Today marks 3 years since I got the call confirming what I already knew… And what we all now know.
What I didn’t know at that time was- What would happen to the baby growing inside of me? What would my husband and 1 year old do if something happened to me? How would I choose to handle the news? And I definitely did not comprehend how dramatically my life and outlook on life would change.
That call obviously shook my world and the world of my family and friends. And I often wonder if baby Wyatt could feel it too. But after speaking with my team of doctors, my first concern was addressed. The baby in my belly would be perfect… and he is. Sometimes a perfect pain in the keister but still perfect.
And thankfully I am still here to witness the great father John is to our little humans. And I get to see Harlon growing up to be an amazing child. AND it turns out, I handled the diagnosis and what followed pretty OK. Of course, I had and continue to have my shit days. And my complete shit days. And my “I’m never leaving my bed because life isn’t fair” shit days. But I try to keep a positive outlook as often as possible (while giving myself permission to throw the occasional pity party). And I remind myself that I get to choose if I walk around miserable and mean or if I want to choose to look at the positives and radiate joy.
This way of thinking is not for everyone, I get that. And I have never tried to push my views on life onto anyone else. I mean, we all get to walk our own paths. But I remember reading a quote by another survivor right after I was diagnosed which said “Breast cancer can change you, but the change can be beautiful”. I have tried to wholeheartedly embody that idea by looking for the beauty even when it seems to be pure shit surrounding me.
I know I don’t post very often about my story anymore. But it’s not because I am “all better” or “over it”, but it’s because I am busy living this life I’ve been blessed with, spending my time with the people I love and who spark pure joy in my heart. This disease has taught me what is important and what is not, where I want to focus my energy and where I can let go. I am busy with my family, teaching yoga, supporting others who’ve been diagnosed, working on projects… all with the goal to leave the world better and more joyous than I found it and to be the light for others when the darkness tries to consume them.
Truthfully, anxiety still haunts me, as it always has. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever get past the feeling of ‘running out of time’. But life continues to be put into perspective and it’s nice to know we are all in this together…
So cheers to many, MANY, M A N Y more years to come!
You hear the term often, I’m sure. In Insta-Land alone there are over 16 million posts hash-tagged #selfcare. So it seems like we are aware of the idea but do we really know what it means to practice self care? And more importantly, are we taking the time to practice?
If you aren’t familiar with the idea, self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. Or as psychologist Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” And the practice can vary drastically from person to person. With our crazy busy lives, overly packed schedules, and nearly constant comparisons to strangers on the internet (if you don’t participate in the last one, damn you’re good because that shit can be hard) self care often gets over looked.
While writing this, I was inspired to revisit my Simplify post of things that make me happy and ways to practice acts of self care. You can check it out here.
But before getting too far ahead, I think it’s also important to know what self care is not. First off- it is not selfish. Remember how when you get on a plane and the flight attendant reminds you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others? They get it… because, really, what good are you going to be if you’re passed out and slumped under the tray table in front of you with your face smashed into your carry on backpack? You’re not. No good. Not unless you take care of your self first.
Self care also isn’t something you force upon yourself- but instead, is a compilation of things that naturally bring a smile to your face, things that make you feel full of goodness. And once you are ‘good’, you can then let your cup of goodness overflow to others… because you can’t pour from an empty cup. You feel me? I should also note, to be super clear- It is not something that we force ourselves to do just because it seems right. If you hate bubble baths- don’t take a bubble bath! Your self care, your decision. It is not necessarily what others have defined as self care.
This practice can be woven into your daily life. For example- giving yourself permission to let go of those persistent energy vampires in your life can be incredibly empowering and healthy. If you walk away from someone feeling completely drained each and every time, it might be a sign to let go, simply because that energy suck can lead you to being incapable of caring for yourself.
The practice can also be something that you schedule in to make sure you don’t overlook YOU. An example of this might look like scheduling an hour a day to do something that truly brings you joy. Or scheduling a massage once a month if that’s what tickles your fancy. Remember, self care is necessary in order to keep us in tip top shape- so release the guilt that might try and creep in and trust that taking care of yourself is also the best way to take care of and serve others.
Some of my favorite acts of self care include:
Epsom Salt Baths
Yeah, I’m that bitch. No shame in my game, I love a hot, half an hour bath in silence. Or maybe with a little John Mayer playing guitar only for me.
Just getting ideas out of my head and on ‘paper’ releases so much stress for me. When I write things out, it has the ability to take away the power a negative thought may have had over me. Journaling can be extremely therapeutic… once you get past the feeling of being a young teeny-bopper pouring her little heart out.
Giving Myself Permission to Say No
“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”– Jen Hatmaker. Preach sister. If I can only half ass it, or not give it my full attention, or do it just to bitch about it the entire time- it might be best that I bow out in the beginning to avoid resentment and stress later on. I’m learning to really dig boundaries.
My alone time is sacred. It is when I calm down, process, and recharge. I love quiet and I require time where I can focus my energy on only me. Working, being a parent, a partner, etc. are all wonderful things but they can also take a lot out of you. Setting aside alone time to just BE is be-utiful. For me- sometimes this looks like waiting until everyone is asleep and organizing and consolidating my many sticky notes from the week, preparing my schedule for the upcoming month, organizing my to-do lists and upcoming projects, or just taking a moment to step back and re-evaluate priorities. And sometimes it looks like me… sitting there… in a locked bathroom… savoring the silence.
Connecting with nature may sound hippy-dippy and very woo-woo but I dig it. If possible, I take my shoes off and connect with the earth, face up to the sky so to take in the sun or the moon. Being outside is an instant refresher for me. And if I can hear birds chirping and singing, it’s an added bonus. No shits- I will literally hug a tree if it feels right.
Affirmations and Belly Breathing
Affirmations are my jam. I have been using them for years to help manifest positives in my life but also as a form of self care. When things seem out of my control or overwhelming, I say to myself “Breathe, everything is happening exactly as it should be” or I might remind myself that “I am enough”. Affirmations paired with deep belly breaths can help calm the nervous system, alleviate stress, and improve confidence. Plus, breathing is pretty important to living, so there’s that. * Special thanks to my pal Jacqueline who introduced me and the tiny humans to this number one hit.
Not just anything without a button and zipper, I mean like early 90’s PE clothes sweatpants. Not leggings, not swishy pants, not PJ pants. I’m talking Straight. Up. Sweatpants. They just make me happy. Pair them up with an undisturbed binge sess’ of a Dr. Pimple Popper marathon… that, right there, that is my ultimate self care.
What self care is not for me: Spending money I don’t have in the name of self care just to stress later and require more intense self care. I mean, I’m all for Treat Yo’ Self as long as Yo’ Self can afford it. There are lots of free and inexpensive ways to take care of your mind, body, soul. And it won’t look the same for everyone.
Oh, and to be clear- It’s definitely not being a total bitchwad and labeling it as self care. Because, rude.
If you are struggling with what self care looks like for you, start by jotting some ideas down. Get your mind used to the idea that self care is not selfish and instead, so very necessary. Eventually your mind will begin to recognize what fills your cup and ideas will start to flow.
If you already practice, what are your preferred acts of self care? Comment below… because you never know when sharing your story might be the ceremonial fire lighting under someone else’s ass.
Lately, the kids and I have been talking a lot about school and why they go. It’s usually started by a complaint from one of them on the way there. And by complaint, I’m talking screaming, kicking, and tears. Usual kid stuff, right?…. Right?
They ask me why they have to go, tell me they’d rather stay home- and then I remind them that they can’t stay home because mama and daddy have to go to work and make money, honey. Most times they get it because they remember that money (or when Har was little he called it fucking mundy 😂) is what we use to buy treats, toys, food, clothes, a roof to live under…
I’ve been trying to explain to them that they have to go to school so that when they grow up, they can be whatever they want to be. They’ll then start to ramble off all of the rad professions that interest them- firefighter, animal doctor, paleontologist, police officer. It’s exciting to hear them dream about their futures and I hope that John and I can support them to find what truly fits them and brings joy and fulfillment. So we discuss that when they get a little older, they get to choose classes based on their interests. And until then, if they want to learn more about a profession, we will find a way for them to meet someone face to face and they can ask all of the questions they can come up with.
It’s funny, as far as I can remember, I never really concerned myself with these thoughts as a kid. I mean, ok- yeah, I had wanted to be a singing veterinarian for a while, and then a Fly Girl on In Living Color or a member of Wilson Phillips, and then a stand up comedian… And obviously, those things take a certain level of dedication and talent- that I totally lacked and they ultimately didn’t work out. But wouldn’t it had been cool if they did? And then after elementary school, I don’t really remember dreaming about what I wanted to ‘be’.
Fast forward lots of years, I graduated college with a BA in Applied Design and a minor in Sociology and a total lack of drive to do anything with them. Then my quarter life crisis hit hard and lasted too long- I felt I was continuously searching for my purpose and who I wanted to be as a ‘grown up’.
About 8 years after graduation, John and I got married and had our first baby. To be totally honest- and I have probably said this before somewhere on these interwebs- I never thought I wanted to get married or have kids- but of course the universe had different plans and these things turned out to be some of the most spectacular pieces to my life’s story and have since helped to mold me into a person that I am proud to be.
Really, every happy, sad and difficult moment and life experience has helped create my reality and I am truly thankful for them all. No matter how fucking shitball-terrible they felt (and sometimes continue to feel) in the moment(s).
So when Har asked me this morning what I want to be when I grow up, a smile filled my face as I responded with “well babe, I am already what I want to be.” I told him how when I go to work during the day, I get to work in an office filled with people who are helping others find affordable living situations. When I leave at nighttime and on the weekends, I am helping people heal themselves through yoga, meditation, reiki, and other energy aspects. And when I am with them and John, I am a wife and mom to the most special people.
Motherhood and wifehood (is that a thing? Wifehood? It should be. It is now) are by far my most difficult roles- mostly because I never get to ‘clock out’… but they are also the most rewarding, fulfilling, and important roles for me. The universe blessed me with a supportive and loving husband who puts up with all my crazy, lack of patience and focus, and intense mood swings. My children have made me realize what I am capable of, how much I can love, and continue to teach me about the world around us, about other beings, and about myself.
So, to me, the question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ isn’t just limited to a profession. I think it includes the person you want to be too. And I want to be a kind and loving person. A supportive family member, friend, human.
Life is a process, a journey, a chapter book… or how ever the heck you choose to refer to it. Where I am in this part of my story, I am happy. I am who I want to be and with the people I want to be with. All while remembering that it’s an ongoing process and we are all forever evolving.