I've been away from this space for a few months not by choice, people. Suffice it to say, Cancer sucks. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer on January 29th and from that day on I have had some epic revelations.
I'm not going to go into detail because it's just too personal and heavy and we don't need anymore heavy in our lives. I do however, want to document what I've learned along the way through what has been the fastest crash course on the meaning of life ever. It's my experience that I'm letting wash over me as I write so this isn't a "How To" guide by any means. I think what I have to say is more about the unexpected capacities that we have and how we need to get out of our own way on a lot of stuff. This is what I've learned so far...
I've learned that when intense emotions come bubbling up I HAVE to honor them in whatever way is needed to let them go. Cry, purge, run, expend energy in some way that isn't self-destructive or hurtful to anyone else so that I've processed said emotions and they aren't squatting in the cells of my body setting up camp in my adrenal glands waiting to wreak havoc the next time I get stressed. I'm letting it out and as a result I feel better and things look clearer on the other side. If that makes me a crier, oh well...I'm a healthy one and that's fine with me!
I've learned that people have an enormous capacity for compassion when a friend is in need. I'm so thankful for all the support that came out of no where when this shit went down. With this support I managed to not let the shit hit me that was flying all around me and other loved ones in my life because I took a step back and was able to look at the situation with gratitude for having support...because not everyone does and that's something to be VERY thankful for.
I've learned that we are of no use to anyone else if our well is dry. Period. This is something I've touched on before and try to address with a group on Facebook. I have many friends, family and colleagues who are caregivers in some capacity in both their professional and personal life so this concept is very near and dear to my heart. People who work to take care of other people are only able to do so if they take care of themselves. This is something that isn't always encouraged in every profession, teaching included. There are tiny cracks forming thankfully in the "Work till you drop" premise perpetuated by the American Dream. Companies all over are addressing employee wellness as a priority...but it's slow going. What we need to do to make sure people are functioning at their best for the job that needs to be done is an important question for this country. Whether that job is taking care of others, or putting together components of an engine on an assembly line...it matters that they're are all there. I speak of this monolith of an issue because my own recent experience has ramped up my need to find the best ways to refill the well and often so that I am in the best place possible to be of service. Refilling the well at this point in my life is about rediscovering what brings me joy. Putting the laptop away, the phone down, and engaging without fear of judgement or criticism. Getting out of my own way and using my time to unclench from the week instead of bracing for the next one. It goes without saying that my creative practices as an artist are a part of this but it does require a mental shift for me. After years of preparing materials for others it's an odd feeling to prepare them for myself. (How dare I!) But that permission is vital. Learning to quell any guilt about taking care of ourselves is key...even if part of that means saying no to somethings, so you can say yes to others.
I will close by saying I'm writing this on a Sunday at a coffee shop where I am a regular. It's kinda my wknd routine to hang out here as it helps me shift my focus from my todo list at home to a neutral space where I'm unencumbered. But I have to get up and move because sitting isn't the answer either. So I'm going to a yoga class today and am going to make a promise to myself to get 3 in this week. An opportunity for joy in the midst of it all....how can we say no to that! <3