In the last two years, I’d like to think that I’ve grown in mind, body and spirit. I’ve learned to be patient and pace myself through scans, blood draws, test, doctor visits, therapies and medication. It’s a lot. And when you add Covid-19, it’s like walking uphill in mud. But you know what they say. No mud, no lotus. The beautiful lotus flower grows in the dirtiest muddy water. I think it’s the perfect symbol for creating wellbeing. That is IF you allow yourself to be baptized in muddy waters. Re-birth and enlightenment aren’t easy or instant, it’s one small petal at a time. And for me I had to lean into the ugly to find the beauty to find 9 lotus petals for wellbeing.
Run Like the Devil
When I started on this path, I was scared shitless. Being diagnosed with cancer is one thing. But when you catch an ugly rare cancer, there’s no information or standard treatment plan. You are flying blind and so are your doctors. Fear was the only language I understood, and my amygdala kicked into high gear. It told me to run like the devil. And so, I ran.
Running meant I didn’t have to take responsibility for my health and wellbeing. I could eat all the chips and donuts I wanted, not exercise and play with mental razor blades. Comfort came from others as I garnered pity about the unfairness of my predicament. My doctors empowered me by reassuring that the cancer was not my fault. Every now and then I’d be brave and look over my shoulder to see how far it was behind me.
Did you know that running from fear is utterly exhausting? Running from something that has already caught you is madness. If I played no role in cancer catching me then how could I play a role in healing my mind, body and spirit? I’d have to rely completely on doctors who didn’t have answers and perpetuated fear. Or I could choose a different path. So, I decided to stop running and lean into the very thing that scared the hell out of me. Cancer.
Leaning in meant being baptized into the muddy waters. I walked willingly into the waters and rooted myself deep into the mud. At first, I just sat there feeling numb. Gradually I learned to just be and connect with my breath of life. I asked God and my angels for help and listened for their guidance. The answer was two-fold. First, what we see as “bad” often bring profound gifts. That is, if we take time to look for the gifts. Second, Fear was far more destructive than cancer.
9 Lotus Petals
When I let go of fear and stepped into gratitude, I realized I could give myself the gift of wellbeing. My wellbeing was my responsibility. And I whole heartily believed that through positive thoughts and actions I could create wellbeing. I could be well and live a good life. I discovered my 9 lotus petals for creating wellbeing. Most lotus flowers have 18 petals, so I figure I still have room to grow. If you should decide to root in the mud, your 9 lotus petals may be different, or you may have a different number. Just embrace your intuition. It will guide you.
When we sleep, magic happens. The body repairs and rejuvenates while dreams connect you to your soul. I discovered I needed more than the recommended 8 hours. Most nights I sleep 9 to 10 hours. I am fierce about protecting deep sleep because it’s a main contributor to my wellbeing.
In the mud, I realized I had boxes of mental razor blades wedged in my brain. I loved to take them out one by one and play with them. It didn’t matter that the razor-sharp thoughts were harming me. They placated my amygdala and its fear mongering. What would happen if I did something more productive?
Mediation isn’t a mysterious spiritual practice. And if you have a wild amygdala like me, it’s not an easy practice. I started with guided meditations. Insight Timer is a great resource for mediations. These days I sit very still in the mud and follow my breath. If feels amazing because for the first time in my life, my mind is no longer hostage.
Anytime I start thinking about an upcoming scan, test or doctor visit my amygdala kicks in and wants to go for a run. The future stresses me out because I can’t control the outcomes. What I can control is staying in this moment, in this space and in this time. Anytime I step out of this moment I invite stress and fear into my life. It really is a choice.
I believe that God is the supreme being of light and love. And I know God when I feel God. In the last two years I have felt God more than in any time in my life. These days angels come and go as I need them, I feel them with me. My ancestors are also close by, sometimes I hear them call my name. I can’t explain any of this. It’s about faith and trust.
Got to Move it
Our bodies are made to move. I know that a strong body can withstand more than a weak body. My goal is to be stronger than the day before. Every day I walk, jump on my trampoline, lift weights, do physical therapy exercises and practice yoga. I’ve got to move it.
I do not prescribe to a particular diet. Organic vegetables, spices, herbs, nuts, olive oil, fish, fruit and dark chocolate are the bulk of my diet. I will eat eggs, chicken and beef if it’s been raised in open fields and fed a natural diet. I close the kitchen at 6:00pm and don’t eat until 8:30am the next day. This is called intermittent fasting. It’s kinda of funny because it’s nothing new. This is how my grandparents lived. They didn’t eat anything after a small dinner. The body can’t digest food and make repairs at the same time. I have finally learned that my body is a divine temple.
Living in Grace
When I feel anger, I acknowledge it and release it quickly. Anger feeds cancer and I don’t want that in my life. Granting grace means not judging outers. Our judgements are more about us than others. Grace is about blessings. I want to be blessed and I want to be a blessing. I don’t think you can have one without the other. Forgiveness is grace in action. When we forgive, we lighten our own souls too.
We all have the gift of intuition. Deep down in your gut you have all the answers you need. When it comes to navigating cancer (or any health issue), let doctors give you their recommendations, but you and only you get to decide on how to move forward. By the way, when your root in the mud your intuition becomes a superpower.
Gratitude in All Things
I learned to open my heart and name my blessings one by one. There is always something to be thankful for, even when you’ve had a rotten day. I believe that gratitude heals the mind, body and soul. It is the pathway to joy. Look for what’s going right and bless it.
My lotus is taking root and a beautiful flower is emerging. I suspect that I will be rooted in the mud for a long time and I’m okay with that. It feels like home. Leaning into cancer gave me 9 lotus petals, but I’m positive in the end it will give me an entire lotus garden.