As part of my cancer recovery, I made a commitment to myself to be more present in my life and to focus on what really matters to me. For years, I have been neglecting my physical and emotional health. I have been prioritizing work over friends and family. I lost years of my life worrying about the next opportunity to get the next job, the next promotion, the next recognition.
I know regrets are hindsight and we shouldn’t engage with those feelings, but it’s hard not to.
If only I knew…If I had to do it all over again…
But, I don’t and so I can only move forward with the life that I create for myself.
And I have to admit: do overs are hard when you’ve been MIA for so long: old habits are hard to break.
It is true, and unfortunate at the same time, that we make major life changes when tragedy strikes. If only (here I go again!) we could do this when we are not in crisis. Yet, I think there’s a reason why the Japanese character for the word crisis is also the same one as for the word opportunity.
My crisis – cancer diagnosis – was my opportunity to remake my life. To make it better in every sense of the word. For the first time, I felt in my bones that there were others out there who were counting on me. They were rooting for me. I felt loved and appreciated in a way I’d never experienced before. It was a strong catalyst for making changes.
So, while there are a lot of things I’ve changed there are still many more that need some tweaking and overhauling, The good news is that I’m well on my way. What follows are some of the things I used to do and how I changed them to have a positive impact on my well-being.
I used to only go on walks with my husband because I felt safer and steadier with him along after my chemo treatment. Now I go on walks by myself. Every day I go a little bit further than the time before.
I used to spend all of my time perseverating on work relationships. Now, I acknowledge any emotions I have and just let them go to the wind.
I used to worry about how I wasn’t measuring up to someone else’s ideal or to what the teacher next door was doing. Now, I do that a lot less; I nod to the feeling and then occupy my mind with more important things – like what’s happening around me in the present moment.
I use to choose work over, well, just about anything else. Now, there are times when work just has to wait and although my quitting times are still somewhat fluid, I have more clearly defined boundaries than previously.
I am happier and more at peace than I’ve ever been.
Life is good.
Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge.