As I navigate the ups and downs, and twist and turns in my life, I have come to intimately know the most valuable resource I’ll ever have. Me. I know this because I have turned to myself time and time again, always finding what I need within. Actually, I am an authority on me. I am expert at knowing what’s most important to me, what I’m really good at and the things for which I am most passionate in life. This intimate knowledge and awareness of what’s going on outside and inside myself gives me an abundance of tools and ways of being that help me navigate as I live in this world. As long as I give myself permission to have my experiences, create room for new perspectives by releasing expectations and set intentions for what will be best for me, I’m good to go.
Last month I shared about the quality of my experience in facing liver cancer with our family dog, Shadow. As the beautiful and graceful four-legged ambassador of our family, she continues to teach us all about the deep meaning of unconditional love as we savor our time with her. This experience has reminded me this is not the only time I have personally faced this disease. First was when I lost my father to lung cancer in my twenties and more recently, my gorgeous and extraordinary friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and today, continues to navigate the complexities of her illness.
How I showed up to these different time in my life has evolved. I continue to practice and learn how to care for me and give myself just what I need. In this moment I have not had to face the magnitude of discovering I had disease in my body but that’s not the case for everyone. I have felt powerless in the face of loss, desperately wanting to make a difference, have an impact. The only place I have power is in my perspective. It is my fiercest strength and the root of my resilience.
The following is a piece I wrote for Support Connection, a non-profit organization that provides emotional, social and educational support to those affected by breast and ovarian cancer. Possibly you or someone you love are facing cancer. My heart is with you. I offer you the idea of another way of looking at such circumstances and hope there are drops of power and spirit in here for you.
Prior to a cancer diagnosis, have you ever faced a crisis and, without pause, done exactly what you needed to do to get through to the other side? Or maybe you knew precisely what to do in an emergency to get the help you needed. At that time your internal knowing, skills and experience guided you. In that moment, whether you thought of it or not, you had you.
So, who are you? What are your unique abilities or gifts and talents? What are the things others really admire about you and say, “I wish I could do that as easily as you do it?” What is it that comes effortlessly to you that others notice? It could be things that are recent or from the past, personal or professional. They don’t require much effort and we tend to feel good about ourselves when using these abilities.
Once you have a sense of these things, your abilities, you have the beginnings of your Took Kit. These are the resources immediately available to you at a moment’s notice. How nice is that?! You are right there everywhere you go. So, what are the things you’re really good at that, right now, you could use. Maybe it’s your heart-felt ways or creativity. Possibly it’s your infectious laughter or hunger for knowledge. Imagine your flexibility or amazing cooking.
How do you then use your tool kit to take care of you? Well, let’s shift perspectives. If you had a fabulous friend, just like you, what might you ask them to do for you? How could they, in this moment, extend themselves to you? I invite you to go ahead and dip your hand into your tool kit and see what comes out. How can the resource you just chose help gift you with something you need?
Maybe it’s some permission to allow yourself to be uncertain about something right now. Perhaps it’s a lovely mousepad to sit next to your computer where you write your journal. Might you ask to go see a funny movie or watch one at home? Possibly it’s being gentle with yourself in your thoughts and attitudes in the face of adversity. Is it asking someone to prepare your most favorite dish in your home, so you can enjoy the aromas of food cooking as the fragrance floats through your house?
Be kind to yourself in this time of transition. If a very dear and special friend was moving through a difficult time and asked you to do that thing, you’re so great at, would you do it? Sometimes the best place to look for what we need is right where we stand – inside ourselves. You are deserving of all the amazing things you have to offer.
So like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, allow yourself to go home to you. Let your abilities be the tools you use in the face of crisis and negativity. Let the fulfillment that comes from using your gifts and talents strengthen you in the face of challenge and adversity. As you hold up your hand and give fear the big “no thank you” choose something else.
Allow yourself to remember, you’ve got you!