Isn't this the truth so often in life?
When I started my journey with breast cancer, so many things were (and still are sometimes), complicated, chaotic, and confusing. What direction should I take in my healing and how to wade through so much conflicting information on every topic imaginable? How can something be so damn complicated???? One study shows one conclusion, another study shows the opposite. One doctor says one thing, another doctor says the opposite.
So what happens? You end up sitting in the middle of the floor and crying and completely overwhelmed - that is what happens. You don't know what direction to take and you can enter a space of total paralyzing fear. You know you have to pick a path. You feel an overwhelming need to pick the "right" path, after all this is your life right? No freaking pressure there - and so you just sit and stare at the many options in front of you and become completely frozen.
I often found myself wishing there was a menu board. "Breast Cancer Healing Menu" it would say in pretty nice font type. It would offer nice and tidy options - like THREE of them in total maybe. You pick one, you add sauce, you get your receipt and your instruction book on how to do it all and you are on your way.
Yeah - I haven't found one of those menus and trust me - I looked! There are so many options and ways to heal, so many menu options; especially if you are choosing an alternative or integrative approach to healing. It can all get overwhelming really quickly!
What I learned as I walked through and sat in these chaotic spaces of confusion, is that you have learn to listen to YOU. You know - that inner self that already has so many of the answers. The inner you we question and the inner you we so often quiet in the name of sanity and reality and science. Yeah, that you.
This was both amazing news to me and scary as hell news when I figured out that I needed to listen to this part of me. A part of me just wanted someone to tell me what to do or to confirm my choices at the very least. And while they are at it - maybe they could also give me 100% guarantee in writing. Is that too much to ask for in a day and age where we can replace a vital organ in a human?
What we find as travelers walking through this hurricane of information chaos, is that we have to be our own advocates. We have to take control and responsibility for our healing and our lives and our decisions. This is both empowering and terrifying. Once you practice however, the terror becomes less and the empower part begins to grow. This is really where the power is. The power to release, the power to heal, the power to learn, the power to grow, the power to listen to your body, the power to own your decisions, the power to fire doctors, the power to find your healing team, the power to add people to your life or remove them, and the power to do whatever the hell your life needs to make way for healing.
If you are at the terror phase of your journey….hold on my friend. It gets better, I promise. Reach out and ask those ahead of you on the trail. You will find your 'healing walking legs" and the world begins to spin a little less and you can find your center. You can. You can. You can.
On a particularly really BAD day, where I had researched until my eyes were about to implode, my nerves were shot, and my spirit was drained, confused, and just plain weary. I was sitting in some quiet time, or what I call meditation, and I asked God - "surely healing isn't this DAMN HARD!" Yes I swore at God that day and the answer was clear in return - "It's not".
Pause. Silence. What?
In my smartass, tired, weary sarcastic voice I replied, "Really? Because this feels really, really, really damn hard."
I didn’t hear a reply to that one. But I was left with something that changed something for me internally. I wasn't ready to hear an answer that day anyway. The "it's not" reply lingered in the air for a long time for me. I knew somewhere deep inside that it was right, I just didn't know what that meant for me. How do I make it 'not so damn hard'? I didn't know at the time, but as the year unfolded, as every day has passed, I have figured out how to make it a little easier. Am I there yet? Have I arrived yet? Nope, but I am much farther up the mountain than I was and it's changed how I look at everything. I have uncovered ways I can shift my thinking, my spirit, my perception, my food, ways to listen to my body, shift my stress, question everything, and listen with an open heart and mind. This is where the deep growth is in this experience - questioning everything and being open to hearing what we need to hear - not particularly what we 'want' to hear.
I was asking the wrong questions, I just didn't realize it. I was making it complicated, I just didn’t realize it. I was doing everything out of fear, I just didn't realize it. Well, that's not entirely true. When you sit with yourself and really see what is there and you find your center, you will see many things so clearly it hurts sometimes and releasing fear has been one of the biggest lessons for me on this journey. One layer at a time I am learning about myself, my inner world, and how I have made my outer world chaotic instead of simple. Ironically, in my journals over the past several years, you will find a resounding theme and call to simplify, simplify, simplify. One of those awe-haw moments. This journey has sure helped me see where that needed to happen in my life, it has lit the way with many bonfires! It has cut through the excuses and the layers and shot right to the center. The answers are different for each of us, but it's a worthy quest to ask the questions so you can find YOUR answers. This is a journey to your truest self, in all its messiness, shadows, light, swamps, and mountaintop views.
The answer I received that day of "it isn't", has been confirmed to me in various ways and through people, over the past year, (God knows I need reminders and confirmation). I have made so many things complicated, I am very much a linear thinking personality. I research like a crazy person, which has actually created more challenges and stress in many ways. I've had to really let this piece of me find some balance as it's presented more of a stumbling block to peace than not.
I have learned that when I start to feel that insane feeling inside of "I'm screwed if I eat fruit, I'm screwed if I don't eat fruit"...or pick your topic because honestly, in a healing journey, you will find there are conflicts about damn near everything, including eating broccoli! How can there be conflict about broccoli? I know right?
When I find I am in a tug of war in my spirit, that low key freak-out, fear, or even a full blown all-consuming anxiety feeling; I have learned to pay attention. It's like a neon light telling me I am OUT of my center. Big red lights are flashing saying caution, caution, caution, chaos, chaos, complicated, abort, abort, abort! This is when I know it's time to question. This is my que to push stop, close the laptop, close OneNote, put the books away, put my binders of research away, hang up the phone, cancel some doctor appointments, even shut down Facebook, and go sit with myself. This is when I will sit outside barefoot, I walk, I listen to music, I pull out my 'centering toolbox' and do what feels right at the moment and will settle my spirit down. I might pull out one my worksheets by Byran Katie (The Work - all war belongs on paper, I highly recommend googling it). I do what ever is needed to come back to center. I come back to 'home'. I get OUT of my brain and then everything seems a bit clearer. It's like magic! Seriously. This is the space we have to be in because this is where the answers are as well as peace. And did I mention fear and peace can't set up at the same camp? I am a slow learner by the way, I have to do this a LOT! Did I mention that? It is why all of these tools, like mediation, are a "practice".
The truth is, this is the space we must hold. This is where simple is waiting for anyone that cares to visit. The answers ARE simple. We just like to layer them in confusion sometimes. We don't do this on purpose, this can feel like a really long, scary, crazy ride. We don't complicate things because it's fun. The truth is we are saturated in information, opinions, options, and menus, lizard brain, ego, and it's hard. It's hard to wade through it all, it's hard to hold your equilibrium - it is. I believe that knowledge and information is empowering, I am definitely an information gal. However, it can also be a stumbling block and a reason to become paralyzed in fear. We become afraid of everything because there really is a 'peer reviewed paper' written somewhere showing that damn near everything in our world will kill you or created cancer. Please don't take that wrong - we have some BIG challenges in our environment, our stress levels, our lifestyles, our eating habits - all of it. And you learn this on steroids when you join this tribe. However, the space where confusion meets fear and chaos, is where we do more harm than good. Stress undermines everything. Fear keeps a constant cascade of chemicals flowing in your body that we don't want. It tells the body to run, fight, flee and shut down all the healing mechanism we need online.
I know, I know what you're thinking. You are on a scary journey but are told to not be afraid. I have thought about this on more than one occasion and laughed out loud - it's rather twisted, am I right? I get it. I've beaten myself up for this on more occasions than I care to even think. My inner gremlin and lizard brain has a field day with this one when I am out of my center. It's rather entertaining, but I am learning to quiet them all down. Because that's what "centering" yourself does. It shuts off gremlens and our lizard brain, it realigns you with a place inside yourself where simple is the purest expression of yourself. Centering yourself reminds you that you are a spirit in this life on a physical journey - not the other way around. Centering yourself will introduce you to your inner wisdom and strength. You will also eventually find the answers to questions you desire to know - all of them.
What we eat matters, what we drink matters, what we do each day matters, who we hang out with matters, finding a creative outlet maters, finding laughter matters. All of these things and more are important piece of a healing journey, however, I have learned that finding time to find my center has been more instrumental in healing than anything else. It is where miracles happen. I wish I had known this in the beginning of my walk. Many of you in this tribe know what I am talking about if you have been on this journey very long. This entire mountain climb is to bring you back to center in my humble opinion. It is a call to remember who you are, in all your beauty, perfection, and light.
What's the point? The point is, you have a center within you that has answers and that 'IS' your power. You may not have all the answers right now, in this moment, but getting quiet and listening will allow you to cut through the confusion and get to simple. Your spirit knows what simple is because your spirit came here to simply love, be loved, and to share your gifts. We sure have complicated life into something far different than this focus, but we can remember and choose to shift. We can return to it. It is our happy place. It is our work. It is where healing happens because you cannot have love and fear in the same space. It's LITERALLY impossible. How is that for awesome? Love heals. It always will, it always has. Love is about as simple as you get. We were created from love, we are love.
May you find your center my friend. May you practice whatever that looks like for you. Maybe its prayer, it may be music, it may be nature, it may be chanting, it may be a candle in a quiet room, it may be earthing in the grass with the awareness of life around you, it may be doing yoga, it may be doing qigong, it may be spending time with loved ones, it may be laughing, it may be creating something to share in this world, it may be doing "the work" by Byran Katie, it may be service, it may be 100 different things. We are all different and yet we ALL have a center space that is calling us home. Find it. Practice it every day. Make time to cultivate and plug into this space because it will shift your entire life from complicated to simple.
Blessings on your journey!
In Hope and Healing -
If I had read these words at the start of my healing journey on a bad day, I just might have 🙄 eye rolled and had a low-level of "what the hell-ever" cyclical attitude as well as a few choice vocal words on the topic!
Yeah….we go through those moments when processing all the ups and downs of some of life's hard story lines - like a loss or diagnoses. It's a blah, blah, blah, yeah, yeah, yeah…I needed this change right? On some "cosmic grand scheme" of things there is purpose here right? There sure as hell better be since you realize you have been asked to walk through the deeply trans-formative and painful process of change.
Change. Such a little word for such a really BIG project!
I had a many of these cynical moments, especially as the realization hit home as to what a cancer diagnoses meant. There ARE moments of asking why. Moments of asking how in gods-green earth did this happen? These are the moments when you fully realize - this is NOT going to be fun and that it just might have some really monumentally hard and crappy moments along the way. It hits you - all of it, what exactly is being asked of you. Change. Damn….hard….change.
Then there are moments where something deep within knows. It sees the profound truth in the statement that "change was indeed "needed". Because either life does have purpose… or it doesn't. Either we are here to do something, learn something, travel through something, or it's meaningless and pointless. Either it ALL has purpose or NONE of it does, it can't be both and you can't cherry pick the toppings when it suits you. We don't get to pick the good moments and say they have purpose and meaning, but the crappy, shitty, hard-as-hell moments, are just bad luck and random. It doesn't work that way.
Somewhere in me, I knew the fire walk I was about to go through DID have meaning. Deep, soul redefining, life undoing, refiners-fire kind of meaning; which meant change, lots, and lots of change. I knew the walk would truly be hard. I knew it would unravel every level of fear I had accumulated in my 47 years of life on the planet. I knew the word "change" seemed awfully fluffy to describe what this journey would, (and still does), require of me, both physically and spiritually. I knew. I know still. But I also knew I couldn't go back, I couldn't take it away, it was done, I was in this moment. I knew there was only one way to find out what was ahead of me and that was to take one step, then another, then another, and just simply walk through it - all of it; the calm spaces, the storming places, the valley's and the hilltops.
And I was right. The cynical part of me that once eye-rolled at fluffy quotes that tried to make sense of the madness and chaos, soon retreated into the "knowing" part of me that change was here. Like it or not, it was what it was. Change was required. Change was "needed".
Change makes us grow. Change is guaranteed here in this life, nothing ever stays the same. The is beauty and promise in that, but also some shadow and longing. We are always evolving. Change is a process that will help you rediscover things you would never have known about yourself. Things, I dare say…..we maybe even contracted to learn here in this life.
Today in my life. I still have hard moments, but the cynicism is gone - mostly. Today I see a very different landscape around me. This life will take you to and through the hard places. The scary places. YOUR scary places. We aren't guaranteed an easy walk here, but we are guaranteed a 'learning walk'. I believe it's why we chose to be here.
If you are at the beginning of what looks like a long road ahead of you and you have been called to grow and change - please be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel it all, the cynicism, the gratitude, the hurt, the fear, the release, the hope, the utter calmness that surrounds you when you finally let go and just be with it all. That's the point you know. To just be with it. To just be YOU….with it. To see what unravels, what comes up, what image is reflected in at the water's edge as you look in the water. You will get there. You WILL be okay. If you just keep walking, you will find these pockets of peace and the breathtaking spaces that make the journey stunning at times. In order to see them and experience them though, you will have to walk. You will have to walk on the weary days, the sad days, the scary days - all the days. But the steps get easier and the lessons come quicker and the air gets crisper, and the view can be breathtaking. And one day, you will look back at the path you have taken and see the miles you have walked. You will see things you cannot imagine and you will even sit and feel gratitude for the walk. Yeah….really. You will, if you let it unfold. You are unfolding YOU. You are doing sacred work. I am not sure I would have raised my hand and said "pick me, pick me" for this process. But I have been able to unwrap some pretty breathtaking gifts. I have had some pretty sacred moments in the weary and dark places of this experience. Moments I am so grateful for.
So, today I know for sure that life is change. Life is temporary. Life is calling us to be ourselves. Life is calling us to share ourselves. Life is calling us to LOVE ourselves. Life is calling us to learn to just 'be'. It's a daily decision and a daily walk - but it gets easier.
So much power in one little word.
It might not be what we thought we wanted, but it just might be what was needed to take us to places we needed to see.
Sending love and hope.
I have had the privilege of being on this planet for 47+ years and counting. Something I have learned to never take for granted after walking through a healing journey with breast cancer. I am a mother to 6 amazing and diverse kids and a wife to my partner and love. I am a writer, Massage Therapist, Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach, and a fellow life-traveler on a quest to bring hope and encouragement to a world that has too often lost it.