And the things you always meant to do

I glanced over the list of 200 things I still want to do. It included places to visit, international travel, books to read, martial arts, surfing, growing garden vegetables and knitting.

Approaching in the calendar was another routine doctor’s appointment. I felt a shoulder-wide cloud of sadness. The list was a reminder of so much life still unlived. Why had I put off these things? What was I waiting for?

I knew the almost grown-up things I told myself, as I kept moving from city to city, managing crisis after crisis, break-up after new romance. I thought I was being responsible by gearing up for the “until” and peering across the wilderness of my maturity for the “when-I’m-ready.”

But then the diagnosis and biopsies, MRI’s and chemo. What was the point of putting it off? Where was my “until?”

A humbling lesson in recovery was that conditions will never be just right. For a planner like me, the timing will never be exact. The beauty of getting it done is that the joy is still bursting through the circumstances that were always a little “off.”

What would your list of 200 things look like? Are you waiting, wanting and wishing? If there were one thing on that list that you could do/visit or learn within the next 30 days, what would it be? In what area of your life is it still “unlived?”

Blessings,
Mahal

 

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Rushing Back to Normal

If I could pick out my biggest mistake during recovery, it’s rushing back to what I thought was normal.

Rushing back to my familiar routines took my focus off the process of healing. It distracted my attention from taking in the victories of the day. I ended up feverishly working toward this standard that wasn’t relevant, helpful or healthy. It’s similar to watching a mouse in a maze, but the mouse made the maze for himself. It sounds odd, but I’ve observed that we all have this tendency when we’re managing change, even if the change is GOOD for us.

What I would’ve done differently:

1. Scrap what I thought was normal. I tried so hard to do all the things I was doing before surgery and treatment. I completely missed the mark. My job was to recover, not retreat, revisit or regress. Recovery takes work. It pulls out things about us that we don’t normally tap into. The luxuries are gone. The energy isn’t the same. That’s actually the beauty of it. Re-purpose recovery to CREATE something functional, purposeful and aligned with this season in your life. Recovery means redefining. In some cases, we will have to be our own emotional pioneers.

2. Celebrate the daily victories. No wonderment from winning the day is too small. Everything counts. Recovery forces us to view life at almost millisecond speed, honing in on every quirk and balance. We need a really keen eye for joy, a tuned ear for contentment, a clean heart for change.

3. Leave the other stuff behind. What once was, was. Reminiscing on how we used to do things and what we used to have, has its purpose. But be careful that we aren’t dwelling and longing for something that will choke our chances of contribution in the present time. What I’ve said to people is to put those memories in a mental drawer and open it when it helps you feel WELL, not worthless.

I had a boss who took over our department after an 8-month job search from being laid off from a large international insurance company. She seemed like a nice lady, but every time we would bring up ideas, she would refer back to her old job. “Back at so-and-so, we used to…” Her memories became this wall and it was challenging to appreciate her expertise.

When friends or family would see me during recovery, one of their first questions was, “Are you back to normal?” Can’t knock ’em. That’s their only gauge of wellness. “The new normal is good,” I would say. And smile really big so they believe me. 🙂

But that’s the truth. And that’s what I would encourage you to hold on to. Change and recovery gives us a unique license to explore and create new standards of success in our lives that we would not have, if it were not for these situations. We don’t have to go “back to normal.” It’s already here.

Blessings,

Mahal

I hate victim language, including my own.

I am so used to having limitations that I have conditioned people around me to keep treating me like I’m still in treatment. Now it’s time to re-train my own expression and set new examples of wellness language. Rewiring the language of deficiency is a new challenge.

Here are my own habitual statements. I’m working on changing the way I express them to breathe positive reinforcement and forward-looking verbiage. All this time, the one holding me back is me.

im overweight→ i like working on getting in shape.

i dont have a clean house → i like getting to know my space again.

i wont have enough money → i like the challenge of working on a budget.

im single → im single. 🙂  [This is fine the way it is].

Blessings,

Mahal

The Weird Thing About (Not) Picking Up Stuff From the Floor

Right before going into surgery, my oncologist told me and then my family separately, that I was to do no housework for thirty days after surgery. He reiterated that it was important that I be very gentle on my midsection and allow it to heal after the hysterectomy.

Do you realize how many ways and times we bend our torso on a daily basis?

From picking up socks and taking out the trash and even turning to reach for something on the kitchen counter, we rely heavily on our core. Even though the inflammation is gone and I can very well bend and reach any which way my body allows me to, I still pause before bending to pick something up from the floor.

It’s a weird quirk. I actually think it’s a mild form of PTSD and it is slowly going away. Unfortunately, this avoidance also gets in my way. If there is a piece of paper that falls to the floor, I can go hours before bending down to pick it up. Basically, my mind says, if it doesn’t bother you, then don’t bother.

I’m not too accepting about this. I know it will  change. But I know that we all have that “odd little habit” if we have gone through an ordeal. I’m not a scientist, but I’m sure there is an area in the brain that actually helps us recall that incident and it’s designed to have our brain and bodies respond in a way that preserves us.

I think what’s most important is that we realize when that habit or mental block does not serve us anymore. Clearly, the disarray of unopened mail and file folders on my work space is NOT preserving me anymore. Now I need to re-wire my programming and do things that let me know I’m safe and I can replace the avoidance responses with other responses that are appropriate.

When I have to pick something up from the floor, as I’m pausing, I’ll tell myself, “Just one,” or “Just this one.”

I hear my own voice, saying out loud, that I’m only picking up that one thing. Then I don’t feel overwhelmed and most importantly, I won’t avoid the chore. (Which the other members of my household appreciate). 🙂

Let me encourage you to give yourself the permission to set new parameters for yourself in your season of healing. Get creative in forming new responses or cues that will help you in new situations and give lively meaning to situations that were once daunting.

What is your odd little habit and what can you do to overcome it?

Blessings,
Mahal

I’m in this! – Video with me in orange scarf

Look, Ma, I’m on tv! Well, more like a short video that was shown during the Christmas programs. Either way, my mother was proud 🙂 I’m the one with the orange scarf! A personal thanks to Mr. Nathan Larson, a youth pastro at the church, who has an incredible talent (and tolerance) for editing and production. Enjoy and share the video freely!

Christmas musical 2014 from Nathan Larson on Vimeo.