteen month I have had ample material in my life to do both.

During cancer, I did not allow myself to feel sorry for myself very often. I had little opportunity to do so anyway. I was an open book and let the people around me, to the best of my ability, know how I was doing and what I needed. The result was so much love and positive encouragement that I was able to remain positive, mostly. The one thing I did find myself missing was good ‘ol, belly laughing, fun. I anticipated that this vacation would be filled with a backlog of overdue fun. I would get to go mountain biking, camping, and hiking. I would learn a new sport and float through beautiful, pristine landscapes. I thought I would be so full of fun and happiness that maybe, I would just explode.

What I found was that life is life. Living in the present is not always easy and three weeks of vacation can sometimes feel like a little too much togetherness. There was a part of me that felt like I did not get all the laughter I was owed.

Then these moments would sneak in. Playing three looooong games of Uno in our tent, sleeping under the stars as a thunderstorm rolled in, watching my daughters get up on water-skis for the first time, playing PIG with my husband at the hot springs, taking river baths, doing yoga as I watched the sunset over a clear lake, catching my first fish on a dry fly. Time would stop.

The happiness did not show up the way I had expected. It was something more penetrating. It was peace and love and wonder and connection. It was looking at this beautiful world that we all live in and really, deeply and soulfully, appreciating the gifts that life has for all of us.

I remind my clients all the time that there is always struggle in our lives. Now I am reminding myself. It looks different for each of us. Nobody really has it easier or harder. We all have our burdens that we carry. We also have our gifts.

Life always pushes against the struggle. Life will win. It may feel like the good is hiding or stubbornly avoiding us at times, but the good is always there. We have to get past the judgment and the packaging. Sometimes our greatest gifts in life will be felt while we are in the midst of crisis. Sometimes, we need to reframe our experience, look around at what is in front of us so we can appreciate what the world holds.

Today I remind myself, not my clients, to loosen the grip. To let go of control and trust – that what is waiting for me is beautiful. I vow to watch more sunsets, find more water, count my blessings, and listen for the laughter. I hope that you can do the same.

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