Do they? Do they really?

Sometimes  I wonder what it would be like to be someone else.  Someone who doesn’t wake up in the morning so creaky and achy.  Someone who doesn’t worry daily about bone density loss due to medication. Someone who doesn’t think about cancer recurrences.  It doesn’t take long until I tell myself that everyone has something going on, but do they really??  It’s hard to believe sometimes that some people have a problem in the world.  Really,  they are probably just better at hiding it, so we just don’t know.  I think that’s why it is so important to share our struggles.  Simply sharing takes the weight off of you.  Knowing you are not alone and knowing others struggle with some of the same issues is so beneficial to our mental health.

I really believe that the lack of community in our culture is at the root of much of the unhappiness that people experience.  Neighbors don’t know each other or want to know each other, church memberships are declining etc. Technology is replacing the need for connection, but it doesn’t go deep enough.  We either need to plug into communities around us or make the effort to deepen connections and build our tribes.

I listened to a podcast recently about personalities.  The interviewee had a technique she would use to test the waters with people.  She would throw out a “bid”.  The bid was something personal, but also something safe. Safe in that it wouldn’t bother her if someone shot down this bid or even laughed.  For example, she might say “My feet are killing me in these heels”.  If the woman she was talking to responded with “I love heels”,  she knew this wasn’t a match for her and she didn’t throw out another bid.  If the response was more along the lines of “Yeah, and my spanx are squeezing the life out of me”, then BINGO she is now safe to throw out another bid and hopefully deepen the relationship even for just the evening.  In doing so, she’s relieved her own pressure and possible anxiety about the event while doing the same for another.  Pretty cool.  I think we instinctively do this, but don’t always realize it is happening.   Imagine the progress we could make with a little more intention in our interactions.

I am pretty plugged into my society.  I have children involved in various activities, I work outside the home and I attend church somewhat regularly.  I have friends whom I adore and can talk about anything with.  The problem is, I don’t spend nearly enough time with them.  Time seems to be absorbed so easily into daily routines.  If I finish the laundry today, there will always be more tomorrow, right?  Dropping the “shoulds”, being mindful of our true selves and our true desires while taking the time to nurture ourselves will all come together and enable us to create the lives we have always dreamed of. Not only will the laundry get done, but we will begin to experience increased happiness in our everyday lives.  Let’s start by evaluating where we are now.  How fulfilled are we in these 6 major areas?  Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10.  (The following list was copied from https://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html)

  1. Social - is connecting with other people.   Establishing and maintaining relationships with family and friends and even co-workers has anis the ability to relate to and connect with other people in our world. Our ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers contributes to our Social Wellness.
  2. Emotional is the ability to understand ourselves and cope with the challenges life can bring. The ability to acknowledge and share feelings of anger, fear, sadness or stress; hope, love, joy and happiness in a productive manner contributes to our Emotional Wellness.
  3. Spiritual is the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives. The ability to develop congruency between values and actions and to realize a common purpose that binds creation together contributes to our Spiritual Wellness.
  4. Occupational is the ability to get personal fulfillment from our jobs or our chosen career fields while still maintaining balance in our lives. Our desire to contribute in our careers to make a positive impact on the organizations we work in and to society as a whole leads to Occupational Wellness.
  5. Intellectual is the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences that can be applied to personal decisions, group interaction and community betterment. The desire to learn new concepts, improve skills and seek challenges in pursuit of lifelong learning contributes to our Intellectual Wellness.
  6. Physical is the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life that allows us to get through our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress. The ability to recognize that our behaviors have a significant impact on our wellness and adopting healthful habits (routine check ups, a balanced diet, exercise, etc.) while avoiding destructive habits (tobacco, drugs, alcohol, etc.) will lead to optimal Physical Wellness.

This will give you good insight into which areas you may want to add more intentional living and balance your life. Have some fun with this.  Draw each as a piece of pie in a pie chart, graph it or even assign each category a different color on a flower.  How many of your leaves are Social and how many are Spiritual?  


Much love,

Tosha

The Podcast mentioned can be found at Good Life Project Vanessa Van Edwards: Hacking Social Interaction for Good.  Search your PodCast Ap or on your computer at http://www.goodlifeproject.com/radio/  Lots of great ones to listen to!!

 

Uniquely You

I bumped into a friend recently that shared that she had started doing Tai Chi.  I immediately got excited about sharing the experience.  However, we weren’t on the same path.  None of us are totally on the same path.  What she  appreciated about Tai Chi was not the same as what I appreciated.  I know this very well at a logical level, but in the moment sometimes another emotion takes over and it is forgotten.  Our experiences are sort of like taste buds.  Even if we like the same food, I bet it tastes different for each of us.  The texture, the smell and the actual flavor can be worlds apart.  

Why does this matter?  Well first of all, my Tai Chi conversation would have been a lot more interesting if I didn’t make some assumptions and I  “listened” to her experience at the beginning of the conversation.  I have been trying to catch myself in times of interrupting.  I’m one of those people that gets excited and jumps right in.  Sorry!  But this is not just about interrupting it’s about listening and hearing without putting your own spin on things.  It’s about allowing another person their own unique experience.  I realized I may not have let her express her full Tai Chi experience  and I don’t think that it bothered her because it wasn’t something with which she needed support with or had an emotional connection. At least I hope that’s true!

As I thought about the exchange, I realized that I’ve experienced this from the other end as well.  It irked me at the time, but I couldn’t put my finger on why until now.  Many times we don’t realize we are not helping, or worse, irritating someone.  There are so many big life challenges that we or our friends have faced and we don’t always know what to say.  My experience was with a well meaning friend whom I had several cancer conversations with when I was in the midst of my treatments.  He was a great listener most of the time, but he thought he understood in ways he couldn’t have.  He understood the surface, but not all the intense feelings and emotions because those were UNIQUELY MINE.  I didn’t realize at the time that I just wanted my feeling acknowledged and respected.  It’s like breaking your leg and being told how lucky you are because your cousin had his leg amputated. You know?    

Sometimes out of love we want so badly to minimize a loved one’s pain.  Their pain is too much for us to bear.  It sounds completely selfish, but it’s really just a protective reaction.  Or maybe it brings up some of our own unresolved hurt that we  want to share.  Well, that becomes a whole different conversation, doesn’t it?!  Again, I don’t believe these things are intentional, but it’s a story I’ve heard time and again from cancer patients.  It is probably more obvious to us because it’s such a long process and it’s a similar path for many of us so the fallout is also similar in many of the cases..  It’s so sad to think of friends that are lost because we weren’t really aware of what was happening in our conversations.   

I am now aware from both sides.  As excited as I get about a presumed connection,  it’s my place to listen first and not assume to know or even understand.  Your experiences, your happiness or your hurt or pain is unique to you and we need to respect that on one side of the conversation and we need to claim it on the other side of the conversation.  

Go out and empower and be empowered!

With Love, Tosha

It starts NOW

The years I missed I can’t get back.  The very young years with my littlest in preschool.  Those in between, but still so sweet years, of early elementary school and the later years of elementary school where they are learning so much about the world, have an openness about trying new things and are mostly content with themselves. I was out of commission for two years. One full year of treatment and surgeries and one full year of too many doctor appointments and leftover head fog, the weight of chemo and fatigue. I am firmly in year three and my task of making us whole is still upon me.

My little one, “hands”, has been far too into electronics for my liking his whole life. Thankfully he is easily redirected, but only when i have the time and patience to give to him.  My middle son is finding his groove and it makes me so happy and at the same time so sad.  Sad because it makes me realize what I missed with my oldest.  I missed those years I could have helped to steer him.  I was so out of it I could barely do just the basics of maintaining my household.  

We are here now and this is where we start!  No matter what has happened in our past or the many reasons that things are the way they are, it is never too late to start now.  I can’t do more than acknowledge what is lost because it hurts too much to go there emotionally.  And there is no alternate universe where things turned out differently.  I have no idea if anything would be better if I wasn’t sick.  To be very honest, I’m not sad about the road we were forced down.  Often the things out of my control have taught me lessons and/or forced me on a healthier path.  We may not see it at the time and we may never actually see it.  It just becomes the fabric of our beings. In my personal situation I feel like I just cleaned off my glasses and can see things more clearly.  

I’ve been getting this excited feeling lately.  Like a feeling of anticipation.  Of what I don’t know, but I think I’m on the cusp of some new life adventures!  I’ve been practicing some intentional living.  Reading and meditating and writing most mornings.  It seems to really clean out the clutter of the day to day humdrums and open the doors for what is on the horizon just out of reach.  This morning I read that 95% of us aren’t living a full life or at least not what we had hoped for.  I’ve heard a similar statistic for health in the past as well.  Why is that?!  I think it really boils down to intentions.  When I was pumped up with drugs my intention was to get through treatments and not burn the house down in the process.  I’ve been doing a lot of grounding and re-building this past year, but I’m starting to realize we can be grounded and fly at the same time.

Where?!  Where am I going to find the time to do more than what I am doing now?

I had been trying to find the time myself and then a friend recommended a book called Miracle Mornings to me.  I now get up at 5:30am and spend time with myself while I am fresh.  I start my day with more direction than I ever have.  I am able to make my to-do list before the morning craze which means I am more productive.  More productive makes me happier.  I also don’t have to be productive all day because I had some intentions laid out for myself.  This gives me a little time to enjoy a book or play a game or color with the kids.  If it can do this much for the day to day workings, I can’t wait to see what it will do for the rest of my life.  I’m feeling on the cusp of a change.  I’m feeling like my roots are firmly in the ground and I’m getting ready to flap my wings.

It's not so much when you do it, but that you do it.  Is there something you’ve been itching to do?  A book on your nightstand that has been recommended as life changing, but you have no time or desire to read it?  Do you feel like you are just doing and have lost your purpose?  Start setting intentions.  Start small.  Start with tuning in and knowing your heart’s desire and needs.  Don’t get stuck in that middle place of contentment.  Without growth that place of contentment can turn to resentment.  When you find your wings, where will you fly?

With love,

Tosha

Ps.  I always consider myself a work in progress.  I do get excited for very small victories.  I don’t want you to ever think that I have my ducks in a row,  because I don’t even try to line them up.  Life is far more fascinating when you keep challenging yourself and I’m not sure if my ducks will ever be in a row.  I’m learning to accept this and to even embrace it. I hope you will too!


 

Don't Fight It, Own It

One of my closest friends is a hamster.  At least, that’s what she calls herself.  What my friend really means is that she has the energy of a hamster.  Always going, always doing, never stopping.  She confided that she has a hard time harnessing her inner hamster.  My response was “Don’t, just own it. “

There is no set path to inner peace.  There is no wrong way.  There is only your way.  If you are a hamster, having a less scheduled week might work against your inner peace.  If you are trying to change your true nature, you are going to meet a lot of resistance and cause friction in your life.  Friction is the opposite of what we strive for.  Inner peace is about making sure those activities and things we spend our time on are filling our cups.  Our intention shouldn’t be to do more or less of any particular thing, but to do more of the things that are in line with our desires and beliefs.  We are not wired the same way as one another and that, my friends, is what keeps things interesting!   

It was ironic that we had this conversation recently, because I have realized this about myself.  Not that I am a hamster, only a few select people get that proud title.   But, I have been paying attention to what things in my life are a strain for me.  I’ve been paying attention to the things that cause anxiety or stress and that don’t need to exist to begin with.  If volunteering to read with a child at school makes me want to pull my hair out than it probably isn’t good for me or the child I am reading with.  I am realizing that these things don’t necessarily have to be fixed.  They are something I can just accept.  They are just a weakness and I don’t have to keep trying to overcome that weakness.  Releasing these things and choosing to focus more on my strengths has the potential to be much more valuable to myself and to those around me.  Some things are easier to release than others.  Maybe it’s your career that is a struggle.  Maybe you have become good at your weaknesses, but they still cause friction in your life.  These things can take more time and planning to release, but release should be considered.  

We are all pieces of the same puzzle.  Not everyone can be the sky, most of us don’t have a straight edge, some fill others, some get filled by others, but none of us stand alone and no two pieces are the same.  Find where you fit and come together to create a beautiful picture.  Stop trying to be a corner piece.  Own your strengths, fill your cup and enjoy the big picture.

With Love,

Tosha

 

I'm on a Mission

Do you have a question you ask yourself when you want to slow down the spiral or just to do a self-check of your priorities?

Many cancer “survivors” experience fears of recurrence.  I am no exception.  I don’t get paralyzed in this fear as I do sometimes with other challenges, but instead I do this self-check.  At the time of my diagnosis,  I was most worried about feeding my children with everything I possibly could if I didn’t survive. Now life is back to normal, but I have a heightened awareness that it can change on a dime.

A side effect from my medications are achy joints.  Sometimes my legs throb at night while I’m laying in bed and I let that awful thought creep into my head, “what if this is bone mets?”  Breast cancer can recur all over the body.  When it shows up in a new place it has metastasized (mets).   Having had a mastectomy doesn’t keep it from rearing its ugly head again.  This reminds me that the time to do all that is important to you is now.  It also gives me a healthy reaction to this fear.  It is so easy to fall into a dark place or a self-pity, but what good does that do for you, your family or the community you are a part of?

Life is busy and I cannot live 24/7 dedicating myself to all that I think is worthy.  Sometimes I just need to lay on the couch and veg in front of a television show or read a book just for sheer enjoyment. Instead of learning and growing I just need to relax and enjoy just being.  In fact, most of my time is spent just living….working, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc.  But through the choices I make, the people I surround myself with, the books I read for enlightenment, time spent meditating and writing this blog is setting the intention in my life.  We are not in control most of the time, but we do have a lot of control over the course we decide to take.

It gets easier as you go.  If you aren’t in a good place, start with acceptance.  I often find that telling myself that whatever emotion I am experiencing is ok, it helps me to move through it faster.  I often felt the need for validation (and sometimes still need to know that I’m not crazy from an outside source), but most of the time I’m able to validate my own feelings and acknowledge that they are real.  Once you do this and believe it,  you can start setting your intentions for what you want your life to look like.  What you want to surround yourself with.  What you want your legacy to look like when you are no longer here.  I challenge you to think about your personal mission statement.  Don’t write anything.  Just mull it over for a while.  What does your mission statement look like?  Who does it effect?  How will you change things in your life to align with this mission?  When you are ready, write it down.  Re-visit it from time to time.   Change it if necessary.  Choose your path.  

Choose your path.

Much love,

Tosha