Most afternoons, the sunlight coming through the high-set windows in the bathroom plays with the mirrors and the shower glass, leaving a colourful trail on the corridor’s carpeted floor outside my bedroom. There are days when my private little rainbow doesn’t appear, and other days when it may be there, I don’t notice it.

I don’t know anyone who is indifferent to rainbows. Do you? No matter how many times I see them, I never fail to react with awe at this phenomena, which is on the brink of some ethereal apparition. The rainy day suddenly lifts up when the sun pushes through the dark clouds and the sky seems so close to me, as if I could touch the colourful arch and feel its radiance.

Some feel that life is complex and grey and impart that on others. Such highly questionable teaching sometimes gives us permission to justify our indolent demeanour, excusing ourselves from blame or responsibility. It is life’s fault. What can we do? We shrug our shoulders in oblivious passivity.

However life is an abstract concept, only existing in the function of everything that breathes and evolves, and to believe that life dictates to us seems somehow outlandish – and puts us in a position of total submission and powerlessness. We become life’s victims, crossing our arms and accepting that or reacting with anger and frustration. Whichever way, we are not achieving anything.

When disruption swept away the comfortable routine of my existence and I was thrown out of balance, facing a life threatening condition, the uncoloured greyness became gloomier, and obscurity clouded my days, until I decided to lift the shadows and find gems under the rubble.

I chose to live an uncomplicated and colourful life. Does this mean everything is hunky-dory all of a sudden? No way. What it means is that, in spite of all the crappy stuff that happens all the time, I choose to enjoy every day and to not sweat the pettiness of things.

I also choose to be present and to believe I am okay wherever I am, without wanting to change or to avoid what I feel. Distraction and avoidance had been my downfalls.

I decided to take ownership, to be in control, to change my perception of what surrounds me. It’s as if I had been seeing reality from the top of a mountain and then decided to climb down slowly, not missing anything in my descent. I’m now at the bottom of the mountain, no more looking down. Instead, I am looking around. I’m at the same level as others; I’m part of the big picture and more connected to it all. Does this make any sense? It does to me!

What if I had chosen this challenging, arduous path in order to learn from my experience? If I had written my own story, long before I set foot on this world, I certainly could rewrite it, and in the process, I could redefine and reinvent myself. I can write a little everyday and see where my writing takes me, free of expectations or assumptions.

My body has changed in some ways but the most significant change has happened at a different level: in my mind and in my heart. I opened my eyes to a new kind of normality.

The yesterday normal – what I perceived as ‘right’, ‘familiar’ and ‘comfortable’ – has gone. When the old normal wasn’t there for me anymore, when parts of my body felt strange, when I couldn’t do the same as I had before, I came to face the choice: I could reject the new normal with its uncertainties or slide in and open myself to its possibilities. I opted for the latter.

I no longer waste my precious time tilting at windmills; nor do I chase rainbows. I see windmills for what they are. They are not phantoms; they are not worth a dime. And a rainbow is a distorted virtual image of the sun, thus impossible to reach.

Truth be told, I am an idealist and a dreamer but I don’t fall into quixotic reveries.

My idealism spreads its wings and touches different areas in my life. Together with my dreams it has been a driving force, taking me to places I had never imagined I would end up. Like Einstein said, “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” Totally agree. I get the power from my dreams. They are what pushes me forward, what gives me the strength to move mountains and to make things happen. They whisper in my ear that nothing stays the same, and nothing lasts forever.

Even rainbows look different each time I gaze at them. That is the beauty of living.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julieta Ferriera recently published her first book in English, ‘From Where I Stand’, after dealing with cancer. She is also a published author in Portugal. Contact Julieta via