I used to, but now I…

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

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.

10 thoughts on “I used to, but now I…

  1. cmargocs says:

    I am reading Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, and she writes of meeting Liz Gilbert for the first time, uttering a profound phrase in her awkwardness: “women have to almost die before we give ourselves permission to live how we want.” I’m sorry that it took a diagnosis of cancer to prompt your self-care, but your reflection here is powerful. Here’s to healing physically, mentally, and emotionally!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elisa, you share smart reminders. As teachers, it seems so hard to put ourselves first. This often results in our work coming before our family and friends at times. Maybe it’s because we are in people work – and children on top of that. Life’s challenges tend to teach us lessons. It sounds like you’ve had a tough challenge. I appreciate your wise words. I hope you continue to find the strength to put yourself and those you love at the top of your life list.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leigh Anne Eck says:

    I have designated this summer as the summer for ME! And I have done a pretty crappy job of it so far! I don’t want something like a cancer scare to force me into taking care of myself. Thank you for sharing your journey. Maybe I need to start thinking about my own used to and now list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh Anne, let those few crappy days go into the place of forgotten crappy days. Sometimes when school is over I feel a little aimless. I just have to let that go and maybe even expect that to happen until I can get back some of the energy that I expended during the school year. Here’s to a wonderful summer for you. I am keeping you in my thoughts.


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