As the Gymnastics Coach at UCLA from 1991 to 2019 Valerie Kondos Field, often referred to as Miss Val, coached the Bruins to seven National Championships.
Miss Val's book Life Is Short, Don't Wait to Dance is a must read for everybody.
A key part of Miss Val's positive approach to life is that she looks at every situation with the best possible perspective: "I get to…". Miss Val took this approach when she successfully battled breast cancer. In her book, Miss Val expands on the topic:
"It was the spring of 2014 and I was driving home after a day of errands. My phone rang and I picked it up. It was my doctor. She told me to pull the car over to the side of the road. She said, "Your tests have come back positive. You have breast cancer."
I hung up the phone and at that moment I heard a voice from the universe—God—say, "Be anxious for nothing and grateful for all things."
Be anxious for nothing! My life has been forever changed! Rather than being engulfed in the fear and darkness of cancer, I was being commanded to not be anxious or fearful and instead to choose gratitude. But I didn't know how I was supposed to do this.
When I met with my oncologist, she said, "If you choose to, you're going to go through a year of chemo and surgery, but you'll be fine."
Be anxious for nothing. At that moment I got it. I knew exactly how I wasn't going to be anxious. I understood the proverbial equation. The way to not be anxious was by living each moment in gratitude. I realized that anxiety and gratitude can't coexist in the brain. That being the case, I had to choose… I chose gratitude.
I don't have to get chemotherapy. I get to have chemo. It was a choice. My choice.
I get to breathe. I get to work. I get to dance. I get to hug my girls, and my family, and my grandchildren, and strangers! I get to put gas in my car because, yay, I have a car to put gas in. I get to wake up early to prepare for work because, yay, I have a job.
This one revelation, "I get to…" changed my outlook on everything I think about and do every day. I discovered an invaluable new cue to my life. When I acknowledge that everything I do in life is a choice, I realize that the best decision I can make in any situation begins with gratitude. Gratitude is 100 percent choice. Gratitude isn't something I hope I could have, it's a deliberate effort in how I feel."
Miss Val beat breast cancer.
So did my wife...