“Life is the art of living with uncertainty without being paralyzed by fear.” ~Dr. W. Dillon
I didn’t immediately look at going through cancer as an opportunity to rework my life, even though I knew it to be a wake-up call and change was needed. But I didn’t make those changes. Quite the contrary. All throughout treatment, I longed for a return to my old life, some sense of “normalcy”. Partly I could barely see the end of the treatment period, it seemed like it would last forever, making it difficult to imagine what my life could look like after cancer. And partly because treatment and healing took up all my energy…I didn’t have enough available band width to imagine anything different.
But now it’s coming on 4 years, and even though I’ll be on Aromasin until the end of 2019, it’s time to make some changes. And I think a lot of us are in the same place.
As you might imagine, life is not very “normal” for us right now as we progress through Jess’ recovery from open-heart surgery. He usually manages most of the domestic stuff of our life, while I handle the business stuff. It’s been a rather abrupt shift to suddenly be doing both. Of course, I did do that in my former marriage, but that was over 20 years ago – not so easy now.
Jess is still at the stage of needing a lot of sleep to heal. He’s up for a couple of hours, then napping for a couple. I initially tried to catch up on everything that has been sitting these past few weeks. Then a friend said, “just like when you have a new baby in the house, you sleep when they sleep.” And my mother said, “don’t worry that the kitchen floor needs washing. Do only the things you must do right now and ignore the rest.” Boy, talk about upsetting my inner perfectionist! Didn’t think I needed outside permission, but obviously, I did.
I guess I'm still a work in progress...
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~George Eliot
Based on reactions to my earlier writings, it seems I’m not the only one here who has tried to be perfect. In some ways, “perfect” is not difficult to imitate. In fact, it’s usually easy to imagine the requirements of “perfect” in whatever particular niche your local self is in, and put that on for the world to see. Many of us started doing that about the same time we started elementary school.
“But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~ Anna Quindlen
Becoming yourself IS so much more difficult. There are no blueprints, plans, YouTubes or infographics...
"Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time
to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from
the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel."
Are you taking care of yourself? When we get busy (and it
seems like we only get more so, not less), self-care practices
like meditating, exercising, getting enough sleep, connecting
with those we care about, and spending time on the activities
we love are the first things we jettison.
This post started with the working title, “Protecting the Asset”, because I read somewhere that when we start thinking of ourselves, our energy, our purpose and passion, as an asset needing protection to continue functioning at optimum levels, we start making decisions differently. It’s a bit like protecting one’s financial assets in that the principal must be conserved in order to keep generating income. It’s why the airlines instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” --Unknown
This is not an easy attitude to adopt -- we’ve grown up in a culture that treats the idea of self-care as if it’s selfish, over-indulgent, unproductive, unbecoming, and not something “good” people do. In fact, not only is self-care not taught, but NOT taking care of ourselves is somehow supposed to be a sign of virtue and modesty. It’s not, taking care of ourselves is a matter of survival.
I realize whole books have been written about self-care and my musings here can only scratch the surface, but it’s often on my mind as I look to integrate this into my life.
When I first answered a classified ad for the Foundation for Mind Research many years ago in New York, I had absolutely no idea who Dr. Jean Houston was, nor had I heard anything at all about her work in the world. So, suddenly I became an assistant to one of the leading pioneers of the human potentials movement, and learned so much more than I had ever imagined.
Jean Houston is a scholar, philosopher, and researcher in the field of human capacities. She’s also known as a provocateur of human potentials - and a keen observer of irreverence and whimsy. Among her many gifts is the ability to synthesize a deep knowledge of history, culture, new science, spirituality, and human development as she inspires personal growth and imaginative thinking. (I never had a clue about any of that stuff.) She’s an incredibly compelling speaker and has counseled heads of state, social leaders, educational institutions and business organizations globally, bringing forth new visions to expand human possibilities.
At the end of March, we had an opportunity to attend an evening with Anita Moorjani, author of New York Times bestsellers, Dying to Be Me, and What If This is Heaven? It was a special evening at the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living in Encinitas. I’d read her first book, Dying to Be Me, which details her remarkable 4-year journey from end-stage cancer, through near-death experience, to total healing, ...
“Every artist is a philosopher who records images rather than words.” --Jess Freher-Lyons
Movement and transformation are persistent themes in my work. I didn’t actually reach this observation all by myself. My husband, Jess, brought it up in passing one day, assuming I was already aware of it. I wasn’t exactly...
Most of us know the benefits of meditation, but can’t seem to find the time. For years, my daily practice included both journaling and seated meditation. Sometime during the past decade, both dropped out of my daily routine, and try as I occasionally do to take these helpful practices back up, I don’t seem to be able to access the state of mind which once supported them easily.
The creation of art provides another way into the meditative state.
I have wondered if perhaps it’s because I was born premature, 7 months instead of the usual 9, that I almost never feel quite ready for whatever it is that I’m getting ready to do. I am pretty good at organizing and planning large and complicated projects, but even so, I rarely feel ready if the something I’m working on is personal, as opposed to work-related.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes."
-- Charles Swindoll
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
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