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This weekend when my husband and I were playing tennis, he was really working my backhand…ball after ball after ball. I found myself focused, able to stay with each ball as it flew toward me and each time I responded with some pretty good shots right back at him. I realized after we were done playing, that a year ago my backhand, while not exactly a thing of beauty now, was pitiful. It was the worst part of my game…weak. Now, when a backhand shot comes my way, I am able to hit it with a fair degree of confidence, even if not as hard or as accurately as I’d like. This got me thinking about how playing tennis with someone who is and always will be a better player than I am has raised my game.

Tennis is often a metaphor for life for me, like baseball is for those who love that game. When I realized that playing tennis with someone better than me, has made me better too, I also realized that surrounding myself with people who cope better than I do, laugh more than I do and are filled with a sense of gratitude for life also makes me a better person. I am lifted in their presence. I find that I am a more appreciative person around people who understand the importance of true joy. Being around people who are apt to find light in darkness and hope in dire times raises my spirit and makes me want to strive to do the same.

I find that even with my sarcoidosis, I look to surround myself with people I admire. People who have this disease but seek to continue the fight to live a good life. I prefer the company of those who do not allow this disease to define them. I am better able to cope with my own sarcoidosis when I am surround myself with those who do it with grace, humor and a very purposeful sense of gratitude. Being around people who strive to cope with their own disease in positive ways, makes me acutely aware of how I am choosing to cope as well and that I can always do and be better.