If you’ve ever heard yourself saying, I’m waiting until this happens, this stops, or that changes…then I’ll do what I want to do. You need to listen to this episode.
Life is a dynamic, fluid thing and it never stops moving. But you can choose to check out, or you can struggle with figuring out to step back in after breast cancer treatment.
In this episode you’ll learn how we avoid taking our life off hold, why it’s difficult to do and 5 steps to getting back to being engaged in your life after breast cancer.
Read full transcript here:
Begin Friday July 10 at 11 am How to Revive your life after breast cancer
In this webinar I’ll teach you the outline that I use in my 10 week coaching program and I’ll give you valuable tips on how to implement these pillars of recovery into your life.
So, I hope you’ll join me, there will be 4 different times and you can register for free at….
Ok so let’s dig in, this episode, as so many others, was inspired by a story I heard and then reinforced by conversations I've had over the past couple of weeks with members of my Empower membership, REVIVIFY and my breast cancer recovery group.
When I hear something women are telling themselves repeatedly that I see is keeping them from living a full and happy life I know it’s podcast time. Because if I heard it from a handful of women then I know more of you are out there thinking and doing the same thing.
So first let me share this story with you.
I recently had a conversation with a woman who shared an inspiring story with me.
She is an American and she was on vacation in Tibet where she came across another American traveler. This other woman was dressed in clothes that fully covered her body and her face and she shared her story of lifelong suffering from an autoimmune disease and an allergy to sunlight. When my acquaintance asked this woman why she would come to a place referred to as “sun city” when she was allergic to the sun.
The woman told her that she could not remember a day in her life that she hadn’t been in pain or didn’t feel completely well. but, she made a decision not to let that stop her from living her life.
When I heard that story I thought wow. That is so similar to going treatment and my earlier days of recovery.
I remember when I was going through treatment, keeping my eye on the end of chemo...December 31st and thinking three weeks later I get to get back to living, I’ll go to the gym, I wonder how much my hair will grow in a month, I wonder how much weight I’ll lose after I get off these steroids...I wonder, I wonder, I can’t wait…
Then for the next three years it was how do I get back to normal? When will I be who I used to be. But that never happens.
We can’t undo life experience. We can stay stagnant or we can move forward. But sometimes our body changes, life keeps moving forward but our mind doesn’t move forward with us. It resists and fights and it’s like... no this isn’t my life, I’m not doing it this way.
Bute the truth is that whether you’re going through breast cancer treatment or recovering from it, in addition to sheltering in place in a pandemic. Life is still going on. It may not be the circumstance you imagined living in but if you’re choosing to be on hold, you’re missing it. No matter your circumstance you can engage to the extent you’re able, in life and you can enjoy it.
Now of course you want to be cautious and responsible especially if you have a suppressed immune system. I’m not saying run out into the world and throw caution to the wind. But I am saying that life is never on hold.
And when we allow ourselves to believe that, we actually remove ourselves from the motion of life...we disengage from supporting our health, contributing to our relationships, and becoming aware of the possibilities within and around us.
Bonnie Gintis in Her Book, Engaging the Movement of life, says “There is a way to hold a container for the process...You may be able to achieve far more than you would ever think of asking for by engaging the process of health rather than the product of health.
I loved that when I read it because I never really thought about the health as a product before.
But I see the truth in that. We commonly seek the outcome of health and of life, and when we’re going through something challenging, rather than open our heart and mind to the moment...because we don’t like the moment, we grit our teeth, bear down and wait, we get through it...but sometimes the change you want, or hope for doesn’t come and then what….how long will you wait to live your life?
When I was a kid, I was raised in a catholic family and my mom would tell us about a place called limbo...now I haven’t practiced Catholicism in a long time so things may have changed but this was my childhood experience.
Limbo was a place you went to right after you die. It’s not heaven or hell, it’s more like a waiting room where you hang out until you get judged and they let you into heaven or….not.
I was terrified of the idea of limbo because I just picture this sad grey place where no one was really happy or friendly and you had no idea how long you had to stay there or where you were going to be sent...you were just waiting for something to happen to you.
That’s how I see life on hold. It’s not great, it’s not horrible, it’s just nothing, just waiting. You eat, you drink you work...but where is the joy?
Just like the lady in the Tibet story you have to make a conscious choice to engage in life without waiting for everything to be right or perfect.
After I finished treatment I had some pretty significant neuropathy and it was very uncomfortable. But I wanted to go back to the gym and do whatever I could do.
So I asked my doctor, if I would be doing further damage if I started lifting weights again and he told me the damage had been done and I could do whatever I could tolerate.
So I went back and I couldn’t tolerate much because it was super hard to hold onto anything. At first I was extremely frustrated by that but then I worked on coming to terms with the fact that I was happy just being there and I had to let go of expectations, do what I could do while I still worked on solutions to improve neuropathy.
If I had waited for my hands and feet to go back to normal, I still wouldn’t be in the gym.
So what are you waiting for?
What do you have on hold in your life?
Now at the time of this recording, we’re getting shut down again because of the pandemic and that might seem like a reason to be on hold again but I would like to suggest that it’s actually a reason to jump in to whatever you have on hold.
So how do you go about living when you feel like things are on hold?
First, you need to recognize what you’re doing:
For those of you who were in my sugar challenge, you received a guide that talked about the stages of change.
Basically this is a model in behavior science that talks about when people are and aren’t ready to create change in their life.
This is important because if you find yourself in limbo...struggling or suffering from an internal desire to change but not taking action to create that change, this is a good place to start. You can start journaling about what is holding you back.
Just being able to say I’m not happy or engaged in my life and I don’t know what to do about it. That’s a starting point...as long as you dig into it.
Here’s the thing. When we find ourselves in that uncomfortable place of sitting on the sidelines of life, we’ll often do something to distract us like spend more time on sm, sign up for different things that you never start doing, or binge on tv. These are just distractions that take your mind away from why you’re not doing what you say you want to be doing.
And...it’s a choice you’re making not to be engaged in your life friend. Go back and listen to episode 91 for more info on that, but everything you do or don’t do is a decision you make.
So that’s step one...seeing your behavior for what it is, an excuse, a distraction, fear, unpreparedness...whatever it might be.
Step 2- What are the perfect circumstances? What do you think will be different when or if those circumstances occur and what if they never do?
Be honest with yourself. Will life create the perfect storm for you or is it you who needs to create the circumstances for yourself?
I think I mentioned this in a recent episode but one of things we work on in my empower membership is time blocking. We don’t do it so that every minute of time is blocked off and proactive, we do it to intentionally decide how you want to invest your time into the things that are important to you.
That is the way you make time to make things happen. That is how you see what you’re doing mechanically and what you’re doing to allow you to engage in life on your terms.
Once you understand why you’re keeping things on hold and that creating the circumstances is within your power
Step 3 is explore the steps you need to take to get engaged and get back to living your life rather than letting it slip by?
There are endless online courses...there is literally nothing you can’t learn online these days, painting, writing, cooking, exercising.
I’ve received several emails and messages from women who were so excited to get to participate in the sugar challenge I hosted a couple weeks ago because it gave them something productive to focus on. The same with the upcoming enrollment for revivify, people are happy to get into a coaching program and focus on growth and development.
I even have single friends who participate in online meet ups with others. The opportunities are seriously endless.
I am a habitual course taker as I think I’ve said before on this show. I love learning new things, so for me I have to practice slowing my roll and finishing what I start because I’m like a kid in a candy shop when I start looking into all of the quality online courses that are out there.
So open your mind to the opportunities and just be curious...being curious and exploring things is a step, it is change so recognize that and give yourself credit.
Step 4 -take some action. Commit to whatever the action is...paint the bedroom, have a date night, write 500 words a day, paint for 30 minutes, research 3 new careers...whatever gets you back to living your life.
I met a woman when we did a show on cancer survivors for jubilee media and I’ll never forget her saying, I decided to put myself on tinder bald and everything and just say ok who wants this? She was scared but she took action and bald and fresh out of chemo she did meet someone and they have been in a relationship ever since.
What if she would have waited until her hair grew back or until she was done worrying about a recurrence...she might have missed her person.
This is just an example, you may already be in a relationship that’s not a thing for you but what are you missing out on because you’re waiting for
the perfect circumstances?
Now we all know...at least I hope we do...if it isn’t in the calendar it isn’t going to happen at least not consistently.
So once you make a decision to take action, develop some accountability.
Write it in your calendar, honor it, don’t make other plans over it and if you find yourself still not doing it. Head back to your journal and start working through your thoughts to see why. What is holding back
Where there is resistance, there is something underlying it.
Is this not an authentic desire for you, is there fear, are you taking a tentative approach to life because you no longer believe you’ll be around to enjoy it or you don’t feel worthy or deserving?
I think I’ve shared this before but it’s appropriate here. When I finished treatment and decided to go back to college and earn a health coaching degree, I struggled with the idea of the time and money that would be involved in that.
I remembered my brother dying 2 years into opening his business after becoming a chiropractor and I thought. What is that happens to me. What if I spend the next two years, earning this degree while working full time, I miss out on that time with my new husband, my children and my new granddaughter and then I die. Or I get cancer again before I even finish.
Is that stupid? Will I regret this decision?
But then I realized, no matter what I’ve done in life I never knew if I would live to see the end result. I remember when my kids were little worrying and arguing with their dad over who we would name as the person to take care of them if we both died while they were little.
Hell, I remember thinking what if this chemo or the breast cancer kills me and I don’t get to see my granddaughter isn’t old enough to remember me...you know what I mean, we can think that way about anything, about everything.
What I decided was that if those worst case scenario things happened I did not want my children to say oh man she always wanted to do …. And never got a chance to.
Just like I realized that my brother spent the last two years of his life doing what he loved and in that short time he helped so many people. I was going to do that too.
Whatever time I had left and now I’m almost 9 years out and still going...I was going to do everything I could to pursue my dreams, and if I didn't live to see the outcome….well like the old cliché goes, I would die trying.
Imagine if I waited for the perfect circumstances, if I let life remain on hold until I made it to whatever survival marker the medical field dictated as the cure date...you may not be listening now.
All the women I’ve mentored and coached would never have had that support.
So what is it that you are not doing and that you and those who’s lives could be impacted by you are missing out on?
Work through those five steps:
-do some self discovery to see what’s holding you back
-ask yourself, what is the story you're telling yourself about the perfect circumstances
-get curious and explore your options
-Take action on something
-calendar it and honor that time for yourself
If you have questions come and find me on Facebook...message me...or join the bcrg.
If you want to talk more about reviving your life after breast cancer, register for my free webinar...how to revive your life after breast cancer or go to my website and get on the wait list to join REVIVIFY, that will truly change your life.
I hope that helps and I look forward to hearing how you took your life off hold you know how to find me.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July and I’ll talk to you next week... until then be good to yourself and be kind to each other.